The Ten Things You Learn After Four Days in the Dodge Charger Hellcat

707 horsepower is a lot of horsepower.

Dodge was kind enough to let us borrow a Charger Hellcat. If you don’t know, the Hellcat is the fastest production sedan, with a top speed of 204 MPH and 707 insanity inducing horsepower under the hood. It’s not quicker off the line than the Tesla Model S P85D, but after 60 it just crushes it. It’s faster than almost anything and everything.

We had four days with the car to learn its intricacies. Here are the ten things you need to know:

1. It’s obscenely fast. That’s a given, but nothing can really prepare you for the insanity of the Hellcat until you first step on the gas. It’s not subtle about its speed or power. Get on the gas and you’re greeted by a wall of noise and speed unlike anything out there. The 6.2 liter supercharged Hemi with 707 horsepower is one of the greatest engines we’ve ever seen. Seriously, there’s a lot to love here.

2. It’s overpowered ​and​ undertired. Ok, so overpowered was a given, but it has a square tire profile with 275s all around. 275s sound meaty, but then you realize that the Camaro Z/28 has 305s all around, the Corvette Z06 has 335s out back, even the Viper has 355s out back. All of these cars are lighter and have less power. The heavier (4,000+ pounds), more powerful Charger simply cannot hook up, it needs more rubber. Even a slight throttle application results in spinning rears and tire marks down the road, even with the traction control set to very on.

3. Yes, it can do a burnout. As you’ve seen from literally every YouTube video that this car has been in, brake stands are no worries for it. I didn’t do any when I had the car because I wanted to give it back with tires. Also, I’ve seen the videos, I know it can do a burnout, what would doing one prove?

4. It’s actually rather subtle. This is kind of hard to believe, but the word Hellcat appears on the outside of the car precisely zero times. It has two little badges that are the Hellcat symbol, two SRT badges, and that’s really it. To the uninitiated, it looks like a regular Charger Scat Pack, perhaps a slightly more sinister one, but that’s about it. It’s a total sleeper, got to love that.

5. People who know what it is freak out. I had a number of people give thumbs up, roll down the windows to chat about it, or give knowing nods of approval. Owners of regular Chargers were obviously jealous when they stopped to talk. That has to make someone who owns a Hellcat feel damn good.

6. Some people who know what it is act like idiots around it. If you’re driving the Hellcat and come across something like a Camaro or a lowered Mitsubishi Evo (these are just examples and definitely not people that I saw, no sir, not at all), be prepared for some invitations to drive like a moron in traffic. People will pull up next to you, drop gears, and then take off, expecting that you’ll be following close behind to prove that your car is fast. A better thing to do is to just let those people make asses of themselves and get pulled over while and you just continue on your way.

7. Gas mileage is a joke. Seriously. It’s more like gallons per mile than miles per gallon. Hypermiling in the Charger will let you see 20 MPG. Maybe. A full tank of fuel barely got me 200 miles. That’s kind of awesome.

8. Corners are not its thing. Steering is vague and it’s a heavy SOB. That’s why you’ll see these on the drag strip, not on the road course. 

9. It’s surprisingly nice inside. While some of the materials on the dash feel a little cheap, the seats are top notch, the wheel feels great, and Chrysler’s UConnect system is a delight to use. It’s a very, very nice place to spend a lot of time.

10. The Hellcat is a screaming deal. The particular car that Dodge gave us to test came in at $70,800. That sounds like a lot, but that roughly equates to $100 per horsepower… for the most powerful, fastest sedan that the world has seen. Yes, yes, you’re spending $70,000 on a Dodge, but you get to say it’s a Hellcat. And there’s something cool about that.

The Charger Hellcat makes no sense. It’s not a rational car. You’d have to be clinically insane to buy this as your daily driver/family hauler. You’ll probably need to change tires every time you refuel, which is basically every single day. It’s nuts. It makes no sense. It’s irrational. It’s dumb.

It’s basically perfect.

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More Power, Less Cash: 2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack Shaker Review

With money a finite resource for most shoppers, buying a new car sometimes comes down to weighing dollars against sheetmetal. Do you spend your paycheck on a sensible crossover, a fuel-efficient sedan, or a racy hot hatchback?

Or do you simply buy the most horsepower you can afford?

2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack Shaker Profile

If so, direct your attention to the 2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack Shaker, which is Dodge’s code for more horsepower with a smaller monthly payment. It’s the affordable way to get Dodge’s 6.4-liter (392-cubic-inch) Hemi V-8 under the hood of your Challenger, saving you a few thousand bucks compared to the $46,690 SRT 392 model.

Opting for the Scat Pack Shaker means you’ll do without the SRT model’s adaptive suspension dampers, leather-and-Alcantara seats, and HID headlights, plus you’ll get four-piston Brembo front brakes versus six-piston stoppers on the SRT 392. But you’ll be glad you saved some cash when it’s time to buy new rear tires.

2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack Shaker Engine

Open up the big Hemi from a stop just once, and you’ll fall in love. While the Ford Mustang’s DOHC V-8 needs a few revs to wake up and the fifth-gen Chevrolet Camaro’s pushrod V-8 starts to run out of steam before redline, Dodge’s 6.4-liter monster dishes out power all the time. It’ll happily sublimate the 9.6-inch-wide Goodyears if you sidestep the clutch, and it can rocket forward if you’re more judicious with your launch. It takes a strong tug to pull the Tremec six-speed manual into second gear, but it’s worth it as the Challenger Scat Pack Shaker keeps pulling ferociously. There’s no doubting Dodge’s claim that, had we enough asphalt, we could hit 179 mph.
The 2015 Dodge Challenger is less happy when you find curves. The aggressive Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar footwear grips and grips as g-forces build, but with plenty of rock ’n’ roll from the suspension, you’ll find yourself gripping the steering wheel ever harder to stop from sliding around on the wide, flat seats. The car’s size and heft likewise discourage us from clipping apexes or darting through traffic.

The upshot of the Challenger’s size means buyers also get lots of room for their money. The coupe’s trunk is cavernous compared with the Camaro’s and the Mustang’s (16.2 cubic feet versus 11.3 and 13.5, respectively), with a wide opening that will easily swallow golf bags or even a flat-screen TV. And although it’s tricky to squeeze past the fold-down front seats, the back seat has such plentiful leg- and headroom that average-size adults can sit comfortably for long drives.

Above all, though, the Challenger Scat Pack Shaker wins our hearts when we find an open stretch of road and let ’er rip. The entire point of buying this car is to worship at the temple of all that is horsepower. Hey, if you have 485 hp, you might as well use it. The 2015 Dodge Challenger lacks the poise and sophistication of the Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang, but if you value sheer horsepower above all else, this is the car to get.
2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack Shaker Rear Three Quarter

2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack Shaker Specifications

On Sale: Now
Price: $39,890/$45,780 (base/as-tested)
Engine: 6.4L OHV 16-valve V-8/485 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 475 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Layout: 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, RWD coupe
EPA Mileage: 14/23 mpg (city/hwy)
Suspension F/R: Control arms, coil springs/multilink, coil springs
Brakes F/R: Vented discs
Tires F/R: 245/45ZR-20 Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar
L x W x H: 197.9 x 75.7 x 57.5 in
Wheelbase: 116.2 in
Headroom F/R: 39.3/37.1 in
Legroom F/R: 42.0/33.1 in
Shoulder Room F/R: 58.5/53.9 in
Cargo Room: 16.2 cu ft
Weight: 4,232 lb
Weight Dist. F/R: 55/45%
0-60 MPH: 4.5 sec (est)
1/4-Mile: 12.3 sec (est)
Top Speed: 179 mph

Dodge Viper ACR: The Barely Legal Race Car For The Street

When it comes to street cars, the term “downforce” is used quite loosely. Back when Lamborghini rolled out the Gallardo LP-560, they claimed that it had something like 200 pounds more downforce than the original Gallardo. I subsequently hit 200 mph in that caron a runway in Florida—World Class Driving’s 200 MPH Club—and at high speeds, the steering felt spooky, like the front end wanted to float off the road. When I asked a Lamborghini rep whether “more downforce” meant there actually was any downforce, or simply less lift, I learned it was the latter. The car still wanted to fly away, but not quite as badly as before. In the realm of street cars, aerodynamic neutrality is considered an achievement, because at least the car is predisposed to remain earthbound. The Dodge Viper, for instance, makes a negligible 75 pounds of downforce at its 206 mph top speed.

The Dodge Viper ACR, though—that’s another matter.

Dodge Viper ACR: The Barely Legal Race Car For The Street

The ACR brings the usual track-rat hardware that you’d expect on a hardcore performance machine, equipment like carbon-ceramic brakes, super-sticky tires and height-adjustable coil-over Bilstein suspension. But the differentiating factor, the one that will likely ensure lap-time dominance from the Nurburgring to New Jersey Motorsports Park, is the aero package. Specifically, the optional “Extreme Aero Package.” So fitted, the Viper’s top speed drops from 206 mph to 177 mph. But at 177, it’s making 1,710 pounds of downforce. And the various wings, trays and escarpments start to have an effect before you’re even out of first gear. This is a downforce car, the real deal, a complete alien among raced-up street cars.

To get the most out of a downforce car, you must embrace the idea that higher speeds equate to more grip, the counterintuitive notion that sometimes you’ll need to go faster to make a corner. You might need to be a race driver. Thankfully, Yahoo! has one, in Mr. Alex Lloyd. And when Dodge introduced the ACR at Virginia International Raceway, I met up with Alex to find out what the Viper could do in the hands of someone who’s set a 225-mph lap at Indy.

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Chrysler, no dummies, required us to drive with an instructor riding shotgun, someone to call foul if we began to feel too aero-invincible. Apparently nobody told these people thatAlex might have a slightly more advanced skill set than the rest of the journalists, and his first instructor had a fit or two of apoplexy, something along the lines of “You’re gonna kill us all, driving like that!” Alex, too gracious to pull a “Do you know who I am?” retort, simply slowed down.

Apparently, someone later clued her in to his resume, because I later saw her approach in the pits and apologize. Alex, of course, was gracious. I wondered why none of the instructors—including that one—ever admonished me to slow down.Actually, I do know. It’s because I never trusted the aero, never fully bought into the ideathat this car can handle VIR’s climbing esses probably as quick as you’d care to take them, with 1.5-g of sustained high-speed lateral grip at your disposal. As Alex points out,“It takes some time to wrap your head around the idea that, ‘I don’t have the grip for this corner right now, but if I go 10 mph faster then I will.’”

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Many cars with aero accouterments wear them as an affectation of speed, but on the ACR it’s all to a purpose. The front splitter and rear diffuser are designed as consumable parts, replaceable when you grind them away on the track. (And despite springs that are twice as stiff as a Viper T/A’s, you do bottom out in corners thanks to the heavy hand of downforce). Carbon dive planes adorn the front fenders. The greatest feature is the removable fender vents, which allow air to blow out the top of the fender rather than linger around and create any hint of lift. There are these giant holes atop the fenders, and you peer down through and see the tires right there, just like the NASCAR-ready Plymouth Superbirds of yore. It’s the closest thing to an open-wheel car you’re going to see on the street.

Most cars, even ones that are built to a particular goal, are compromised in some way. Not the Viper ACR. Everything about it serves the goal of going as fast as possible on a racetrack, from the specially developed Kuhmo Ecsta tires to those ceramic Brembos to the 10-position Bilstein Motorsport suspension. It’s a thunderous, rough-riding, gas-guzzling, $117,895 two-seat track slayer. This is the Viper at its best—and its worst, for that matter. The air conditioning stops working when you’re at full throttle, so the Chrysler engineers told us we could be hot with the windows up, or hot with them down. Our choice.

The last ACR wore a map of the Nurburgring on its wing, symbolizing its ownership of the Nordschleife production-car lap record. The new ACR hasn’t yet collected that trophy, but it’s probably only a matter of time. “I’ve never driven a street car with downforce like that,” Alex said when he pulled into the pits. And maybe he still hasn’t. This is a racecar with a license plate

AutoCouple: She says … Chrysler in fast lane with redesigned 200S

Chrysler 200S

Posted: Wednesday, August 19, 2015 1:00 am

There was a time when our car review list included Porsche. Those were good times. Every so often Clifford would drive home in a 911 or a 944 and all the kids running and playing in the neighborhood would slip into slo-mo as they took in the sight of silver and the sound of cylinders as the latest from Porsche flashed and growled down our street. It has been many years since the sapphires from Stuttgart have graced our drive.

These days the market has been fragmented. The upscale lines have become even more so and the lesser lines have resorted either to odd shapes, massive amounts of goodies or (often alleged) sportiness to stand out. Although the people who hand out test cars at Porsche may not have us check-marked as upscale, we do have that side. And every so often a car comes along that reminds us of our Porsche days, even if — part for part — the pair doesn’t exactly match up in price, value or performance.

This week’s Chrysler 200S sport sedan certainly gave it a great try. Chrysler started fresh on this one. It looks and behaves nothing like the 200 models from prior years. And it’s not a mini Town Car, either, which is what a lot of the mid-size sedans seem to be going for. By this I mean you may be a little cramped for room if you are a fully grown adult and you didn’t call “shotgun.”

Whatever is lacking in interior room is certainly gained back in maneuverability, visibility and style.  This may be a poorer man’s Porsche, built on a larger, sturdier frame than in years past. It benefits from a V6 that will get out of its own way as well as that of any traffic its driver deems fit to leave in the dust. It is quick, smooth and, as Elmer Fudd says, “Vewy, vewy quiet.”

We averaged over 30 miles per gallon on hot days with the air on full blast, and this Chrysler just ate up the road. It achieves the impressive straight-line speed so sought after by manufacturers yet also glides along curves like a hot iron on fresh sheets.

The leather interior, rear view monitor, intuitive navigation and nine-speed transmission would normally make for a higher asking price. This one topped out at $33,185, well below the sweet spot in the Porsche price range of $52,000 to $82,000.

It has plenty of room in the trunk and a decent amount in the rear seat.

All in all, it’s a great car by a great, almost new company. When you meet the folks from Fiat Chrysler you sense an energy not felt in many years from the company.

The design, workmanship and love of cars shines through like a Porsche high-beam.

First Drive 2015 Jeep Renegade: An iconic American vehicle built in Italy

August 16, 2015

We’ve all seen the movies about our victorious men in WWII. The history is known now of course; the Americans and her Allies are triumphant over the evil Axis powers, sailors kiss the pretty girls in Times Square in celebration and everyone retires to suburbia. One constant we always see in photos and in those movies is the iconic little workhorse that carried the GIs to victory, the Willys MB Jeep. More than any other vehicle, save maybe the Pershing tank, the Jeep is the vehicle that is most often associated with our WWII exploits.

The 2015 Jeep Renegade

Which is why we found it a little odd that the latest offering from Jeep is actually built in Italy; and why we found it somewhat ironic that we would get Jeep’s latest offering during the week we remembered V-J Day.

That latest offering is the Renegade. It’s the smallest in the line, a mini-SUV with a quirky sort of look that fits in with the Kia Soul, Nissan Juke, and Mini Countryman. The Renegade can be had in four different trims, Sport (base MSRP $17,995), Latitude ($21,295), Limited ($24,795), and Trailhawk ($25,995). The Sport, Latitude, and Limited trim levels all have the Active Drive system available while Trailhawk models come standard with the Active Drive Low system that includes a 20 to 1 “crawl ratio”. With the four-wheel drive systems, you get the Selec-Terrain system controller with Auto, Snow, Sand, and Mud settings, and the Trailhawk adds a Rock mode. The Latitude and Limited are available as 4X2 or 4X4 models.

The exterior look is a tall one, with an identifiable trademark grill, and protruding taillights with an X shape that Jeep says are based on the X stamped in the old 5-gallon Jerry cans carried on the back of the iconic Jeep from WWII. Overall, the Renegade looks like what it is, the little brother to the Wrangler. Inside the cabin is spacious and filled with what Jeep calls Easter eggs; Willys Jeep silhouettes seemingly all over the place including the speaker grills, and a topographical map of off-road Moab, Utah molded into the rubberized tray under the infotainment screen in the center console.

Jeep calls this interior “Tek-Tonic”, and says the interior is “defined by the intersections of soft and tactile forms with rugged and functional details.” What it reminds us off however is the same vehicle the Renegade shares a platform with the Fiat 500L. That’s not a bad thing, we liked the 500L, we really did, and we like the Renegade; however, we felt as though we could have liked it a great deal more.

Here’s why. Not only are 4X4 models available in the line, but there are such niceties that are options such as a “My Sky” removable roof panels along with a 7-in. color multiview TFT display, a 6.5-in. touchscreen, GPS navigation, SiriusXM Traffic, SiriusXM Travel Link, SiriusXM Radio, and HD Radio. Also available is LaneSense Lane Departure Warning-Plus, Rear Cross Path detection, and a driver’s seat with eight-way power adjust with two-way power lumbar adjust.

We had none of that.

We instead had a cloth ceiling overhead, manually adjusted seats, Uconnect 5.0 AM/FM with 5.0-in. touchscreen, SiriusXM Radio and Bluetooth and our tester was a 4X2; sorry no off road excursions for us. We found all this to be a bit odd, perhaps we have been spoiled through the years, but it seems that if a manufacturer wants an automotive writer to see the very best they have to offer, they should give us something that is the best they have to offer; put on your Sunday go-to-meeting clothes. That’s not to say we didn’t like the Renegade, it just seems that we saw only a sliver of what this new vehicle can be.

But we digress.

There are two powerplants available, a 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo engine delivering 160 horses with 184-lb.-ft of torque and the 2.4-liter Tigershark engine with 180 horsepower and 175 lb.-ft of torque. Power is delivered though a new nine-speed automatic transmission, or with six-speed manual transmission.

You can guess what our tester had for the week; yup, the 1.4 liter with the six-speed manual. To us this seemed even more odd since in the 4X2 configuration the Renegade is best suited for city driving, something that can be a pain when manual shifting is involved. Like the Soul , 500L and Juke, the Renegade is being marketed to the younger generation and that can be evidenced in part to not only by the interior styling, but the six speakers and 180-watt amplifier sound system which sounds great and easily rivals those found in vehicles costing a great deal more.

On the road the 160 horses were fine, the body roll was minimal and the shift points easy to find. Yes, the Renegade gets an impressive 31 highway, 24 city and 27 miles per gallon when combined, but with only a 12.7 fuel tank it seems as though you are filling it up as much as any other vehicle you drive. So what’s the point in having great fuel mileage if you can’t pass a gas station at least once a week?

Overall though the Renegade is a fine vehicle. Despite the odd configuration we had, with the right set-up the little Renegade will appeal to those looking for such a thing. And with prices that can fit nearly any budget.

At the end of the day we get it. As the world changed after WWII so too did American car manufacturers after the Great Recession in the mid-2000s. In order to survive alliances were formed and the once mighty Chrysler merged with Fiat to become FCA. That merger has worked out well for Jeep. In the last four years, Jeep went from selling 300,000 units in 2010 to over a million units in 2014. So who are we to knock that? After all, when all is said and done it’s all about selling vehicles, and after its rebirth that’s something FCA and Jeep are doing quite well, and with this latest offering , the Renegade, should do for some years to come.

The 2015 Jeep Renegade Latitude FWD

Base MSRP: $21,295
MSRP (as tested with Customer Preferred Package 21J): $22,365
Engine (as tested): Intercooled Turbo Premium Unleaded I-4, 1.4 L. 160 hp @ 5,500 rpm, 184 lb.-ft. torque @ 2,500-4,000 rpm
Fuel Mileage (EPA estimates): 24 mpg City/31 mpg Hwy/27 combined
Fuel Mileage (as tested, mixed conditions): 25 mpg
Drivetrain Front Wheel Drive
Passenger Capacity 5
Passenger Doors 4
Transmission: 6-Speed C635 Manual
Base Curb Weight (lbs) 3044

Interior Dimensions

Front Shoulder Room (in) 55.9
Second Hip Room (in) 51.9
Front Head Room (in) 41.1
Second Leg Room (in) 35.1
Passenger Capacity 5
Front Hip Room (in) 53.1
Front Leg Room (in) 41.2
Second Shoulder Room (in) 55.1
Passenger Volume (ft³) 100.1
Second Head Room (in) 40.5

Exterior Dimensions

Track Width, Front (in) 60.6
Width, Max w/o mirrors (in) 74.2
Liftover Height (in) 29.8
Wheelbase (in) 101.2
Track Width, Rear (in) 60.6
Height, Overall (in) 66.5
Length, Overall (in) 166.6
Min Ground Clearance (in) 6.7

Cargo Area Dimensions

Cargo Volume to Seat 3 (ft³) 18.5
Cargo Volume to Seat 1 (ft³) 50.8
Cargo Area Width @ Beltline (in) 40.1
Cargo Volume to Seat 2 (ft³) 18.5
Cargo Box Width @ Wheelhousings (in) 37.6

Warranty

Basic Miles/km 36,000
Basic Years 3
Corrosion Miles/km 100,000
Corrosion Years 5
Drivetrain Miles/km 100,000
Drivetrain Years 5
Roadside Assistance Miles/km 100,000
Roadside Assistance Years 5

Ram 1500 EcoDiesel Beats Ford F-150 EcoBoost in Fuel Efficiency

Ram EcoDiesel and Ford EcoBoost Comparison

The Ram EcoDiesel beat out the Ford F-150 2.7-liter EcoBoost in fuel efficiency during a recent comparison test
Photo: AutoGuide

Ford’s EcoBoost engine lineup is known for offering superior power, without sacrificing fuel efficiency—but it looks like this fuel efficiency just can’t hold up to the brand-new Ram 1500 EcoDiesel.

While it’s not surprising that the EcoDiesel is more fuel-efficient, since it burns oil instead of gasoline, it is surprising just how much more fuel-efficient the Ram truck is than the F-150. In a recent comparative review by AutoGuide, the diesel Ram didn’t just beat the F-150’s 2.7-liter EcoBoost engine—it also managed to achieve an average fuel rating that was slightly over the manufacturer’s claim.

Even though both trucks were driven with a light foot and on the same route, the F-150 didn’t even come close to reaching the Ram truck’s fuel efficiency. In fact, it didn’t even come close to the manufacturer’s claimed average fuel rating.

Along with boasting better fuel efficiency, the review also doted on the Ram EcoDiesel for its superior presence on the road, claiming it was more planted than the F-150—a negative about the Ford’s lower weight.

After this comparison, there’s no doubt that the battle for the industry’s best truck will continue full force.

News Source: AutoGuide