Test Drive: 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Review

2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat

You remember those truly terrifying moments. You know, the things that scare you when you close your eyes at night.  My first was when Linda Blair’s head turned around backwards in the Exorcist. The second time was when I floor-boarded the Dodge Hellcat.

Obviously, the story with this car centers around the 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 that is putting out a crazy 707-horses. My tester had the 8-speed automatic transmission, but you can get a 6-speed manual if you prefer. Generally, I would prefer a manual tranny in any car over 500-horses, but the automatic somehow works in this beast.

Suffice it to say, the hellcat is fast. Jump on it and you will leave rubber on the pavement until you lose your nerve and back off of it.

Once it grabs the road, you’ll burn more rubber as it shifts to 2nd gear. Be prepared to straighten it out, the rear end will come around on you every single time. Don’t get me wrong, that is not a criticism, it adds to the overall experience, and will put a huge grin on your face.

Shockingly, I made it a solid week without getting a ticket, but I had two very close calls. My review vehicle is bright red, adding to the suspense of when, not if, I was going to have a conference with one of our local law enforcement officers. The exhaust sound is addictive, but also calls attention to the car.

The Hellcat is an unusually heavy car for its category. Of course the engine itself adds a lot of weight, but this is a large car, and is quite wide.  What I loved about the car was the interior quality, room for four adults comfortably, and plenty of legroom for all. The trunk was amazingly large, and these factors make the Challenger a viable daily driver.

Hellcat comes loaded with just about everything you can imagine. The Chrysler Uconnect system is terrific as always, easy to operate, and the navigation system works great. I enjoyed the 18-speaker audio system, heated and cooled seats are standard equipment, as are backup camera and steering wheel controls.

On the exterior, the large front spoiler looks great, the hood is amazing, and the 20-inch by 9.5-inch forged aluminum wheels look awesome.  Only one badge on each front fender tells you it is the Hellcat, but it was shocking how many people knew exactly what it was, and could quote the performance specs. A 16-year old neighborhood kid stopped by and knew more about the car than I did!

When you get your Hellcat, you’ll get two keys-one red, one black. The red key unleashes the beast to full horsepower. When your brother-in-law (or Kevin) wants to drive the Hellcat, give him the black key, it will limit the car to a paltry 500-horses.

Let’s be honest here, the car makes no sense. Who needs over 700-horses? Who needs the bejesus scared out of them every time the get behind the wheel? Who needs a car that averages 12 miles to the gallon combined? Nobody does, but raise your hand if you want one (mine is raised).  Only 1200 Hellcats will be made for 2015, so this is sure to be a collector car someday, especially when you factor in at least half of them will get totaled out.

Price-wise, Chrysler priced this car too low for what you get. My review car has an MSRP of $65,870 and that includes the government’s $1700 gas-guzzler tax. Of course with cars like this, the marketplace dictates the price. I found 8 pre-owned Hellcats for sale, several priced at over $90,000 with average of the 8 running over $82,000.

One think that really impacted me was the quality of this car. This car had 8200 miles on it when I got it, way more than the usual cars I get for review. Realize that 8200 press driven miles is equivalent to 50,000 normal miles. Even with that, the interior showed no wear, the car was super tight, the doors closed solidly, and it show no signs of abuse at all, even though I know it was driven hard.

I feel fortunate to have gotten to spend a week with this car. I showed restraint as much as I could, but at least daily had to open it up. This is a car you must respect, mainly because it deserves it, and secondly if you don’t, you’ll die in it. This is in fact, the fastest, most powerful muscle car ever made in America.

What I liked most:  DUH!  The engine.

What I would change:  Not one thing.      

MSRP: Base price $58,295.  As equipped $65,870.

Fuel Economy: 13 City/22 highway/16 combined.  I got nowhere close to that.

Odometer reading when tested: 8220 miles.

Weight: 4449 Pounds.

Length-Width-Height: 197.5” long/75.7” wide/55.7” High.

Fuel Tank Capacity: 18.5 gallons.

Towing Capacity:  N/A

2015 Hellcat in a few words:  Scariest, most wonderful car EVER.

Warranty:  3-year/36,000 mile bumper-to-bumper, 5-year/100,000 mile powertrain coverage with roadside assistance.

Car Pro Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

Dealers:  We have great Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram dealers in Austin, Cleveland, Dallas Fort Worth, Fresno, Houston, Los Angeles, Lubbock, Phoenix, Sacramento, San Antonio, and San Francisco.

Manufacturer’s website: http://www.drivesrt.com/2015/challenger-srt-hellcat/

Photo Credit: Dodge

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