Hell on Wheels: 2019 Dodge Challenger Earns "Car of Texas" from Texas Auto Writers Association

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Last week, the 2019 Dodge Challenger was crowned with a bevy of honors at the Texas Auto Writers Association (TAWA) annual Auto Roundup: Car of Texas, Performance Car of Texas, and Performance Coupe of Texas.

I and 43 other TAWA members had a chance to drive 29 different vehicles on surface roads in Denton, Texas and some of them on an autocross course set up by the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). The Autocross course was a spectacular way to test this monster’s performance potential, and I didn’t shy away from pressing the pedal to the floor on the straightaway. This video speaks for itself, especially my expression at the end:

If it tells you anything at all, the folks at Motortrend magazine put the Redeye up against a Ferrari 812 Superfast . Is the Ferrari faster? Their tests say yes. But is the Ferrari’s price tag realistic for the average American? No. The Dodge starts at about $70K; the Ferrari five times that much. Dream a little dream and you’ll find the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye will not disappoint you. And you won’t have to live in your car… you’ll have some extra money to actually have a house, too.

The Challenger SRT Hellcat starts at 717 horsepower with the “red key” (the “black key” is for valets and teenagers that you don’t want joyriding your Hellcat) and the Redeye takes it up to 11 with 797 hp. Both Hellcat models feature a new dual-snorkel hood that looks sharp, too. If you want a Challenger, there are eight flavors to choose from for 2019: SXT, SXT AWD, GT, GT AWD, R/T, R/T Scat Pack, SRT Hellcat and SRT Hellcat Redeye. Pick your circle of hell, and I mean that in a very good way.

There are a full range of engine options as well to suit your need for speed, including a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 on SXT, SXT AWD, GT and GT AWD models, the 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 in the R/T models, a naturally aspirated 392 HEMI V-8 on R/T Scat Pack models, the supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V-8 on the SRT Hellcat and a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI high-output V-8 on the SRT Hellcat Redeye.

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If you’re anything like me and find joy in the raw power and revel in a throaty growl, this is the vehicle for you. I had the unique opportunity to test a Challenger AWD a few years back on a snow drive and do circles and skids on the ice; I only snowbanked it once (ahem). If you haven’t done parking lot doughnuts in a Dodge Challenger AWD, add it to your bucket list. It will take you back to the exhilaration of sledding down a steep hill as a kid.

It was easy to see the enthusiasm for both Challengers in contention at the TAWA Auto Roundup. It was hardly ever dormant in the lot.

"Driving enthusiasts in Texas love horsepower, and the Dodge Challenger's classic muscular lines and monumental power won over our voters," said Michael Marrs, president of TAWA and co-host of the "In Wheel Time" radio show in Houston.

Alice and I took the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio, which was awarded top honors in the Performance Sedan category, for a test drive on the Autocross track back to back with the Redeye. I can’t speak for both of us, but honestly, I was surprised to find the Challenger was the one I’d choose between the two. Of course, the Alfa has more creature comforts and elegance (and two more doors for easy in and out), but I felt more in control of the SRT Hellcat Redeye. It moved on my command and stopped smoothly, and I could have driven it on the Autocross again and again.

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Alas, I had to share the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye with the others. Until next time, my sweet.

Kristin Shaw