Charger SRT Hellcat
When Dodge dropped their 707 hp 6.2L supercharged Hemi V8 into their big Charger family sedan it was both mad genius and long-standing tradition. American Muscle was born in the 1940s when moonshine runners modified their cars to get to the next county line before the Sheriff could catch up. When they weren’t delivering their goods they were comparing their hot rods with their friends and held races to see who had the fastest car. Eventually, they were dropping the biggest and baddest engines they could into their engine bays. This concept prompted automakers to put big V8s into their family sedans, creating the original muscle cars and eventually, this Charger SRT Hellcat.
The Charger Hellcat is about as American as a car can get, it’s big, loud, and doesn’t apologize for what it is. While a gray car on black wheels can sometimes go unnoticed, this Hellcat is still about as subtle as Maverick and Goose buzzing the tower. When I climb into the driver’s seat the first thing I notice is how much effort Dodge has put into improving the interior. The gauges are easy to read and the red faces fit the part. The center section layout makes sense. The seats feel like you could drive across the country and back again without a sore backside. Then I use the red key, push the start button, and the supercharged Hemi snarls to life. This definitely isn’t some rental car. I grab the fat steering wheel, select first, and pull away.
This Charger has the 8-speed automatic from ZF. And while we enjoyed the manual transmission in the Challenger, in a big family sedan the automatic makes more sense. I’ve always been one to think 8 gears are a few too many and a bit ridiculous. But this automatic is so smooth and well programmed that under normal driving it goes unnoticed. Wait, what am I saying? Who buys a Charger Hellcat to drive normally? At 40mph I mash the gas, the car downshifts instantly and rockets to stupid-fast speeds in zero time. This Charger can finish a ¼ mile drag race before a Prius hits 70mph. The scary part isn’t the speed, but the fact it’s so smooth at speed you don’t realize just how fast you are going until you look at the speedometer.
On roads like these, the Hellcat can clear its throat and stretch its legs without being overworked. Cruising on open roads is what its all about with enough athleticism to leave almost everything in its wake. It doesn’t mind sweeping bends and rolling hills, but you are secretly hoping there are no cars around the next curve so you can bury your right foot and hear that supercharger whine as the V8 bellows. The only problem is stoplights. Every time you stop someone is bound to ask you to do a burnout. Todd and Paul showed some restraint with the Challenger Hellcat but not this time. Paul especially enjoyed leaving elevens on back roads. This creates a tire problem. You’ll need a separate savings account to fund a new set of rears on a weekly basis.
Horsepower figures aside, the best part about the Charger Hellcat is the price. The base price of the Hellcat is only $62,295. While that is still a good chunk of change, the second cheapest car with 700hp from the factory is the Ferrari F12 Berlinetta starting at $319,995. Suddenly, the Hellcat seems like the bargain of the century. And sure, it has completely useless and stupid amounts of power that you won’t be using 95% of the time but do you really care? This car revives the moonshine runner’s delivery vehicle, but gives you every modern option in the process, even a warranty. Whether you are hauling moonshine or just picking up the kids from school, there are few cooler 4-door options.