Auto review: A last call for Dodge’s hellacious gas-powered sports sedan
It dispenses 60 mph in a mere 3.6 seconds; top speed is 203 mph, with a quarter-mile run in 10.6 seconds at 129 mph. Um, was I speeding, officer?
It’s coming, or so the world’s governments have decreed. It’s the denouement of the internal combustion engine age, an era of Barracudas and Wildcats, Firebirds and Mustangs, Javelins and Camaros, Challengers and Chargers. So, fittingly, Stellantis celebrated “Dodge Speed Week” from Aug. 15-19, as the company revealed where it’s headed in the age of the electron even it celebrated with the last of its fossil-fueled muscle cars.
Certainly Dodge’s future is a mix of remarkable and the mundane.
There’s the graceful, yet muscular Charger Daytona SRT Concept, a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Widebody at once new and classic, one that recalls the best of Chrysler Corporation’s muscle car era without slavishly replicating it. While it certainly looks as if it could be Dodge’s first battery electric vehicle, executives remained mum. What we will see before that is the 2023 Dodge Hornet, a new compact utility vehicle that shares much of its styling and underpinnings with the Alfa Romeo Tonale. The base model features a turbocharged gas engine, although there’s also a plug-in hybrid model being offered as well. The 2023 model year will also see a convertible version of the Dodge Challenger, and the return, however briefly, of the Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat.
And the Dodge Charger and Challenger return for 2023 for one last lusty, loud, gas-fueled rebellion against an electron-filled transportation future. These cars are leaving, but not quietly.
And so, it was time to climb behind the wheel of the lengthily-named 2022 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody Jailbreak.
Whatever you might call it, call it familiar. Having debuted in 2005 using a modified 1990s-era Mercedes-Benz E-Class chassis, the Charger retains a litany of mostly OPEC-friendly drivelines. It starts with a 300-horsepower V-6 and continues up the line with the R/T and its the 370-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, to the Scat Pack and its 485-horsepower 6.4-liter Hemi V-8, before reaching the Hellcat with a 717-horsepower 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V-8. Opt for the Hellcat Redeye and that grows to 797 horsepower. But Dodge thoughtfully provided me with a Jailbreak model. New for 2022, and continued for 2023, it offers seven options for seats, stripes and wheels; six brake caliper color options; five exterior badging finishes; four choices each of steering wheels, seat belt colors and floor mats.
Oh, and one more thing.
Its supercharged overhead-valve 6.2-liter V-8 generates 807 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque through an 8-speed automatic transmission to the rear wheels. It dispenses 60 mph in a mere 3.6 seconds; top speed is 203 mph, with a quarter-mile run in 10.6 seconds at 129 mph. Um, was I speeding, officer?
And there are any number of electronic aids to satisfy your need for speed that come standard. An attorney who can get you out of jail does not. Launch Control controls tire slip during acceleration, Launch Assist modifies engine torque to restore full grip, and Line Lock engages the front brakes when the vehicle is stationary, allowing for a smoky burnout. There are also Track, Sport and Auto damping modes for the adaptive suspension.
It was dressed to kill. The test vehicle was painted "Hellraisin," with “Brass Monkey” exterior badges, and 3.5 inches of fender flares. It was shod with meaty Pirelli 305/35ZR20 three-season tires. With black exhaust tips, a hood scoop, and roof and decklid stripe, this is not the car to drive to your Sierra Club meeting. If you do, they’ll hear you coming.
This conventional four-door, grin-inducing American muscle car is built in Canada with an engine from Mexico and a gearbox from Germany. Like America, it’s a melting pot, one that generates crazy amounts of torque and speed, making it ideal for straight-line travel but less so when carving through corners. But there’s 807 horsepower being funneled to the rear wheels, so maintaining grip, or a straight line, while tapping that power is challenging, if not impossible. It's far too easy to do a 180, or something far worse, if you don't know what you're doing. Don’t try to tame this tiger, you never will. But you’ll find it hard to resist.
If there’s anything that fails to live up to its price, it’s the interior. The seats are welcoming, being large, wide with heated and ventilation. Yet despite the coddling comfort, they prove sufficiently supportive during moments of furious automotive athleticism. But other parts that remind you that the Charger also does duty as a bare-bones cop car. That’s not to say the Charger is a stripper. Far from it. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard on the 8.4-inch touchscreen, a reminder of this vehicle's age.
But its lack of perfection is, by its very nature, what makes it a quintessential American car. Dodge claims the 2022 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody Jailbreak to be the fastest mass-produced sedan in the world.
We wouldn’t doubt them. There’s a reason it’s called the Jailbreak.
2022 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody Jailbreak
Base price: $75,900
Engine: 6.2-liter Supercharged High-Output V-8
Horsepower/Torque: 807/707 pound-feet
EPA fuel economy (city/highway): 12/21 mpg
Observed fuel economy: 11 mpg
Length/Width/Height: 201/78.3/57.6 inches
Cargo capacity: 16.5 cubic feet
Weight: 4,591 pounds
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