By Derek Price
If you think four-door sedans are boring, here’s one that will change your mind in a heartbeat.
It’s the 707-horsepower Dodge Charger Hellcat, the fastest and most powerful sedan in the world — and perhaps the most ridiculous car to be unveiled in years.
It’s ridiculously quick, as it’s certified to do a quarter-mile drag race in 11 seconds flat. It’s ridiculously fun, giving you the ability to liquify your tires while otherworldly noises scream from under the hood. And it’s ridiculously practical, with a compliant ride and wide-opening back doors that make it easy to carry a baby seat.
“See,” you can tell your wife, “it’s a sensible family car.”
Any trace of sensibility, though, goes out the window when you press the gas pedal. This car is efficient at transforming fuel into tire smoke, but not much else. It’s rated for a not-so-bad 22 mpg on the highway and an awful 13 mpg in the city, but what did you expect? This thing’s no hybrid.
I spent a day driving the Hellcat and it’s tamer Charger cousins around Washington, D.C., including a stint on the soaking wet Summit Point racetrack on a rainy day. While Mother Nature allowed for one super-obvious insight — taking a 707-horsepower car on a wet track is downright terrifying — the drive through the countryside and suburbs that surround the nation’s capitol showed what a livable car this could be.
Most cars with this much power would be considered exotic supercars that come with some major drawbacks for everyday driving: rock-hard suspensions, limited visibility, cramped cabins and origami-like bodywork that can’t survive a three-inch speed bump.
The Charger Hellcat has no such limitations, feeling remarkably like a family car as long as you don’t push the throttle more than a fraction of an inch. Its cabin is nice and roomy, and its suspension is soft enough that it remains a great road-trip car, even though it’s so wild under the hood.
Power comes from a 6.2-liter supercharged HEMI V8. It’s the same engine Dodge packed into the Challenger Hellcat earlier this year, and it sends all its monstrous power through a specially beefed-up eight-speed automatic transmission.
While the Hellcat is the version sure to grab all the headlines, Dodge has done a phenomenal job revamping the rest of the Charger lineup for 2015 as well. From its efficient base model ($27,995) that gets 31 mpg from a 292-horsepower V6, to the 370-horse R/T ($32,995) to the 485-horse SRT 392 ($47,385), the new Charger offers as wide a range of personalities and power plants as anything on the market. It’s also been drastically improved in terms of refinement and cabin quality.
Oh, and pricing on the Hellcat? It’s around $64,000, including the $1,700 gas-guzzler tax.
At a Glance
What was tested?
2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat. Base price: $63,995
Wheelbase: 120.4 in.
Length: 200.8 in.
Width: 75.0 in.
Height: 58.3 in.
Engine: 6.2-liter supercharged V8 (707 horsepower, 650 lbs.-ft.)
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Estimated Mileage: 13 city, 22 highway
2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat
Why buy it?
It’s a wild combination, offering supercar levels of power with four-door practicality. Priced under $64,000, the Charger Hellcat is an amazing horsepower-per-dollar value.