2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody Review

I recently discovered a delicacy that I consider a culinary masterpiece at a local restaurant: It’s called Frito Pie.

Think of any nachos you’ve had at a dive bar and replace the tortilla chips with Fritos and any shredded cheese with the yellow goo you get at a gas station or movie theater. Floating in this saucy cheese-like substance that was pumped out from a vat and haphazardly piled high with fatty sour cream, salty taco beef, and a sprinkling of green onions and jalapenos (because they count as vegetables, right?), Frito Pie is served in a cut-open crinkly chip bag — it is a caloric goldmine that tiptoes the line of vulgarity and is a defiant middle finger to all pretension.

The Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody is the automotive equivalent of Frito Pie.

Considered trashy and low-brow by the Michelin Star crowd, the Hellcat Widebody replaces Frito Pie’s glut of calories and MSG with a Big Gulp portion of power and noise. And I can’t get enough of it.

ALSO SEE: 2018 Dodge Challenger GT Review

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Extra All the Time

The Widebody is so extra, and it’s like that all the time. It only has one driving mode: Get the f–k outta the way. All that fury comes from an infamous supercharged 6.2L Hemi V8 with 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. Mainlined to the rear axle like a shot of opioids to the veins (or Frito Pie to your cholesterol levels), it’s far more than any reasonable human could ever need and it’s ultra easy to overdose on. From the whine of the supercharger, the sound of wheels squealing and the unmistakably pissed off howl of the V8, to the satisfying mechanical “clink” that happens when you shift gears, this car is so engaging that you find yourself developing a dependency on bad behavior.

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A Decent Daily Driver?

I drove the Hellcat Widebody in the beginning of fall, which meant things were starting to get frosty. There’s no way any reasonable person would winter drive this car. Do they even make winter tires this fat? On its 305/35ZR20 Pirelli P Zero performance tires, even a gentle tap of the throttle would make the Challenger’s back end wiggle around while the tires struggled to work out the power to traction ratio, and it wasn’t even wet out. Driven on a cold, rainy day or in snow, it could be a recipe for disaster for a hamfisted or over-eager driver.

Like Frito Pie, the Hellcat Widebody should be enjoyed responsibly and in moderation — too much Frito Pie and your arteries begin to suffer. Driving the 6-speed manual Widebody in an hour of bumper to bumper traffic saw a similar rise in blood pressure and an uncomfortable numbness in my left leg. Everything in the Hellcat is heavy, the clutch the gear shifter, the steering, and it requires your absolute full attention to drive, which to me, makes it more fun and engaging than a lot of other cars out there. I don’t think this could really be a daily driver if you have traffic or weather to deal with, though if you were kind of a masochist, it wouldn’t be half bad.

ALSO SEE: 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Will Wake the Dead with 797 HP

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Is the Widebody Worth It?

The Widebody is the second closest thing you can get to a Demon (the Redeye is the next step up), and Demons are hard to get a hold of, so this car exists for those drivers. And I don’t think the Hellcat is less desirable or less cool than the Demon — everywhere I drove, I got thumbs up, pickup truck drivers always let me into traffic, and drivers of fancy German cars got super aggressive, suddenly jealous that my caveman of a car easily outmuscles them. People get really excited about the Hellcat in a way they can’t with a Lamborghini because it’s an attainable dream car. When people see you driving it, they think, “That person worked hard for that,” and not “Daddy set up a generous trust fund.”

An interesting thing about Frito Pie, though, is its price. It costs about $10, which is a lot if you consider a bag of Fritos is $2. And while a Challenger is normally around $30K, the Widebody gets almost prohibitively expensive, making me question its value as a car.

ALSO SEE: 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon Review

I don’t think the Widebody is worth the extra $6,000 ($10,650 in Canada) upcharge over the regular Hellcat. Pretty much the only things the Widebody gives you over the regular Hellcat is the wider fender flares from the Demon, different tires, special rims, and some suspension tweaks. Giving the Challenger suspension upgrades is a like asking for diet cheese on your Frito Pie, a futile attempt to make yourself feel better. Most people won’t notice the suspension upgrades unless they’re driving to their limits and still, the upgrade doesn’t turn the Challenger into a posterchild of precision.

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The Verdict: 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Widebody Review

My world became instantly better when I discovered Frito Pie — my tastebuds were tingling and I was in an excellent mood. Though I can appreciate oysters on the half shell, a good beef tartare, and macarons exported from Paris, Frito Pie is a savory explosion of flavor and is a perfect example of all-American goodness and excess I can really get excited about.

Frito Pie is messy, verges on trashy and irresponsible, and is charmingly overindulgent, which is exactly what makes it, and the Hellcat Widebody, so damn lovable.

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