Expert Reviews

2023 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody Jailbreak Review

AutoTrader SCORE
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Safety

If Jurassic Park has taught us anything, it’s that dinosaurs in modern times are a bad idea.

While the trio of Chrysler 300 and its Dodge cousins, the Challenger and Charger, are unlikely to cause as much havoc on society as a bunch of giant, prehistoric lizards run amok, their aging platforms and inefficient engines have left them on the brink of extinction for years now.

And indeed, the 2023 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody Jailbreak marks the end of an era. With a massive asteroid known as electrification bearing down, it’s likely many of these beasts will end up hermetically sealed in museum-like collections.

Styling: 9/10

Befitting the most badass sedan of all time, the big Charger looks downright sinister. The widebody treatment means massive fenders that bulge out over the 305-mm-wide tires. The hood has a forward-facing nostril to help cool the monster beneath, as well as an additional pair of heat extractor vents further back. And at the tail end of the car there’s a little spoiler jutting up from the edge of the trunk – something of a mild finisher against the rest of the look that’s so extreme.

This tester was finished in an oh-so appropriate Plum Crazy Pearl paint that gleamed in the sunlight, plus the optional satin black hood, roof, and trunk lid. The Redeye grabs attention from some crowds, while others seem to go out of their way to ignore it. Showing up at an exotic car show outside Toronto earned no adoration for the Dodge, even if it did have more horsepower than just about anything else there, but a cruise home through blue-collar Hamilton, Ont., netted plenty of hoots and thumbs up.

Inside, the look is pretty familiar, having been around for several years now; and some of the material choices look like they were born of budget concerns rather than luxury, although this tester was well assembled. My fashion awareness is admittedly limited, but I still remember my mom telling me that red and purple clash, making the bright red leather seats an odd choice for this car. But then that’s the whole point of the Jailbreak package, which allows owners to order as they please.

Power: 9.5/10

Boasting the highest top speed of any production sedan is one thing, but Dodge is also claiming the Redeye Jailbreak as the most powerful “mass-produced” sedan in the world, which is only true if you don’t consider the 1,020 hp Tesla Model S Plaid (or 1,200 hp Lucid Air Sapphire) as being mass-produced. Even so, with a gargantuan output of 807 hp, the big Dodge is a formidable accelerative force capable of sprinting to 100 km/h in less than four seconds and smashing the quarter-mile in 10.6 seconds. [I think you mean the 400-metre dash, eh? – Ed.]

The latter is mighty impressive, but there are several more affordable (yet fancier) cars that’ll reach the highway speed limit in less time, so what gives? Mostly it has to do with traction, or a lack thereof. Although Dodge includes both line lock and launch control to heat up the tires and optimize acceleration, it takes proper skill to achieve those published numbers. And if vaporizing the rear tires with 707 lb-ft of supercharged torque isn’t eye-watering (and eardrum-rupturing) enough, have you seen the cost of replacing these meaty tires? Yikes.

This is an unhinged, violent car. For those hell(cat)bent on having one, that’s surely the macho appeal, but this tester represents the first time I can recall actually thinking a car has too much power. Am I a wuss? Maybe, but under any circumstances that aren’t a grippy, warm, dry drag strip, there are plenty of machines that’ll give a more exhilarating thrust forward without the abject fear of the back end losing grip and slinging sideways into the weeds.

Something else that struck me about driving the Jailbreak is how driving powerful electric vehicles (EVs) has kind of ruined me for old-school muscle cars like this. When cruising along, the thunderous V8 needs to wind up its big supercharger, drop a gear or two (or three) and then scramble for traction before rocketing forward. It’s thrilling in a hold-on-for-dear-life sort of way, but not thrilling in the way an EV like the Porsche Taycan launches forward with utter unannounced immediacy. All-wheel drive can dramatically help, too, which is why a similarly priced BMW M5 Competition can match the rear-drive Charger’s 400-metre dash time and destroy it from zero to 100 km/h despite a 200-hp deficit.

Fuel Economy: 3/10

Low on a Hellcat buyer’s list of concerns is surely fuel efficiency, and that’s good since this one consumes premium-grade gas at a rate of 19.0 L/100 km around town, improving to 11.5 when cruising the highway. Natural Resources Canada’s calculated annual fuel cost is $4,524, and it rates this the 975th least efficient vehicle for sale in Canada this year (out of just over 1,000 units evaluated).

Driving Feel: 7/10

Unlike muscle cars from the olden days, this one has serious stopping power from a set of Brembo brakes with rotors the size of manhole covers. The pedal feel is decent with good bite.

With the same 305-mm wide sticky tires up front as in the rear, this Charger also provides serious lateral grip, too. It’s a bit unnerving at first to hurl a big car weighing more than 2,000 kg (4,409 lb) into a tight corner at speed, but as long as there’s judicious use of the throttle on the exit, the big Dodge hangs on well and rushes out to the next corner. The downside is that those steamroller tires follow the grooves worn into the pavement, causing the car to tramline badly. At speed on the highway, it’s not so noticeable, but on rural roads at around 60 to 80 km/h, my driving companion thought I was deliberately trying to annoy her by darting all over the road.

In the normal drive mode, the transmission is programmed to be in as tall a gear as possible in the interest of reducing the car’s thirst for fuel. It tends to sap some liveliness from the car when you give it a boot full of throttle and there’s a beat or two while the transmission downshifts before there’s any appreciable urgency. Of course, it’s possible to set a more aggressive drive mode, or utilize the paddle shifters to keep the Hellcat ready to lurch at any moment. And let’s not gloss over how impressive it is that the eight-speed automatic transmission can handle the abuse of drag racing such a monstrously powerful car yet can operate as smoothly as it does when driven normally.

Comfort: 7/10

For such a high-performance machine, it’s decently comfortable. The seats are old-school overstuffed thrones up front, and with the amount of bolstering they have, it’s almost as if La-Z-Boy made a racing seat. The ride quality isn’t half-bad either thanks to the adaptive suspension, allowing three modes to stiffen things up if desired for some wild track day shenanigans.

Being a large car, it provides rear seat occupants ample legroom, at least for the two outer passengers (the middle one will need to straddle the driveshaft tunnel). Headroom is a bit limited compared to more pedestrian sedans, but it seems a reasonable compromise to help maintain the Charger’s squat, butch look.

Quietness isn’t one of the Hellcat’s fortes, but the angry exhaust and relentless whine of the supercharger are music to the ears of someone who buys this car.

User-Friendliness: 9/10

It’s easy to find a comfortable spot up front, with the power seats putting the driver in a commanding position with good outward visibility and key controls at easy reach. Better still, because it’s an older design, the Charger has a real gear selector sprouting from the centre console, a pair of easy-to-read gauges (plus a highly configurable screen between them), and proper knobs and buttons for audio and climate controls. They’re basic and they work perfectly without the need for a degree in advanced computer engineering. Likewise, Dodge’s Uconnect infotainment system remains a paradigm of straightforward user-friendliness.

Features: 8/10

The Uconnect system is operated via the same 8.4-inch touchscreen found in everything from Challengers to trucks and Jeeps for years. It’s responsive, bright, and crisp, and it houses not only the controls for the navigation system and mind-melting 19-speaker stereo, but also the SRT Performance Pages that’ll let a driver set up all sorts of race-ready features.

Safety: 6/10

The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gives the Dodge Charger a five-star rating, while the not-for-profit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found some concerning results in the small overlap crash tests they conducted, earning it a “Poor” rating. While fitted with the usual host of airbags, the Charger lacks many of the key advanced safety features that have become commonplace in most new cars. Absent from the Charger is adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam control, lane departure mitigation, driver attention alert, and active forward collision mitigation.

Practicality: 6/10

As a large sedan, the Charger offers good interior space for four adults, with room for a fifth on occasion. The 467-L trunk offers plenty of space for cargo, too. But as a wildly powerful and seriously inefficient rear-wheel-drive car, it’s meant as more of a toy that can take the family along to car shows or the drag strip than a proper daily driver. Trying to get this thing around in the wet (let alone the snow) would be challenging to say the least.

Value: 7/10

Cars like this hold tremendous value for those who desire them, and with this being the final year of production, a case could be made for investment potential here, too. But spending well over $100,000 for a Charger like this won’t be a great expenditure for most people. For roughly the same cost, a BMW M5 Competition is significantly more refined (and quicker), but I can’t imagine anyone seeking one would be happy with the other. The heart wants what it wants, and if that’s an 807-hp Charger, nothing else will do.

The Verdict

Extinction for dinosaurs like this – and even for many other fun enthusiast cars – is imminent. Dodge has held on longer than most, giving fans of old-school muscle cars exactly what they crave. But we’ve reached a point where the only purpose a car like this serves is to quench a nostalgic thirst, while other machines that consume far less fuel (or none at all) can offer not only superior performance, but also better livability day-to-day. The 2023 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody Jailbreak is gratuitous automotive excess to the point where it’s nearly unusable for anything but bragging. For my old school muscle car fix, make my Plum Crazy Mopar a Challenger Scat Pack 392 Widebody with the six-speed manual transmission instead, please.

Engine Displacement 6.2L
Engine Cylinders V8, supercharged
Peak Horsepower 807 hp @ 6,300 rpm
Peak Torque 707 lb-ft @ 4,500 rpm
Fuel Economy 19.0 / 11.5 / 15.6 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb
Cargo Space 467 L
Model Tested 2023 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody Jailbreak
Base Price $95,695
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $2,795, plus $1,000 Federal Green Levy
Price as Tested $131,340
Optional Equipment
$31,750 – Plum Crazy Pearl, $395; Package 27D (Jailbreak), $19,295; Navigation and Travel Group, $795; H/K Audio Group, $1,500; Black and Demonic Red Seats, $300; Demonic Red seat belts, $125; Dinamica suede headliner, $600; Cargo Net, $50; Demonic Red floor mat binding, $100; Satin Black hood/roof/decklid spoiler, $5,200; Black exterior badging, $250; Black Charger exhaust tips, $250; Alcantara steering wheel, $250; 305/35ZR20 tires, $695; 20x11-in Carbon Black aluminum wheels, $1,295; Carbon fibre interior accents, $650