2020 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

Hellraisin Challenger cures a lot of ills … 

I’ve discovered the perfect cure for pandemic boredom.

Slip into the camel brown suede and black leather interior of a muscle-bound hot rod, known to the Mopar brethren as a Dodge Challenger. But not the low-end V6-powered SXT, although I’m sure it has its party favors too. But lavish in the luxurious cow-threatening interior of the R/T Scat Pack Widebody.

Yes, the more names and initials Dodge adds to its retro muscle car, the faster it goes and the cooler it looks, just ask any post-pubescent guy. My heartthrob for the week was a Hellraisin (metallic dark purple, get it?) Widebody loaded with all the options one could want, and still not have to sell the house, maybe.

I settled in, often with a happy to oblige passenger, to cruise area highways and back roads with the $995 extra Alpine, 506-watt, 9-speaker surround sound system blasting out heavy-on-base Creedence Clearwater tunes. No bad moons rising around this car, just plenty of hot rod heart.

How much rod? The R/T Scat Pack Widebody provides a 392 HEMI V8 that pumps 485 horsepower of pure violence on demand. Power is instantaneous and will get the Challenger up to 100 mph in the short burst of a highway entry ramp. (Officer, I saw no speed limit posted on the ramp!)

A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard on this beast, which could be oodles of fun, but let’s be fair, the new automatics actually shift quicker and more efficiently than you or even a professional driver. So this one cuddled up to a TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic ($1,595) that easily handles all that rumble. (See video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYbMb3_OGvs&feature=youtu.be )

Also helpful in putting the power down are sticky ZR-rated 20-inch performance tires that are literally (I measured), a foot wide. Did I just see Jimmy Johnson smile?

Handling is darn good too and ride, while firm, is so well controlled I felt the Challenger outperformed some pricy import sport sedans I’ve driven. In fact, several riders, like me, were shocked at how comfortable the car rode on our Midwestern moonscape.

And I’ve gotta tell ya, the total performance adjustability, handled on an 8.4-inch touchscreen, is phenomenal. Many cars now offer 3 to 5 drive modes, but once you select Sport in most, the ride turns to chiropractor-recommended stiff and the steering wheel resembles a ’69 Olds Cutlass S without power steering.

Not so here. Go into the performance app on the screen and you can dial in Track, Sport or Street mode individually for the transmission, paddle shifters, traction, suspension and steering. I opted for Sport steering most of the time even though it was heavier than Street because it just felt right for a muscle car with such big galoshes.

Yet, the suspension stayed on Street mode to soften the ride just a touch and keep the car comfy around town. If you need a sportier feel, save it for highway driving. Note too, the paddle shifters are disabled when the car’s in Eco mode. Eco? Really?

For the record the Widebody features a competition suspension with larger adaptive damping, helping deliver excellent handling and ride for a somewhat tall muscle car.

The other modes are helpful too if you want to customize the feel of your Challenger, or if you plan to take it to the racetrack. That’s where the launch control also can be engaged to avoid a huge burnout and lost time powering away from a drag strip’s Christmas tree.

Devil’s Rim aluminum wheels and optional red 6-piston  Brembo calipers look like they mean business.

Those massive tires wrap themselves around special Devil’s Rim forged aluminum wheels on the Widebody and there are massive disc brakes to woe this wild child. Driving home the point that this is a performance coupe are red Brembo six-piston brake calipers. Those cost just $595 extra, so why not?

What isn’t great on the performance front? MPG … Ouch!

Challenger’s gas mileage may encourage you to buy stock in Exxon. I got 16.6 mpg while the EPA rates the Widebody at 15 mpg city and 24 highway. I was a little heavier on highway driving just because it was so much fun to hit those entry ramps and then cruise for a bit.

Need more visual splendor? Dodge’s Widebody has wide muscular wheel well body bulges that make the Challenger look more muscular and less tall and chunky. Win! This one also slathers a black spoiler across the trunk lid to aid the NASCAR look, but it’ll cost ya $995 extra. You know you want it!

Bulges in all the right places!

Inside this Hellraisin retro racer is that comfy suede and leather interior, the main seat portions being camel brown and the edging black leather, plus a Scat Pack bee logo on the seat backs. Some thought the interior should more closely match the deep metallic purple paint job, but that might be too much. I liked this interior, although it strikes as a bit much initially.

Once settled in the comfy supportive seats though you forget about all the rest. I’ve driven cars with six-digit price tags that didn’t have seats that felt this good. Side bolsters are excellent for kidney support, but large folks be forewarned that the butt pocket is snug.

Sweet interior!

The driver’s seat is powered with power lumbar and both front seats were heated and cooled. Some of this luxury comes from the Plus package at $2,095, and more from the Carbon & Suede Interior package for $1,595. Those add, that Scat Pack seat logo, cooled front seats, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, ambient lighting in the door trim panel, premium stitching on the dash and door, and the later package adds a suede headliner and real carbon fiber trim pieces on the console and center stack’s facing.

Other pluses include a heated steering wheel, that big HD infotainment screen that’s incredibly easy to see and use. All other car companies should take note! However, the Uconnect system and that bigger screen add $795 to the price, but well worth it, and it includes a navigation system.

Dodge also goes big with sizeable volume and tuning knobs for the radio and large climate control buttons, all simple to use and see while driving. Oh, and the steering wheel is a racy flat-bottom number too.

Dodge touts that Challenger has a rear seat, and it looks great, like the front seats, but knee and foot room is precious back there, and that’s being kind. Most folks will never use the rear seat, but insurance companies like them.

Also the Challenger has an incredibly large trunk at 16.2 cubic feet, but it’s so deep you’d better not push anything to the back of it unless you have a small child to boost into the trunk for retrieval.

Big spoiler and a big trunk too!

Safety equipment seems a bit of an afterthought here, but remember the Challenger was launched in 2008, before some of the items we view as necessary were even offered. The backup camera is primo thanks to that HD screen, and there’s ParkSense for when you back up. That’s about it for standard features, except for airbags.

To bring the car more up to today’s safety expectations the test car added a Driver Convenience group for $1,295, which included blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection. That’s a must. It also includes HID headlights and power mirrors that can be manually folded flat against the car, as needed.

I certainly didn’t miss the lane departure assist and warning system, and neither will you if you truly enjoy driving a car.

Good news on the price front too, the Challenger remains a reasonably priced aspirational car at $38,995 for the R/T Scat Pack and the Widebody adding $6,000 to land at $46,490 with delivery fees. With options the purple test car hit $56,450.

Yet, for the speed freaks who don’t feel that’s enough power. Dodge still offers its Challenger Hellcat and SRT Hellcat Widebody with 717-horse supercharged 6.2-liter V8s. They also pack a $1,700 gas guzzler tax.

Or charge up to the 797-horse SRT Hellcat Redeye (blood-vessel bursting?) that will do 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds and boasts a top speed of 203 mph. Cost is $75,000, but you’re ready for competition, while remaining street legal.

For my money (if I had any), the tested R/T Scat Pack Widebody delivers the best power per dollar, while offering a comfortable interior and exciting road feel. It’s also as much fun as some cars costing two to three times as much.

FAST STATS: 2020 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

Hits: Cool retro looks, POWER, good handling, total performance adjustability (on screen), comfy supportive seats, heated/cooled front seats, heated wheel, big volume/tuning knobs and climate buttons, rockin’ radio, big HD info screen, and big price per horsepower winner.

Misses: MPG is poor, super deep trunk (better bring a kid to help)

Made in: Brampton, Ont.

Engine: 392 HEMI V8, 485 hp

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 4,259 lbs.

Wheelbase: 116.0 in.

Length: 197.5 in.

Cargo: 16.2 cu.ft.

MPG: 15/24

MPG: 16.6 (tested)

Base Price: $46,490 (includes delivery)

Invoice: $44,551

Major Options:

Plus package (cooled front seats, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, door trim panel ambient lighting, premium dash/door stitching, Scat Pack logo on Alcantara seats), $2,095

Carbon & suede interior package (suede headliner, carbon fiber interior accents), $1,595

Driver convenience group (blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection, HID headlights, power multi-function mirrors, manual fold-away), $1,295

Alpine audio group (9 premium speakers w/subwoofer, 506-watt amp, surround sound), $995

TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission (steering wheel mounted shift control, remote start, leather shift knob, AutoStick transmission), $1,595

SRT performance spoiler, $995

Uconnect 4C nav w/8.4-inch display, $795

Red brake calipers, $595

Test vehicle: $56,450

Sources: Dodge, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

 

 

 

 

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