Guest Post: The SRT Experience

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(You know this man, so welcome BigTrucks to Riverside Green for a guest post. His outspoken personality has been a little too hot for TTAC lately, but he’s still cool with us! — JB)

If you’d asked me if I’d ever be a “Chrysler” or “Dodge” buyer back in 2002, I’d have flat out told you “no way”. Over time, however, My feelings towards Chrysler softened up due to the release of the Chrysler 300 and the Dodge Charger. One of my business partners purchased a new-to-market 2005 300c AWD and I test drove it. I originally looked at it as if it was an “old man’s car” or “wannabe Bentley” but it was after experiencing the then-luxurious seats, technology features and the powerful HEMI 5.7-L engine that I absolutely fell in love with the brand. Not only could I get pretty much everything I’d want in a car, but I’d have a spacious wrapper that didn’t cost as much as our 2007 W221 S550.


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To date I’ve owned 6 Chrysler products:

2006 Chrysler 300 2.7-L
2006 Chrysler 300 SRT
2012 Chrysler 300 SRT
2014 Jeep SRT (Black)
2015 Jeep SRT (Silver)
2016 Dodge Charger Hellcat

I typically own them in pairs due to the fact that the SRT sedans didn’t offer All-Wheel-Drive , necessitating the Jeep SRT.

As I’m completely comfortable talking about “real cost”, I will add that my 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT
carried a monthly payment of $680 with an insurance payment of $230; my Jeep SRT’s have both carried car notes of $1000 a month with insurance between $200 and $260 and my Dodge Charger Hellcat carries a monthly payment of $1000 a month with an insurance cost of $315. I do this because I want people to understand: these cars aren’t for everyone. The cost, while cheaper than many rivals, is still prohibitively high for many potential buyers. Yes, you can purchase them used for significantly less, but the maintenance and operating costs can still be relatively high. I average 10 MPG (combined) on Premium 93.

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The main advantages I’ve observed as an SRT owner are:

#1: The feature availability completely rivals German options for a lot less money. While the Germans overcharge on safety-tec features, luxury features or engine power, Chrysler has been able to offer a great range of engine choices with class-leading power in every single segment from economy to performance. To get the power of the 6.1 or 6.4-L HEMI engines while still getting the equivalent features of an SRT, you’d easily have to spend upwards of $80,000 in an AMG or BMW-M vehicle – or considerably more in their performance SUV.
My 2012 300 SRT stickered for a mere $55,000 while the Jeeps have typically stickered for about $73,000.

#2: Long-term cost is far less. Brake pads and rotors cost a fraction of their AMG/M/ Quattro equivalents. Oil Changes are about $80 (Synthetic) and insurance/ repair costs are typically lower. NYS Geico doesn’t even charge a premium on the Jeep SRT because Crossovers/SUVs are not treated like performance sedans. My Jeep SRT’s monthly insurance is about $250 while my Charger Hellcat’s was $315. Imagine the Jeep HELLCAT (soon to be the most powerful SUV in the world) carrying the same insurance rate as a Jeep Overland Summit!

#3: Chrysler’s technology suite is arguably easier to use and arguably better. After having tested the Jaguar F-pace, Audi Q7, the Mercedes GLC/GLE/GLS and the BMW X6, m I can easily say that there’s no better infotainment system than the newest UConnect Touch. The rivals use more expensive display technology and more pedantic data-entry systems, but the simplicity and straight-forwardness of UConnect is what places it ahead of the pack. I love having system redundancy with voice control, a touch screen (which most of the rivals lack) and physical knobs.

I love Chrysler’s new heated/ventilated seats – although I preferred the thick bolstering of the 2006 model’s seats.

I love Chrysler’s safety features. Not only do you get forward parking sensors and Adaptive Cruise Control, but if you speed up to a vehicle which is slowing down, both my 300 SRT and Jeep SRT warn you by flashing a light and sounding a loud tone. The Jeep will actually depress the brakes on its own. Unfortunately: Dodge Charger Hellcats (and Challenger) don’t get the forward collision features that the standard SRT models offer – which is extremely odd because of all the models, these models absolutely need forward collision detection.

MAJOR ADVANTAGES

Aside from the aforementioned advantages, FCA’s SRT products offer a driving experience that very few other vehicles can match. The pure sound, low-end-torque and higher-speed acceleration of the naturally aspirated 470HP+ 6.4-L HEMI is difficult to match by all but the priciest of German rivals.

I find myself, sometimes, questioning whether vehicles this powerful should even exist in the sea of turbocharged-4 cylinders as I effortlessly power past smaller, weaker vehicles.

These cars put you into a drag-racing mentality where I find myself at the front of each and every stop light – quickly sizing up “the competition” to the left and right of me just to decide whether or not I’ll need to switch into *Sport Mode* or not to get quicker shifts to 45MPH. The vehicles move decisively and control the power with massive BREMBO brakes that almost seem to snap shut under panic force. Not bad for a 5300 pound SUV.

And then there’s the 6.2-L HELLCAT. There is absolutely nothing like driving The Hellcat. It whines. It makes sounds that nothing else makes or can make. Despite the lack of forward collision systems, the Hellcat is an exciting and fun car to own which keeps me smiling and has me making stupid noises to imitate its outrageous character.

All of my SRT vehicles – especially my Jeep are noticed in traffic right away. People will pull up to me to give me a thumb-up in traffic. When I’m sitting in the car waiting for my girlfriend to finish shopping, people will walk right up and ask me about my cars. It’s a good feeling to have such an exclusive, and beautiful vehicle and that’s part of the reason I continue to patronize SRT when I could so easily save tons of money by switching to a product with less engine and less substance.

YES – I will be trading my current SRT for the 2017 JEEP SRT TRACKHAWK HELLCAT. The biggest problem with my Dodge Charger is the lack of AWD. This is absolutely not the vehicle you’d want to be driving in snow or ice – and many times it’s not psychologically comfortable to drive in the rain. The Jeep Trackhawk will take the same Hellcat engine and make it an all-ear-round daily driver just as the Jeep SRT did with the 6.1 and 6.4-L HEMI.

Technology has also improved incrementally with an all-new polystable shifter – replacing the monostatic shifter which caught Hell after the death of Star Trek star, Anton Yelchin.

AND THE DISADVANTAGES

The primary disadvantage to an SRT is the cost of fuel. Super Premium Unleaded 93 here in NYC is well over $2.60 at current. I can afford it, but I’d love it if fuel cost less. When the engine is roaring and you’re passing everyone else in naturally aspirated 4 cylinders, you understand that you got exactly what you paid for, but when you’re sitting in traffic listening to the car burn through its fuel tank as the fuel efficiency gauges drop – only then do you get any feel of buyer’s remorse.

Parts are not especially expensive as most parts are shared with other FCA products until you get to suspension, powertrain and body cladding options. However, SRT-specific parts can take longer waiting times to arrive – especially if there happens to be a back order or recall.

WHAT I’D LIKE TO SEE

I was with SRT when they attempted to launch SRT as its own brand. It lasted for 2 years, but ultimately, SRT was consolidated under the Dodge Brand which means that the Viper, Jeep and Chrysler lost the “SRT” badge. No one knows what the future holds, but since the Jeep has been the SRT brand’s best seller, I believe it’s obvious that FCA will keep “SRT” around in some form or fashion among the non-Dodge brands. All-Wheel-Drive is the non-tuner-car’s performance standard as it allows the vehicle to be used all-year-round while providing immediate traction under almost all conditions.

Quite simply: I have an infantile desire to see the 6.4-L HEMI and the HELLCAT as optional in the 300, the Durango and made available with AWD. We have no idea what the final Jeep Trackhawk’s AWD system will look like so for right now, all we can do is wait and see what FCA comes up with.

(Make sure to check out BigTruck’s YouTube channel. Help him make that loot so he can keep the Hellcat on the road! — JB)

46 Replies to “Guest Post: The SRT Experience”

  1. AvatarRyan

    Great guest post. Picking up a Hellcat Challenger this week, and I’m looking forward to the SRT life. It will strictly be a nice weather car, the Ram 2500 is for the rest of the time.

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

      Congratulations!

      Ever since I saw the Challenger T/A yesterday in Sublime I’ve been thinking awfully hard.

      Reply
      • AvatarBigtruckseriesreview

        The HELLCAT’s premium price of about $20,000 atop the cost of a standard $50,000 (or less) SRT product…

        #1 It’s $1000 a month, insurance is higher and gas is higher. You have to be mentally ready to undertake the HELLCAT.

        Before you know it, people will be following you, watching you in traffic, pulling up along side you for a thumbs-up or attempting to race you.

        It’s a lifestyle – not just a car.

        #2 The Daytona and T/A models give you the SRT: life without pushing you into the considerably higher cost/payment brackets. I have a cousin who would gladly take a Scat Pack if/when he can afford it. I’d never…

        as far as I’m concerned, the basic features should include Navigation, heated/ventilated seats and ultrasound in both the front of the car and the rear. Forward collision avoidance is an absolute NECESSITY – especially with the parking sensors. I have no idea why Dodge didn’t use a bumper with the same features as the SRT Charger.

        #3 If you’re buying the Challenger, and can drive manual, the Manual is the model to get because that’s the collector model and will hold value longer.

        Reply
        • AvatarRyan

          Mine is a Redline Red manual with dual carbon stripes. I have 3 kids and plan on packing them in the back for summer fun. I thought about a scat pack and then decided to go all in. I’m excited!!

          Reply
  2. Avatarlink3721

    Unfortunately for BigTrucks, I think he’s a year early on when to expect the Grand Cherokee with a Hellcat. Though there’s also a Durango SRT on the way…

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

      We gave up a guy who has real character and who had a bit of a following himself to get… what? Some caricature of a crazy old man? Who probably is nothing like the person he claims to be?

      Reply
    • AvatarBigtruckseriesreview

      Mark Stevenson was NEVER interested in any of my attempts at contributions and couldn’t wait to ban me. He sent me private messages on Facebook about the proposed “changes” to TTAC – which he properly assumed – would be needed to protect their neo-Liberal readers from Trump supporters as we enter the final 80 days before the election.

      I didn’t even make a controversial comment.

      One of the new admins banned me almost right away without any warning.

      I considered starting a new account and pretending to be someone else to re-enter the site.

      And then I thought to myself: why bother?

      My Youtube is continuing to gain steam. I’m earning probably more than thrice what the TTAC staff earns.
      Why waste my time? I deleted them out of my favorites and my Facebook and I just moved on.

      I can be MY OWN TTAC.

      They don’t even have access to new cars like I do.

      They barely do worthwhile reviews.

      I reviewed the Volvo S90 T6, the F-pace and the Audi Q7 on my own and I GET PAID FOR IT.

      I really don’t need to be subject myself to their censorship.

      Reply
  3. AvatarPaul Alexander

    Great to see you on here BTSR! I echo Jack’s thoughts. The site is missing that energy now. By the way, did DeadWeight get banned?

    Reply
      • AvatarBigtruckseriesreview

        No one told me they banned me – till I had already figured it out.

        No one explained to me “why”.

        I’m just one of those rare situations where a resource goes untapped because certain people can’t handle the fact that the flees come with the dog.

        Reply
  4. AvatarYamahog

    Rock and Roll BTSR!

    You know, your comments and reading Peter Theil’s “0 to 1” book has got me preparing for some entrepreneurial ventures. Thank you tremendously for your message of fighting the neoliberals by being successful.

    This is an excellent piece and really adds depth to your HELLCAT comments. I originally didn’t see the point you were trying to make (if I can attempt to summarize it) it’s that FCA offers some performance bargains / horsepower bargains rather than outright bargains (like, say a Prius). And I guess you’re right. I’d get into a Hellcat Charger / SRT 392 way before I ever touched a BMW / Audi / Merc.

    Good article! Can’t wait to see what’s next!

    Reply
  5. AvatarKevin Jaeger

    Nice post and it’s great to see you posting here.

    It’s frankly a very bad sign for TTAC that they would ban you. You never even made any personal attacks! Oh well, it’s Mark’s site and he can turn it in to a safe space for fragile leftists if that’s what he wants. I guess it’s only a matter of time before they punt Jack, too.

    Reply
      • AvatarAB-1006

        It’s possible we are talking past each other here. Are you suggesting that Mr. Big Truck, in describing his critics as neoliberals, sought to portray them as champions of free trade and laissez faire economics? I don’t spend as much time in TTAC’s comments section as I used to, but I would be surprised if the commentariat was regularly erupting into Econ 101-level flamewars between some sort of pro-Trump/trade protectionist faction and former mainline Reaganites…

        I understand the left’s critique of Hillary Clinton and of neoliberal economics. My point was a much smaller, simpler (even a tad pedantic) one: If you mean to call your opponent a leftist, don’t call them a neoliberal.

        Reply
        • AvatarYamahog

          On the contrary, I think Neoliberals will tell you they support the free market and lazie farrie policies but they’ll also fetishize credentials, licencing, and pay-to-play politics in the same breath. At the end of the day, I agree with BTSR that neolibs give lip service to the free market but they really like the State protecting equilibriums that are favorable to large corporations.

          Look at Hillary – she’s pro-TPP with its corporate carve outs and also pro-Obamacare and thinks we just need to spend more money with the 10% professional class (on advertising and IT) to get people to sign up for Obamacare and avoid the death spiral. Medical billing has become a make-work scheme for the democratic base (healthcare workers who wouldn’t exist in a truely free market (read: automation) or a single payer system (a favorite idea of the left)). Every hospital I’ve ever consulted for has more billing admins than beds. And the same neolibs support zoning rules but fall over themselves to give generous tax advantage packages to corporations that relocate nevermind the cost-benefit analysis.

          Though the same neolibs will use the FDIC and banking regulators to bother banks that work with firearms manufacturers and let big banks that launder drug money pay settlements.

          And they love a hot creamy load of 0% interest rates that let corporations borrow money basically for free and return it to their shareholders. But they don’t want to subsidize small business loans or figure out how to encourage entrepreneurs and create massive regulatory apparatuses that you have to be a big business to deal with. Look at Carl Ichahn’s comments in his bloomberg interview the other day. Regulators are an existential threat for corporations, most corporations could be bankrupted by a foul-attituded regulator tomorrow and many of them thusly are reluctant to invest in the corporation when it can be taken away tomorrow. And normally that means a new entrant will come in with a creative destruction force but it takes so much money to start a business that’s fully compliant many would-be entrepreneurs can’t. Seriously, go look at cost of unemployment insurance or employer sponsored health care or commercial rent or the hourly price of an attorney who deals with regulatory issues and tell me why young people who graduate with an average student debt of >30k can afford to start a business.

          Reply
          • AvatarAB-1006

            Is Hillary Clinton a leftist or a neoliberal? Those terms are mutually exclusive. With which group did Mr. Truck mean to align his critics?

  6. AvatarAthos

    I call BS. NO CAPS, NO SHOUTING!

    Didn’t know you got banned from TTAC… haven’t read much later. Agree it’s a loss for that site.

    Reply
  7. AvatarWulfgar

    Great to see you here and big props to the Hellcat – my ’15 Sublime 6 speed brings me joy every time she comes out of hiding. I greatly look forward to reading more of your columns here.

    Reply
  8. AvatarJosh Howard

    BTSR,

    I’ve always HATED your comments on TTAC. However, this is absolutely excellent. You really won me over and I’m looking forward to your next post. Many people forget that you gotta pay to play when it comes to a special car. After all… there’s a reason it’s special! With that said, the comparison to German cars is great as well. Keep up the good work!

    Josh

    Reply
  9. Avatareverybodyhatesscott

    10 mpg and those payments sounds painful but if I had the money, I wouldn’t mind having that Jeep.

    Reply
  10. AvatarCharlie

    Echoing Josh Howard, I hated the inevitable first comment that was screaming about hellcats. This post was well written and was an enjoyable read, thanks for changing my mind!

    Reply
  11. AvatarRod Jones

    If you had kept your blatant love for Trump and your extremest far right political views to yourself, I doubt that you would have been banned. TTAC is a car site. Nobody wants to read about your politics there. When you kept your comments to car related subjects you were entertaining to read. There are plenty of non auto related places online to express your views regardless how extreme or untrue the are. Hows that old saying go….”theres a time and place for everything”

    Reply
    • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

      Both fair points, but:

      1) We have just as much left-wing virtue signaling on TTAC as we do Trumpkin rhetoric. Nobody’s ever been banned from TTAC for left-wing statements of any type, unless you consider some of Bertel’s crazed ban-fest as politically motivated.

      2) Without saying more than I should say, the comment that caused management to let BTSR go wasn’t related to political views or Trump.

      Reply
      • AvatarRod Jones

        Interesting. The only thing of his that I found offensive was the “Trumpeting” his politics on a car site. Perhaps it was his rant about how things would be after he took over TTAC?

        Reply
        • Jack BaruthJack Baruth

          I always looked at TTAC commenters as customers.

          Every other EIC or Managing Editor, with the exception of Mr. Farago on his more pensive days, saw them as trouble or potential trouble. Their attitude was that you had a “silent majority” of readers who were turned off by people like BigTrucks or Pch101. They have a lot of email to prove their point, a lot of people complaining about being triggered and/or oppressed by having to read comments; all I have is the fact that the best weeks in TTAC’s history, traffic-and-comment-wise, occurred on my watch.

          Mr. Stevenson and I disagree about much of the site’s direction, but I will say this for him: I think he operates from a place of absolute sincerity and belief. I really couldn’t say that about the crew that ran TTAC down between Farago and me.

          Reply
          • TmkreutzerTmkreutzer

            I enjoyed writing for you. You offered a great deal of creative freedom and didn’t feel the need to edit the articles to any great extent. I felt like I was a valued member of the team and even though you aren’t someone who generally offers effusive praise, you had enough good things to say that I usually felt motivated.

            Although he may be sincere, I feel like Mark has an entirely different vision of what TTAC should be these days and that, despite repeated efforts, I didn’t fit there anymore.

            That’s fine, I have other things on my plate these days but I miss the comraderie and that feeling I got that I was a part of something special. I’m glad I had my chance to play and proud that you and Bark enjoy so much success.

          • AvatarPaulyG

            If comments are trouble, why even have a comments section?

            It sounds like the website editors want a innocuous comments section to exist merely to stroke their egos.

            There is a certain level of decorum that needs to be maintained (obviously racist comments or vicious ad hominem attacks) but we are supposedly adults here with some amount of thick skin.

            I never found BTSR offensive but if you find his comments offensive, don’t read them. Seems simple to me.

  12. AvatarSCE to AUX

    Now I know where to find BTSR!

    I’ve missed you over at TTAC – not to mention DeadWeight. I don’t need to know the details of why they smote you, but I’m glad you’re here. We share similar political views, but from different perspectives.

    Nice write-up. I must offer my condolences on that 2.7L Chrysler. It surely expired around 50k miles.

    Thanks for sharing the money detail$ also. I don’t exist in the same lifestyle world as you, but nobody should shame your success, entrepreneurial spirit, and honesty about all that.

    And Jack: I know BTSR’s presence here is no accident. The value of second chances is not lost on you.

    Reply
    • AvatarBigtruckseriesreview

      #1 You can always find me on my Youtube Channel.
      I get instant notifications when I receive messages.

      #2 The 2.7-L was a horrible engine. Poor low-end torque, Poor acceleration, but decent gas mileage.

      Chrysler really killed it when they released the Pentastar V6 with the 8-speed. It’s literally the best choice you can get in a 4500 pound RWD 4-door car.

      The car was in OK shape when I traded it for my SRT8.

      Reply
  13. AvatarLTLFTC

    BTSR, great write up, not just BECAUSE HELLCAT! 😉

    I’ll confess to sometimes finding you a PITA at times, but you’ve always made things interesting. I enjoyed reading your take on the SRT lifestyle, and you’ve got me thinking I’ll be taking a serious look at them when I need to replace my LS3 powered wagon in a few years time.

    Reply
  14. Avatarfvfvsix

    @BTSR – Great post! You do know why you drove Libs crazy, right? You’re a self-professed Black conservative. Your sheer presence makes their heads explode, because in the paradigm they’ve created in their heads, you can’t possibly exist. Between all your posts about taking responsibility for one’s own success, bashing the climate change crowd, and owning some damn expensive pieces of machinery, there’s no room left for you to play the role of oppressed minority victim. Those types of passive-aggressive man children will always try to destroy evidence of the glaring holes in their belief system.

    I personally enjoyed every second of the mental gymnastics you put half the TTAC commentariat through. Keep ’em coming.

    Reply

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