• Sports/Muscle Cars
  • 2018 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Review and Test Drive

    2018 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Review and Test Drive

    Some supernatural forces can be summoned without a séance.

    All I had to do was push the red starter button on my 2018 Dodge Charger Hellcat, a beefy, bone-shaking, soul-stirring monster.

    It darn near made me speak in tongues.

    You probably know the Hellcat, an outrageous 707-horsepower beast that I think staggered from some misty, radioactive swamp in Florida three years ago.

    I came to view it as the hoo-doo hot-rod, a sedan so evil you prod its accelerator with your toes, not your foot – sort of like nudging a 20-foot alligator.

    As you may recall, the Hellcat sort of stunned the automotive industry when it blasted into Dodge dealerships as the most powerful American production sedan ever built.

    Think of it as an overweight NASCAR racer with air-conditioning and seating for five.

    Low, wide and bulky, the royal-blue Cat I had recently fairly bristled with menace, scowling at lesser cars with a spare blacked-out grille and angry headlamps.

    A sleek functional scoop rose from the center of the Charger’s hood, flanked by hard-working heat vents.

    Just to underscore the obvious, the car wore dark gray racing stripes down the center of its hood, roof, and trunk.

    While the sides of the Hellcat were essentially flat, a prominent scallop stamped into the doors gave it a somewhat chiseled look.

    Moreover, the Cat’s roof appeared to be lower than the average sedan’s – as if some California customizer had lopped an inch or so out of it -- adding fuel to the car’s visual fire.

    In back, four-inch diameter dual exhausts bigger than most Coke cans did the talking – or really, growling. All of that heat settled on black 20-inch wheels wrapped with 275/40 tires – another not-so-subtle element.

    Bad intentions, I suppose, are just part of the Hellcat’s emissions.

    The supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi beneath the car’s hood sprang to life with what sounded like an ominous clap of thunder, settling into a gruff, kind of lumpy 800-rpm idle.

    Somehow, a well-sorted eight-speed automatic more or less controlled all the big twists assaulting the rear wheels.

    Dodge provides two key fobs with the Hellcat – a black one that “limits” horsepower to 500 and a red one that unlocks the gates of hell, releasing all 707 horses.

    I strongly recommend you leave the traction-control on.

    With 650 lb.-ft. of torque as well as all that horsepower, the Cat spins its tires with a mere touch to the loud pedal and will do it up to about 50 mph – even with the traction-control on.

    Holy moly, does it howl. Slam the accelerator to the floor and the forces from the Hellcat feel like multiple explosions erupting, violently pushing the 4,600-pound car to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds, according to Car and Driver.

    Top speed, says Dodge, is 204-mph and fuel economy is, uh, 13 miles per gallon.

    Drive the Cat like an adult and it actually seems pretty stable and civilized.

    Granted, the steering felt too heavy and numb, but unlike much-slower muscle cars from the ‘60s, the Hellcat turned aggressively into corners with no lean, always keeping its composure.

    As you might expect, the ride was fairly intense, with those big wheels stepping pretty loudly over every bump in the road, but, hey, the Mercedes-Benz-derived suspension kept the Cat planted.

    About the only time you may question the value of the car is when you climb inside.

    A deep, almost flat dash in coarse plastic, for example, wrapped around a large center stack that despite its dated appearance, functioned quite well.

    It just didn’t look much like 75 large, however.

    Buttons controlled the Cat’s audio and climate systems, and the electronics were Apple CarPlay and Google Android Auto capable.

    In addition, the car’s “Performance Pages” – allowing tweaks to the engine, steering, and suspension – were intuitive and easy to use.

    Unfortunately, the Cat’s door-panels – like the dash -- looked as if they had been lifted from a cab and embellished with padded centers and armrests.

    Way more important to me, though, the big Charger offered terrific sports seats with supportive bolsters, while the solid T-bar shifter performed way better than most luxury electric units.

    Meanwhile, in back, leg- and head-room were reasonably good, meaning you might be able to convince your boss that you’re using your car allowance on a sturdy business sedan. Good luck.

    The options on my snarling Cat included a Harmon Kardon stereo system ($1,995); a sunroof ($1,995); and the center stripes ($595).

    So what does anyone really need with a $75,000, 700-horsepower sedan that can go roughly three times the national speed limit and gets worse fuel economy than most pickups?

    All I can say, your honor, is the Hellcat makes every outing an adventure and we really need the grins these days.

    2018 Dodge Charger SRT Hellca

    • What I liked most: 707 horizon-shrinking, license-threatening horsepower.
    • What I would change: Could we get just a couple more hides of leather and some better plastic inside?
    • MSRP: Base price, $66,295; as equipped, $75,165.
    • Fuel economy: Rated at 13 mpg in the city, 22 on the highway and 16 mpg overall with filler on the left.
    • Official color: Indigo Blue.
    • Odometer reading when tested: 2,051 miles.
    • Weight: 4,592 pounds.
    • Length-width-height: 200.8 inches long/75 inches wide/58.3 inches tall.
    • Fuel-tank capacity: 18.5 gallons.
    • Towing capacity: 1,000 pounds.
    • Spare tire: None – air-pump instead.
    • 2018 Dodge Charger Hellcat in a few words: A bellowing blast of red in these quiet green times.
    • Warranty: Three-year, 36,000-mile overall warranty and five-year, 60,000-mile powertrain protection.
    • Final assembly location: Brampton, Ontario.
    • Manufacturer’s website:  www.Dodge.com
    2018 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Test Drive Photo Gallery2018 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Test Drive Photo Gallery2018 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Test Drive Photo Gallery2018 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Test Drive Photo Gallery2018 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Test Drive Photo Gallery2018 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Test Drive Photo Gallery2018 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Test Drive Photo Gallery