Test Drive: 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye

Dodge delivers another hellacious Hellcat.

2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye

Dodge summons the spirit of the Demon in this ferocious muscle car.

By Nick Kurczewski, Car-ED.com | August 2018

With the 840-horsepower Demon now gone from its lineup, Dodge finds a way to translate that car’s drag-strip performance into this new Camaro and Mustang-baiting muscle machine.

What is this vehicle?

The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye has a whole lot of attitude and horsepower to go along with its very long name. For simplicity, let’s simply refer to it as the Redeye. And just in case you’re wondering, this brand new muscle car has not been named after an early-morning flight option. If you look closely at the Hellcat logo placed on the front fenders, you’ll see the growling kitty now sports a set of red eyes.

Unbelievably, that’s one of the few visual cues that this Dodge has close to 800 horsepower under its heavily-sculpted front hood. Other than the red beady eyes, the Hellcat logo changes from silver to black and, in the case of our test car, you can also choose to add the wide-body exterior treatment, which adds fender flares and bigger tires at the front and rear. Then again, this design flourish is also available on less powerful versions of the Challenger, too.

So is this what we’d call an under-the-radar kind of sport machine? Well, the answer is ‘yes’…until you get behind the wheel. Give the 797-horsepower Hemi V8 anything beyond half-throttle, and you’d better hold on tight – and hope there are no police cars hiding nearby. That’s because the Redeye simply lives to lunge forward, whenever you give it the opportunity. The supercharger whines, the gummy tires lock onto the pavement, and you’re sent down the road at scary-fast velocities.

Who is this vehicle for?

Not for the faint of heart, or light of wallet, that’s for certain! It goes without saying that a Hemi-powered muscle car with this much horsepower is going to appeal to a select clientele. The base price for the Redeye is also more than double what you’d pay for a well-equipped Challenger, not to mention rivals wearing Chevrolet and Ford badges. Starting at roughly $70,000, the Redeye automatically tacks on an extra $3,000, thanks to a $1,700 gas guzzler penalty and eye-watering $1,300 destination fee. That latter figures seems especially inflated.

Still, this is a car that you buy with your heart, not your head. There is no real rationale for having 797 horsepower at your disposal. Even during our time with the car, which included laps at the stunning Club Motorsports racetrack in Tamworth, New Hampshire, there were only limited opportunities where you can unleash anything close to this car’s full capability. On public roads, if you punch the gas pedal, you’d better make certain the road ahead (and to the sides) is clear for a long, long way.

Why is this vehicle important to you, the buyer?

Every time Dodge reveals a new and crazier version of the Challenger, we feel like we’re witnessing the end of an era. With electrification and turbocharging becoming the norm in everything from SUVs and family sedans, along with the some the world’s most expensive supercars, being at the helm of a rumbling rear-wheel-drive, V-8-powered muscle car feels like going back in time.

Thankfully, the Redeye doesn’t adhere too strictly to every retro-themed first impression. The cabin is comfortable and the rear seating is usable by actual adults, at least for short drives. The infotainment system is very user-friendly, with a large touch screen featuring easy to navigate menus and simple icons. While the exterior and engine might fool you into thinking you’ve gone back in time, the rest of the Challenger proves Dodge’s engineering team made concessions to creating a muscle car that doesn’t feel outdated or outclassed.

Interesting facts about this vehicle!

The Hellcat Redeye driving experience is dominated by its engine, so it should come as no surprise that this 6.2-liter V-8 takes center-stage when discussing the car’s most memorable attributes.

  • Dodge estimates the Redeye will accelerate from 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds. The top speed is estimated at 203 mph.
  • While the 840-horsepower Dodge Demon had more power and could accelerate faster, its focus on straight-line acceleration meant it was limited to a top speed of 168 mph.
  • Some of the Demon’s power difference is attributable to the fact that its total of 840 horsepower was only applicable when the car was running on high-octane race fuel.
  • The supercharger fitted to the Redeye measures in at 2.7-liters in capacity. This is larger than the total displacement of many engines fitted some of the most popular cars and SUVs.
  • The Redeye features a unique performance system called the SRT Power Chiller. When in use, this routes the car’s A/C coolant to the supercharger, where it helps to lower the temperature of incoming air and then flows to the system’s heat exchangers. One caveat: You can’t enjoy the comfort of A/C when the system is in use.

What Impressed Us / Top Likes:

Of course we’re going to mention the acceleration! The Hellcat Redeye has to be treated with care, whether you’re on a road or racetrack.

  • Other than its sheer grunt, the Redeye impressed us for being so comfortable during a full day of driving. If you never tipped your toes very far into the gas pedal, you might never know how much horsepower is available. We mean that as a compliment, since the Hemi engine is happy to waft along at legal speeds (if you want it to).
  •  The cabin features a lot of black plastic, though it all looks and feels nicely put together. Once again, Dodge has a great infotainment system on its hands, and that makes a big difference during day-to-day driving.
  • The traction and stability control systems are your friends, at least until you get fully up to speed with this car’s potential. Blasting around a racetrack, it was nice to know some form of electrical nanny was there, just in case things got out of hand. To the Redeye’s credit, despite some moderate (and fun!) slipping and sliding, the car gobbled up track miles, too. In fact, we wish Dodge had allowed a little more time to get acclimated to the car’s on-track behavior. One warm-up lap was followed by a single hot lap, before a final cool-down lap was done before bringing the car back to the pits.
  • The Dodge Challenger is far from being the newest kid on the muscle car scene, but the looks are arguably holding up extremely well. When a car is designed to look like a throwback to the 1960s and 70s, chances are good the exterior design should prove timeless. The Challenger, especially when it’s painted in a brash shade of blue, purple, or green, continues to turn heads everywhere it goes.

Items to Make Better (Least Favorite Things):

Finding criticism with the Redeye is pretty simple, since the demerits fall exactly where you’d expect them to.

  • Fuel economy is terrible, plain and simple. That gas guzzler tax is proof enough that this Dodge muscle car is a shameless example of horsepower-led exuberance. For that same reason, we also love it. If you have to ask, then get ready, because the EPA-estimated fuel economy of the Hellcat Redeye is 13 mpg in city driving and 22 mpg on the highway. That last figure really isn’t too awful, at least compared to full-size trucks and supercars costing three-times the price. Faint praise, perhaps, but there you go.
  • The ride is softer than it rivals, and even some other members of the Challenger family tree. Around a racetrack there’s a good deal of body roll. The Redeye often seems happier doing what it does best, going extremely fast in one solid straight line.
  • The price can easily exceed $80,000 when factoring in options. While this still makes the Redeye a bargain on a dollar-per-horsepower level, it takes a special kind of Dodge customer to be willing to hand over that level of cash for a Challenger. Then again, we doubt Dodge will have any trouble selling every Redeye it builds

Segment and Competitors:

We might have foreshadowed the upcoming demise – or reorganization, if we want to be less pessimistic – of the muscle car world in general. With gas cheap and EPA rules seemingly being loosened (let’s simply not touch that latter issue), there is still a place for a car like the Hellcat Redeye.

  • Chevrolet Camaro SS
  • Ford Mustang GT
  • Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
  • Ford Mustang Bullitt
  • Chevrolet Corvette
  • Chevrolet Camaro ZL1

Of all of these rivals, the strongest one comes from within the Dodge lineup. The standard Challenger Hellcat now delivers 717 horsepower, and costs about $10,000 less than the Redeye. Do you really need 80 horsepower more than what the Hellcat has to offer? If you’re looking for pure bragging rights, or a muscle car investment opportunity, then maybe. But when it comes to actual driving, there is much less between these two Challengers than you might imagine.

Unique Specifications:

The Redeye comes standard with a 6.2-liter V-8 that delivers 797 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque. Despite targeting an enthusiast clientele, the Redeye is only available with an 8-speed automatic transmission . There are two choices of final drive ratios, with the higher of the two catering to the drag-strip racing crowd. On that note, Launch Control is standard, to ensure you don’t waste precious time (and lots of rear tire rubber) getting down the road, quickly!

Adding the available widebody package brings along a meaner appearance, with meaty 11.0-by-20.0-inch wheels at each corner. Except this option alone costs an extra $6,000 over the price of the regular Redeye.

Pricing and Availability:

The 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye technically starts at just under $70,000, before adding in the gas guzzler tax and destination fee. Nicely optioned, the Redeye can crest $80,000 without too much trouble. The Hellcat Redeye hits dealerships this fall.

2018-09-12T14:58:52-04:00Aug 2018|Car Reviews|