The baddest sedan on the street today

by Dan M | Posted on Saturday, April 29th, 2017

IMG_7384 IMG_7392
By David Goodspeed
Special Contributor
autoworlddavid@yahoo.com

Perhaps the biggest news from the New York Auto Show this past
week was the debut of the Dodge Demon Challenger production coupe…
ready to win at the drag strip. But what is the baddest sedan on the
street today? The Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. The 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
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 Charger 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 1/4-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 enthusiasts 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 seatbacks. 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 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 Charger 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.

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