By on October 14, 2019

2020 Dodge Charger Widebody

No one has a need for a large family sedan that produces over 700 horsepower.

But I’m glad one exists.

Dodge is now offering a wider Charger Hellcat and Scat Pack in a bid to keep reminding us enthusiasts that the Charger’s aging platform may still have plenty of life left in it. Somehow, this trick continues to work.

(Full disclosure: Dodge flew me to San Francisco, put me in a nice hotel in Napa, and fed me wine and food. They also gave us a few laps at Sonoma Raceway under the guidance of pro instructors. They offered a hat, which I did not take home.)

Hellcats now come standard in Widebody guise, and Scat Packs are available as such. This new exterior offers different front and rear fascias, integrated fender flares, wider wheels and tires, and 3.5 inches in increased overall width.

Wider wheels – 11 inches wide compared to 9.5 on previous Hellcats/some Scat Packs and 9 on previous and current regular-body Scat Packs – host wider (compared to 245 (Scat Pack)/275 (Hellcats and Scat Packs with certain option packages)) 305/35ZR20 tires. Up front sit six-piston brake calipers and two-piece front brake rotors.

The suspension from Bilstein gets special tuning to go along with three-mode adaptive damping. There’s also front spring rates that are 32 percent stiffer than the previous model, larger sway bars (from 32 mm to 34 mm up front, and 19 mm to 22 mm out back), and re-tuned shocks with revised valving. That last bit is done so the shocks and springs work better together. Electric power steering with selectable steering tuning is now standard.

2020 Dodge Charger Widebody

Drive modes include Street, Sport, Track, and Custom. As per SRT custom, drivers can use the infotainment system to control settings for horsepower, transmission shift speeds, steering, traction, suspension, and the paddle shifters. Both cars are equipped with so-called Performance Pages, allowing drivers to fool around with all sorts of data.

Other track tech includes line lock, launch control, line assist (meant to mitigate wheel hop), and a cool-down feature that runs the intercooler pump and radiator fan even after engine shut-off.

Hellcats continue to put out 707 horsepower (717 with the optional Daytona package) and 650 lb-ft of torque from the 6.2-liter supercharged V8 under hood, and that power gets to ground via an eight-speed automatic transmission. Scat Pack uses a 6.4-liter naturally aspirated V8 that makes 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque, and also mates to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

2020 Dodge Charger Widebody

Interior changes are minor, save for unique accents and logos. Heated and cooled seats and a heated steering wheel are standard.

Both cars run Pirelli rubber, with the Scat Pack offering the same 20-inch wheels and 305/35ZR20 tire size and the same 11-inch wheel width. There’s an optional Carbon Black finish for the rims on the Scat Pack, while the Hellcat offers two optional finishes. While standard tires for both vehicles are all-seasons, three-season tires are available for both.

Like the Hellcat, the Scat Pack gets a modified suspension. Springs, sway bars, and shocks are all changed. The front spring rate is 27 percent stiffer, the rear sway bar is now 22 mm instead of 19, and the damper calibration is changed to match up with all the other alterations.

Line lock, launch control, and launch assist are standard.

For those curious about numbers, Dodge claims the Hellcat Widebody accelerates from 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds and does the quarter-mile in 10.96 seconds, while the Scat Pack does the 0-60 run in 4.3 seconds and runs the quarter in 12.4 seconds. Both cars come close to 1.0 g on the skidpad – 0.96 for the Hellcat and 0.98 for the Scat Pack. We don’t have the type of equipment we’d need to validate these numbers, but they seem about right.

2020 Dodge Charger Widebody

When we got done with the usual press-trip minutiae — breakfast, presentation/presser, et cetera – and the car minders finally tossed keys to journos (red keys, hallelujah — no horsepower limitations), the exhaust rumbles of the gathered Hellcats and Scat Packs seemed like they’d be audible, even at idle, all the way down in San Francisco.

Indeed, the exhaust is so America, f*ck yeah!, you expect the pipes to start belching out bald eagles.

My day started behind the wheel of the Hellcat, which my drive partner and I wheeled out of Sonoma Raceway heading vaguely northwest towards the ocean, using some of the same roads I just drove a few weeks earlier while testing Ford’s High Performance Package four-cylinder Mustang. The Hellcat rode well on California’s mostly pristine pavement, and it felt buttoned-down, well-planted, and stable even in tighter corners, although the car’s width did sometimes make the lanes feel narrow.

From the driver’s seat, the deep rumble of the Hellcat’s exhaust is complimented by the supercharger whine that pops up whenever the throttle is applied with any real amount of force. Even with the electric steering, the feel was well-weighted, offering only a hint of artificial feel.

2020 Dodge Charger Widebody

When it comes to throttle applications, I was gentle – traffic was a bit heavy, and I wanted no unplanned conversations with local law enforcement. Especially with track time planned for later in the afternoon. Perhaps the fact that I ended up with a much lighter wallet the last time I was loaned a Hellcat press car (while also needing to devote time to online traffic school) was in the back of my mind.

Hellcat unleashed on track, I was reminded that all that power/torque has a way of shortening straightaways (which aren’t all that long at Sonoma to begin with), and the Brembos did their job nicely. I built speed as I got to know the track better, and the Chargers (I drove a Hellcat twice, as well as a Scat Pack twice, no chance to drive a Daytona package car) all felt stable and planted in corners, with little drama. Both cars felt more svelte than their size suggests, and while I knew I needed to stay patient before digging into the throttle, I was never intimidated.

The Scat Pack weighs about 200 pounds less than the Hellcat, so turn-in was a tad sharper. Throttle calibration was also tighter, meaning it was a little trickier to apply it smoothly. It also served up a smidge more body roll. That, and the lack of supercharger whine, were the most noticeable on-track differences.

2020 Dodge Charger Widebody

I drove a Scat Pack back to the hotel, and the jumpier throttle, lack of supercharger whine, and lighter weight were noticeable on the street, even while driving relatively gently.

While the Widebody treatment aims to improve handling, it also gives the cars a distinct look. Yeah, you can still tell they’re Chargers from a long way off, but there’s something more sinister about the wider look. Certainly, more than a few heads turned as we toured Sonoma County.

Inside, the minor updates are appreciated but the overall experience is the same as before – plenty of room, seats that are a bit overbolstered for street use, easy-to-use infotainment and HVAC controls. UConnect infotainment with Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and all that SRT data is standard and housed in an 8.4-inch touchscreen. There’s a 7-inch driver info screen in the gauge cluster.

Other available features (depending on trim) include sunroof, fog lamps, functional hood scoop (with heat extractors in the Hellcat), blind-spot monitoring, rear spoiler, dual-zone climate control, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, multiple USB ports, satellite radio, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-path alert, brake assist, hill-start assist, forward-collision warning with braking, lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, rear park assist, keyless entry and starting, navigation, and premium audio.

2020 Dodge Charger Widebody

Fuel economy numbers are not yet available.

The Hellcat I drove started at $69,645. Add in $1,495 for destination, $1,595 for a carbon and suede interior appearance package, another $995 for hood stripes, $1,595 for premium audio, $995 more for an infotainment package including nav, plus $1,995 for the sunroof, and you end up with a $78,315 car. A Daytona Package Hellcat will start at $74,140.

Meanwhile, the Scat Pack I drove started at $39,995. Destination added $1,495, and the Widebody package cost $6,000. Three-season rubber sets the price back another $695, and the red brake calipers added $595. Options and option packages included the Driver Confidence Group ($795), premium audio ($1,595), the navigation package ($995), the Plus package ($1,895), sunroof ($1,295), and Technology Group ($1,895), for a total of $57,250.

The essence of Americana doesn’t come cheap.

2020 Dodge Charger Widebody

As stated at the outset, no one needs either of these cars. So what? Someday soon, market forces and/or changes in the regulatory environment will make these cars obsolete. That doesn’t mean there won’t be performance cars – some even with old-school dead-dino-burning V8s – but they likely won’t be this large and comfortable, and certainly not as blunt in their approach to the mission.

Family road trips may be more comfortable in a minivan, but they’ll be a hell of a lot more fun in one of these babies. No need for the license plate game or slug Bug – just let the ponies run and the exhaust rock n’roll. That’s all the entertainment you’ll need.

Sure, you’ll not pass too many fuel pumps, and you’ll certainly need to exercise restraint, lest your license be pulled by Johnny Law.

Who cares? The large four-door muscle car is almost certainly a dying breed, but if these cars are among the last of their number, it’s quite the way to go.

[Images © 2019 Tim Healey/TTAC]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

40 Comments on “2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat and Scat Pack Widebody First Drive – Family ‘Haul’-er...”


  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I actually think I’d pick the Scat Pack version.

    • 0 avatar
      Hydromatic

      Ditto.

      Is it okay to say the Hellcat is a bit too much for me?

      • 0 avatar
        Tim Healey

        Sure it is. I bet the Scat Pack will sell better — cheaper, likely slightly more fuel efficient, no supercharger to worry about, probably easier to procure.

        • 0 avatar
          stuki

          And, at least if it is anything like the “same” engine in the Durango SRT, and the Challenger, it comes with one of the genuinely awesomest sounding engines put in a street legal car since the day noise regs became a thing. It’s AMG 6.3 levels of awesome, in the sound department.

          I tentatively hope the exaggerated tip in, is something one gets used to with more time behind the wheel. In the much heavier Durango, that was the case for me, and I haven’t driven it for more than 6 hours combined, tops. Whoever tunes these 6.4s at FCA, has been extremely good at throttle programming in other applications (The Power Wagon’s throttle, in 4lo, is smooth and precise enough it could power an brain surgeons knife without concern of overpowering it…)

          But if the throttle is genuinely “unlearnable” without too much effort, that’s major letdown in this application. A car like this, needs to be effortless. Effortlessly smooth when called for, is just as important as effortlessly, tire shreddingly powerful, when that’s what’s on the menu.

          If I was a kid, I would want my dad to drop me off at school, in a car with a big, sonorous V8 and linelock…..

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            Scat Pack for me too, minus the widebody. I prefer to be a little more subtle.

            I saw a Charger parked yesterday while running errands and was trying to pick up some badging to tell me what engine it had when I realized that it had been debadged save for DODGE. The Charger is one of those cars where I like that look.

            There are 2 families that regularly drop of students in Hemi Chargers, however they are regular R/T models.

          • 0 avatar
            nrd515

            My old ’79 Trans Am, after mods, makes my Challenger Scatpack’s throttle hit seem like it’s pillow soft and lazy. I got used to it and it took almost no time to get used to driving my present car in Sport mode. In “normal”, it’s not much of anything at all.

      • 0 avatar

        I wouldn’t say the Hellcat would be “too much”, but I would say the Scat Pack will be “better”.
        https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2019/07/the-fastest-version-is-not-the-best-version/

    • 0 avatar
      Superdessucke

      I’d love to own a Hellcat but for $24k more than a Scat Pack wide body? No way! I’d get the Scat Pack too. 12.4 in the quarter is plenty fast enough, and you’d have less weight and better mileage (not that either of these would be MPG champs but it helps).

    • 0 avatar
      jpk112

      I agree.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I spent last week on a combined business/family trip, with a Charger GT rental car. The GT has all the visual enhancements of the pre-Widebody Scat Pack but none of the performance enhancements except for the 20 x 9.5″ wheels. Mine happened to be bright red and the rental company never took off the yellow lip protectors.

    My wife couldn’t stop cringing and talking about how embarrassing the car was.

    Beyond that, these are showing their age. Busy ride, heavy, awful interior materials, and a very strange feature mix. As noted the seats are overbolstered; they’re also hard and uncomfortable. This particular Pentastar had a habit of stumbling when cold (with 6000 miles). The best parts were the faux-ZF transmission and the big trunk. Adding 200 or 400 horsepower would certainly make the car faster and louder, but I don’t know that it would make it enjoyable as a daily driver.

    Honestly, leaving the powertrain aside, my 2009 Pontiac G8 was a better-executed large sedan than this 2019 Charger.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      I always enjoyed driving my Charger R/T (I don’t really know if any 2019MY sub$55K sedan beats the 392 Charger on ‘fun’), but its build quality and reliability was terrible.

    • 0 avatar
      EBFlex

      So much bias. I would wager to guess very little if any of that is true. The interior is fine, power trains are some of the best on the market.

      Weight is what it is. It’s a big car with a very usable back seat and a very usable trunk.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        I’m reporting my experiences accurately. Unlike you, I’m not here for the whole purpose of plumping one automaker and trashing another.

        Said G8 had an even bigger back seat, a similar trunk, and weighed about 400 pounds less than a V8 Charger.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      @dal

      Had a 2019 Dodge Charger R/T with the 5.7, pre-Widebody, and no options beyond the base model earlier this year. It definitely felt, over the top, cartoonish in execution. The 5.7 was a fun engine but I agree 100% the platform showed its age. Heavy, thumped and thunked over expansion joints, and hard seats. The interior quality was – appalling – and a strange mix of very outdated materials and design with sparks of brilliance (UConnect).

      I looked at it through the same lens, asking myself if Pontiac lived on, and VF lived on, what would the G8 GT look like today. The Chevy SS gives us SOME idea of that and I’m with you, the overall package of the G8 was better executed.

    • 0 avatar
      MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

      “My wife couldn’t stop cringing and talking about how embarrassing the car was”

      Your wife sounds kinda high-maintenance.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Kind of the opposite. She doesn’t like to draw attention and a big loud red shouty car with scoops and strakes and yellow bumper guards and 20″ wheels makes her feel very conspicuous.

        • 0 avatar
          nrd515

          In my experience riding in Chargers since 2008 and driving Challengers since 2009, they are almost universally loved by just about everyone, men women, kids, everybody.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      Finally someone without FCA issued rose colored glasses who tells the truth about the pentastar. Last year I had one in a minivan that was terrible to drive due to the stumbling pentastar and the general lag between mashing the accelerator pedal and the car moving. I think it had 8k miles. So enough to be broken in, but certainly new enough that it should run right all of the time.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        “Finally someone without FCA issued rose colored glasses who tells the truth about the pentastar. Last year I had one in a minivan that was terrible to drive due to the stumbling pentastar…”

        I’ve driven many. They don’t all do this. This could be related to anything from poor fuel quality to an isolated mechanical fault.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          I’ve had plenty of Pentastar cars before that didn’t have this particular issue, but it is consistent with a theme throughout my rental car history of highly variable FCA quality.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        We have never had an issue like that with a Pentastar. Not in 74k miles on our sedan or the 2000 miles in a rented Pacifica. The 9 speed in the Pacifica did make an odd clunk now and then downshifting on the freeway.

  • avatar
    ajla

    The acceleration per dollar ratio on the narrow body Scat Pack is unbeatable among 4-door cars. C/D posted a Stinger vs SP test today and despite the Kia putting up killer numbers the Dodge still bodied it by a half second basically everywhere.

    caranddriver.com/reviews/comparison-test/a29443449/2019-dodge-charger-vs-2019-kia-stinger/

    The closest thing would probably be a Model3 Performance but even there you’ll likely be spending $10K more.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Are these models available in a solid paint color sans stripes and all the pretend racing decorations? It has been a long time since I’ve been in a Charger. I recall thinking it had sort of a cramped interior when taking into consideration the car’s overall dimensions.

    I am surprised that these continue to sell well, but I suppose there is really nothing else like it on the market…..and probably never will be. So here is to another 20 years??

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      Cramped? Compared to a full sized pickup, maybe. Compared to almost anything else, the front seating area is immense. You can get one in a solid color, of course. Hell, if you want bland, there are several shades of silver/gray available along with black and white. My Challenger Scat Pack is “TorRed” with no stripes.

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    “ No one has a need for a large family sedan that produces over 700 horsepower.”

    I’d like to see the peer reviewed study that spurred you to write that complete nonsense.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Love the eBay design aesthetic of the wheel arch extensions and sills. On the plus side the low rent interior is no longer the worst looking part of the car.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    Its a bit silly how we live in a time where the Camaro, a VW CUV-thing, and this ancient thing all have the same mono-brow front end. Makes me think of the Galant right before it became a generic blob.

    I’ve pretty much vowed to never buy a Charger due to insurance and the type of drivers that they attract. The aggressive, impatient, speedy types. Let alone the quality issues I’ve experienced with its Chrysler 300 relative, and the dated chassis underneath (isnt it part Mercedes?).

    • 0 avatar
      thegamper

      “the type of drivers that they attract. The aggressive, impatient, speedy types”

      I think you are pretty safe in this regard, most of them have migrated to pickup trucks, because, you know, go big or go home. The Charger’s handling makes driving recklessly too safe in comparison.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Dodge aside – the Scat Pack is still on my “must test drive this!” list for my next car.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    For $55-80k, those fender flares should look better integrated than my Trooper’s. They don’t.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Theres a basic, generic fender flare that you can buy online atm, a number of drifter-wannabes stick them on old junk heaps. Whatever Chryslers using isn’t far off.

  • avatar
    MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

    They look fantastic, and the flares are about as “integrated” as I’d want. Look down low at how they’ve tapered new skirts to align with the flares but they disappear near the middle so the whole package doesn’t get too chunky. I was a pretty prolific car designer back in the day on the ole Trapper Keeper, and I don’t think I could come up with anything better.

  • avatar
    PartsUnknown

    Very surprised by some of the hate directed at these cars. I’ve never even owned a Chrysler/FCA product, but I’ve rented a couple of Charger R/T 5.7s, and I thought they were a blast to drive. Even the base Hemi sounds fantastic and provides great acceleration. I found the interiors to be refreshingly functional, ergonomically correct and comfortable. And this is coming from someone who currently drives a newer Volvo. I’ve enjoyed the Charger so much it’s now on a very short list for my next car. I’d go Scat Pack, skip the wide body and stripes, add a sunroof for around $40K. It’d be fun laying rubber in front of my kids’ school!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “No one has a need for a large family sedan that produces over 700 horsepower.”

    We didn’t have a need for the Nissan Murano Cross Cabriolet either, this Hellcat needs to exist in order to bring balance the universe.

  • avatar
    swilliams41

    I have a wife a two adult children. If we were taking a road trip this would be fine. Our last road trip was Dallas to Santa Fe in a MB GLS 450. Nice way to go but I did not need to sit high as I am over 6 ft tall and having a SUV means nada to me. That said, a E-Class would have been just as good, a S-Class even better. Would have loved the Scat Pack in the mountain passes. The Hellcat is a little too much for me. Still cannot understand all of the 1 and 2 occupant SUV’s running around.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Arthur Dailey: Don’t denigrate the FILA T-Bird. A much underappreciated package.
  • 28-Cars-Later: MY80 for the bustleback Seville with the 368, 4.1 V6, and I think Olds Diesel. They screwed it up...
  • tankinbeans: Is the 500L still a thing? If so, what are any differences?
  • jpk112: I agree.
  • Arthur Dailey: I pine for the return of opera/coach windows and tail fins. Hopefully once hybrid vehicles are the...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States