Modern day muscle: the 2022 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody
If you are into muscle cars, especially Mopars, well then you owe it to yourself to look at Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. This modern-day rendition of an old-school muscle car can be had with at least 717 hp (and that can be pushed up to 807 hp) by way of a monstrous supercharged V8 that produces straight-line-smashing, tire-smoking performance. Sure, it’s not the best handling sports car around, and yes, it guzzles gas like there is no tomorrow all while laughing in the face of climate change. But oh, who cares when you’re having this much fun behind the wheel of this amazing machine?
Today’s Dodge Challenger has been around since 2008, so it’s definitely showing its age, especially when put up against its main competitors, the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. But despite its years, the Challenger remains a top-seller in its class, even out-selling the Mustang last year. Part of the reason the Challenger is such a good seller is the diverse selection of engines available. If you’re just after the looks, the base 3.6-liter V6 engine (303 horsepower, 268 lb.-ft of torque) should suffice. But if big smoky burnouts are your thing, the SRT and supercharged Hellcat engines are what you’re after. This week we look at the Challenger SRT Hellcat.
Although the Challenger is a two-door coupe, don’t let that fool you – it’s a big heavy car. But that does have its advantages – it’s roomy enough for four adults, with the back seats being quite roomy for being a two-door, and luggage space is good.
Pop the hood of the SRT Hellcat and it’s nothing but muscle-car power. A 6.2-liter Hemi V8 with a supercharger mounted on top fills the engine bay. In SRT Hellcat form this makes 717 horsepower and 656 lb.-ft of torque. Want more? Opt for the Hellcat Redeye which pushes that power to 797 hp (and 707 lb.-ft of torque). If the main intention of your Challenger is to drag race it, well Dodge has that covered as well with the Super Stock – the ultimate Challenger, bumping the Redeye’s power to 807 horsepower. The Hellcat uses an eight-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed manual is no longer available on the Hellcat (although it is still available on lesser Challengers), but it could return later this year, if not, for 2023.
On top of that, a Widebody version is available for any Hellcat, giving the Challenger an even cooler look with flared fenders that add about 3.5 inches of width to the car along with wider wheels and tires, and adaptive suspension dampers.
The tester was a 2022 Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody, carrying an MSRP of $88,070. The Challenger starts at $32,025 for the base SXT, while the SRT Hellcat starts at $63,530.
The Hellcat experience begins the moment you press the dash mounted Start button. The 6.2-liter supercharged V8 snarls to life, like Godzilla waking up from a bad dream. Put the palm-style shifter into drive and step on the gas and the power simply pours on. Step harder into the pedal and the Challenger starts pulling hard – really hard. Just when you think you’re going fast, things get even crazier as the whine from the supercharger overtakes the exhaust – and you get pushed further back into your seat. It’s an amazing rush of adrenaline and excitement, to say the least. Like with other SRT cars, the Hellcat can record lap times, quarter-mile times, reaction times and g-forces. From a standstill, 60 mph can be reached in just 3.6 seconds, and the quarter mile comes in just 11.8 seconds. Top speed is an estimated 203 mph.
While the Hellcat is all about going incredibly fast, it’s still a Challenger, which means it makes for a great regular driver with plenty of amenities, including heated and vented front seats and even a heated steering wheel. About the only impractical part about the Challenger Hellcat is its fuel economy – a dismal 13 mpg in town if your easy on the pedal (yeah, right) and a not-so-bad 21 mpg on the highway. Because of the low fuel-economy numbers, the Hellcat is slapped with a $2100 gas-guzzler tax.
For 2022, the top-of-the-line Challenger Hellcat Redeye gets a Jailbreak option which includes unique exterior and interior badging. Sad news comes next year as the 2023 model will be the final year of the Challenger in this form.
If you’re looking for the ultimate muscle-car feeling, you will not be disappointed with the Challenger Hellcat. In a straight line, it’s an absolute monster, with smoky burnouts available on demand. Inside, the Challenger’s large cabin, the accommodating trunk, nice infotainment system, along with other amenities including a surprisingly compliant ride make it an easy car to live with on a daily basis. With the Challenger’s days being numbers, the Hellcat is definitely the last of its breed.
— Christopher A. Randazzo
By The Numbers:
2022 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody
Base Price: $63,530.00
Price as Tested: $88,070.00
Layout: front-engine / rear-wheel drive
Engine: 6.2 liter V8 Supercharged
Transmission: eight-speed automatic
Horsepower: 717 hp
Torque: 656 ft-lbs.
EPA Fuel Economy: 13 city / 21 highway mpg
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