SportsCar magazine test: 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

Image by Dennis Fisher

SportsCar magazine test: 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

SCCA / SportsCar Magazine

SportsCar magazine test: 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

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If you’re a fan of muscle cars then it’s a good time to be on the road. While some purists may scoff at the growing curb weights modern muscle cars tip the scales at, the reality is these cars will eat the lunch of their older siblings in almost every performance category, and do so with increased comfort and safety.

With a road trip planned to Las Vegas for the SCCA National Convention, we took the opportunity to test the latest Dodge Challenger variant, the R/T Scat Pack Widebody. Having long been a fan of the Challenger — always loved those early 1970s bodylines — we were happy to see Dodge address the far too narrow wheel and tire setup the modern car was burdened with. While the standard setup filled the side profile nicely, it lacked the girth to match the car’s power output, and frankly the view of those skinny rear tires was just wrong.

The wide body option includes 20×11-inch Devil’s Rim aluminum wheels, and our tester had the optional 305/35ZR20 Pirelli P Zero summer tires — handy, considering what we had planned — and certainly a width more befitting the car’s performance potential.

Powered by the 485hp 392 HEMI V8 and paired with the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission, power was always on tap, and the revs were low on the highway. Perhaps the only disappointing part of this combination was the less-than-stellar 21mpg we observed on the freeway during our trip. The V8-powered Mustang and Camaro top that highway fuel economy number with room to spare.

On the road, the adaptive damping suspension made for a comfortable ride, and the Scat Pack-trimmed car included all of the creature comforts you could want. We found the seats to be much more comfortable for long trips than those found in the 2019 Mustang that we had sampled around the same time.

The road trip to the SCCA National Convention was really just a front for another activity we had planned: SCCA’s Las Vegas Region was hosting an autocross at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and we wanted to see how the latest Challenger would fair against highly modified muscle cars. The Classic American Muscle category of SCCA autocross is wildly popular, offering a run-what-you-brung ideology with essentially the only rule being the use of 200 treadwear street tires.

At this event we were one of nine entries, which included a plethora of heavily modified Camaros and Mustangs, including a 1986 Saleen Mustang and a brand-new 2019 Mustang Bullitt. For this outing our Challenger would be box stock, down to the door placard tire pressures — certainly making for an uphill battle in a class that allows engine swaps, forced induction, and pretty much unlimited suspension mods.

We put the suspension in Track Mode and then turned off the stability and traction control — we figured we had enough experience to handle it manually. Leaving the line, the Pirelli tires fought for traction and we ended up flicking the transmission paddle for the next gear in short order. With 475lb-ft of torque on tap and a moderately flowing autocross course, we spent most of our runs in third gear.

The Challenger has just a hint of understeer when driven smoothly, yet get aggressive on the throttle and you’ll soon experience power-on oversteer. But the Challenger was also surprisingly agile, changing directions quickly — it certainly handles its 4,241-lb curb weight well.

When the dust settled and the results were finalized our Challenger sat in a solid third place, just two seconds off of first. We think with a performance alignment setup, similar to what the Viper TA was offered with, and a set of autocross-specific tires, this Challenger has the chops to challenge for the win.

With an as-tested price of $50,915, the Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody offers style, comfort and performance, and it far exceeded our expectations — except for the fuel economy. But mash the gas pedal and you’ll forget all about that.

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