In an automotive environment trending toward boosting fuel economy and using alternative power sources, the Dodge Challenger doubles down on performance for 2019.
It’s what Challenger was born for.
According to Dodge, the new 2019 Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye is the fastest, most powerful production muscle car. Just looking at the numbers seems like proof enough. With a V8 engine generating 797 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque, the SRT Hellcat Redeye goes from zero to 60 mph in 3.4 seconds.
Also new for 2019, the Widebody Package is available on the Challenger R/T Scat Pack model, adding 3.5 inches to the car’s overall width, translating into enhanced handling and braking.
An assortment of other performance upgrades, new features and equipment packages are scattered throughout the 2019 lineup. The Challenger SRT Demon model has been discontinued.
Trim levels for 2019 are SXT, GT, R/T, R/T Scat Pack, SRT Hellcat, and SRT Hellcat Redeye.
The engine list includes a 3.6-liter V6 on SXT and GT models, a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 on the R/T, a 392 Hemi V8 on R/T Scat Pack models, a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8 on the SRT Hellcat, and a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi high-output V8 on the SRT Hellcat Redeye. In other words, engine choices range from medium to huge, and fast to faster and even faster.
Base pricing with destination charge ranges from $28,690 for an SXT with rear-wheel drive (AWD is available) to $71,045 for an SRT Hellcat Redeye. There is also a $1,700 gas-guzzler tax on both Hellcat models.
A regular grade R/T costs $35,495 with destination and offers the choice of a standard six-speed manual transmission or an optional eight-speed automatic. My tester was a Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody model with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Scat Pack trim is $6,000 extra and includes the competition suspension and fender flares of the Widebody Package.
As though the Challenger itself wouldn’t attract enough attention, the tester wore Sublime exterior paint, a nice play on words for a lime green color louder than the engine. “Nothing looks good in lime green,” my friend Annie said, “not even limes.”
I was more forgiving of the Sublime because it conjures up the Action Green of the Seahawks color rush uniforms. But now that I think about it, the Seahawks don’t look good in those lime green color rush uniforms either.
There are several other bold colors in the 2019 Challenger paint palette, an homage to the original Challenger of the 1970s.
Unlike the Viper, which was dropped this year, the Challenger is pretty practical in spite of its concentration on brute strength. Driver and front passenger have comfortable seats and plenty of room. There’s a big back seat with seatbelts for three but seating for two realistically. The trunk is large and deep.
Infotainment technology is strictly contemporary, with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay capability, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hotspot, SiriusXM satellite radio, navigation and more as standard or optional features depending on trim level. Ditto for driver-assistance and safety systems.
Optional features on my tester were plentiful and costly, including a not-to-be-missed Harman Kardon 18-speaker premium audio system ($1,595 and there’s a trunk-mounted subwoofer, woohoo). Still, with all that extra stuff, the total price came to just $56,600. That’s a low price for such a lot of car.
By the way, the friendly infotainment system has an 8.4-inch touchscreen and is straightforward and easy to use.
Challenger’s power-centric underpinnings aren’t conducive to the smoothest of rides. On decently paved surfaces, things go pretty well, but uneven surfaces can produce a mechanical bull effect. The effect is mercifully toned down by the heavily bolstered seats.
During my test week with the Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody, its 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque tried hard to get me into trouble. Good thing I wasn’t in the Hellcat Redeye or I’d be writing this from jail.
2019 DODGE CHALLENGER R/T SCAT PACK WIDEBODY
Base price, including destination charge: $40,740
Price as driven: $56,600
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.