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posted on May 19th, 2018

Not-so-nice kitties

Do you have a cat? It’s fluffy and cuddly and cute, right? Well the Hellcat is nothing like your cat. Dodge makes two cars that bear the name Hellcat, and both are menacing, unreasonable hoodlums that don’t play nice. Take a Dodge Challenger or Charger, give it a colossal supercharged power plant, add big brakes and some badges, and you have the Hellcat: the king of modern muscle.

Until Dodge unveiled the ludicrous 840-hp, banned-by-the-NHRA Dodge Demon last year, the Charger Hellcat SRT and the Challenger Hellcat SRT were the two most powerful American production cars ever (they’re still numbers two and three). And these are not quarter million-dollar supercars on the cutting edge of auto engineering. The secret to the Hellcat’s prodigious performance is very simple, and it lives under the hood.

Both Hellcats carry a 6.2L supercharged Hemi V8 which produces a staggering 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft on 91 octane. Before the Demon, this was the most powerful engine ever sold to customers for road use by any American manufacturer. All that violence gets channeled through the rear wheels, so drivers who underestimate the potency of the Hellcat might easily find themselves in trouble if not careful.

The whole idea of the Hellcat is so typically American it’s almost cliché. With massive engines, insane power, and mean styling, the Hellcats display admirable dedication to the muscle car ethos. Both models run quarter miles in the mid-elevens and top out at around 200 mph, fully stock. Did I mention they have 707 horsepower?

But despite all the huge numbers and superlatives, these kitties have surprising usability. They’re big, comfortable, and have all the infotainment gadgets that Dodge (Chrysler) offers. When nursing the throttle in Eco Mode, it’s not too difficult to manage 20 mpg on the highway — a very respectable figure for a 6.2L American V8.

Except for the telltale Hellcat badges and a few optional details, both Hellcats look just like your run-of-the-mill Dodges. The standard Charger and Challenger have aggressive styling to be sure, but those are tame, sluggish clods in comparison to their ferocious feline evolutions.

Hellcats have two key fobs — one black, one red. The black key limits the engine’s output to a paltry 500 horsepower and is the one you might want to leave with the valet. The red key unlocks the gates of hell and 707 angry stallions with it.

There are only a few differences between the Charger and Challenger Hellcats on paper. So if you’re trying to choose between the two, it probably comes down to how they look and how many doors you need. Take a gander at some of the devious supercharged kitties we have here on Turo, and decide for yourself which Hellcat you’d like to drive.

Charger

The Dodge Charger Hellcat does zero to 60 in 3.7 seconds. It has a top speed of 204 mph. This is the fastest, most powerful production sedan ever. In the world. But it’s still a Charger, and with that you get five leather seats, modern infotainment, affordable maintenance, and relative anonymity on the road. For such an absurd record-setting monster, the Charger Hellcat comes with delightfully few compromises.

Cactus’s 2016 Dodge Charger Hellcat (Phoenix, AZ)
Shaun’s 2016 Dodge Charger Hellcat (Streamwood, IL)
Yashasvi’s 2017 Dodge Charger Hellcat (Cupertino, CA)
Cesar’s 2017 Dodge Charger Hellcat (Los Angeles, CA)

Challenger

Zero to 60 happens in 3.5 seconds for the two-door Challenger Hellcat, a significant two ticks better than the Charger. But its top speed is only 199 mph, if that matters to you. Unlike the Charger, the Challenger Hellcat comes standard with a six-speed manual transmission, and many feel the muscley coupe is a bit rougher and squirrely to drive. Aside from that, both Hellcats offer exhilarating grunt for incredibly affordable prices. If you’re looking for accessible yet unparalleled power, you can’t go wrong with either beast.

Joan’s 2016 Dodge Challenger Hellcat (Seattle, WA)
Cesar’s 2017 Dodge Challenger Hellcat (Los Angeles, CA)
Adam’s 2018 Dodge Challenger Hellcat (Fort Lauderdale, FL)

Steven is an avid car guy and content specialist at Turo. Between Golden State Warriors games he can be found getting lost somewhere in California.