2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody first drive review: big looks, incremental improvements


The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is very, very fast. The Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is even faster. So naturally, rather than calling it a job very well done, Dodge is introducing a middle child, blending the looks of the Demon with the standard Hellcat's powertrain and attaching much larger wheels. The result is the Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody, and like any middle child, it's eager to prove itself. But with incremental improvements and a sizable price increase, it doesn't feel like Dodge has gone quite far enough.

Think of the $72,590 (including a $1,095 destination charge and $1,700 gas-guzzler tax) Hellcat Widebody as an appearance package with some important functional elements. The most obvious changes are to the body, though, with the front fascia, huge front splitter, and imposing flared wheel arches presenting a much more aggressive visual character.

And that figure gets a lot of looks. Although I only drove the Hellcat Widebody on public roads briefly and in heavy traffic—from Lucas Oil Raceway where I drove the Demon back to the event hotel in downtown Indianapolis—my white tester drew constant stares at stoplights. I'm still not sure if this is a good looking car, but there's little arguing that the general public is attracted to its menacing new figure (whether that's because of its Demon-aping body kit, we'll let you decide).

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody first drive

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody first drive

Enlarge Photo
2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody first drive

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody first drive

Enlarge Photo
2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody first drive

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody first drive

Enlarge Photo

Functional changes create modest performance improvements—the Widebody's steering is fully electric, a first for the Challenger line. Like many other EPS systems, Challenger Widebody owners can choose from three separate driving modes in the SRT Drive Modes system to increase the steering effort.

The bigger change, though, hides under those swollen wheel arches. Dodge added 305/35 Pirelli P-Zero tires at all four corners and then shod them in handsome 20-inch wheels. The impact on performance is dramatic—Dodge claims the wider tires slashed 2 seconds from the Challenger Hellcat's time on an undisclosed 1.7-mile track while improving lateral grip on the skidpad by 0.04 G.


 
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