2019 Dodge Challenger: More performance for more people [First Look]

2019 Dodge Challenger Redeye 37.jpg
2019 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack (Sinclair Broadcast Group / Jill Ciminillo)

I wasn’t surprised to hear that someone driving a 2019 Dodge Challenger Hellcat Redeye got pulled over by the local police.

When an automaker does a program in an area, the law enforcement learns pretty quickly what to look for. And in the case of the 2019 Redeye, it’s not like we were subtle with the Skittle-colored paint colors, deep rumbling exhaust notes and 797-horsepower engines that want to coast at 55 mph.

The latter poses a particular problem when the speed limits on the rural drive route are mostly 35 mph.

My comrade in arms got off with a warning -- but you better believe an owner might not be so lucky.

There were several times during my stint behind the Redeye’s wheel that I would have sworn I was going 35 mph, only to look down at the speedometer and realize I was not.

And it’s no wonder, considering the 0-to-60-mph time is just 3.4 seconds.

The all-new Redeye is now the top-tier version of the Challenger Hellcat, and it comes with the soul of a Demon.

The engine SRT placed in the Redeye is the same supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi that graced the limited-production Demon, but instead of delivering 840 horsepower and 770 pound-feet of torque, it is specially calibrated to deliver 797 horsepower and 717 pound-feet of torque.

Lest you express performance disappointment, I’ll point out that the Demon had a top speed of 168 mph whereas the Redeye is “limited” to 203 mph.

Fortunately, the low-speed rural route was simply a way to get to the Club Motorsports racetrack where we could push the limits without the threat of a speeding ticket.

We were driving the Widebody versions of both the Redeye and the Scat Pack during this press preview, which is a $6,000 option and increases performance capability.

Fun doesn’t even begin to describe the experience.

Even though the Redeye Widebody weighs 4,492 pounds, it’s still very maneuverable in aggressive driving. And while the weight doesn’t completely melt away, the handling is solid assuming you keep the power in check.

The Scat Pack Widebody was no slouch on the track either, with the 392-cubic-inch Hemi V-8 engine that delivers 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque. It’s 188 pounds lighter than the Redeye, which makes it slightly more nimble than the red-eyed beast.

In fact, I probably enjoyed the Scat Pack more than the Redeye on the tight and technical 2.5-mile course at Club Motorsports. The hairpin turns and short straightaways are better suited to a lower-horsepower, more-maneuverable vehicle.

Where I appreciated the Redeye’s weight, however, was through the less aggressive corners on the back half of the track where you could carry more speed and feel more planted through the weight transfers.

The Redeye also understandably accessed higher speeds faster than the Scat Pack. For example, the top speed I was able to wring out of the Redeye while mashing the gas pedal to the floor on the straightaway was about 125 mph, but the Scat Pack barely topped 115 mph.

If you #GiveAShift, something the Scat Pack has going for it is the 6-speed manual transmission that’s available in addition to an automatic. The Redeye is only available with the TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission.

Off the track, the Scat Pack and Redeye have reasonable road manners for longer road trips by setting the SRT Drive Modes for street driving. These modes are just as easily adjusted for sport or track settings when you’re feeling more playful.

Another thing: The exhaust note on the Redeye is significantly louder than the Scat Pack, especially at cruising speeds. While the Scat Pack affords a measure of quiet at a constant speed, the Redeye has a distinct droning rumble at all speeds.

I was fine with the extra sound, but my drive partner remarked that it might get a bit annoying for trips longer than 3 or 4 hours.

While we only had the opportunity to drive the Scat Pack and Redeye Widebodies, Dodge has made some significant adjustments across the Challenger lineup.

The pricing on the base SXT doesn’t change for 2019, and because of some equipment adjustments – like the addition of base cloth seats – the base price of the Hellcat model actually goes down. Plus, the GT, which was previously only an all-wheel-drive model, now adds a less expensive rear-wheel drive option.

Also for 2019, both GT and R/T RWD models add the standard Super Track Pak with features such as performance suspension, steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters, a performance hood and a front splitter.

The Scat Pack will add a 1320 “Angry Bee” model, which will be the drag-strip-oriented, street-legal vehicle for the grassroots drag racer. Taking a page from the Demon handbook, it adds features such as Drag Mode, Line Lock, TransBrake, Torque Reserve and available drag radials.

On the Hellcat side of the spectrum, the Challenger gets a new dual-snorkel hood that increases horsepower from 707 to 717. And then, of course, there’s the all-new Redeye.

Pricing for the 2019 Challenger lineup, including the $1,395 destination fee, is as follows:

  • Challenger SXT RWD $28,690
  • Challenger GT RWD $31,390
  • Challenger SXT AWD $31,690
  • Challenger GT AWD $34,390
  • Challenger R/T $35,495
  • Challenger R/T Scat Pack $41,390 (includes a $1,000 gas guzzler tax)
  • Challenger SRT Hellcat $61,745 (includes a $1,700 gas guzzler tax)
  • Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye $72,745 (includes a $1,700 gas guzzler tax)

The Bottom Line

I love that Dodge still makes a mean muscle car. I know electric cars can be fast, too. But there’s just something special about the rumbly sound and feel of a high-horsepower Hemi.

The Scat Pack and Redeye models are some of the best of what Challenger has to offer in V-8 power – with the gas guzzler taxes to prove it. They were a blast to drive on a track and fairly well-mannered on the street with the right drive mode settings.

And the best thing about these vehicles is they are not going to be limited production like the Demon.