I Cannot Figure Out Whether I Love Or Hate The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye

Illustration for article titled I Cannot Figure Out Whether I Love Or Hate The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye
Photo: Mack Hogan

The 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye is the vilest car I have ever driven. The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye is the best vehicle I have ever driven. I believe both of these statements completely, but neither of them are true.

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Or maybe they both are. The cognitive dissonance inspired by the $90,040 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye I’m driving this week is real and significant. More than any of the 100+ cars I’ve reviewed, I can’t figure out whether or not it’s good.

On the one hand, 797 horsepower is hilarious. It’s a number that embarrasses Lamborghini Huracans and mocks McLaren 720S’s.

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The supercharger noise is amazing, the roar of the 6.2-liter V8 is intoxicating and the tires exist in a perpetual state of screeching. There is a lot of noise and a lot of smoke and a moderate amount of 911 calls.

So you cannot drive a Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye anywhere near where you live in the daylight for fear of becoming a social outcast. Even when not speeding, any acceleration is loud enough that you will receive glares from people in their yards.

“There are children here,” their eyes will say. “Please leave in your angry machine with its appropriately named ‘destroyer gray’ paint and do not return.”

Parents hate the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye. Men who only take selfies while wearing sunglasses in the driver’s seat of their pickup trucks love the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye.

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When you hear the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye roar as it wags its tail around a corner, you will love the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye.

When it squirms and tries to slide during straight-line acceleration, you will fear for your life and hate the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye. You will love that the traction and stability control will probably always save you. You will hate that you trust them to, even though doing so will eventually bite you.

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A man in an E30 gave me a thumbs up. A man in a Miata glared at me as I accelerated. I don’t know what to make of any of this.

Mainly, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye is an insanely fun vehicle if you don’t really care about actually moving fast or about everyone hearing and hating you. In day-to-day driving, it’s so outwardly aggressive and absurd that you feel like an idiot.

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Which is a shame, because it’s a really good daily driver. The interior is modern and spacious, with room for four people in relative comfort. UConnect is still one of the most polished mainstream infotainment systems, though luckily there are knobs and buttons for volume and climate control.

It’s also more comfortable than its rivals, in large part thanks to its focus on straight-line speed rather than cornering. The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye definitely feels firmer than its unsupercharged Challenger stablemates, but it’s plenty compliant.

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But you’re also perpetually testing your own self control. Even with traction control on, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye is happy to let its wheels spin for a bit. You truly cannot ever floor it. So it is a good daily driver, but very hard to enjoy properly in everyday situations. Driving it at night in a rural area, though, is a different experience entirely.

When I cruise around in the dead of night in my massive Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye and do pulls down empty country roads, I feel extremely cool and only slightly like a creepy night prowler. If you start to feel self-conscious, you can speed up until it’s too loud and scary to even consider how far the noise is carrying.

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When I drive in any area with houses or business, I must only use 10% of the throttle pedal or probably go to jail. Life with the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye is about balancing these moments. For every blast down an empty road, there is a tree-lined suburb filled with people that despise you.

It’s absurd. I hate it. It’s amazing and I would die for it. At the very least, it’s never boring.

Mack Hogan is Jalopnik's Weekend Editor, but you may know him from his role as CNBC's car critic or his brave (and maligned) takes on Twitter. Most people agree that you shouldn't listen to him.

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DISCUSSION

lamiaferrari
La Mia Ferrari

Sometimes I think this is tied to the car’s accessibility. Much of what you wrote is true of an Aventador, but because Challenger Redeyes are more affordable and more likely to be driven daily, what passes for “exotic” on a Lambo is judged differently with a Dodge. It’s like how British journalists always call the Mustang massive, while they never would say that about an M5 or C63 which are similarly sized or bigger.