Dodge Charger Hellcat — Over-the-top performance

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody may be one of the craziest family vehicles on the planet. But it's easy to like crazy when there's a monstrous 707-horsepower 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 engine under the hood that can turn a family cruiser into a tire-smokin' dragstrip animal or a two-ton winding-road juggernaut.

Perhaps the craziest part of the equation is that this go-very-fast machine is one of the most practical family cars on the road with four doors, a roomy cabin, large trunk, pleasant ride, and an abundance of standard equipment. The current iteration of the big sedan has been around "forever," undergoing its last complete redesign in 2011, and that's perhaps one of the reasons it's one of the most reliable and well-made American cars on the road today.

Beyond the muscle car guise, the Charger SXT or GT is still a good choice with a more responsible award-winning 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 making a very useable 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. As a bonus, the Charger V-6 can be ordered with all-wheel drive.

The Charger R/T, Scat Pack (which we also drove) and SRT Hellcat come with increasingly powerful Hemi V-8 engines. The R/T is outfitted with a 5.7-liter making 370 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque. The Scat Pack gets a 6.4-liter V-8 churning out 485 horsepower and 475 foot-pounds of torque.

Then there is the massive 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 under the hood of the SRT Hellcat mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission that pulls 4,335 pounds, the performance is remarkable measured from 0-to-60 in 3.6 seconds with a quarter-mile time of 10.96 seconds at 125 mph.

One of the great attributes of the Hellcat is its demeanor in everyday driving and commuting. It's happy to just mosey along from stoplight to stoplight with a low burbling voice. But if you get the notion, blip the throttle and the big guy comes to life in a thunderous roar accompanied by the whining snarl of the supercharger.

For 2020 the Charger Hellcat gets the Widebody treatment as standard equipment that not only makes the car look fiercer, but gives it more stability in the corners. It also adds 3.3 inches of width in order to accommodate 11-inch wide, 20-inch diameter wheels that can be wrapped in optional Pirelli P Zero PZ4 summer tires. Brembo brake rotors with six-piston calipers in front and four-piston calipers in the rear are helpful in quickly pulling the car down from speed. An updated front end that gets a new fascia and revised grille opening creates a look that draws attention.

The 2020 Hellcat also comes with a new electric power steering system that can be adjusted along with engine power, shift speed and traction control through the car's 8.4-inch infotainment screen. As with most modern muscle cars, the Hellcat comes with standard launch control to aid the racing-inclined owner to get "off the line" quicker. A new feature is a Race Cooldown system that keeps the supercharger cooled after the engine has been cut off by continuing to run the intercooler pump and radiator fan.

In recent years Dodge has upped its game with stylish, user-friendly interiors that are as good as any in the industry at the various price points. Quality materials are used throughout, but expect some hard plastics in the lower trims.

The front seats are large, comfortable and roomy. Rear-seat room is plentiful for two passengers, but a center rider will find the position uncomfortable. Leg room is decent as it should be in a full-sized sedan. Trunk room is good at 16.5 cubic feet.

Uconnect is one of the easiest infotainment systems to use. It's also one of the quicker systems, responding swiftly to both touch and voice commands. We are fans of satellite radio, and Uconnect is still unequaled in its ability to display information in large, easy-to-read-at-a-glance lettering.

While the Hellcat comes with an optional navigation system, we have relied more and more on Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to display clear, up-to-date route guidance with various apps available. On the safety front, the Hellcat is well equipped with most of the modern technology with one unfortunate exception — adaptive cruise control is not available.

So how much does all this performance goodness cost? The base Hellcat comes in at $71,140 including destination charge. Our test car with several options including a $1,595 19-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, a $995 navigation package, and red brake calipers for $595, pushed the bottom line to $76,615. Bottom line on the Scat Pack we also drove was $60,250.

Base price: $71,140; as driven, $76,615
Engine: 6.2 liter supercharged V-8
Horsepower: 707 @ 6,000 rpm
Torque: 650 foot-pounds @ 4,800 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: rear wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 120.4 inches
Length: 200.8 inches
Curb weight: 4,335 pounds
Turning circle: 39.0 feet
Luggage capacity: 16.5 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 12 city, 21 highway, 15 combined
0-60: 3.6 seconds (manufacturer)
Also consider: No direct sedan competitors

The Good
• Massive horsepower
• Massive stopping power
• Excellent infotainment system
• Comfortable ride

The Bad
•  Comes at an enormous price

The Ugly
• Abysmal gas mileage