2020 Dodge Charger Changes: Why the Widebody is Necessary
The 2020 Dodge Charger widebody is almost here, having been formally introduced last month after what seemed like years of speculation and rumors. Many people love the new look while others accept the new look in exchange for the improved performance measures, but of course, some people won’t look past the new body design when forming their opinion of the car. Some of them hate the “add-on” look of the flared wheel openings and others don’t understand why Dodge didn’t just throw wider tires on a standard-width Dodge Charger and call it a day.
While we can’t help the folks who just plain dislike the overall look, we can offer an explanation as to why Dodge didn’t just add wider tires to the form of the 2019 Dodge Charger.
2020 Charger Wheel and Tire Changes
The 2020 Dodge Charger is available with the widebody package in Scat Pack and Hellcat trim. With the 485-horsepower Scat Pack, the wider body is optional and for the supercharged Hellcat, the widebody design is standard for the new model year. When equipped with the widebody package, each of these sport sedans are significantly quicker – and they handle significantly better – than a similar Charger without the widebody setup.
This improvement in performance comes mostly from the wider front and rear tires, while the improved handling also takes into account some suspension and steering tuning adjustments. In reality, the wider tires out back play the biggest role in the improved 0-60 and quarter mile times while the improved cornering grip comes from having more rubber on the ground at all four corners.
With that fact in mind, many critics of the widebody design offer the following argument:
“My sister’s co-worker’s husband has a Hellcat Charger with much wider tires in the back and he never has any problems – it even passes state safety inspection and when he got pulled over, the police didn’t say anything about the tires being too wide.”
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This critic and the many who make this same basic argument are correct. If you have a 2015-2019 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, you can add much wider tires (with the proper wheels) to improve launch grip and you aren’t likely to run into any issues. In most states, so long as the tires don’t literally extend out past the body, you are safe from legal action.
However, the automakers have to worry about fitment well beyond just making sure that the rubber is within the fenders.
OEM Wheel Fitment Requirements
This same discussion came up when the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody was introduced, with many owners pointing out that they drive their muscle car daily with a much wider tire in the back. With that in mind, I spoke with Mark Trostle, Head of Exterior Design for Dodge, Chrysler and SRT, and I asked why the company didn’t just add wider tires.
He explained that for the automakers, proper wheel fitment isn’t as simple as just making sure that the tires don’t stick out past the edge of the body. The company has strict internal and regulatory requirements about tire-to-body clearance, so what technically fits and is legal for a private owner doesn’t always work for the automaker.
That is the case with the Dodge Charger and Challenger, as going to a tire wider than the 275-millimeter rollers on the standard-width Hellcat cars puts the tires outside of the OEM standards for wheel fitment. In other words, for Dodge to add the 305-millimeter-wide tires and still meet all of the requirements on wheel fitment, the designers had to widen the body. By adding a couple inches to each wheel opening, the 20x11-inch wheels wrapped in 305mm tires fit with some room to spare, so they meet the internal and regulatory requirements while still helping to improve the performance.
Best of all, with those wider wheel openings, owners can install an even wider wheel-and-tire package and still have the bigger rollers tucked neatly within the body. Going to a 315 or 335 would stick out a ton on a standard width Dodge Charger, but for the 2020 Hellcat sedan with the widebody package, they could fit nicely under the flares with the right wheels.
The bottom line here is that it doesn’t matter what private owners to do their vehicles, the automaker has to meet certain clearance requirements and to run the 305-millimeter-wide Pirellis on the 2020 Dodge Charger, the designers had no choice but to widen the body.