If you’re not one of the lucky 3,300 people to get your hands on the new 2018 Dodge Demon, I’d like to present you with the next best thing. This is the 2018 Challenger Hellcat Widebody, and while it may not have the 840-hp of the Demon, the 707-hp and 650-lb.ft of torque it does put out help make it one of the best (and fastest) grand touring cars America has ever built. Whether you’re heading to the drag strip or on a cross-country journey, the combination of power, handling and open road prowess is simply hard to beat.
2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody Exterior:
Just look at those flares – those big and macho fender flares. When the original Hellcat debuted as a 2015 model it truly set the automotive world on its ear. And while it had all the power one could ever ask for, getting that power to the ground on a set of 275/40-series tires was an exercise in futility. Then a few years ago fans of the Challenger saw a glimmer of hope at the 2015 SEMA show in Las Vegas, NV when Dodge showcased the AWD Challenger GT concept. Here was a Challenger that looked the business with a wider stance, but more importantly, it showed that Dodge was already addressing its “lack of traction” problem that Hellcat owners were dealing with.
A total of 3.5-inches has been added to the Challenger’s overall track. That allows for the inclusion of new 20×11 Devil’s Rim split-five spoke aluminum wheels riding on 305/35ZR20 Pirelli performance tires. The addition of the flares also meant some enhanced aero by way of a wider front splitter as well. Other Hellcat specific items such as the air catcher headlamps that help feed the twin-screw supercharger and dual air extractors on the hood remain intact for the 2018 model year.
2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody Interior:
The cabin represents a wonderful combination of luxury, comfort and sport. The Hellcat seats are some of the best in the business and offer great lateral and lumbar support along with heat and ventilation. The leather-wrapped flat-bottomed steering wheel has a great thickness to it and the t-handle shifter is something straight out of the 1970s. An 8.4” touchscreen for Uconnect 8.4 not only handles in-car functions such as navigation, climate and audio, but it also gives one access to the SRT Performance Pages, launch control settings and overall vehicle diagnostics. Here you can also configure transmission and suspension set-up, power output and steering feel.
Rear seat room was better than expected, however, larger adults may find it to be a bit cramped. Recessed door panels aid in the cabin’s overall comfort and give occupants not only a nice armrest, but also a few extra inches of overall space. Climate and audio controls are easy to reach, while the leather-covered center console with contrasting stitching helps to round out an otherwise beautifully designed cabin. Now, while a small opening makes loading the trunk difficult, there is 16.5 cubic feet of space, which means plenty of room for storage.
2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody Performance:
The supercharged 6.2L V8 produces 707-hp and 650-lb.ft of torque, making the Hellcat one of the most powerful production vehicles ever produced. Visually, it’s pure muscle car – big, burly, loud and fast. However, when it came to the Hellcat, designers and engineers had to get creative in order to deal with the extra grunt that lay under the hood. Our test car was fitted with the optional 8-speed ZF automatic transmission and it performed beautifully. And while shifting the Hellcat Widebody is an option via the steering wheel mounted paddles, the shift points, while left in full-auto mode, are so good that you’ll never need to utilize them.
In regards to suspension, the boys at SRT have given us a choice of three settings: Street, Sport and Track. Each one adjusts your suspension and throttle inputs so as to suit your specific driving needs. Electric power steering (EPS) has been added for 2018, which also helps in enhancing handling performance while at the same time reducing steering effort. Now, it must be said the standard Hellcat’s biggest Achilles’ heel was the lack of traction both under acceleration and in the corners due to it being under-tired. The 305/35-series squared set-up that now lives under those big flares greatly improves this with the car feeling more composed overall. Quite honestly, when driven briskly it feels like a completely different vehicle to the standard bodied car.
When it comes to brakes, think big, really big. 390-mm Brembo two-piece rotors with six-piston calipers live up front, while out back four piston units reside and help to bring the Hellcat’s 4,400+ pound curb weight to a halt in no time flat.
2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody Safety:
Crumple zones front and rear, airbags throughout the cabin, active head restraints, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, traction control, hill start assist, blind spot monitoring, forward collision warning along with a host of other safety features mean the 2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody is not only one of the quickest production cars in existence, but one of the safest as well.
2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Widebody Overall:
It should come as no surprise that while I’m a huge fan of the original Challenger Hellcat, I’m even more of a fan of the Widebody. This car is a case of a manufacturer seeing an issue with a vehicle and addressing it in the best possible way. However, for those potential owners who aren’t a fan of the flares, fear not, as one can still purchase a standard bodied Hellcat (although I’m not sure why you would). And while the Hellcat may seem like it’s been around for a while, keep in mind that it is still one of the fastest production cars money can buy. Drop by your local AutoNation Dodge dealer today to check one out!
*Fuel economy values (mpg) are EPA estimates. Actual mileage will vary and depends on several factors including driving habits and vehicle condition.
**Vehicle MSRP of $87,995.00 excludes taxes, title, transportation, options, and dealer fees.