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2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye: First Drive Review

AutoNXT logo AutoNXT 8/13/2018 Perry Stern

a red car driving on a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Enthusiasts Only

Look at the latest headlines about the future of the automobile—it seems that any day now, vehicles will be all-electric and driving themselves (and occupants) hither and yon all across the country. For those who hark back to an earlier era of personal driving enjoyment and high-performance vehicles, Dodge is pleased to counter those autonomous electric plans with the all-new 797-horsepower 2019 Challenger Hellcat Redeye—welcome evidence that there are and will continue to be proper American muscle cars for enthusiasts who desire them.

a car parked in front of a mountain: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Hellcat Redeye

The Hellcat Redeye joins the 2019 Dodge Challenger lineup along with a number of refreshed models including the R/T Scat Pack Widebody and a more powerful Challenger Hellcat. Now that the 840-horsepower Demon is no longer in production, this new Redeye is the most powerful model in the Challenger lineup. According to FCA, it is the most powerful, quickest and fastest muscle car available.

a blue car parked on the side of a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Hellcat Possessed

To perpetuate its devilish ways, one might think of the new Redeye as the Hellcat possessed by the Demon. Much of the technology that made the Demon so powerful has found its way into this latest Hellcat—most importantly its supercharged HEMI V8. But unlike the Demon, the Hellcat Redeye is not a limited-edition model—those who want one can get one.

a car parked next to a body of water: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Not Inexpensive

The Hellcat Redeye now sits atop the Challenger lineup. Base price is $69,650—$11,000 more than the standard Hellcat. The Widebody package adds another $6,000. The vehicle we tested also has an optional Harmon Kardon audio system, Laguna leather trim and special paint for a total MSRP of $91,469.

the engine of a blue suitcase: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 797 Horsepower

Powering the Challenger Hellcat Redeye is a 6.2-liter HEMI V8 engine fitted with the largest factory supercharger of any production car. Total output is 797 horsepower and 707 lb-ft of torque. All this power is sent to the rear wheels via a TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission.

a car parked on the side of a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Very Quick

The stats for this mighty muscle car are as impressive as anticipated. The big coupe can reach 60 mph in 3.4 seconds and will pass the quarter mile mark in 10.8 seconds at a speed of 131 mph. With enough road (and nerve), the Hellcat Redeye will reach 203 mph.

a yellow car parked on the side of a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Can Be Fuel Efficient

When the Redeye is driven calmly it is rated as high as 22 mpg on the highway, with the city rating at 13 mpg. But at full throttle, the big V8 gulps fuel at an alarming rate—1.43 gallons per minute—which means the Challenger Redeye will run dry in around 11 minutes at full throttle.

a blue car parked on the side of a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Two Scoops Better Than One

Dodge has updated the look of the Hellcat and Hellcat Redeye with a dual-snorkel hood. “We designed the SRT Hellcat Challenger’s new dual-snorkel hood to focus on another key historical Mopar design element and pay homage to our past with a modern interpretation that looks even more sinister,” said Head of Performance, Passenger and Utility Vehicle Exterior Design at FCA US Mark Trostle. “Whenever we design a new exterior element, we work hand-in-hand with the SRT engineering team to ensure that everything we create resonates with SRT DNA, is functional and meets their performance goals,” Trostle noted.

© Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Red Eye

While both Hellcat and Hellcat Redeye have similar styling, the Redeye can be spotted via a glance at the Hellcat logo on the side—it features a scary-looking red eye.

a yellow car parked on the side of a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience More Powerful Hellcat

In addition to the new dual-snorkel hood, the Challenger Hellcat receives a power boost for 2019. The new updated model now gets 717 horsepower out of its 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8—a bump of 10 horses. Torque is also slightly higher for the new model year, rated at 656 lb-ft.

a blue car parked in front of a building: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Widebody

Both the Hellcat and Hellcat Redeye are available in a Widebody option that adds 3.5 inches to the overall width. Not only does it improve handling, it looks even meaner.

a motorcycle parked on the seat of a car: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Interior

Inside, the Hellcat Redeye is a bit of a contradiction to its vicious exterior. It’s actually comfortable with large bucket seats up front that can be trimmed in houndstooth cloth, Nappa leather with Alcantara or luxurious Laguna leather, all with an embossed Hellcat logo. Gauges are a nice mix of old-school performance combined with modern digital readouts—fitting for this modern-day muscle car.

a car seat: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Rear Seat

The Challenger is not a small car, and that translates to a surprisingly spacious rear seat. As a coupe access can be a bit difficult, but there’s plenty of legroom and the seats are comfortable. The middle seat could be used in a pinch, but it is clearly not the best seat in the house.

an open trunk of a car: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Trunk

It may have the performance and power of a supercar, but the Hellcat also possesses the trunk space of a family car. The large space has a big opening that easily swallows several pieces of luggage or golf clubs—or whatever else needs to be hauled at high speed.

a person driving a car: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Large Display

The Hellcat Redeye comes standard with the latest Uconnect 4C with an 8.4-inch display. The Uconnect system is one of the best in the industry with easy navigation, easy-to-read screens and an intuitive layout.

a close up of a screen of a cell phone: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Performance Pages

All SRT models offer performance pages that allow the driver to easily customize the car’s behavior—adjustments can be made to transmission, traction, suspension and steering. Drivers can also monitor horsepower and torque in real time, as well as G-forces and braking. Our favorites are timers that record zero to 60 mph, zero to 100 mph, eighth-mile, quarter-mile and braking distance. However, these features can be addictive and could easily lead to an expensive speeding ticket.

a close up of a car: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Audio System

The 2019 Challenger Hellcat Redeye has both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard equipment, as is Bluetooth streaming. The standard audio system features 276-watts and six speakers, although buyers have the option of upgrading to a 900-watt Harmon Kardon system with surround sound and 18 high-performance speakers. To be honest, we prefer the sound of the HEMI V8 with its supercharger whine.

a car parked in a parking lot: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Fun Colors

Not only does the Challenger have a look reminiscent of the original model, Dodge has brought back many of the fun colors from the original, including Plum Crazy, B5 Blue, F8 Green, Go Mango, Yellow Jacket, White Knuckle and Octane Red.

a close up of a car going down the road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience On the Road

We had the opportunity to test the new Hellcat Redeye on the winding roads outside Portland, Maine, as well as on the track at Club Motorsports in Tamworth, New Hampshire. A simple press of the start button brings the big HEMI to life with a loud rumble, and immediately drivers will discover an uncontrollable grin on their faces even before moving an inch. It also seems absolutely necessary to rev the engine a few times before driving away.

a blue car parked in a parking lot: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Easy to Drive

With 797 horsepower on tap in this Hellcat Redeye, strong acceleration is certainly no surprise. What really impresses is how easily the Redeye drives as an everyday car. The throttle modulates well and the car feels tame while cruising through small towns, as we did on our way to the track. The ride is comfortable even when the road gets rough, and big, comfy seats mean this Hellcat Redeye would also be an ideal road trip car.

a car parked on the side of a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience On-Road Fun

On curvy roads the Challenger holds its own. Steering is precise and there’s never a lack of power. The large seat bolsters kept us firmly in our seats even when winding through the northeastern roads on the drive to New Hampshire. The only difficulty encountered was the constant urge to put a right foot to the floor and hear that V8 roar. But with that much power, speed climbs quickly, and we had no interest in meeting the fine members of the local law enforcement.

a car parked on the side of a river: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience On Track

Club Motorsports in New Hampshire is one of the most beautiful tracks in the nation, replete with amazing views and lush greenery. The track itself is very technical with plenty of elevation changes and a variety of turns—perfect for testing this high-powered muscle car.

a car parked on the side of a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Amazing Performance

After a few laps it’s easy to forget that the Challenger is a full-size vehicle. The grip of the big Pirelli P Zero tires is impressive, allowing drivers to take full advantage of the Redeye’s raw power. With very little body lean in corners, the Redeye feels very stable during track time.

a car driving on a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Acceleration

On the long straight of the Club Motorsports track we had time to feel the HEMI’s immense acceleration. At full throttle the speed climbs rapidly as occupants get shoved back into their seats. And that sound—the intoxicating scream of the supercharger combined with that HEMI V8 took our breath away while standing next to the track as the cars flashed by at 120-plus mph.

a blue car parked in a parking lot: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Braking

With 797 horsepower at the ready in a car that weighs around 4,500 pounds, there better be strong brakes all around. The high-performance Brembos with massive 15.4-inch vented rotors and 6-piston calipers up front easily hauled the big car down to safe speeds at the end of the straight. The brakes never faded, even after several laps around the track.

a red car parked on the side of a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Smoking the Tires

Undoubtedly 797 horsepower makes for a very fast car, and all those ponies can also be used to melt the rear tires. Naturally we’re not saying this is something that should be done—but it does make for an impressive performance.

a car parked in a parking lot: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience R/T Scat Pack Widebody

Dodge has made a number of changes for the 2019 Challenger. For 2019 Dodge also offers the Challenger R/T Scat Pack with the Widebody option for the first time. We had a chance to test this model as well, and while its 392-cubic inch 6.4-liter HEMI generates “only” 485 horsepower, it is still plenty powerful. Aside from losing bragging rights associated with the Redeye, it is more than capable of meeting the needs of any muscle car owner.

a close up of a car going down the highway: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience R/T on the Track

Around the track the R/T is noticeably lighter, making it feel a bit more agile. While not as quick in a straight line as the Redeye, it handles the corners with a bit more finesse than its more powerful sibling. The R/T Scat Pack also is considerably less expensive—the base price is $38,995, but with the added Widebody and other optional extras our test vehicle topped out at $56,125. It’s also worth noting that the R/T Scat Pack can be had with a manual transmission—not an option on the Hellcat or Hellcat Redeye.

a car parked in a parking lot: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Right for You?

One glance and there’s no mistaking the Challenger Hellcat Redeye as anything other than an amazing muscle car. Not only does it have the look, it has the roaring HEMI V8 sound and the power to melt the rear tires. But at the same time, it can be a completely civilized vehicle that is comfortable, has all the niceties of a premium car and is easy to drive. Getting the combination of these attributes right is not an easy thing to engineer, and while there are other vehicles similar to the Challenger Hellcat Redeye, none offer this level of performance for the price. The muscle car has grown up—and that’s a good thing.

a car driving on a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience Rating: 9.0

Pros: Great looks; extreme power; easy to drive.

Cons: Hard to drive slowly; still pricey for a Dodge; easily burns through tires and fuel.

Bottom Line: Amazing modern-day muscle car that can be driven every day.

Research the Dodge Challenger on MSN Autos | Find a Dodge Challenger near you

a car parked on the side of a mountain: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

a car parked in a parking lot: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye

a car parked next to a body of water: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

a car parked in a parking lot: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

a car parked on the side of a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye

a blue car parked on the side of a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye

a car with a mountain in the background: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye

a car parked in a parking lot: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

a yellow car parked on the side of a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye

a green car parked on the side of a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

a yellow car parked on the side of a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

a black and silver phone: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye

a car parked in a parking lot: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye

a car parked on the side of a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye

a red car parked in front of a mountain: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye

a car parked on the side of a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye

a car parked on the side of a road: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye

a police car parked in a parking lot: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye

a car parked in a parking lot: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

a car parked in a parking lot: © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience© Provided by Automotive Content Experience, LLC © Perry Stern, Automotive Content Experience 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye

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