When I climbed out of the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody for the first time, it was pouring rain, but I hardly noticed. I felt like I was on top of the world with a ray of concentrated ecstasy shining directly over my body. I had done it. I had conquered the muscle car.
Which is honestly kind of a hilarious sentiment, because at that point in time, my max speed was 45, and I’d spent most of the drive clutching the steering wheel and easing down on the throttle like I was afraid the slightest pressure would cause it to snap. This Charger Hellcat, though, is so incredibly good at inflating your ego that you’ll never have to worry about that fear lasting very long. Once you’re out of the car, you’ll be drooling at the prospect of getting in again.
Full disclosure: Stellantis provided me with the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody to review for A Girls Guide to Cars. They were also cool with letting me do another review here for Jalopnik.
The 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody is America, plain and simple. Honestly, if you’re interested in a Dodge Charger Hellcat, there’s a good chance you already know what you’re going to get. It’s fast. It’s heavy. It’s loud. It’s power. It’s kind of obnoxious in the best possible way.
This particular version, with its eternally long name, is designed for anyone who wants the top-of-the-line model that’s designed to go as fast as possible. But that being said, it’s not necessarily a sports car, even though it has a hefty price tag. It’s a muscle car. It’s beef and steel and grit and all that other manly stuff you can imagine. It’s Dodge’s way to cater to The Car Guy—even if, sometimes, that particular Car Guy is me, a 5'3" gal who insisted upon wearing sundresses while driving it, if only for the looks of disbelief it garnered when I climbed out from behind the wheel.
- 6.2-liter V8 Supercharged HO engine
- 8-speed automatic HP90 transmission
- 797 horsepower (that’s less than $100 per horsepower!)
- 707 lb-ft of torque
- Top speed of 203 mph
- Available launch control
- 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment system
- Apple CarPlay/Android Auto
- WiFi hotspot
- Heated and ventilated front seats
- Heated rear seats
- Alpine speakers
- SRT Track Experience, which gives you access to special track days
- Safety features: pedestrian detection; blind spot camera; side, rear, and cross-path alerts; theft deterrent system
- Rear-wheel drive is your only option
- Base Price of the Dodge Hellcat SRT Redeye Widebody: $69,995
- Customer Preferred Package, which adds ‘Redeye’ and ‘Charger’ badges, 220 MPH speedometer, and SRT Power Chiller: add $8,600
- Carbon/Suede interior package, which adds a suede headliner and carbon fiber interior accents: add $1,595
- Navigation and Travel Group, which adds GPS navigation, Connect infotainment system, SiriusXM subscription: add $995
- Power sunroof: add $1,995
- Pirelli 305/35ZR20 Front and Rear 3-Season Tires and black carbon wheels: add $695
- Black brake calipers: add $595
- Gas guzzler tax: add $2,100
- Destination charge: add $1,494
- Total price as tested: $88,065
I’ll be honest: the Charger Hellcat is not exactly something you want to drive as your first rear-wheel car, and you definitely don’t want to do it in wet conditions like I did. It’s not a super difficult car to control, but if you touch the throttle with a slightly heavier toe than you’re used to, you’re going to find your rear end fishtailing a bit. This happened to me after I dropped my mom off at a dealership to pick up her car; I blipped the throttle just a little too aggressively while I was turning out of the parking lot, and I could feel the rear end kick out to the side. I was going at parking lot speeds, so it was easy to wrangle control again—but it scared the hell out of my sister, who has never experienced a car with more than 350 horses.
Even as a cautious person, I adored the Charger Hellcat. I wasn’t trying to do donuts at Cars and Coffee or impress someone by peeling out from a stop sign, so I never really experienced any power I couldn’t handle. But I also wasn’t exactly pushing it because I knew that was way beyond my limit as a driver. This thing is fucking intimidating, and I wouldn’t blame anyone who works on taming this beast via slow accelerations and suburban commuting before even taking it on the highway.
Once you get the hang of things, though, you’re going to want to take it everywhere. I found myself dropping my sister off at tutoring—literally a four minute drive—just to have the chance to get behind the wheel. I carved a path through some of the more rural areas of central Texas because I was never ready to go home.
It’s one of those machines that has dumb power but also kind of handles like a ballerina (if ballerinas were, like, laden with bulky muscle and moved with the intention of manhandling their way into grace). It handles corners like an absolute champion and straight-line speeds with ease. The lower center of gravity holds you flush to the ground whether you’re on tarmac, dirt, or gravel, and you’ll find you only need the slightest steering input to direct yourself where you need to go. It’s not twitchy—it’s just damn good at its job. It could benefit from a handling tune-up, but we’ll get to that.
But to be entirely transparent, driving the Charger Hellcat could be a legitimately terrifying experience. Corners I normally take at speed felt more ominous than usual, and I found myself slowing down a lot more than I likely needed to. This car carries the impression of unadulterated power wherever it goes, and it’s going to take time to get used to, even if you consciously know it’s going to handle a tight curve a lot better than a truck or a full-size SUV. I fully expect that sensation comes from my rookie status and hesitant nature, but there’s always part of me that insists upon not being the asshole in the powerful, expensive car—which can be an even more pressing worry than the whole torque-and-horsepower situation.
Like I said before, if you’re interested in the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody, you probably already know what’s good. You can launch yourself off the line like a rocket. You have more power than any one human needs under the hood. You’ve got beefy fenders. You’ve got an aggressive stance. You’ve got the seat-of-your-pants rear-wheel drive. You’re probably interested in something that’s going to turn heads and that’s going to impress people, and that’s exactly what you’re going to get.
This car excels in the very niche market in which it is designed to excel: namely, the Fast, Loud, and Heavy market. This is the car for anyone who watched Fast & The Furious and was more impressed by Dom than anyone else. Its performance emphasizes 0-60 straight-line speed over everything else, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun to drive.
I think the most surprising thing was how capable this bad boy was for daily life. I normally volunteer to serve as the family chauffeur when I have a press car, but this is one that everyone actually hunted down excuses to ride in. My mom would forfeit her dinner plans and ask me to drive her to pick up something. My sister would sneak in and covertly ask me to take her to tutoring because she didn’t want to hurt my mom’s feelings. Yes, part of that has to do with the sheer aura of badassery that oozes off the Charger—but it was actually super comfortable for all passengers. My sister, who is essentially a human tree, had room in the backseat for her gangly legs. My mom had room in the back but preferred the comfort of the front. The trunk was large enough for, like, two human bodies or a very large restock-the-pantry grocery run. And while I’ll talk about some of the flaws of the interior in a minute, it was still very inviting.
The best thing about this car, though, is the image it projects. It’ll stroke your ego to the moon and back, leaving you feeling like hot shit even if you’re just the person that got conned into running errands—which won’t matter in the slightest because you’ll be too busy having a good time to care that you’re on school drop-off duty. It’s one of those cars that makes you want to get a little dressed up to drive it, since you know people are paying attention. You’re not buying this car because it’s efficient or practical. You’re buying it to flex on all the nerds who don’t have a Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody. And it’ll do that job impeccably.
There are some downsides to the Charger Hellcat. At its price point, I was expecting a slightly more luxurious interior, but I can’t say that I was madly impressed. No, if you’re buying a Hellcat, you’re probably more interested in power than comfort, but I’d have loved some of the more basic amenities you find on a higher-end vehicle, like wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay or a more supple-feeling interior. Which is not to say that anything felt cheap—but if I’m spending all that money, I kind of want something that will feel a little nicer inside. At least massage my ass before you crank me down the toll road by the seat of my pants. I want at least a little luxury.
The steering could also benefit from more feedback. It’s responsive, but it also feels heavy, the way your body does after you’ve had a few drinks. I can’t say I was expecting anything super nimble. It just feels big and heavy. It’s that ballerina-turned-power-lifter situation again. It’s good at what it does, mostly, but you can also tell it was designed more for straight-line speed. You’ll destroy everyone at the drag strip. You’re not going to want to challenge them on a road course.
I’m not going to lie: if I had throwing-around money, I’d absolutely buy the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody, and I would be awful about it. I would read off every single word of the name every time someone asked me about it like I’m out here reciting my bougie bitch Starbucks order because I want you to know it’s the top-of-the-line machine. I’d drink out of a Hellcat water bottle and wear nothing but one of seven Hellcat shirts I would also own. I would wake up every neighbor in the morning when I take off to Target before all the rabble arrives. I’d let the damn thing idle for a few minutes when I got home because everyone needs to know who’s the badass in the neighborhood.
The Charger Hellcat is not a subtle car for subtle people. It exudes big-dick energy and demands you turn your head to follow it down the road. It’s a conversation piece. It’s the car equivalent of a gym bro grunting as he drops his weights so everyone knows how hard he’s working. It’s going to boost your confidence one thousand fold every time you even think about it. It’s ordering the largest steak on the menu because you’re a goddamned red-blooded American, and you’re going to flex that at every opportunity.
This isn’t a commuter or a family car. It’s not the thing you take to the grocery store (unless you know someone at the grocery store that needs a showing-up). It’s not efficient or graceful or all that luxurious. It’s not a car that anyone needs, but you’ll be damned if you don’t desperately want it.
And honestly? American muscle shouldn’t be any other way.