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2020 Dodge Charger Scat Pack Widebody: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Call them the brute and the ballet master. They are the 2020 Dodge Charger Widebody models: the SRT Hellcat and the Scat Pack.

No tutus allowed, they were introduced in full roar in wine country, California, around Napa Valley and at the Sonoma Raceway near the city of the same name. It is 2.5 miles and a dozen of sometimes blind corners and 160 feet of elevation changes.

2020 Dodge Charger Scat Pack Widebody

Dodge has a Challenger lineup as well but nobody can challenge the fact that this automaker is the champion of mass-produced performance cars, including the Hellcat, the fastest four-door you can find.

Not that we have to tell Dodge enthusiasts, but the SRT Hellcat V8 pumps out 707 hp and can nail 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and the quarter mile in 10.96 seconds, with a top speed of 196 mph. Those are Dodge specs, but who’s to argue?

That’s the brute. The ballet master is the Scat Pack, powered by the 6.4-liter (392 cubic inches) Hemi V8 engine that delivers 485 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque, enough to hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds and the quarter-mile in 12.4 seconds.

New aggressive and modern Widebody exterior, optional on Charger Scat Pack features new front and rear fascias with integrated fender flares, adding 3.5 inches of width over the wider wheels and tires.

It is the focus here as the most affordable and best handling of the two, though the tester had a base price of $41,490 and a bottom-line sticker price of $58,245. But never mind. There are plenty of other Chargers for other income brackets, including a basic SXT model that looks almost the same for $31,390, including the destination fee.

Both the $71,140 Hellcat and the Scat Pack came with the Widebody package, which adds fender flares and 20-inch wheels that are 11 inches wide. The treatment stretches the Widebody models to a width of 6 feet 6 inches at the haunches.

Powering the 2020 Dodge Charger Scat Pack Widebody is the naturally aspirated 392 cubic-inch HEMI® V-8 with best-in-class 485 horsepower

It’s reminiscent of 1959, when Pontiac introduced its Wide-Track models. The idea was to stress stability and handling, though there were few decent handling U.S. cars in the 1950s and 1960s. As race driver and entrepreneur Carroll Shelby once opined: “Great motors. Couldn’t turn, couldn’t stop.”

That cannot be said any more of American muscle cars, and the 2020 Charger Scat Pack Widebody is the prime example. Though it is nearly 17 feet long and weighs 385 pounds more than two tons, it is one of the sweetest handling machines you can find.

The 2020 Dodge Charger Scat Pack Widebody features an available new leather flat-bottom steering wheel

With the driver cosseted in well-bolstered suede sport seats that grip the torso, aided by well-weighted power steering, sport suspension upgrades and sticky tires on the 20X11-inch wheels, the Scat Pack Widebody calmly gobbles curves and corners on the road and race track.

Though you can use the steering-wheel mounted paddle shifters, there’s no need. The eight-speed automatic transmission picks the proper gear for the situation all by itself. And Brembo performance disc brakes engineered by Dodge stop the Scat Pack Widebody in 107 feet from 60 mph, according to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Beyond its menacing stance, the newly designed front fascia on the Charger Scat Pack Widebody includes a new mail-slot grille, providing the most direct route for cool air to travel into the radiator, to maintain ideal operating temperature even in the hottest conditions.

One principle behind all the Charger models, as expressed by the Dodge boys, is to provide a four-door sedan that a family can drive from coast to coast but also delivers exhilarating performance.

But if you do plan to undertake long-distance travel, the Scat Pack Widebody may not be the choice unless you enjoy the constant burbling of a powerful V8 engine. You can mitigate it somewhat because the Scat Pack has five selectable driving modes, the noisiest of which is the Sport setting, which holds transmission shifts to higher rpms. Better to select one of the more sedate, even economical, modes.

2020 Dodge Charger Scat Pack Widebody features Scat Pack Bee badge on the deck lid

Classified as a large car by the federal government because of its interior volume, the Scat Pack Widebody has 105 cubic feet for passengers and a big, well-finished trunk of 17 cubic feet. There was no spare wheel, likely to aid front to rear weight distribution. An air pump nestled beneath the trunk floor.

For traveling, the back seat is comfortable for only two. The center-rear passenger must contend with a hard cushion, giant floor hump and intrusion of the center console.

2020 Dodge Charger Scat Pack Widebody

The Widebody models are distinguished by a so-called mail slot grille with openings designed to enhance brake and engine cooling. The fender flares accommodate the wide tires.

Mark Trostle, Fiat Chrysler’s head of performance, passenger and utility vehicle design, described the new Hellcat and Scat Pack Widebody models: “The goal was to make them badass, intimidating and timeless.”

There’s no argument here.

2020 Dodge Charger Scat Pack Widebody

Specifications

  • Model: 2020 Dodge Charger Scat Pack Widebody four-door sedan.
  • Engine: 6.4 liter (392 cubic inches) V8; 485 hp, 475 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual-shift mode and rear-wheel drive.
  • Overall Length: 16 feet 9 inches.
  • Width: 6 feet 6 inches.
  • EPA/SAE passenger/trunk volume: 105/17 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 4,385 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: Est. 15/24/18 mpg. Premium fuel.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $41,490.
  • Price as tested: $58,245.

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.

2020 Dodge Charger Scat Pack Widebody in F8 Green exterior color with Satin Black Painted hood, roof and deckli.

Photos (c) FCA North America

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Tamworth, N.H – With its unrivaled new 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye and a slew of other bulked up coupes, it looks as if Dodge intends to overpower the market for muscle cars.

Counting the Redeye, the company now offers nine brawny Challenger pony cars, including a purpose-built drag racer and others with all-wheel drive, that cover an affordability spectrum aimed at enthusiasts of modest means to those with big bucks.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody

The focus at the Club Motorsports 2.1-mile road racing course here was on two new Challengers: the R/T Scat Pack Widebody and the pinnacle, the new SRT Hellcat Redeye, which Dodge touts as “the most powerful, quickest and fastest muscle car” in the world.

Numbers testify to the claim. The Redeye is a step up from the Hellcat, which itself is a more powerful version of the original SRT Hellcat. It astonished enthusiasts in 2015 with a 707-hp, 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine that sent 650 lb-ft of torque to the rear wheels.

The 2019 Hellcat gets a bump from the same basic engine to 717 hp and 656 lb-ft of torque. But the Redeye, with its supercharged 6.2-liter V8, revs up 797 hp, or 80 more than the regular Hellcat — if any of these machines could be called regular. Torque jumps to 707 lb-ft.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody

Two transmissions are offered on the Hellcat: a six-speed manual gearbox with a twin-disc clutch or a beefy eight-speed automatic transmission. The Redeye comes only with an even stronger eight-speed automatic with a manual-shift mode controlled by paddles on the steering wheel.

As laps on the racetrack here demonstrated, however, the paddles likely will prove superfluous to most drivers because the eight-speed’s shift points are so computer-calibrated that the driver can forget about shifting and focus on picking fast lines through the curves.

Besides the Hellcat Redeye, the Dodge girls and boys offered track drives in the Challenger R/T Scat Pack, which gets its power from a 485-hp, 6.4-liter V8 with 475 lb-ft of torque. It is available with both the eight-speed automatic transmission and a six-speed manual gearbox, one of which was at the track.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody

Interestingly, the Scat Pack had a stiffer suspension system than the Hellcat Redeye, which enabled it to finesse curves that the Redeye, with some slight body lean, overwhelmed with raw power.

Another distinguishing characteristic of the Redeye: docile manners in low-speed cruising. Though a driver can trigger an explosion under the hood by slamming the gas pedal, rocketing to 60 miles an hour in slightly more than three seconds, the Redeye casually acts like your grandmother’s Toyota Camry in downtown traffic.

Both Hellcats and the R/T Scat Pack can put more rubber on the road with the $6,000 Widebody option package. It includes fender flares and 11-inch wide, 20-inch diameter alloy wheels with 305/35ZR20 all-season performance tires.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody - interior

With full safety equipment, the Widebody’s Brembo brakes and a host of other options that included a 220-mph speedometer, navigation, motorized sunroof, high-performance audio system, leather upholstery and suede trim, the Hellcat Redeye’s $60,045 base price jumped to $88,410. Another version with comfortable and gripping cloth upholstery checked in at $81,331. Both prices include a $1,700 gas guzzler tax.

For less wealthy enthusiasts, Dodge offers the Challenger SXT and GT models, both with rear-drive or all-wheel drive. They are powered by the 305 hp Pentastar V6 engine, with 268 lb-ft of torque and a six-speed manual gearbox or eight-speed automatic transmission. The SXT stick-shift price starts at $28,690 and the GT is $31,390. Add $2,700 for the automatic.

SRT Hellcat Redeye emblem located on the cover of the Supercharged 6.2L HEMI® V-8 engine

The Challenger R/T has a starting price of $35,495 (all prices include the destination charge) and the R/T Scat Pack has a sticker of $41,390, which also includes a $1,000 gas guzzler tax.

No prices were announced for the Challenger R/T Scat Pack 1320, which is a model purpose-built for drag racing. It is intended as a less powerful successor to last year’s limited-production Dodge Demon, which was powered by a supercharged Hemi engine with 840 hp. It enabled the Demon to nail the quarter-mile drag strip in 9.65 seconds.

The Scat Pack 1320 — the number is the number of linear feet in a quarter mile — uses the same Hemi 392 engine as other Scat Pack models. Individual buyers will be able to customize their dragster rides. As with the earlier Demon, the 1320 comes only with a driver’s seat but a front passenger seat and a back seat are available for $1 each.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody

Specifications

  • Model: 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye two-door coupe.
  • Engine: 6.2-liter V8, supercharged; 797 hp, 707 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual-shift mode.
  • Overall length: 16 feet 6 inches.
  • EPA passenger/trunk volume: 94/16 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 4,492 pounds.
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 13/22/16 mpg. Premium gasoline required.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $60,045.
  • Price as tested: $88,410.

Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.

2019 Dodge Challenger Lineup: R/T Scat Pack Widebody, SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody, SRT Hellcat Widebody (from left to right)

Photos (c) FCA North America

2016 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack: A DriveWays Review…

by Frank A. Aukofer

Though it boasts of a daunting 485-hp Hemi V8 engine, the 2016 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack plays third fiddle in Fiat Chrysler’s muscle coupe lineup.

It sets up behind the similarly powered but better equipped and more expensive Challenger SRT 392, as well as the astounding 707 hp Hellcat, which comes with a price tag that nudges 70 grand.

Even in that company, the Scat Pack comes across in every way as a sharp car: sharp looks, sharp turn-in, handling, braking and hair-trigger throttle response. Though it can trundle along in the docile way of an economy car, that manner requires the driver to use a feather foot. Anything more aggressive and the Scat Pack snaps necks as it leaps forward.

This Challenger is a modern rendition of the muscle cars of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which always came with gobs of power but many shortcomings. In the words of the late race driver and entrepreneur Carroll Shelby, they had “great engines (but) couldn’t turn, couldn’t stop.”

2016 Dodge Challenger SXT

Not only does the Challenger Scat Pack evoke memories of those high performance Dodge cars of yore, it corrects those old inadequacies with a modern independent suspension system and sophisticated steering that together deliver sharp handling along with a choppy ride over rough roads.

Moreover, this coupe with the slick retro look comes with high performance antilock Brembo brakes that are unobtrusive in operation but haul the Challenger down from high speeds with authority but without drama.

Standard is a 6-speed manual gearbox. But the test car came with an optional ($1,400) eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual mode controlled by steering wheel mounted paddle shifters. In either automatic or manual mode, the eight-speed snaps off shifts up or down instantly with rev matching on downshifts. Even with the more rapid shifts at higher rpms, the automatic delivers better fuel economy than the manual when similarly driven.

2016 Dodge Challenger SXT Plus (shown in Ruby Red/Black)

Though it’s a throwback now that manufacturers increasingly deliver cars with smaller but more powerful engines, usually turbocharged, there’s a primal satisfaction in experiencing the vibes and throaty sounds of the traditional pushrod V8 engine. The Scat Pack feels as if it were plucked from the days when the mantra was, “There’s no substitute for cubic inches.”

With its American muscle car personality, the Scat Pack nevertheless is useful as an every day commuter car. As a two door with rear wheel drive it is less convenient than a four-door sedan with front- or all-wheel drive, yet it still accommodates four adults and comes with 16 cubic feet of stash space in the trunk.

The front seats, covered in a nubby and comfortable cloth, have giant side bolsters to hold the torso in place during spirited cornering on twisting roads. Even the outboard back seats, scooped out to maximize head and knee room, would be OK for a middling road trip. Only the center rear seat, with a hard cushion and the intrusion of a big floor hump, should be avoided except in extreme circumstances.

Back seat entry and exit take a bit of effort, though the front seats easily slide forward out of the way. One silly feature: sun visors have small extensions to help block sunlight from the side, but they’re so small they don’t do the job.

Surprisingly, given the Challenger’s low down, streamlined styling, visibility from inside is good all around. Long-distance trips are hampered only by the intrusion of the rumbling V8 engine sounds, which to enthusiasts is classical muscle car music.

2016 Dodge Challenger TorqueFlite 8-speed electronic shifter
2016 Dodge Challenger TorqueFlite 8-speed electronic shifter

The Scat Pack Challenger has a starting price of $38,990, which includes a full suite of safety equipment along with the aforementioned Brembo brakes, hill start assist, a backup camera with parking assist, and pushbutton starting.

Equipment on the test car also included Chrysler’s intuitive UConnect infotainment system, Bluetooth connectivity with voice command, SXM satellite radio, dual-zone climate control, fog lights and 20-inch polished aluminum wheels.

Options, in addition to the eight-speed automatic transmission, include navigation and high definition (HD) radio. That brought the suggested delivered price to $41,085—not cheap but not terribly expensive either, given the level of performance.

Pony cars and muscle cars from the past are enjoying a resurgence, as witness the popularity of the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. They are somewhat more wedded to modern smaller displacement and turbocharged engines than the offerings from the Dodge boys, who cling more to the past.

2016 Dodge Challenger SXT

Specifications

  • Model: 2016 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack two-door coupe.
  • Engine:4-liter Hemi V8, 485 hp, 475 lb-ft torque.
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual mode and paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
  • Overall length: 16 feet 6 inches.
  • EPA passenger/trunk volume: 94/16 cubic feet.
  • Weight: 4,240 pounds
  • EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 15/25/18 mpg. Premium recommended.
  • Base price, including destination charge: $38,990.
  • Price as tested: $41,085.

Disclaimer: The manufacturer provided the vehicle used to conduct this test drive and review.

Photos (c) FCA North America

2016 Dodge Dart Test Drive and Review

by Tod Mesirow

There are certain cars that demonstrate the maturity of that which we now all take for granted – that cars work flawlessly, are comfortable, keep us safe, and get us from one place to another with a bit of opportunity for fun.  The Dodge Dart GT was all of that and more.

Read Tod’s review at Cars.About.com.

Photos (c) Tod Mesirow

Bondurant and Dodge SRT

by Jason Fogelson

Anyone can buy a fast car, but it takes skill and training to get the most out of your purchase. That’s why Dodge SRT has teamed up with the Bob Bondurant School of Performance Driving to offer SRT buyers a free day at the school in Chandler, Arizona.

LG016_001MBI got to attend a day at the school, and I wrote about the SRT/Bondurant experience for Autotrader.

I also wrote about the whole muscle car concept for Autotrader in “Why Muscle Cars Matter.”

When I got back from this trip, I felt like a better driver. I always do after driving instruction. Even if you think you’re a good driver, spending some time behind the wheel with a pro driver in the right hand seat giving you real time feedback can make you better — right after it makes you feel like you’re the worst driver in history and that you should never be allowed behind the wheel alone.

While I was in Chandler, I met Ryan Kim, SRT Brand Manager. I couldn’t really put my finger on what a Brand Manager does, so I arranged to do an interview with Ryan Kim, and ran it on Forbes.com. I’m still not quite sure that I know what a Brand Manager does — but Ryan is a really smart guy with real passion for SRT.

I’ll go to any driver training program, anywhere, anytime. It’s a great experience that pays off every time I get behind the wheel.

Oh, and did I mention that I got to meet Bob Bondurant, the legend himself? He’s a great guy, friendly and engaged, and can still drive the wheels off any car he chooses.

Photo (c) FCA North America

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