If you’ve read our 2015 Dodge Charger review, you know that the Charger stands out with athletic handling, user-friendly tech features and sporty exterior styling. Last week, I got the opportunity to spend a few days with the most powerful model in the Charger lineup: the new 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat.
Here’s a quick look at what separates the Hellcat model from the rest of the Charger lineup, as well as just about every other high-performance sedan on the market today.
What’s under the Hood?
While Dodge has offered high-performance SRT versions of the Charger since the 2007 model year, the new Hellcat model provides a significant boost in power. In a press release, Dodge says that the Charger SRT Hellcat is “the quickest, fastest and most powerful production sedan in the world, as well as the most capable and technologically advanced four-door muscle car in America.” Fair enough. I can’t think of a sedan that offers a higher top speed or more horsepower.
The Charger Hellcat is also the most powerful car that I’ve ever driven at the moment (that designation previously belonged to a Chevrolet Camaro ZL1). A supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine lives under the hood, which generates 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. That engine puts power to the ground though an eight-speed automatic transmission, and the combination gets the Charger SRT Hellcat up to speed in a hurry. Dodge claims that the Charger Hellcat will run the quarter mile in 11 seconds, and that it has a top speed of 204 mph.
The Charger SRT Hellcat takes premium fuel and gets an EPA-estimated 13/22 mpg city/highway (16 mpg combined). I averaged about 17 mpg during four days of mixed driving.
An adaptive suspension system with three modes (Street, Sport and Track) keeps handling in check while large Brembo brakes bring the Charger Hellcat to a stop.
Slip behind the wheel and you’ll find that the Hellcat model shares many of the attributes that you’ll enjoy in any 2015 Charger, including a straightforward Uconnect infotainment system with an 8.4-inch touch screen.
The front seats are spacious, comfortable and more aggressively bolstered than what you’ll find in the base Charger, but they don’t necessarily hug you as tightly as the seats you might find in cars like the 2015 Subaru WRX STI. The rear seats are reasonably comfortable too, though other large cars may seem a bit more spacious overall.
All Charger SRT Hellcat models come with interior features that include heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel, a rearview camera and a Uconnect infotainment system. Our test car also included a Harman Kardon audio system, navigation with real-time traffic updates and a power sunroof. Two key fobs come with the 2015 Charger SRT Hellcat: a red key fob that keeps engine output at the full 707 horsepower, and a black one that limits output to 500 horsepower.
In addition to providing access to audio, navigation and climate settings, the Uconnect system is the gateway to an “SRT Pages” menu where you can tailor the Hellcat’s performance with four unique drive modes: Default, Custom, Sport and Track. An Eco mode is also available to maximize fuel economy. The Default and Custom modes are fully customizable, allowing you to alter your driving experience by adjusting settings for transmission and suspension behavior, as well as engine output and traction control. A Valet mode is also available to limit the Charger’s performance characteristics.
What’s it like to drive?
With 707 horsepower on tap, it shouldn’t be a surprise that acceleration can be absolutely brutal in the 2015 Charger SRT Hellcat. Maintaining traction may be the biggest issue, since all that power means that it’s not difficult to get the back tires to break loose under hard acceleration. The steering is direct and the adaptive suspension system does an excellent job of mitigating body roll when the road gets twisty.
What surprised me is how easy the Hellcat is to live with on a daily basis. Throttle response isn’t overpowering if you’re inching along in stop-and-go traffic, and the suspension keeps the ride fairly comfortable over imperfect roads. However, if you switch over to Sport or Track mode the Hellcat becomes much more alert, as settings for the engine, transmission, suspension and traction control system are all optimized for better performance.
Should I buy one?
In terms of horsepower per dollar, the Charger SRT Hellcat is tough to beat. The Hellcat starts at $62,295 and comes very well equipped. Our test car added a Harman Kardon audio system ($1,995), a power sunroof ($1,195), an upgraded Uconnect system with navigation ($695) and summer performance tires ($195), bringing the total to $67,370 after a $995 destination charge.
Nothing else on the market is going to give you 700+ horsepower at the same price point, though smaller sedans like the BMW M3, Cadillac ATS-V and Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG all offer more than 400 horsepower at a similar price. Although it’s more expensive and down on horsepower, the BMW M5 probably shares the most in common with the Charger SRT Hellcat, as both cars are similarly sized and feature V8 engines with forced induction.
If you’re not sure that you need all 707 horsepower that the Hellcat offers, you may be satisfied with another model within the Dodge Charger lineup. The Charger R/T has a considerably lower starting price ($33,295), and comes with a powerful, 370-horsepower V8 engine. Charger R/T Scat Pack ($39,995) and SRT 392 ($47,685) models split the difference with a 6.4-liter V8 engine that produces 485 horsepower.
The Charger received a number of updates for 2015, which may mean that the real deal could be on a used model if you’re willing to forego the new eight-speed automatic transmission and updated styling. After a quick search in our Used Car Listings, we found two-year-old Dodge Charger R/T models listed for as little as $24,000. Meanwhile, 2013 Charger SRT8 models with the 6.4-liter V8 are a little more expensive, starting at about $34,000. We’re also fans of the V6 Charger, which should provide enough power to keep most people happy. Opt for a 2013 model with the V6, and you’ll find Chargers starting at around $15,000.
While the 2015 Charger SRT Hellcat sets a new benchmark for American sedans in terms of performance, every model in the lineup impresses with distinctive styling, composed handling and intuitive tech features.