2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody review: Meaner and more agile

The Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody gives Dodge something that no other American rival offers: a full-size sedan with astronomical power. Ford is ditching the sedan business altogether, and Chevrolet is downsizing its portfolio, with both companies focusing on crossovers and SUVs. Thankfully, Dodge isn’t following that lead.

I do not like

  • Aging cabin
  • Fuel economy feared
  • It lacks driver assistance functions

More than wider hips

The new for 2020 Widebody adds 3.5 inches in width over the standard charger. In addition to the fender flares, the Widebody has a unique front fascia with a slotted post grille that provides more direct path radiator cooling, plus a new rear spoiler and side skirts to better blend in with the added width. The result is a more menacing design that gets many nods of approval wherever this sedan goes.

In addition to a more massive stance, the wider outer shell allows for the installation of thicker wheels and tires. In the case of Hellcat, the previously standard 20 x 9.5 inch wheels wrapped with 275/40 series tires are replaced by rubber coated 20 x 11 inch wheels from the 305/50 series.

A new wheel and tire package also means that engineers have had to rework Hellcat’s suspension, resulting in new tuning for Bilstein’s three-mode adaptive shock absorbers, 32% stiffer front springs and larger anti-roll bars. Another chassis tweak is a multimode electric power steering system in place of the old all-hydraulic setup, while the massive brakes remain with front six-piston Brembo calipers that bite into the 15.4-inch two-piece rotors.

What is the result of the revisions to the frame and the meatier tire? A much more competent Charger that instills more confidence when cornering. With Track mode activated, the steering response is almost instant and the shock absorbers keep the 4,587-pound big boy from being clumsy in cornering. The wider contact patches of the Pirelli P Zero tires give the Charger a commendable stick before the fronts start plowing forward, and the brake muscle is strong, making the car slow down quickly. Where the Charger’s size can’t be disguised is in braking and side-to-side weight transfers, but avoid slalom drills and you’ll be fine.

Hellcat Widebody is stiff in Track mode, transmitting impacts from every roadway into the cockpit. Plus, in Track mode, the steering weight is on the heavy side for road use, unless you want Popeye-sized forearms. Recall Hellcat’s Sport setting for the best balance between performance and comfort. You’ll need Street Mode for the gentler behavior, but keep in mind the ride quality isn’t as comfortable as a magic carpet and the steering still has quite a bit of weight with a little dead center in the center.

A wider body allows for the installation of wider tires.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

Supercharged centerpiece

Visual and handling changes aside, the main reason anyone buys a Hellcat is for the 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 under the hood. It still produces 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque for 2020, but hold on for a 2021 model and you’ll get 717 horsepower with Hellcat and 797 horsepower with the new Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye.

The most powerful SRT chargers of 2021 won’t hit dealerships until spring, which means if you want a Hellcat now, it will be an example with 707 horsepower, which is hard to cheat. Not with a 0-60 mph time of 3.6 seconds and a 10.96 second quarter-mile run. The Charger Hellcat is a brute that makes just the right noises muttering at idle, which becomes a compressor whine during acceleration with a threatening exhaust note to boot. Throttle response is near instantaneous, and a tidal wave of power is available throughout the rev range to forcefully push this sedan forward or spin the rear tires for burnouts and smoky donuts.

The supercharged V8 is still the star of the Hellcat show.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

Power is routed to the Hellcat’s rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission which, in Track mode, rips quick but not completely continuous shifts. You can change it yourself with steering wheel-mounted paddles, which offer respectable response to commands and matching turns in downshifts. My advice is to let the computer do all the shifting, though, because the transmission is well timed.

For times when you’re not trying to find a nice piece of flooring to run smoke shows on, the Street setting gives the broadcast a sweeter personality. Gear changes are smoother and slightly damped. Unsurprisingly, the biggest blow against the SRT Charger is poor fuel economy, which is evident with how quickly the fuel gauge needle drops. EPA’s fuel economy estimates predict that this 707-hp beast will return at 12 miles per gallon in the city and 21mpg on the highway – numbers low enough for the Charger to be slapped with a $ 2,100 gas consumption tax. Does it matter to a typical Hellcat buyer? It is not likely.

Same as always

Inside is where the Charger shows its age. It’s spacious, with a simple layout and clearly marked controls. Front bucket seats are comfortable with large side cushions and finished with beautiful leather, while plenty of soft-touch surfaces, an optional suede upholstery, and real carbon fiber trims bring some premium touches to this test car. There’s also a nice big trunk in the back with 16.5 cubic feet of space. Unfortunately, the interior design is a bit stale now, and there are some low-cost areas, such as the empty window controls and lower door panel compartments made of plastic.

The cabin is getting longer and longer, but the infotainment technology is still valid.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

What’s not old is the Uconnect infotainment system with its crisp and responsive 8.4-inch touchscreen that controls a 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio setup, navigation system that calculates routes quickly, Wi-Fi hotspot , Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And to keep anyone’s phones or tablets from turning off in the charger, there are numerous USB and 12-volt sockets within easy reach of people in both rows of seats.

Unfortunately, anyone looking for an extensive technical driver assistance menu will be disappointed. The Charger Hellcat comes with the federally mandated backup camera and standard blind spot monitoring and that’s it. Things like adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, and frontal collision warning are not available.

Great performance for your money

Really, when you think about what the Buy Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody brings $ 73,590 to the table (including $ 1,495 for destination and gas consumption tax), it’s a steal. And this is even more true with the Widebody, which allows the Charger to take turns respectably thanks to its larger suspension and tire modifications.

The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody will set you back $ 73,590 to get started.

Jon Wong / Roadshow

Hellcat Widebody tester pictured stickers for $ 83,150 here with a handful of options I’d gladly leave out, like different wheels, a sunroof, and a few small visual upgrades. My ideal car keeps the frozen paint job seen here, though, as does the $ 1,595 carbon suede interior package. I will also keep the excellent $ 1,995 Harman Kardon Audio Group, bringing my ideal machine profit to $ 77,180.

Yes, the Charger Hellcat Widebody has a lot of flaws, but when I walk towards this menacing car in the parking lot, I don’t think about it. When I engage launch control and let the supercharged V8 push me forward, I don’t even think about them because I’m too busy laughing with delight. The Charger Hellcat Widebody is an extremely fun machine.

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