2018 Dodge Charger Hellcat Review: This Is America
2018 Dodge Charger Hellcat Review: This Is America
The only thing more American than apple pie, baseball, and reality television is a big, mean V8 engine. And when it comes to V8s, you want a Hellcat. The Hellcat family now includes three models: the Dodge Challenger and Charger, and Jeep Grand Cherokee, each wielding the same 6.2-liter supercharged V8 and 707 horsepower.
But the Charger Hellcat is unique in that, not only is it the most-powerful sedan in the world, but it’s also pretty affordable relative to its class – and comfortable, too. Apart from a few minor updates to the cabin and trim, not much has changed for 2018. The Charger Hellcat is still a four-door heat-seeking missile.
A $66,295 MSRP may sound pricey, but the Charger Hellcat is actually the most-affordable option in its class. The Lexus GS F ($84,350), Cadillac CTS-V ($86,995), and BMW M5 ($102,700) are all significantly more expensive, although each comes with a genuine luxury pedigree. On the flip side, the Dodge is most powerful of the bunch.
There aren’t a ton of options to drive that price up either. Most of the optional features found elsewhere throughout the Charger range come standard on the Hellcat trim. Red seat belts add $195, colored brake calipers are an extra $495, Pirelli P Zero summer tires cost $595, 20-inch aluminum wheels cost $994, and both the Harmon Kardon audio option and powered sunroof cost another $1,995, respectively.
At $75,165 as tested, this Charger Hellcat was still more affordable than any of its competitors.
Every Charger trim looks mean. The sleek LED headlights and slim upper grille are unmistakable. But the Hellcat upgrade adds even more; a bulging hood and a larger gaping lower grille takes the front fascia styling to 11. Front on, it’s arguably the most aggressive-looking sedan on the market.
The side profile softens up its styling a bit, but not my much. The sharp beltline and 20-inch wheels – in this case, optional five-spoke fitments – distinguish the range-topper from its lower-trim siblings. A subtle spoiler in the rear and an LED light bar caps off the muscular look. Muscle car maniac or not, you can’t deny that the Charger Hellcat looks cool as hell.
The Dodge Charger Hellcat doesn’t have a cabin representative of its asking price. For $72,000, you get flimsy switches, cheap dials, and lots of plastic, per typical FCA style. In a car that costs this much, that’s pretty disappointing. The big, beige leather seats, at least, make up for some of the cheap features. They’re supremely comfortable. Just don’t expect the limited bolstering to hug you on a corner.
What is likable about the Charger’s cabin, though, is the big backseat. It’s not everyday you can shove four passengers into a 707-horsepower vehicle. There’s a hearty 40.1 inches of legroom and 37 inches of headroom in the back – big enough for any American. And just like the front seats, the rear bench finished in a super soft beige leather.
The Charger Hellcat gets high marks for having a number of selectable features. FCA’s UConnect infotainment system is ripe with options, most of them are easy to access thanks to large icons on the home screen. The 8.4-inch touchscreen offers things like a lap timer and a G force meter, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.
The screen feels cheap and is slow to respond, though. It lags more than other systems in its class. The navigation is in need of an update, too; the graphics are outdated and the entire system is confusing to use.
What else can be said about the 707-horsepower Dodge Charger Hellcat that hasn’t already? It’s an absolute monster of a machine. The supercharged 6.2-liter V8 is one of the most-powerful engines in the world, and gives the super sedan the ability to sprint to 60 miles per hour in just 3.4 seconds and on to a top speed of over 200 miles per hour. It’s an insane amount of speed for a vehicle that weighs 4,575 pounds.
But there are drawbacks.
Putting all that power to pavement isn’t exactly a smooth operation; not even the super grippy 275/40ZR20 performance tires can manage all 707 horses. Being just a bit too aggressive on the throttle will yield a cloud of white smoke. Too-fast corners will cause the rear end to get loose, as will anything more than a drizzle. It’s arguably too much to handle in certain situations – but hella fun in ideal conditions.
Who needs safety when you have 707 freakin’ horsepower?! Joking aside, the Charger Hellcat doesn’t offer a ton in terms of safety equipment. Rear parking sensors, rear cross path detection, and rear collision alert are the only features offered. They each work fine respectively, but you’d expect more on a $73,000 sedan.
Again, 707 horsepower doesn’t exactly scream efficiency. The Charger Hellcat’s 6.2-liter supercharged V8 returns 13 city, 22 highway, and 16 combined miles per gallon assuming you aren’t tempted to gun it at every green light. For its class, that’s not terrible. The BMW M5 returns 15 city, 21 highway, and 17 combined, while the Lexus GS F is best-in-segment with 16 city, 24 highway, and 19 combined.
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