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2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat: Who Wants a Wide Body?

By Sue Mead, November 30th, 2019

I worry about my body growing wide. But the body designers of the Dodge Charger think a wide body is a look of beauty and a statement of pride as its 2020 Charger Hellcat returns with a new widebody option that adds even more attitude to the world's most powerful production sedan.

Hellcat has been synonymous with supercharged muscle since the powertrain's introduction on the two-door Challenger in 2015. The widebody variant is now standard on the 2020 Charger Hellcat, but is available as an option on the less-powerful Scat Pack trim level.

Preparing to drive the new model on the roads of Napa and northern California's coastal and snaking Route 1, as well as at the Sonoma Raceway, I laughed when a Dodge spokesperson told the assembled automotive test group to think of the four-door high-performance model like a "family sedan." That's because this musclecar has a top speed of 196 mph, runs 0-60 in 3.6 seconds, pulls .96 g on the skidpad, and delivers a 2.1-mile road course lap time 2.1 seconds faster than the vehicle it replaces; it also boasts race cooldown, line lock, launch control, and launch assist features. These are the parameters that lure its performance-minded buyers. I was amused by the notion that an owner could carry a family of five on a cross-country road trip in a modicum of comfort in a big cabin -- and stop at raceways or drag strips to play along the journey.

The most notable exterior changes for the new model are the addition of body-integrated fender flares and wider 11-inch tires. The wider overall profile accentuates the Hellcat's ground effects and front and rear geometries in a way that aftermarket widebody fans will envy. The rear wheel fender flows into the quarter panel with a small "step" in the body work that links the fenders to the redesigned rear bumper. Designers focused on two outboard air vents that once again accentuate the vehicle's low and wide design language.

One of the most famous powertrains in production, Dodge SRT's 6.2-liter Supercharged V-8 Hellcat engine is mated exclusively to the TorqFlite eight-speed automatic transmission. Like other Hellcats, it produces 707 horsepower and 650 lb.-ft. of torque.

Race-inspired technology abounds, including the race-crowd-pleasing features like launch control for consistent straight-line acceleration, launch assist that balances launch control to reduce stutter during burnouts and protect the vehicle's powertrain, and line lock that engages the front brakes to let the vehicle put some heat into the rear tires front a stationary position. It also features Dodge's Uconnect 4C system with Apple CarPlay and an 8.4-inch display and a 7-inch digital instrument cluster. Both are highly customizable and feature Hellcat-unique graphics and vehicle data.

Charger offers more than 80 available safety and security features, including full-speed forward collision warning-plus, adaptive cruise control-plus with full stop, and lane departure warning with lane keep assist.

At the end of my day in the new model, I wasn't sure about the "family sedan" part of the Dodge message -- although it was well mannered on our 150-mile-long road drive and I noted it stops shorter than the vehicle it replaces, thanks to its bigger Brembo brakes. It also has oodles of elbow room and a huge truck for storing gear for road trips. However, I loved it best on the track, where it was nicknamed a "sticky beast," for its ability to stick in the corners. It did indeed, and the thrill of driving it will stick with me for a long time. The Charger Hellcat starts at $71,140.

Specifications

Base price $69,645 (as tested: $71,140)
Curb weight 4,586 lbs.
Displacement 6.2-liter
Engine type 16-valve supercharged V-8
Epa mileage rating N/A
Fuel capacity 18.5 gal.
Horsepower (net) 707 at 6000 rpm
Overall length 201 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 650 at 4800 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger RWD large sedan
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