The 2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody is a true summer car

The Hellcat's wider track adds style and allows it to corner like never before.

The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody features the wider track and fenders from the even-more-powerful Dodge Challenger SRT Demon
The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody features the wider track and fenders from the even-more-powerful Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. –Dodge

The muscle-car styling of the Dodge Challenger is more symbolic than retro aesthetic. No other automaker is doing what Dodge is doing right now, as evidenced by 2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody. It combines an absurd 707-horsepower engine with gear from other versions of the Challenger to make a modern muscle car that’s more than the sum of its parts.

The Widebody is a package for the Challenger, which borrows some kit from the even more powerful Challenger Demon. This car features 20-inch “Devil’s Rim” aluminum wheels wrapped in optional Pirelli P Zero summer tires. Combined with the extended fender flares, blacked-out rear lip spoiler, and scalloped hood, it makes quite the impression.

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The big story with the Challenger Hellcat is its 6.2-liter, supercharged V8 engine, which makes 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque.

The Challenger Hellcat’s 6.2-liter, supercharged V8 engine produces 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. —Dodge

Power is sent to the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic transmission with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. Our test model had the automatic, and as much fun as the manual would’ve been, letting the car shift on its own allowed us to observe all the ways the Hellcat was improved by the Widebody kit.

The power is incredible. The Pirelli P-Zero tires offer a pretty solid grip, but you have to warm them up. Pull away from a stop sign with even a hair of power when the tires are cold, and you’ll be spinning them well into second gear.

Boston.com Dealer Specials:

Traction control does a decent job wrangling in all that power, though. It’s never wise to drive outside one’s skillset, but in this car, the traction control acts like a security blanket.

The wider track and tires pay dividends, too. They conspire with the adaptive three-mode suspension, which comes standard on the Hellcat, and electric-assist steering to make this car handle much better than last year’s version.

The previous Hellcat had a decent amount of body roll, and — if you aren’t a fan of doing burnouts — the vehicle’s novelty wore off quickly. But this newer, wider Hellcat can actually corner. This is aided by the SRT performance pages, which let the driver customize the suspension, transmission, traction control, and steering settings. It even gives a choice between 707-horsepower and 500-horsepower output settings.

With its wider track and three-mode adaptive suspension, the Hellcat can now corner with more precision. —Dodge
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By toggling the steering and suspension to the firmest settings, the Hellcat goes from an unruly throwback muscle car to a (comparatively) more modern performance machine — one that still requires close attention in hard maneuvers, however.

Parking the Widebody is a process. Because of the impossibly wide track, the turning radius is large. Parallel parking is a chore; you always get to the curb too early.

Fuel economy is a dismal 13 miles per gallon in the city, 22 on the highway, and 16 combined. As a result, the Hellcat incurs a $1,700 gas-guzzler tax.

The 2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat starts at $63,795, which is well over the $27,295 base price of a V6-powered Challenger SXT trim. But the Hellcat also provides a host of creature comforts, including heated and cooled front seats, dual-zone climate control, and an 18-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system. It also came standard with the 8.4-inch touchscreen equipped with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Hellcat commands a tall price, but it comes extremely well equipped. —Dodge

The Widebody Package adds $6,000, and the automatic transmission adds another $2,995 but also includes remote start. In all, our test model came to $77,275.

The Challenger Hellcat Widebody is a ridiculous car, and were it not for the decent cabin space, it would be wholly impractical. But you can’t help but love the Hellcat— there will be a time when cars like this are a thing of the past. Somehow, that makes it even more lovable.

Under the Hood:

Engine: Supercharged 6.2-liter V8
Transmission: 8-speed automatic transmission
Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
Power: 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque
0-60 acceleration: 3.4 seconds
Top Speed: Electronically limited to 186 miles per hour (~200 without the limiter)
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