Dodge Hellcats — Modern muscle cars

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

(March 28, 2021) The Dodge Hellcat lineup is incredible — incredibly fast, incredibly fun, incredibly expensive. We applaud Dodge for keeping the Detroit-style last-century muscle car segment very alive and very well. For 2021, Dodge and Ram have four clear choices for massive performance — a sports coupe (Challenger), a large sedan (Charger), a three-row SUV (Durango), and a full-sized Ram pickup.

The big-horsepower Hemi application was also applied at Jeep in 2018 in the form of the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. You can say that with a few exceptions (Mustang and Shelby Cobra, Corvette and Camaro) the big muscle tradition continues on the shoulders of the Stellantis vehicles. It might be a last gasp for gas-powered engines as the electric-car age is poised to make the ICE (internal combustion engine) obsolete.

So we say bring on the horsepower from rumbling V-8 engines with thunderous exhaust notes that can raise the hair on the back of your neck. Thanks to Dodge we can leave the gas engine scene kicking and screaming.

The Hellcat was born in 2015 with the introduction of the over-the-top 6.2 liter supercharged Hemi V-8 making 707 horsepower in the Charger and Challenger. It became a gigantic talking point among people who live and breathe automobiles. It reached epoch proportions with the limited-run 808-horsepower SRT Demon a couple years later.

For 2021 we get "the son of Demon" in the form of the Charger/Challenger Hellcat Redeye Widebody making 797 horsepower. And we also get a muscular Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat with 710 horsepower — 3.6-seconds from 0-to-60 and room for seven people. Could this be the ultimate vacation vehicle? Perhaps not with gas mileage using the more expensive premium rated at 12 mpg city, 17 highway and 13 combined.

One caveat about the Durango Hellcat — Dodge is limiting production to just 2,000 copies and by mid-January they were sold out. However, not everyone who raised their hands for a copy will close the deal after the vehicles start arriving in showrooms this summer. So head to a dealer selling the Durango Hellcat and put your name on the list. You might get lucky.

We drove both the 2021 Charger Hellcat Redeye Widebody and the Durango SRT Hellcat in two separate weeks of crazy fun — and without a single speeding ticket!

With 797 horses at your disposal in the Hellcat Redeye, select launch control and then slam the accelerator and the front end of the beast rises up and hunkers down snapping through the gears as the supercharger wails like a banshee on a mission from hell taking you from a standstill to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds according to Dodge. It's guaranteed to raise the hairs on the back of your neck. And what about the quarter mile — 10.6 seconds @ 129 mph. And Dodge says the Redeye, which has a 220-mph speedometer, has a top speed of 203 mph. We will take their word on that.

For the best daily driving experience where you enjoy blipping it every so often (just for giggles and grins) and taking a 45 mph curve at 80, run the Redeye in Sport mode from the five-mode dial on the dashboard.  Then there's the Track setting that is so much over the top it's best used
sparingly — like when you are actually on a track.

In our time behind the wheel, which included running chores to pick up groceries and hitting the interstate for a 100-mile roundtrip, we couldn't discern any performance difference from the 717-horsepower standard version Hellcat we drove last year and the more muscular Widebody Redeye. Both are over-the-top fast and furious.

If you want the Hellcat experience, but want to save a few bucks there's about a $9,000 difference between the standard 717-horsepower version ($80,903) and the 797 hp model ($89,840).

One of the great things about the Charger Hellcat, it's a sedan that's perfect for road trips with the family, but great at obliterating drag strips. Our test car carried a bottom line of $90,560 including a $2,100 gas guzzler tax.

The 2021 Durango SRT Hellcat might be even more interesting to people who are in love with crossovers and relish the idea of owning a practical vehicle in terms of carrying passengers and cargo and impractical in terms of devilish performance. With 710 horsepower with 640 pound-feet of torque available to the driver, the big Durango can polish off a quarter mile in 12 seconds at 115 mph. Impressive considering its 5,334 pound curb weight.

Inside, the Hellcat Durango has a driver-focused layout that looks similar to the dashboard on the Charger and Challenger. The super SUV's gauge cluster features exclusive red accents, and its flat-bottom steering wheel hosts a pair of paddle shifters as well as an SRT logo that has red backlighting.

Gas mileage and price are daunting, not to mention insurance costs. Our test truck carried a bottom line of $89,610. EPA-rated gas mileage on premium gas is 12 city, 17 highway and 13 combined. In our 200 miles of aggressive driving we realized 12 mpg. The 24.6-gallon gas tank will help you avoid numerous expensive visits to the pumps.

If you want a Hellcat Durango and find it an impossibility because of the limited production, you might consider the 707-horsepower Hellcat-powered Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk. It carries the same credentials as the Hellcat Durango at a starting price of $86,995.

These muscle cars are impractical for our needs but we applaud the Dodge/Jeep folks for still offering politically incorrect Detroit muscle cars in this age of electrification.

2021 Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye


Base price: $89,840; as driven, $90,560
Engine: 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V-8
Horsepower: 797 @ 6,300 rpm
Torque: 707 pound-feet @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: rear wheel
Wheelbase: 120 inches
Length: 201 inches
Curb weight: 4,654 pounds
Turning circle: 39 feet
Luggage capacity: 16.5 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 12 city, 21 highway, 15 combined
0-60: 3.5 seconds (manufacturer)
Also consider:  No direct competitors

The Good
• Massive horsepower
• Great engine note
• Comfortable ride
• Family of five will fit inside

The Bad
• Abysmal gas mileage

The Ugly
• Commands an enormous price

2021 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat


Base price: $82,490; as driven, $89,610
Engine: 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V-8
Horsepower: 710 @ 6,100 rpm
Torque: 640 pound-feet @ 4,300 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Wheelbase: 119.8 inches
Length: 200.8 inches
Curb weight: 5,334 pounds
Turning circle: 41 feet
Luggage capacity: 17.3 cubic feet
Cargo capacity: 85.1 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 24.6 gallons (premium)
EPA rating: 12 city, 17 highway, 13 combined
0-60: 3.6 seconds (Car and Driver)
Also consider: Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk

The Good
• Jaw-dropping performance
• Outstanding handling for its size
• Impressive interior
• Three rows of seating

The Bad
• Horrible gas mileage

The Ugly
• Limited production is sold out