Dodge’s new Charger Widebody is a thick sedan with big power, and a serious performance bargain to boot.
You’ve got to hand it to Fiat-Chrysler. The current Dodge Charger has been with us for 15 years, but thanks to a number of styling updates, interior enhancements, power boosts and limited-edition models, this full-size sedan is as relevant now as it’s ever been. Sales haven’t slowed, either, proving the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage certainly rings true with this big boy.
2020 Dodge Charger Scat Pack Widebody
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- Available in Scat Pack and Hellcat models
- Widebody pack offers handling improvements
- A serious performance bargain
- Interior switchgear is outdated
- Headroom is an issue for taller folks
- MPG? LOL
The latest move to keep the Charger fresh is the addition of a Widebody package, similar to what Dodge launched on the Challenger in 2017. It adds 3.5 inches of width to the Charger, but there’s more to this updo than meets the eye.
Dodge didn’t just stick some fender flares on the Charger and call it a day. The Widebody gets a unique front fascia to better blend with the added width, and the result is a design so good, you’ll wish the Charger had always looked like this from the get-go. The wider track means Dodge can fit fat, 305-section Pirelli P-Zero tires for better grip, wrapped around 20-inch deep-dish wheels that look rad as hell.
To complement the wider rolling stock, the Widebody has stiffer front springs and beefier sway bars than a standard Charger. Revised tuning for the electronic power steering helps drivers keep better control, and there are different modes to choose from, too, which offer varying amounts of heft to the wheel’s action.
All of this makes the Charger a lot better to drive. Make no mistake, this is a big car, but the added width, meaty tires and updated chassis pay dividends in balance while cornering. You no longer feel like you’re just chucking some big honkin’ brute into a bend. I mean, you still are, but at least now there’s a lot more grip, with better feedback through the steering. The Widebody treatment gives the Charger some much-needed finesse while cornering.
A better-balanced burnout machine
Do you want a lot of power, or a ton of power? Those are your two options with the Charger Widebody.
The car I’ve got here is the less-powerful R/T Scat Pack model. It uses Dodge’s naturally aspirated, 6.4-liter V8, producing 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque. That’s plenty of power for the Charger — at no point would I ever call this car slow or sluggish. The free-breathing V8 sounds like the absolute business when you wind it up in the rev range, and with no turbocharger or supercharger kicking in, you get strong, linear, predictable power delivery at all times. The eight-speed automatic transmission is perfectly happy to drop a gear or two when you stomp on the throttle, and the Charger will gladly light up its tires in first and second gears, scooching the back-end out around a corner. It’s fantastic.
Of course, there’s always the Hellcat, with Dodge’s infamous 6.2-liter supercharged V8. You know these numbers: 707 hp and 650 lb-ft, sent directly to the rear wheels for maximum ridiculousness and a 3.6-second 0 to 60 mph time. Dodge’s Line Lock feature is on hand for huge burnouts and a race cooldown setting keeps air flowing through the engine even after the car is turned off, to help the monstrous V8 settle down after you’ve driven the bejesus out of it.
Personally, I can’t ever imagine needing more than the Scat Pack’s 485 hp, but you do you. In my experience, the Scat Pack is a little more usable day to day — you never feel like you’re constantly trying to rein in a raging bull when you’re sitting in traffic. Plus, in the suspension’s Street setting, the Charger is plenty comfortable for bombing down the freeway. No, I’m never going to kick 707 hp out of bed, especially with the Widebody package offering handling upgrades to better control that absurd amount of power. Besides, it’s only a matter of time before Dodge introduces a Charger Widebody Redeye with nearly 800 hp. What a time to be alive.
Same cabin, same tech
Fresh and attractive as the Charger Widebody is outside, the interior is where you’ll be reminded that this thing is more than a decade old. Sure, the gauge cluster looks modern and bright, and the 8.4-inch touchscreen in the dash runs Chrysler’s excellent Uconnect tech. But look at the door cards, center console and the buttons and knobs on the center stack, and you won’t forget the Charger is long overdue for an overhaul.
That said, there are a number of redeeming qualities to the Charger’s interior. The seats are wide, thickly bolstered and super-comfortable — go figure, it’s like they’re designed specifically to hug fat Americans. Headroom is in short supply, but shoulder- and hip-room are generous. The rear seats are comfortable enough for two adults, assuming they aren’t too tall, and there are myriad USB and 12-volt outlets scattered throughout the cabin to keep everyone’s gadgets charged. The trunk is nice and big, with 16.5 cubic feet of space for suitcases, golf clubs, whatever.
The aforementioned 8.4-inch Uconnect display comes standard on the Widebody trims, and while it’s not the latest and greatest system to hit the market, the software within is solid. The touchscreen responds immediately to inputs, the menus are straightforward, inputting a destination into the navigation system is easy and hey, if the whole system isn’t for you, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard.
If there’s a fault to the Charger’s tech game it’s on the driver-assistance front. Things like adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, lane-departure warning and forward-collision warning are available as options on the Scat Pack. But on the Hellcat, only blind-spot monitoring is standard, and none of the other features are available. That’s kind of a shame.
Big performance on the cheap
Yes, you can nitpick the Charger’s lack of standard driver-assistance features or its outdated switchgear, but to do so is to miss the point completely. The Charger Scat Pack and Hellcat Widebody are two of the best performance bargains available today, priced at $47,490 and $73,240, respectively, including $1,495 for destination. (The Widebody pack is a $6,000 option on these models, and don’t forget, the Hellcat is also subject to the slap-on-the-wrist $2,100 gas-guzzler tax.)
In the case of my Scat Pack test car, it costs a little over $60,000 out the door, thanks to a few unnecessary visual options that hike up the price. My perfect spec keeps the F8 Green paint seen here, but removes the black hood ($1,995), roof ($1,500) and graphics ($3,495). I’ll keep the two-tone black/caramel interior scheme, and I’ll skip the $1,295 power sunroof. I’ll add the $1,995 Plus Group, mostly for things like the heated second-row seats and blind-spot monitoring, and I’ll even add the $1,895 Technology Group to get all of the driver-assistance tech. That means my perfect Charger R/T Scat Pack Widebody costs $52,675. Where else are you going to get this much car for that little money?
Beyond the inherent value proposition, the Charger Widebody has a head-turning cool factor that’s hard to ignore. And when I mash the throttle and light up the rear tires in a blast of V8 fury, I couldn’t care less about its shortcomings. After all these years, the Charger still makes me smile. Old as it might be, the Charger is arguably more enjoyable now than it’s ever been.
enjoyable now than it’s ever been.
2020 Dodge Charger Scat Pack Widebody
Engine: 8 Cylinder
Engine Drivetrain: Rear Wheel Drive
MPG: 18 MPG
Passenger Capacity: 5
Body Type: Sedan