2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Review: Hilarious, American Indulgence

I have a not-so-shocking confession to make: Muscle cars have never really been my bag. I like high-strung Hondas, low-slung Miatas, carbon-laden BMWs, and was always more Team Paul Walker than Team Vin Diesel. To me a fast car is only worth it if it’s fast in the corners, not just fast in a straight line, and the whole premise of American brawn has always come across as a little… stupid. (And if one of The rideAs a small handful of non-US contributors, I’ve always felt comfortable holding this image without feeling treacherous.) However, after driving the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye, things have changed a bit.

I get it now. The noise, the drama, the relatively messy, unfiltered speed. The call has presented itself and is now fully understood. Plus, I don’t need to feel guilty or ashamed of my love for the Hellcat, because it would just be patriotic. You see, despite this car being American AF in a spiritual sense, it’s… actually Canadian if we follow the birth certificate rules. Yes, as indicated by the “2” at the top of its VIN, this Dodge Charger was built here in Brampton, Ontario.

Chris Tsuic

[All price figures in CAD unless otherwise noted.]

2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Specifications:

  • Base price (as tested): $87,515 CAD ($116,685)
  • Drivetrain: 6.2-litre supercharged V8 | 8-speed automatic | rear-wheel drive
  • Horsepower: 797 @ 6,300 rpm
  • Couple: 707 lb-ft @ 4,500
  • 0-60: 3.6 seconds
  • Top speed: 203 mph
  • Curb weight: 4,610 pounds
  • Seating capacity: 5
  • Freight volume: 16.5 cubic feet
  • EPA fuel economy: 12 mpg city | 21 highway | 15 combined
  • Quick take: Big, powerful, glorious and not as stupid as you might think.

Riding the prehistoric seventh-generation Charger that debuted in 2011, the 2021 Charger Hellcat Redeye takes the already insane Charger Hellcat and gives it wider wheel arches and a new hood, complete with a first. But what’s under that hood is what matters most.

Like any well-known red-blooded muscle car, the Redeye’s centerpiece is undoubtedly the engine. Notably, a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8, good for 797 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque. The result is a four-door sedan in the shape of a police cruiser that is really super fast. Unsurprisingly, it’s not as quick off the line as a luxury EV, or as stoically effective to burst out of a stop as a launch control, witchcraft-equipped, turbocharged M car. Instead, the Charger sets up its drag numbers via fat 305-section Pirelli P Zero tires and a metric shit-ton of rampant, chest-pounding American ponies.

Chris Tsuic

The sound is also a big part of the Hellcat experience. Armed with a 2.7-litre supercharger that is larger than most frugal car engines and offers a boost of 14.5 psi, the theatrical whine heard under even relatively light throttle hardly ever gets old.

However, a 797-horse muscle car that is really fast and sounds ridiculous is hardly news. What used to be surprisingly, the Charger Hellcat Redeye actually handled a lot better than I imagined. Thanks to those same massive Pirelli’s and Bilstein Adaptive Damping Competition suspension with three positions that help it get all the power down, the Redeye makes its way through a twisty road with great stability and grip. It’s not a swift-footed Miata, of course, but for something this big, heavy, and sassy, ​​you’d almost call it nimble. Almost.

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The brakes are strong (they have to be) but quite soft at the top of the pedal. Also quite soft are the seats and the Comfort mode suspension, making it feel like the world’s fastest sofa in the living room. Speaking of riding modes, those here are some of the most useful and best-rated I’ve experienced. By tweaking the transmission programming, traction control, dampers and steering weight, Sport mode feels perfect for spirited street shenanigans, Auto calms things down to mundane commuting levels, while Track is a little too loud and heavy for the street and, as the name suggests, probably best saved for the track.

Are you ever going to use all 797 horsepower on the street? No, but you shall use everything else that requires 797 horsepower, like 797 horsepower-compatible brakes, a chassis and suspension that can handle that power of grunt, and a steering system strong enough to keep everything in check. Don’t get me wrong, the Hellcat Redeye still demands to be driven with respect if you want to keep the tires on the road, but as long as you do the car feels buttoned up, accessible and almost simple run around the corner.

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That said, big straights are still ultimately where this car is happiest. Once the road – and the throttle – open up, the big Hellcat is fast at BMW M5 level, while being about two magnitudes more dramatic. That high-pitched whine that was a fun novelty to pull away from city traffic lights is now a deadly sounding treble atop a bassline of thumping, nasty, iron-forged, American V8 fury. To be threatening loud and has the personality of an ancient war machine whose sole purpose in life is to maim, scare and destroy.

It makes me laugh in a way that lighter, tighter, more “refined” performance rides just don’t. The Charger Redeye may not be quite the devastating and unhinged handful I expected, but riding it still felt like… I got away with something. Given all the world’s issues surrounding climate change and road safety, it feels like a big middle finger to and oversight on the part of the world’s concerns and ruling nannies. It is one of the finest examples of car indulgence there is.

The fact that the Hellcat is based on a car that is also widely used as a police cruiser is just the deliciously ironic icing on this glorious anti-authoritarian pie. As someone who firmly believes that the best desserts are the ones you shouldn’t eat, I’m thrilled that the Redeye exists and that I can enjoy it while it’s there.

Chris Tsuic
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This is not to say that the Charger Hellcat Redeye doesn’t have a lot of objective flaws, of course. Its huge size, horrendous turning circle and steering that doesn’t get light enough at low speeds make it big, unwieldy and tiresome in parking lots, while the interior trim is indeed more Grand Caravan than Grand Wagoneer. And I have a feeling that the frequency at which that 15 mpg combined will force you to visit the pump would get old pretty quickly.

Starting at $87,515 CAD, the Charger Hellcat Redeye isn’t exactly cheap to buy either. The purple – excuse me –hello raisin The press unit you see here was equipped with the $18,000 customer preference package, which included 20-inch lightweight aluminum wheels and an SRT Power Chiller, $1,495 in carbon and suede interiors, $650 in Alcantara, the $795 built-in navigation and satellite radio package , $1,500 worth of Harman/Kardon audio and a $1,495 sunroof. When all was said and done, the amount at the bottom of the window sticker came to $116,685 CAD.

But nobody buys such a car because it is (relatively) cheap, easy or luxurious to live with every day. In all fairness, the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye doesn’t even have any real competitors among M5s, Panameras and AMGs because anyone looking for a Hellcat will simply want a Hellcat. It’s that simple. You buy such a car because you live in a region where most roads are relatively straight. You buy such a car because you want a car that can bombard those roads with the power, noise, fire and fury of Satan’s pet tiger. And since Stellantis recently confirmed the 2024 demise of the Charger, Challenger and Hellcat powertrain, you’re buying a car like this precisely because you won’t be able to any time soon.

Chris Tsuic

Do you have a tip or question for the author about the Charger Hellcat Redeye? You can reach him here: chris.tsui@thedrive.com.

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