TorqueNews Best of 2015: The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
I had the pleasure of driving somewhere in the area of 60-70 new cars, trucks and sport utility vehicles during 2015, but none left the lasting impact on me like the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat. Some other vehicles that I considered for my favorite from 2015 included the Toyota Tundra TRD Pro (which I consider the best Japanese truck Ive ever driven), the Audi S8, the Alfa Romeo 4C and the Cadillac ELR, but at the end of the day, I am a born and bred muscle car guy.
I grew up going to car shows and the drag strip with my dad who taught me all of the ins and outs of the greatest American muscle cars of the 1960s and 1970s, which included the Dodge Challenger, the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang. During the course of the year, I drove the new Mustang GT, the previous generation Camaro 1LE and a handful of Dodge Challengers, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. They each had their own bright spots, but at the end of the day – only one car on my list is the most powerful muscle car ever produced.
However, the 707 horsepower Hellcat Hemi tucked under the uniquely vented hood is only the first ingredient in making the Challenger my favorite vehicle of 2015.
What the Hellcat Doesn’t Do Well
Before getting into all of the things that the Hellcat Challenger does so well, I want to look at the things that the beast doesn’t do particularly well, since these are the things that critics will point out when this awesome machine comes up in conversation.
The Hellcat Challenger features a suspension setup that makes it the best-handling modern Challenger while also being able to put all 707hp to the ground efficiently when storming down the quarter mile. This adjustable suspension system also allows the driver to select the stiffness setting, so when you want a smoother ride, it is available at the push of a button. That being said, the Hellcat Challenger wont keep up with the Camaro ZL1, the Camaro Z28 or the Mustang GT350 on a road course. It will stomp all of those cars in a flying mile or drag strip – but the top of the line Mustang and Camaro have a clear advantage on a curvy course.
That’s it – the only thing that the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat can’t do is beat the competition’s road course cars on a road course.
Why the Hellcat is My Best of 2015
The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat has a unique exterior design that gives it an aggressive stance and an angry look across the front. I like the look of the Mustang and Camaro, but I love the big, strong lines of the Challenger when compared to the curvy Ford and Chevy.
The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat has an interior layout that is luxury level, starting with the premium leather, heated and cooled sport seats and matching leather trim throughout the cockpit. The Hellcat Challenger package adds a flat bottomed sport steering wheel with metal paddle shifters, package specific gauges with a 200 mile per hour speedometer and the award winning UConnect infotainment system with the massive touchscreen mounted high on the dash. Also, unlike the competition, the Challenger will comfortably seat four adults or, in my case, my wife and growing teenage son.
Next, we have the performance capabilities of the Hellcat Challenger, which begin with the 6.2L Hellcat Hemi with an official (and underrated) 707 horsepower and 650lb-ft of torque. The Chrysler Group promises that this Challenger will dash from 0-60 in the low 4-second range and with drag radial tires, the stock Hellcat Challenger can run in the 10-second quarter mile range with the lightning-quick 8-spee TorqueFlite automatic transmission. More impressively, real world results by Hellcat owners have proven that with a good, strong driveshaft and a sticky set of tires, this beast can run well into the mid-10s. It will also top 200 miles per hour in the proper conditions, but the key a point here is that the Hellcat Challenger does “muscle car things” better than any muscle available today – or ever.
I mentioned above that the Hellcat Challenger is the best handling Dodge muscle car of all time, handling itself quite capably on the Portland International road course. That is possible thanks to the adjustable suspension system and the gigantic Brembo braking package, but the beauty of the 707hp Challenger is that it offers these impressive handling capabilities while still being comfortable enough (even in track mode) to drive every day. This car will run easy low 11 second quarter miles in factory stock form and it will hit 200 miles per hour, but when you aren’t using all 707 horsepower – this is a great every day driver.
Finally, private owners of the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat have found that on long highway trips where they are staying out of the boost, this 707hp muscle car can get up around 25 miles per gallon. When combined with the comfortable ride and the roomy, loaded interior, the Hellcat Challenger can be your daily driver, your weekend drag strip car and a great vehicle to take the family to a weekend trip at the beach.
I make no bones about the fact that I love muscle cars and the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is, for now, the greatest muscle car of all time so it should come as no surprise that this was my pick for my favorite vehicle of 2015. This is a remarkable muscle car that will beat just about any car in the world in a straight line, but when you factor in the ability to use this car as a daily driver for a family of four – there is nothing that I drove in 2015 that stole my heart like the Dodge Hellcat Challenger.