Perhaps the biggest news from the New York Auto Show this past week was the debut of the Dodge Demon Challenger – a production coupe ready to win at the drag strip. But what is the baddest sedan on the street today? The 2017 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.
Hellcat took the market by storm a few years back as it was released in both two-door coupe and four-door sedan editions for the showroom. And also making news this week was the announcement Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will put the Hellcat engine into the Jeep Grand Cherokee later this year.
Hellcat is a true performance package that addresses every aspect of the vehicle – it is much more than merely dropping a 707hp supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V-8 under the hood. Engineers also upgrade the suspension, transmission, electronics, braking, aerodynamics, exhaust, and even the seats. And yes, you get a passenger seat and rear seats in the Hellcat models (those are optional in the upcoming Demon). You leave the dealership with a car that will beat down just about every other vehicle on the road today and the Charger Hellcat’s case it will make all other sedans cringe and cower.
Were I to spec out my own daily performance driver it would look exactly as the 2017 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat we received in the test driveway. The new Octane Red paint with black carbon fiber stripe kit is just incredible and the car looks absolutely delicious in the sun. Having the extra two doors makes daily chores a snap, and grocery runs are lickety-split, too. When it comes time to “put up or shut up” the Hellcat sedan doesn’t play – it is all serious business and gives the driver a host of options to test its limits in varied driving situations.
SRT control is just below the large infotainment display and allows the driver to select from Eco, Default, Sport, Track, and Custom settings of engine power (500 or 700+hp), traction control, suspension, steering response and transmission shifting and allows access to performance pages as well where you can set up the screen to display track timing, g-forces, and gauge readouts. Next to the SRT control button is the Launch control button for your time at the 1/8- or ¼-mile strip. I changed between settings during some testing time with a friend who is also the owner of a Daytona 392 Charger who wanted to come along for the ride in the Hellcat. The shift points in Track mode slam you back in the seat it hits so hard and the vicious growl from the exhaust that drowns out the whine of the supercharger is music to any enthusiast’s ears. The orchestration that is Hellcat is intoxicating and almost orgasmic.
Upon return to civilization, your Hellcat Charger offers comfortable seating for up to five with the front sport buckets being heated and ventilated and this tester even offers a heated steering wheel. Laguna leather is everywhere inside the factory racer with SRT Hellcat emblems on the front seat backs. I made some custom emblems for the grandboys booster seats so they could be included as “hellcubs” on school runs. The Uconnect 8.4 NAV system features the color touchscreen atop the center dash and our tester arrived with the upgraded Harman/Kardon premium audio system with 19 speakers including subwoofer. We had the power sunroof overhead, 20-inch Pirelli P-Zero performance tires at each corner, keyless enter and go with remote and push button start, ParkSense rear park assist, ParkView rear back-up camera, and blind spot and cross traffic detection.
At the heart of the powertrain is the aforementioned supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V-8 gas engine (370 cu. in. displacement cast iron block with aluminum alloy heads) that generates 707hp and 650 lb. ft. torque. Redline comes in at 6,200 rpm (with a parking lot rev limiter at four grand) and the Hellcat utilizes dual 2.75-inch straight-thru exhaust tubes with twin electronic exhaust valves and has 4-inch chrome round tips at the rear.
This engine is mated to a heavy-duty TorqueFlite 8HP90 8-speed automatic transmission with adaptive electronic control and full manual control via gear selector or paddle shifters and operates in three modes: Street, Sport, and Track. Power is sent to the rear tires via 2.62 ratio asymmetric-limited slip rear differential that is performance tuned. Steering is performance-tuned hydraulic rack and pinion and the brake system features Brembo six-piston calipers up front with oversized vented and slotted rotors front and rear.
The 2017 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat can ride as sweet as a kitten or taught as a tiger thanks to the SRT-tuned three-mode adaptive damping control featuring ADS Bilstein shock absorbers. Settings offered are Street, Sport, and Track, and the car is underpinned with large hollow sway bars front and rear. I found Eco and Sport modes to equally pleasant in everyday driving and my wife agreed. And should the brief moment arise when you need to turn things up a notch the Charger Hellcat can get ferocious in any of these operating modes – no need to switch over to track mode and this way you can maintain some stability control.
Pricing for the 2017 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat sedan begins at $65,945 with our tester arriving with a final sticker of $74,320, and this includes the $1,700 gas guzzler tax. Fuel economy is rated at 13 mpg city and 22 mpg highway, but for those buying a Hellcat because it is a Hellcat, EPA figures really don’t matter.
I am a sedan guy and this Charger Hellcat is just what the doctor ordered. It is the baddest thing with four doors on the road today and I actually prefer this styling over that of the Challenger, Demon or not. The entire family loves the car and with one more raise or good bonus, I can see my wife actually buying one. The grandkids love it and it is easier to get in and out of than a crossover or SUV – and we can fit three car seats across in the back. And let’s just say they got their first experience with burning tire rubber this week, and we will leave it at that.