Guest Post: BTSR Hellcat Charger Review!

The $1000 –per-month payment that I agreed to hand to FCA for my $70,000+ Dodge Charger Hellcat could have just as easily gone to any number of German-made luxury cars. Or, I could have even opted for a Tesla Model S where gasoline would have been a non-issue and range could be recharged for free at the nearby supercharger.

But, I choose to buy into the hype of Dodge’s seven-hundred-and-seven horsepower, 4-door sedan.


My insurance via Geico jumped from the $260-per-month I was spending on my 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT, to a new high of $315-per-month (even with my 5-yr Good Driver discount).

My 2006 Chrysler 300 SRT8 had a 6.1-Liter engine averaging 10.8 MPG.
My 2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8 had a 6.4-Liter engine average 10.1 MPG.
My Dodge Charger Hellcat’s 6.2-Liter Supercharged HEMI average less than 9.8 MPG.

That’s just 9.8 MPG of Super Premium Unleaded 93 Octane – which retails for around $2.56 per gallon here in NYC.

There’s nothing like driving around NYC in a Hellcat. Its reputation precedes itself thanks to a clever marketing strategy which buries its horsepower ratings in the minds of anyone who shows even the remote amount of interest. And then there are the endless Youtube videos showing street races where the Hellcat is literally kicking everyone else’s asses.


I don’t even need to talk about the 2-key solution: Red key = 700+ HP (you get 2 of those) Black = 500HP (You get 1). The computer can step down power if you get in with the red key, but can’t step up if you get in with the black. If you get in with both: the red key “wins” and the car steps up to 700+. There is a “valet mode” which will lock the car into 2nd gear and prevent joyriders tapping into your full potential. Oddly enough, the implementation of the “top speed key” is done better in this $70,000 car than it is in the multi-million-dollar Bugatti Veyrons. You need both keys to make the Veyron reach its 260MPH+ speeds and one of them must be inserted on a floor panel next to the driver. Walking around with a red key handing from your pocket is almost certain to get attention and questions from auto enthusiasts.

Here in NYC, the label “SRT” is unaffordable by most, but when you have it, people ogle your car and ask questions about it. Regularly, I am followed by other drivers in “lesser” performance cars – who will pull up to me and give me a thumbs up. Regularly, people will fight with others in traffic to get into a position where they can be side-by-side with me so they can roll their window down and ask me to “rev it”. And the police love me. When they see me pass by, they’ll often follow me – waiting for me to do something wrong – so they can pull me over. A Black guy in a ruby red car with three times the engine power of the majority of cars on the road must be up to no good – right? A short burnout resulted in me being swarmed by NYPD plain-clothes (White males) who were busy taking in the measurements of my tires and the details on my spoilers and heat extractors while I calmly kept my hands on the wheel waiting for commands to follow. “Is this thing like a Nascar?” asked one officer. “Yes sir” I replied: “seven-hundred-and-seven horses”. They all took a gasp with a “holy shit”…

As the average car on Main Street has had their powertrain neutered to 4-cylinders and v6 engines, the SRT vehicles have stood out due to their size and their monstrous power. Exterior looks are equally menacing. There’s nothing else on the market that seats 4 people and moves this fast for so little money. The rear-wheel-drive biased steering allows SRT vehicles to move decisively through traffic.

The supercharged HEMI produces not only a boisterous engine note, but whirs and whines that no other car can produce. Unlike the Cadillac CTS-V and Mustang Roush 428, the whine is more pronounced at lower speeds and the grunts and groans of downshifts make the car sound like the stomach of an unholy beast.

I am not a fan of driving on tracks. I feel that my car should be a daily driver and act civilized in traffic. It should be able to go from gentleman to bully at will. I’ve tracked SRT vehicles before and realized right away that their immense dimensions and weight make them horrible for tight turning radiuses and curves when all I want to do is drive faster in a straight line. These vehicles can handle regular highway banked curves with ease and can even handle tighter curves with more application of power to produce/correct understeer. The aging LX platform is perfect simply because you know exactly how it will react given specific conditions.

Dodge claims this is the fastest sedan ever built, but that’s only if you ignore the quicker-to-60 and quarter mile Tesla P90DL (now P100DL) – which use a combination of instant electric torque and all-wheel-drive to get off the line faster than anything shy of a $500,000 Lamborghini. I have driven the P90DL regularly. At $140,000+, it’s remarkably fast – producing a feeling as if I was being lifted out of my seat and being thrown out the back of the car. Unfortunately: it’s nowhere near as comfortable as the Charger and it’s roughly twice the price. You could get both Hellcat Charger and Challenger for the cost of a single P100DL.

0-60 takes less than 3.5 seconds.

0 – 100 takes less than 8 seconds ( about 4 seconds better than the 6.4-L Charger/ 300SRT)

0 – 200 takes about 38 seconds.

Thanks to the GIGANTIC Brembo Brakes (do the measurements really matter?), the Charger quickly decelerates from 60 to a dead stop in less than 180 feet. Just keep in mind that replacement of those pads will run more than $200 at your local Chrysler stealership.

And then there are things I don’t like about the Hellcat(s).

For such an expensive car (around $20,000 more than a Charger SRT) there’s a laundry list of features it should come with but doesn’t.

The biggest disappointment is the lack of Adaptive Cruise Control which I’d grown accustomed to on my Chrysler 300 SRT and my Jeep SRT. The latter vehicles have an “eyeball” camera which watches ahead and judges whether or not a collision is going to occur. It works in daytime as well as night – and has saved me from many-a-careless fender benders. Yes I’ve been distracted whilst driving. A loud chime sounds – followed by a flashing red light in the gauge cluster *BRAKE*, *BRAKE*, *BRAKE*. The Jeep SRT will even quickly pump the brakes while you’re still reacting to being screamed at. But, the Hellcats don’t get this feature. Apparently, FCA decided that the eyeball took up too much space which they needed to reserve for airflow cooling. The Hellcats – cars which can quickly and effortlessly sneak right up into slower people’s blindspots – desperately need this feature.

There’s no reason at all why the Hellcats don’t offer front bumper parking sensors. How can I protect my front end, if I can’t gauge my distance to the next guy? Rear ultrasonic sensors and a backup camera are standard, but without front sensors as well – the car feels cheaper than it should.

I was disappointed that these cars lacked moonroofs on most of the produced vehicles waiting for dealer purchase. Finding a Hellcat “fully loaded” is difficult at best unless you plop down cash to have one custom built. I end up at the front of every stoplight and I can’t see the stop lights without ducking down and forward. Coupled with the lack of forward sensors, this has actually made the Hellcat one of my least favorite SRT products to drive. My Jeep SRT offers everything that I’ve come to love about SRT products: big, fast and relatively inexpensive to maintain. I am desperately waiting to replace my current 6.4-L Jeep with the Trackhawk – which may end up becoming the fastest and most powerful production SUV ever made.

The interior is also a major letdown. The materials in use haven’t improved since the Charger’s refresh in 2011. The Laguna leather seats feel good, but they aren’t as nice as the seats found in the 1st generation SRT models – even though they offer ventilation and heating wherein the original seats only offered heating.

The interior of this $70,000 machine looks far too similar to the $36,000 SXT AWD and has a computer system you’ll find in the $20,000 Dodge Dart. The Hellcat even looks too similar to the standard SRT models which come with similar wheels, similar body cladding and the same paint colors. People with SRT models who want to pretend they have Hellcats need only change the car’s hood to get the negative-pressure vents/heat extractors. On first glance, upon comparing my Hellcat to a Charger SXT, the only thing that differentiated them was my car’s red seatbelts. I expected more than just a powerful engine and strengthened powertrain.

Uconnect Touch 8.4n continues to be the best infotainment system on the market. It’s easy to use when driving, it responds quickly and its basic features are more efficiently implemented than the basic features on the infotainment centers of far-more expensive cars. Thanks to the system redundancy offered by physical turn dials backing up the touchscreen, you can get things accomplished in menus far quicker than you could elsewhere.


The Hellcat Charger isn’t a luxury car, but it’s exactly what a luxury car should be. Powerful, practical and inaccessible to others who can’t afford the buy in price. A “luxury car” should have a list of features that nothing else on the market has”. The Hellcats offer more “power” than $200,000 Mercedes and BMW 7-series and reach speeds normally reserved for Italian supercars.

It’s only when I am on the highway doing extra-legal speeds that all my criticism shrink away and I become hypnotized by the engine whine that overwhelms the love-hate relationship we’ve developed.

Sure it’s wasteful, not equipped well enough and likely to cost you your license, but it’s gorgeous (on the outside) and prestigious.

Worth. Every. Penny.

30 Replies to “Guest Post: BTSR Hellcat Charger Review!”

  1. jz78817

    ” You need both keys to make the Veyron reach its 260MPH+ speeds and one of them must be inserted on a floor panel next to the driver.”

    Both keys at the same time?!? Whoa-ho!

  2. Joe

    HELLCAT 707 for the win!! Very detailed and comprehensive review BTSR, no brake rotor and swept area measurements don’t matter! That’s only for slowing down anyway.

  3. Rock36

    I absolutely love these things. If I could only have one car that had to serve as many purposes as possible, and do all of them well, I would absolutely, positively, look into a Charger Hellcat.

    I have friend who has an Challenger R/T Scat Pack, and I thought the seats in those were actually pretty good, but my standards might be low. Or unless the front seats are completely different between the Charger and Challenger.

    I also appreciate the realism with regards to track duty and the Hellcats. I haven’t yet found one I couldn’t run down on a road course and at least hold my own with in the straights… and I’m an intermediate driver at best. If they do put a car or two on me in a long straight, I’ll invariably close that gap immediately at the end of the straight with the ability to brake later and harder…. as you said, the dimensions just aren’t there… no matter how much power and how big a set a brakes you have.

    • Bigtruckseriesreview

      “FAST CARS” – especially large FAST CARS aren’t any good on tracks. They are straight line drag racers ONLY.

      Even the Bugatti Veyron and Chiron overpowers their brakes. sure you can do 150MPH in less than 1000 feet, but you’ve gotta be able to stop – and turn – at the end.

      I’m not interested in tracks. It’s all highways for me.

  4. yamahog

    “And then there are the endless Youtube videos showing street races where the Hellcat is literally kicking everyone else’s asses.”

    Dude you gotta stop pretending motorcycles don’t exist. They exist. Go look at Hellcat verses Suzuki/Kawasaki/Yamaha/Honda RR.

    That’s an older Suzuki whipping the hellcat like a rented mule. You can go pick up one of those bikes for 4k used easy. And maybe 11k new?

    And I know you know that most fast bikes give the hellcat a run for its money. Because we’ve been over this. If your hellcat is so baaaad, lets do a 20-120 pull for pink slips.

    • Bigtruckseriesreview

      #1 I don’t believe in racing cars against Jets or Motorcycles or anything besides other cars ( Hellcat Rule #7)

      #2 I injured my ankle on a motorcycle in Shanghai, China. Could have possibly been a fatal injury. From thence on I prefer to drive around in overpowered muscle cars (and Jeeps). As far as I’m concerned, motorcycles increase my probability of dying in an accident by more than 80% – far more than flying small airplanes mind you.

      That’s an unacceptable risk.

      • yamahog

        I don’t think a Hellcat could get up to 200 on the roads near my house.

        Also, no stock bike does 200 expect maybe the first year Hayabusas. There’s a gentlemen’s agreement to limit bikes to 186 mph because the E.U got its undies in a bunch. Now, bikes race to 186 – the BMW S1000RR is the king of the roost with a 16-ish second run from 0 to 186.

        Most large bike manufacturers (Suzuki, Kawasaki, Yamaha, Ducati, Aprilia, Honda, EBR, BMW) have bikes that do at least 140 trap speeds and low 10 second 1/4 miles. With the fastest (Kawasaki, Ducati, and BMW) making stock bikes capable of 9 second 1/4 miles with 150+ mph trap speeds.

        Some bikes run in the 8s with slick tires and/or pulling off speed limiters.

        If someone is willing to race a hellcat with a clean title against a bike to 200 mph for pink slips, I’ll book a runway.

        • everybodyhatesscott

          Can any car outside of something like an ariel atom keep up with a liter bike?

          Part of me wants a liter bike, the sensible part of me is terrified of them

          • yamahog

            I think the current crop of hyper cars are pretty competitive. The 1/4 mile really favors bikes (not as much as something as like a 50 mph to 90 mph roll-on which all liter bikes could do in first gear).

            On the track, it’s a completely different story. But some of the lap times that stock motor’d but otherwise race prepped motorcycles lay down are pretty impressive. I use Laguna Seca for all my lap time references because I know the track like the back of my hand. The Viper ACR does a 1:28, the 918 does 1:29, and the P1 does 1:30, and a 997 Turbo does a 1:40. The fastest semi-stock 600 cc bikes do it in 1:26 and the fastest liter bikes do it in 1:24-ish. But those are pro or semi-pro riders. I think the fastest amateurs do it around 1:34-ish? But you gotta figure that most the amateurs have less than 12k into their bikes so that’s got to count for something. And you can tow a motorcycle behind a conventional sedan easily. And driving a car fast is thrilling. But riding a bike fast is transcendent and the sensory is so rich.

            I’m a guy that likes cheap thrills and for the money, I think the ultimate track cars are 250cc superkarts. I got to drive one in a parking lot once and it was fantastic. I was really temped to go drive on the road but I would have needed to line up someone to bail me out of jail because I would have definitely ran from the cops and with my luck, I’d book it right into a police station parking lot. For reference, the lap record at Laguna Seca for a superkart is 1:23.

            But here’s the rub on liter bikes – if you get into one for a good price and low miles, you can probably just get by with oil changes and occasionally checking the chain. Any modern one is fast enough and the newest ones add some sick controls to save you from yourself. Once you ride one for a while, you’ll either tame yourself and satiate your need for speed, or you’ll see the power as perfectly reasonable and realize liter bikes are the only way to scratch the itch. The speed is incredible – exactly how much acceleration you want is what you get. Unless you short shift the crap out of it, you’re never really that far out of the powerband. You can whack the throttle open and get hustling very quickly.

            I rented a friend’s CBR1000RR for a few months while his ankle was broken (unrelated to the bike) and people will say it’s the slowest liter bike. And they’re right. But it’s the fastest machine I’ve ever operated. And I rode it much slower than my Honda Grom. To keep the pace up on the Honda Grom, you gotta squish its stupid little tires into corners and hold it WOT all the time. I could take 90 degree turns at 42 mph on my michelin pilot powers – which means every single one of my crashes on the grom was super dumb. There’s no penalty to slowing down on a fast bike because you can always make unlimited speed later.

            If you get into a CBR1000RR or for 5/6k (especially now, it’s the time to buy) (or any literbike at a good price), you will get your money’s worth out of the bike. And you might sell it for more than you paid if you time it right.

          • Disinterested-Observer

            Lots of modest cars on good tires can keep up with bikes on a track, it’s all about that contact patch.

  5. everybodyhatesscott

    A bike that can go 186 mph might get me in trouble with the law too. There was a gorgeous used r1 in white i was very tempted to buy. Sales tax on used private party bikes is $25 here and can usually end up ahead or close to even on anything i dont like. And yes, time to buy. End of the season deals. I will keep scouring Craigslist.

    Btw. All extremely interesting info with the race times. Thanks.

    • Economist

      I bought my VFR 800 a few months ago and I thought it might kill me too. I found out it is pretty easy to stay within your skill envelope if you just remember that you are a grown-up with responsibilities.
      I am so happy I bought the bike. Every time I look at it, I smile. I would encourage you to buy one if you think it will bring you even a fraction of the joy my VFR has brought me.

  6. DeadWeight

    Contrast, BTRS.

    My buddy just picked up a new 2016 Stingray for $56,000 decently equipped.

    I’m not a GM fan, but it’s a torque-rich machine, handles really well, and demand has now waned where the prospect of buying a new Stingray for $12,000 more than, say, a $44,000 Focus RS is a no-brainer.

    • Jack Baruth

      that’s the same conversation I had with my brother.

      “Go To Kerbeck,” I said.

      “I have two children,” he replied.

      • DeadWeight

        That’s the best (most objective) reason that a 2 seater just can’t work for so many people, including those with kids, and why a Vette, Viper, etc. can never really be a true daily driver for any statistically significant % of the already incredibly small high-po sports car segment.

    • DeadWeight

      BigTrucks; that first word above should have stated “congrats,” and not “contrast.”

      I’m driving a MB E Class that’s pretty rock solid, and I’m liking the ride, chassis solidity & comfort more with each passing day.

      This was supposed to be a temporary thing until I found my elusive, low-mileage, 2010-2012, mint condition C63, but such a car is very rare, as I’ve found out.

  7. rambo furum

    Despite not caring one lick about BTSR’s preferred cars, I love how he takes the old mantle of Jay Shoemaker in that he buys pricey vehicles with his own money and freely admits what he doesn’t like about them.

  8. DirtRoads

    I dunno, I’ve never had a $70k car, but with 707 HP and a host of “too much” all around, I don’t think I could gripe about not having electronic aids that tell me to look out the windshield or help me park.

    My mom taught me to drive, and one of the first things she said was, “Know where your fenders are.” I’ve adapted that to knowing where your fenders and tires are, and never had a problem parallel parking or bumping someone in front of me. Then again, I try not to drive distracted; I’m getting too old to react quickly, maybe.

    Then again, there are $100M airplanes that fly around with two- or more-person crews onboard, with electronics that tell you not to fly it into the ground or rising terrain. Or hit other airplanes. Your closing speeds are a bit faster than a Hellcat’s, but you’d think after all the flight training pilots get they’d not fly into the ground. *shrug* That’s all I have to say for now.

    • Ark-med

      With flying you generally need operational proficiency only in one plane (heh, heh, sorrynotsorry). The Z-axis adds a layer of multi-planar complexity for which non-avian mammals are not innately programmed.

      • Ark-med

        With flying you generally need operational proficiency more than only in one plane (heh, heh, sorrynotsorry). The Z-axis adds a layer of multi-planar complexity for which non-avian mammals are not innately programmed.

      • DirtRoads

        I don’t speak out of my ass, friend. I’m a pilot and former aircraft owner, A&P mechanic and a few other letters behind my name.

        Driving, simplified, is on two planes while flying, simplified, has a third dimension. Water skiers and dirt bike riders get the sense of flying better than most, from my experience.

        I didn’t intimate that flying was the same as driving. Just that there are electronic doohickeys that seem redundant, if someone is paying attention. That is creeping into cars as well. Granted, the population of car drivers who have little or no sense of physics is far, far greater than that of pilots. You won’t be a pilot that long if you don’t “get it.” But you should know what physics are involved and monitor that at all times.

        You don’t need that stuff in racing, to see if you’re too close to someone else. But then again, in a real race, other folks are probably not asleep at the wheel, texting, watching a video or yelling at kids.


  9. 98horn

    Had a Challeger Scat Pack 6M until recently. The automatics are substantially quicker. It was a fast car, but was always trying to kill you, and was totally uninspiring to drive.

  10. Rod Jones

    Regarding insurance, Geico is considerably higher than 21st Century. As long as you have a clean driving record they are the way to go.


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