More muscle for 2019 Dodge Challenger
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With its unrivaled new Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye and a slew of other bulked-up coupes, it looks as if Dodge intends to overpower the market for muscle cars.
Counting the Redeye, the company now offers nine brawny Challenger pony cars, including a purpose-built drag racer and others with all-wheel drive, that cover an affordability spectrum aimed at everybody from enthusiasts of modest means to those with big bucks.
Our focus at the Club Motorsports 2.1-mile road racing course was on two new Challengers: The R/T Scat Pack Widebody and the pinnacle, the new SRT Hellcat Redeye, which Dodge touts as “the most powerful, quickest, and fastest muscle car” in the world.
Numbers testify to the claim. The 2019 Hellcat engine has 717 horsepower and 656 lb.-ft. of torque. But the Redeye, with its supercharged 6.2-liter V8, revs up 797 horsepower, or 80 more than the regular Hellcat – if any of these machines could be called regular. Torque jumps to 707 lb.-ft.
Two transmissions are offered on the Hellcat: a six-speed manual gearbox with a twin-disc clutch or a beefy eight-speed automatic transmission. The Redeye comes only with an even stronger eight-speed automatic with a manual-shift mode controlled by paddles on the steering wheel.
As laps on the racetrack demonstrated, however, the paddles likely will prove superfluous to most drivers because the eight-speed’s shift points are so computer-calibrated that the driver can forget about shifting and focus on picking fast lines through the curves.
Besides the Hellcat Redeye, the Dodge folks also offered track drives in the Challenger R/T Scat Pack, which gets its power from a 485-horsepower, 6.4-liter V-8 with 475 lb.-ft. of torque. It is available with both the eight-speed automatic transmission and a six-speed manual gearbox, one of which was at the track.
Interestingly, the Scat Pack had a stiffer suspension system than the Hellcat Redeye, which enabled it to finesse curves that the Redeye, with some slight body lean, overwhelmed with raw power.
Another distinguishing characteristic of the Redeye: docile manners in low-speed cruising. Though a driver can trigger an explosion under the hood by slamming the gas pedal and rocketing to 60 mph in slightly more than 3 seconds, the Redeye casually acts like your grandmother’s Toyota Camry in downtown traffic.
Both Hellcats and the R/T Scat Pack can put more rubber on the road with the $6,000 Widebody option package. It includes fender flares and 11-inch-wide, 20-inch-diameter alloy wheels with 305/35ZR20 all-season performance tires.
With full safety equipment, the Widebody’s Brembo brakes, and a host of other options that included a 220-mph speedometer, navigation, motorized sunroof, high-performance audio system, leather upholstery, and suede trim, the Hellcat Redeye’s $60,045 base price jumped to $88,410. Another version with comfortable and gripping cloth upholstery checked in at $81,331. Both prices include a $1,700 gas-guzzler tax.
For less wealthy enthusiasts, Dodge offers the Challenger SXT and GT models, both with rear- or all-wheel drive. They are powered by the 305-horsepower Pentastar V-6 engine, with 268 lb.-ft. of torque and a six-speed manual gearbox or eight-speed automatic transmission. The SXT stick-shift price starts at $28,690 and the GT is $31,390. Add $2,700 for the automatic.
The Challenger R/T has a starting price of $35,495 (all prices include the destination charge) and the R/T Scat Pack has a sticker of $41,390, which also includes a $1,000 gas-guzzler tax.
The Scat Pack 1320 – the “1320” is the number of linear feet in a quarter mile – uses the same Hemi 392 engine as other Scat Pack models. Individual buyers will be able to customize their dragster rides.