The 2022 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody Is Just Enough Muscle for Grand Touring

The naturally aspirated 392 V8 isn’t quite as savage as the Hellcats, but for casual gallivanting through the streets of Detroit? It’s pretty much perfect.

byMike Spinelli| PUBLISHED Aug 26, 2022 11:00 AM
The 2022 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody Is Just Enough Muscle for Grand Touring
Mike Spinelli.
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The Dodge Challenger is one of the mix-and-match muscle cars that defined the late-period aggro-Mopar persona—soon to be recast with EVs and forced-induction sixes. With such big changes coming, it’s time to circle back and recall what’s so special about these hulking, eight-coffee-can tire assassins. On their home turf.

With its announcements last week, Dodge put a few news cycles in a headlock. I was in Detroit to cover those Speed Week media events and got a press loaner to drive around for a few days. It was a 2022 Challenger optioned up like a Coney Dog with everything but a second dog in it: R/T Scat Pack Widebody Hemi Orange, a name that reads like a Tom Wolfe essay.

2022 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody Hemi Orange Review Specs

  • Base Price (Price as Tested): $44,155 ($63,500)
  • Powertrain: 6.4-liter V8 | eight-speed automatic transmission | rear-wheel drive
  • Horsepower: 485 @ 6,100 rpm
  • Torque: 475 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm
  • 0-60 mph: 4.4 seconds
  • Seating Capacity: 5
  • Cargo Capacity: 16.2 cubic feet
  • Curb Weight: 4,303 pounds
  • EPA Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city | 24 highway | 18 combined
  • Quick Take: Often overshadowed by the Hellcat, this pricey but highly-specced, naturally aspirated Challenger is an ideal combination of sophisticate and nightclub bouncer.
  • Score: 8/10
Mike Spinelli

For Dodge, it was just good logistics; assigning a car meant they wouldn’t have to shuffle me to the conferences each night like some U.N. delegate. So, during the day I took meetings and got a haircut and had lunch and drove around like the Prince of fuckin’ Ferndale. I paid for my own gas; I figured it was the gentlemanly thing to do. It cost around $150 because I couldn’t keep my foot out of the damn thing.

It had been a while since I’d driven a Challenger. A few years ago I brought a Hellcat Widebody to the circuit at Lime Rock with my colleague Lawrence Ulrich, a native Detroiter. That bright-yellow Mephistopheles, with a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 producing 717 hp and 650 lb-ft, ran over the place like it wasn’t there. It was like putting a 1:24 scale slot car on an HO-scale track. 

We had some laughs, but a fat, blown Challenger is way too much car for that lyrical little bandbox of a racetrack, as John Updike once wrote about Fenway Park. Lime Rock, a historic course with a million ghosts in its midst, was carved out of the Berkshire foothills for MGAs, not M1 tanks in Italian shoes.

Dodge

It wasn’t a bad day, though. The big coupe just needed finesse. It weighed almost as much as the trackside ambulance but produced enough mechanical grip and braking force to put in a few fun, sometimes blood-curdling, 1.53-mile laps. It took low-speed corners like a Boston Whaler, but gorged on the high-speed ones, and screamed down the Sam Posey Straight like it was trying to outrun a gravitational vortex.

My three days in this high-end Challenger were going to be mostly business, so I treated it like an executive coupe rather than a boulevard destroyer. I’m thinking of the BMW 8 Series, in a modern sense. Also, like one of those big, American personal-luxury cars of the ‘60s and ‘70s that Detroit did so well—only with 305-section tires and 0.96 g of lateral grip.

Dodge

The R/T Scat Pack Widebody is similar in its suspension dynamics to that Hellcat but with a more docile, usable powertrain. The naturally aspirated 6.4-liter 392 V8 is the right setup for doing regular stuff: record shopping, going to the dentist, cruising for patio furniture. It gives up about a second to 60 mph compared to the Hellcat (not to mention the Redeye and Jailbreak versions), but in any throttle position, it’s a satisfying powerplant, with a flexibility the forced-induction feline from Hades can’t touch. Drop the hammer, and you can scrawl elevens anywhere you’d like with those big Pirelli magic markers. The Scat Pack only lacks the gargantuan kinetic slam of supercharged SRTs. Otherwise, it’s exactly enough car.

With a few days before the Woodward Dream Cruise, spectators were already breaking out the lawn chairs and lining the avenue after dinner to watch the evening metal roll by. I would have to represent. The Challenger in Triple Nickel silver was a little understated, especially in company with golden-era Detroit gear, like a ‘72 Sublime green Duster that glug-glugged past with the cam timing of a Panama Canal tugboat. The 392 is no slouch in a rev contest and won more than a few cheers from very relaxed-looking people holding Cold Stone Creamery cups.

Mike Spinelli

My loaner had pretty much everything but the Hellcat in it: The $6,000 Widebody package which comes with the important chassis and braking stuff, including adaptive damping and six-piston Brembos up front that could stop a runaway coal cart.  It also had the $1,500 Hemi Orange package which adds striping, orange brake calipers and accent stitching, grippy Alcantara to the already cozy and supportive seats, a white-face instrument cluster, and special badging. I like stripes and special badging. There’s not enough of that stuff these days.

Dodge’s 392 “Apache” V8 sounds like a film soundtrack, and its power rolls on through the rev range with a satisfying crescendo blast. It’s pretty much peak pushrod V8, with tons of low-end torque and acres of top-end headroom. 

Unfortunately, the loaner was an automatic, which is a shame, because the manual is still standard on the R/Ts. On the plus side, the eight-speed TorqueFlite auto shifts smoothly and is relatively responsive. It did come with MDS cylinder deactivation, which I ended up defeating by downshifting repeatedly and keeping right-foot pressure applied. I couldn’t help myself. 

Mike Spinelli

Pushing out the fenders with extra rubber does wonders for the Challenger’s blocky shape. The Widebody heightens visual tension; it has a coiled-spring aspect that reads as raw muscularity but at certain angles takes on a more exotic nuance. 

It’s a complex-looking car compared to designer Carl Cameron’s early-'70s Challenger, from whose styling the modern version draws its pop-culture energy. That original Challenger and its Plymouth Barracuda sister ship were larger than their pony-car Mustang and Camaro competitors because Dodge wanted to put its massive 440 and 426 Hemi V8s in them. Today’s Challenger is still quite a lump with engine displacement to match, and occupies its space aggressively, even with those damn yellow splitter guards removed.

Between the comfort of the seats and the Widebody’s adaptive dampers—a stiffer tune than in the non-Widebody—ride quality is one of this Challenger's advantages over its smaller rivals. In this spec, it’s a long-wheelbase GT car with a luxury-sport demeanor that wouldn’t be out of place on a 1,000-mile highway burn. 

Dodge

Add to that the tech: Uconnect's quickness, the playground that is Dodge’s Performance Pages, and seamless Apple CarPlay integration, and you’ve got a luxury cruiser that can burn its tires off. Not that you’d cross-shop a car like this with something big from BMW M or Mercedes-AMG, but you could.

You could also park it in front of your favorite Coney Dog joint and feel like a true MFIC. Look it up.

Mike Spinelli has covered cars and car culture in print, online, and on family cable TV, which is as glamorous as premade pancake batter. Send him tips, comments, and story ideas at wheelspin@thedrive.com.