2019 Dodge Challenger Wide Body – The Tire Smoking Gun

The fact that a big, way-wide, V8-powered rear wheel drive muscle car, with a reputation for smoking tires, has been voted the Car of Texas is just plain awesome. Adding to the fame is that Texas is one of the few places on Earth where most – if not all – of the stereotypes are true. We love our trucks, bath in BBQ sauce, and lust after V8’s, regardless of what chassis it’s been stuffed in.

At the 2019 Texas Auto Round Up (hosted by the Texas Auto Writers), FCA brought a delicious sampler of their vehicles for members of TAWA to test drive around Denton, TX. These vehicles included the Alfa Romeo Guilia and Stevio Quadrafoglio, and the 2019 Dodge Challenger Wide Body Scatpack and Redeye Hellcat. All of us had the chance to drive these cars on both the street and an autocross course; the autocross course was built by the SCCA to ensure a quality environment for our evaluations of handling, braking, and acceleration.

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This was the fourth year I had a chance to drive the Scat Pack and the Hellcat V8s back to back, and while I used to say that I prefer the Scat Pack over the Hellcat, this year I had a change of heart.

2019 Dodge Challenger RT 392 Scat Pack Wide Body Driving Impressions

I’ve always felt that you don’t really need to buy a Hellcat or the new Redeye to get your Hemi thrills, when the Scat Pack offers the same heart-racing rumble without the potential danger that 800 horses can inject. The 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Wide Body Scat Pack offers a 392 Hemi V8 producing 485 horsepower funneled through an 8-speed automatic transmission, while a manual 6-speed remains available. You can even opt to delete the backseat, which I like because it gives the Challenger a more traditional muscle car vibe, and reminds me of Hemis shoehorned into Plain Jane Super Stockers (like the Dodge A990) in the 1960’s. It was an era when less was infinitely more, and quarter-mile times actually impacted quarterly sales figures.

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Driving the Challenger on the street allows the driver to feel the full dimensions of the wider body. You don’t really drive it – you just hunker down and (hope to) ride with it. The car consumes you into its character. Watching other journalists hopping in and out of the car makes you think it would be easier to settle a political debate than find someone who did not look good inside a 2019 Dodge Challenger Wide Body.

Even though the Challenger has been with us for just over a decade, it doesn’t look dated, nor have people grown tired of seeing them. The Dodge Challenger is raw attitude, bulletproof against the judgment of others. It’s the bad boy that will hold the door open for the elderly. Pricing for the R/T Scat Pack Challenger starts at $38,995 and $44,995 for the R/T Scat Pack Wide Body.

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2019 Dodge Challenger Redeye SRT Hellcat Wide Body Driving Impressions

The Dodge Demon is a straight-up drag machine. The Redeye is just one of its 797 horsepower-possessed victims sent out to walk the Earth amongst mortals. The best analogy for this is car is a loaded gun. It demands respect, caution, and perhaps most necessary: skill. This is not a vehicle for the car meet showoff or ham-fisted lead foot.
The 2019 Dodge Challenger Redeye SRT Hellcat is muscle car for drivers. With a 0-60 time of under 4 seconds, thanks to its 6.2 liter supercharged Hemi and an 8-speed automatic (no manual option).

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I personally think using a Hellcat just to do burnouts is like bragging you killed a spider by burning the entire house down. Any idiot can do that, and I’m sick and tired of people thinking that’s all these cars can do.

FCA always makes sure to have a professional racing driver riding shotgun in the Hellcat to protect certain auto journalists from becoming a headline. This year we had Bryan Whitehead of Bryan Whitehead Racing. Bryan is a driving coach and an experienced professional endurance racer – think Nurburgring. For those unaware, the Nurburgring is known as the longest and most difficult race track on the planet, at 14+ miles long and having 170 turns within its combined length. It’s the Stairway to Heaven of racetracks and you’ll be considered a Driving God if you get around it before the songs ends.

I was extremely impressed with Bryan’s resume, and asked him to teach me how to drive the SRT Redeye on the autocross course as fast as possible without squealing the tires. I gave Bryan full control as he took me through the course, telling me when to get on the throttle, on the brakes, and turn hard when needed. The Redeye gave an outstanding performance.

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Even though the car is big-boned, it can shift its weight with the agility of a pro-wrestler. It does take a different driving style to get the most out of the Redeye, and once mastered you can make all those “too fat to handle” haters eat dirt, crow, and whatever else you can shove into their face. Pricing for the Redeye SRT Hellcat starts at $69,995, and $75,995 for the Redeye SRT Hellcat Wide Body.

My huge thanks to Bryan for teaching me how to wrangle the Redeye SRT Hellcat. Getting a pat on the back from a real racecar driver is a highlight in my personal driving career. You can follow him on Instagram here.

Final Thoughts – Owning a Dodge Challenger V8 Requires Maturity

Comparing the R/T Scat Pack and the Redeye SRT Hellcat made me recognize my own maturity; you need that if planning to buy or lease one of these muscle cars. If I had to choose between the two, I would take the Hellcat; it would be safer. Being in control of nearly 800 horses is the same as carrying a loaded high-caliber handgun. You are always aware of the potential, the risk, and the sexy danger that requires a certain level of maturity to properly handle it.

If I had a Scat Pack the power goes down and gives you a false sense of security, “Oh its only 485hp, I can handle it. Watch this!” The results, as you could guess, vary. Both versions of the Challenger make the right noise, look the part, and are guaranteed to give you a story or two throughout ownership. Just exercise caution, because a gun is harmless…until someone picks it up.