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2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody Review: Wide the Lightning

Automobile logo Automobile 10/9/2019 Rory Jurnecka,The Manufacturer

a car parked in a parking lot: 2020-Dodge-Charger-SRT-Widebody-7.jpg
SONOMA, California—"The modern-day sedan is dead," said the Dodge Charger brand manager as he spoke to a group of track-hungry journalists in the paddock at Sonoma Raceway. This came just before mentioning that the current-generation four-door Charger, launched way back in 2011, is about to tally its best third quarter of sales since 2013. In fact, he said, Dodge has sold some 80,000 Chargers annually in each of the past seven years, and it will do so again in 2019. Looks like this brand manager gets to keep his job.

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For the 2020 model year, the Charger follows in the Challenger's burnout strips with a new Widebody treatment that brings 3.5-inch fender flares to shelter new forged "Devil's Rim" five-spoke, 20-inch wheels. Said wheels measure some 11 inches wide and are wrapped in meaty 305/35 Pirelli P Zero tires at all four corners. Like the Challenger SRT Hellcat, this is the only configuration for the Charger SRT Hellcat now—narrow-body SRT Hellcats are now outdated relics or instant classics, depending on who's side you're on.

SRT Hellcat Widebody: What's Included

Other changes have been made to sweeten the deal. The front and rear bumpers are different, so as to integrate into the wider fender arches, and the grille gets a new mail-slot design to feed more cooling air to the engine bay. More than that, the suspension has been reworked with new Bilstein three-mode dampers, retuned front springs that are 27 percent stiffer, and beefier anti-roll bars (up a full 3 mm in the rear to 22 mm). A restyled rear spoiler, silver Hellcat fender badges on most body colors, multi-setting electric power steering, and a carbon-look instrument bezel inside the cabin are also new. The SRT Hellcat's impressive 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 engine produces the same 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque as before, but electronic power steering is new and offers variable effort.

The updates bring a price increase of about $2,000, meaning the 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody starts at $71,140. If you want to spend even more money, opt for the Daytona 50th Anniversary Edition that adds $4,995. But you do get 10 extra horsepower, for a total of 717, thanks to revised engine programing, as well as Daytona graphics that are supposed to recall the 1969 Charger Daytona and the option of an exclusive B5 Blue exterior color. Just 501 Daytona editions will be built.

a car parked on the side of a road© The Manufacturer

If you don't need all that power or are aren't eager to spend all that scratch, the Charger Scat Pack (above) is also offered in a Widebody configuration for 2020 with the same accoutrements as its big-power brother. That means the three-mode Bilstein suspension, the multi-mode steering, the larger anti-roll bars, the fat flares, wheels, and tires all come along for the ride when you pony up an extra $6,000 over the standard Charger Scat Pack (which remains available). For $47,090, buyers get a 485-hp, 475-lb-ft 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 paired with a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission.

Driving the SRT Hellcat Widebody

Before turning us loose on the track, a road drive in the Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody reveals hedonistic excess—so, exactly what its buyers are looking for. While 707 horsepower in a rear-wheel-drive sedan sounds like fun on the street, it's really an exercise in frustration given how exceedingly few places you can flat-foot the throttle. Nevertheless, we were constantly reminded of the Hellcat's potential, as even puttering along the exhaust lightly rumbles and the supercharger emits a slight whine. Toggling through the suspension's settings, the ride in Normal mode is firm but acceptable for a muscled-up supersedan. Sport firms things up enough that you'll probably shy away from using it on anything but perfectly smooth roads, while Track is really best left to the setting's namesake. Truth be told, if you don't care about Hellcat bragging rights but want a legitimate four-door muscle car, the Scat Pack was our pick for on-road antics with more than enough power to get into all sorts of trouble at a lower buy-in.

a car parked on the side of a building© The Manufacturer

Even on the track and even with the new Widebody configuration, driving a Charger SRT Hellcat quickly is an exercise in restraint and carefully monitoring the traction available from the rubber meatballs at the corners. With all settings on Track mode, allowing more slip from the rear end, don't even think about giving full throttle unless the Charger's steering wheel is pointed absolutely straight. That said, the Charger is no, say, Viper. Driven conscientiously and capably, the Charger Hellcat Widebody is thrilling, capable of generating huge grip and tremendous acceleration and braking. In fact, Dodge says that while the SRT Hellcat Charger Widebody's zero-to-60-mph time is still 3.6 seconds, the quarter-mile time is down from 11.80 seconds to 10.96. (Top speed drops from 204 mph to 196 on account of the chunkier, less slippery bodywork, though. Ah, well. Dodge already made its marketing hay with the '200-mph sedan' stuff.) With these sorts of numbers, we do wish Dodge would have installed more adequately bolstered seats—we often found ourselves moving against our will under heavy g loadings.

Verdict

The Charger Scat Pack Widebody remains a happy medium between Charger SRT Hellcat and R/T. Its changes actually knock three-tenths off its 60-mph sprint time, getting the task done in 4.3 seconds on the way to a quarter-mile run of 12.4 seconds. On the track, the Scat Pack isn't quite the handful the Hellcat can be at times, but there's still plenty of muscle and a whole lotta grip—claimed lateral acceleration is up to 0.98 g. At almost $25,000 cheaper than the SRT Hellcat, it's our pick for the budget-minded or those drivers who figure nearly 500 horsepower is enough. (Yes, these people do exist.)

a blue car on a road: 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody 15© The Manufacturer 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody 15

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Perhaps the most novel thing about the Charger is that it doesn't feel like a bleeding-edge car. It's a big, heavy, obnoxious, and beasty muscle sedan that can put a lot of old-school feel back in the daily commute. And that's a good thing. Perhaps the Charger brand manager said it best: "It's a badass family hauler." It sure as hell is.

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2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat and Scat Pack Widebody Specifications
ON SALESpring 2020
BASE PRICESScat Pack, $47,090; SRT Hellcat, $71,140
ENGINE6.4L OHV 16-valve V-8, 485 hp @ 6,100 rpm, 475 lb-ft @ 4,100 rpm; 6.2L supercharged OHV 16-valve V-8, 707-717 hp @ 6,000-6,100 rpm, 650 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm
TRANSMISSION8-speed automatic
LAYOUT4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD sedan
EPA MILEAGE27/36 mpg (city/hwy, est)
L x W x H201.0 x 78.3 x 57.6 in
WHEELBASE120.0 in
WEIGHT3,400 lb (est)
0-60 MPH:3.6-4.3 sec (est)
TOP SPEED:170-196 mph (mfr)
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