Too much horsepower??? Never! 2021 Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye Widebody Review

The Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye Widebody may have way more horsepower than the rear wheels can handle, but it makes the car all the more fun to drive. Off the line, this 800 horsepower (797 to be exact) visceral cat will leave every 12 year old boy from here to Detroit grinning ear to ear. It is the last true iconic American muscle car.

With that much horsepower, the only safe way to test the vehicle’s limits is on a closed road. The real-wheel-drive Hellcat Redeye can easily go sideways if you are not careful. Plus with a reported 0 to 60 mph time of 3.6 seconds and a top speed of over 200mph, you can easily loose your license on public roads. Luckily for me, the city of Pompano Beach offered to loan me their airport for a few hours for testing. So in old-fashion Top Gear style, I got to work.

Under the hood of the Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye Widebody is a supercharged 6.2L V8 HEMI engine. Even though it has “the most powerful mass-produced engine in the world,” it isn’t actually the quickest sedan. That is because all of the power is going to the rear wheels versus an all-wheel-drive platform like on the less powerful BMW M5 for example. However, real-wheel-drive cars are always more fun to drive. This means when trying to launch the Hellcat Redeye as fast as possible, you either need a delicate foot or launch control. Or you just say the hell with it, and you have fun burning tire tread and creating smoke. During my comprehensive testing at the Pompano Beach airport, I couldn’t actually get the car to do 0 to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds, my tests came closer to 3.8 seconds with launch control. But I think that was because I was on a set of well used Pirelli tires. A fresh set of sticky rubber could easily make up the difference.

I also couldn’t get “the fastest sedan in the world” up to 200 mph, but that is just because I didn’t have a long enough runway available. Because of the sheer force of acceleration when the rear tires lock into grip, I have no doubt that this un-earthly machine can take you 1/3 of the way from breaking the sound barrier.

At the end of each tarmac run, my eyeballs nearly popped out of my head due to the Hellcat Redeye’s massive Brembo six-piston brakes. The force is matched to what you can expect from a Ferrari race car, but enhanced due to the 4,600 pound weight of the vehicle. During the entire test, I didn’t experience an ounce of brake fade even though I could feel them working hard to slow down this friend sedan from 150+ mph to 0 mph.

The comparatively heavy weight of the Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye means that the now standard widebody is a must for corners. Its ultra-wide tires allow the Hellcat Redeye to claw around corners. The car doesn’t feel nimble, but it could handle its own around a race track against the finest competition. The Hellcat Redeye Widebody with the majority of its weight in front, is naturally a understeer car. It pushes on each corner. However if you can drive by the seat of your pants, you can easily get the rear end to swing out, offering you and your passenger the ride of your lives.

Typically you would be looking at north of six figures for any vehicle with over 500 horsepower. But you can pick up the 800 horsepower Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye Widebody for less than $80,000. Sure the interior is filled with plastic trim, but this is a car you can take to the drag strip, use on a road course, drift competitively, and pick the kids up from school all in the same day. I call that a win!

A special thank you to the City of Pompano Beach for letting me borrow part of your airport for testing and photos. As always, thank you to Dodge for loaning me the 2021 Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye Widebody to drive for a week. I hope I didn’t burn too much rubber 🙂

Exploring the 2021 Kia K5 GT Line

In November I reviewed Kia’s affordable luxury trim levels on the 2021 K5 sedan. You can find it here, along with driving impressions for the vehicle. But today, I want to share with you details on the Kia K5 GT Line trim. It uses the same 180 horsepower engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, and suspension as the LX, LXS, and EX trim levels, but you get a sportier appearance. This includes black 18″ wheels, more aggressive front and rear bumpers, as well as different seat materials and a flat bottom steering wheel.

You won’t go any faster with the K5 GT Line, but you will look cooler. If you truly have a need for speed though, I would upgrade to the real K5 GT. It comes standard with 290 horsepower and sports tuned suspension.

2021 Kia K5: Luxury car styling for an economy car pricing

My 2021 Kia K5 press car is the best value sedan I have driven in a long time. You can get one for about $23,000 ,and if you hide the Kia badges, you would almost think you are driving a small Audi. On the exterior, you have well sculpted lines reminiscent of a fastback sedan.

Under the hood is a turbocharged 1.6L 4-cylinder engine mated to an 8-speed automatic. Acceleration is adequate for everyday driving with 180 horsepower and 195 pounds of torque. However, if you feel the need for speed, a “GT” version of the K5 is coming next month with a 290 horsepower 2.5L Turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine. This is promising to out run most European entry-level luxury vehicles.

The interior of the K5 offers a driver centric cockpit, with faux wood trim and aluminum. My press car also had faux leather on the seats and steering wheel, but the material felt convincingly real. The K5 is also available with both heated and ventilated front seats, as well as a panoramic sunroof to keep you at the optimal temperature at all times.

The Kia K5 is available with the near standard issue drive safety technology, such as auto emergency braking technology, lane keep assist, blind spot collision avoidance and electronic stability control. As a driving enthusiast, most of these items are annoying when you want to fully control the vehicle, however these options should significantly reduce your insurance premium.

The only true fault I could find with the car is its infotainment center. It was very beautiful to look at, especially the radio app, but the interface was terrible to use. With a price tag of less than 30,000 for a fully equipped model, I can’t complain too much. Anything else this good looking overall would cost you $5,000 to $10,000 more.

Genesis G70, a true sports sedan Competitor

The Genesis G70 is a relatively new entry in the sports sedan arena. But what it lacks in pedigree, it makes up for in performance, style, and price.

For around $4,000 less than the cost of the BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class, you get a 255 horsepower turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder motor with a 6-speed manual gearbox. Yes, you heard me right. The Genesis G70 is one of the few sports sedans left that are available with a manual transition. My most recent Genesis G70 test car came with an 8-speed automatic and a 3.3L turbocharged V6, pumping out 365 horsepower. Personally, I am not sure which one I love more. I have tested both engines, and both will make you want to take the long way home.

In terms of driving dynamics, the G70 reminds me of sports sedans from yesteryear. The latest entry level options from BMW, Mercedes, and Audi almost feel to plush to enjoy on a country roads. They make me want to sit back and relax while cruising the highway. Where as the G70 delivers that sports car like engagement between man and machine. You get solid feedback through the steering wheel plus the joy of changing your own gears with the 4-cylinder variant. There is no arguing that the 3 Series is better balanced than the G70, and arguably faster on the race track, but the G70 is more entertaining to drive.

As much as I like the Genesis G70, I wouldn’t want to buy one now. Last month, Genesis announced that they are coming out with a new G70 for 2021. It is my understanding that the platform and drivetrain will remain the same, however the new model will feature both interior and exterior visual enhancements. Based on the images I have seen, the 2021 G70 will be worth waiting till next year.

The Corporate Executive’s Sports Car: Mercedes AMG GT 63S

There is an unspoken rule in corporate America that the most senior leader within a group always drives. I don’t know where it came from, but it applies to driving to work lunches, sales meetings, and business trips. So what happens when an executive is a performance enthusiast? Him or her is often left with two choices: Get a Porsche Panamera or BMW M5. But now there is a new and more extreme kids on the block, the 4-door Mercedes AMG GT 63S.

Out of the bunch, the Mercedes AMG GT 63S is the only one that feels like a true sports car. For starters, the noise and silhouette of the car look like an elongated 2-door Mercedes AMG GT. And then when you get to the back of the car, you will notice a jaw dropping rear wing. It makes an elegant statement that the car means business without looking like a boy racer in the company parking lot.

The rear end of the Mercedes AMG GT 63S is backed up by a quad-exhaust that produces an earth shattering rumble in full performance sport+ mode. 663 horsepower can then be released from an AMG hand assembled 4.0L bi-turbo engine with zero lag. This, in combination with a 9-speed gearbox, delivers super car 0-to-60mph accelerations times as quick as 3.1 seconds. That is only a couple tenths of a second closer than a Ferrari 488 GTB. And yet, this 4-door executive sedan can comfortably accommodate four adults on a road trip with luggage. Click Here To Continue Reading

Going green with the Land Rover Range Rover Hybrid

Luxury SUV drivers who want supreme off-road capabilities will be pleased to know that they can finally “go green” on their way to the next polo match. That is because the 2020 Range Rover is now offered as a plug-in hybrid. That means you have the option of driving the 2020 Range Rover P400e as you normally would under gasoline power with 25 MPGs, or you can drive it as a fully electric vehicle for up to 25 miles.

If you ask me, the 2020 Range Rover P400e is the best of both worlds, because it has all of the benefits of a luxury gasoline powered SUV combined with the benefits of an electric vehicle. For instance, the average driver commutes less than 20 miles per day. So if you plug the SUV into a wall outlet every night, you would never have to go to the gas station during the week. But for those weekend road trips, you never have to worry about range anxiety because their are over 100,000 gas stations in the United States.

Electric vehicles no doubt save fuel and are better for the environment due to reduced emissions. But, another key selling point is how quite electric vehicles are to operate. You no longer have a fire breathing gas guzzling motor making a bunch of racket. Instead, you drive down the road an absolute bliss. You want peace and quote in a luxury vehicle. So by all standards, the Range Rover P400e Hybrid should be considered Range Rover’s most luxurious vehicle. I am personally a petrol head, but the eerie sound of nothing is quite soothing under electric only drive mode.

The electric drivetrain component of the Range Rover P400e is also a benefit for off-road use because you have instant and linear torque. If you are rock crawling, you want to be able to give over a bolder slowly do you don’t damage the vehicle.

At a starting price of $95,950, the Range Rover P400e does command a $5,000 premium over the base engine model. But you do get more horsepower, more torque, and better fuel economy. Plus like I said previously, the ability to never go to the gas station again for your normal commute is priceless.

2020 Hyundai Sonata: An Everyman’s Sports Coupe Sedan

It seem like every couple years, I ask “Hyundai what were you thinking???” A brilliantly designed SUV or car graces our presence for a shockingly low sticker price. It offers styling from German, American and Korean car designers with all of the latest luxury car bells and whistles.

This time, Hyundai has given us a coupe-like sedan. I hate using that terminology, because a coupe is a two car in my book. But the industry has now identified it as anything with a sloped rear roofline. The thought process for the 2020 Sonata “sensuous sportiness,” and indeed it is. The 8th generation Sonata is lower, longer and wider. Take off the badging, and I could easily fooled into thinking it comes from a German luxury manufacture like Audi. I wouldn’t be too far actually, because Hyundai’s design team in Germany had a hand in eleganty crafting the design language.

The interior is just as elegantly dressed as the exterior. Visually and to the touch, you will notice that the 2020 Sonata is far superior than anything in its segment. Little details on the door handles, windshield wiper stalk, and textured knobs make the vehicle feel special. It is a kind to a luxury car with the use of leather, high quality plastics, and real aluminum trim. You will also notice two large displays to represent the instrument cluster and the infotainment system.

Unfortuantly for some, and fortunatly for others, the 2020 Sonata looks way faster than it is. When approaching the vehicle, you heart starts throbbing in anticipation to carve canyon roads. Luckily the vehile has a great road manners. It feels well planted at highway speeds and steers with relative percision for the segment. In terms of power, the 2020 Hyundai Sonata isn’t a dog, but the standard 191 horsepower engine pair with a traditional 8-speed automatic makes you loose all sense of sport when you put the hammer down. Having a car that looks sporty and gets good gas milage (38 mpg) is the perfect combination for the average driver. But if you are like me, you need a little extra umph for your daily community.

For those willing to wait a year or two, Hyundai will be blessing you with N-Line Sonata. It will have basically the same interior and exterior. However, the driving dynamics totally change. You feel like you are in a sports sedan. Hyundai let me drive a prototype with a 2.5L turbocharged 4-cylinder that pumps out 290 horsepower and 310 pounds of torque. The engine was mated to an 8-speed wet dual-clutch transmission that shifts as fast as you can pull the paddle on the steering wheel. A little wheel spin will come natural to this vehicle. The Sonata N-Line feels quick off the line, and seemingly offers improved handling characteristics. It felt tighter going into corners, but that may be because I was pushing it harder.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the 2020 Santa’s technology. It has two really cool tecgh features that are shadowed by how great the car is, but are pioneering technology:

First, you can drive the car with your car key. No this isn’t out of some James Bond movie. Using the key you can pull the car forwards or backwards up to 30ft. The feature was designed for individuals who have a narrow garage with filled with “stuff.” But it can also be used when needing to park in tight spaces. Ever park your car in a narrow parking lot, and come back to find that someone parked inches from your door so you can’t get back in? Now you can have the car simply back out of the spot.

Second, do you hate carrying keys? I know I do. We live in the 2020s, where half of the neighborhoods have smart homes that can automatically unlock your front door when you arrive. Why can’t our cars do the same? Hyundai has developed a digital key that uses low power Bluetooth and NFC technology on your smart phone to authenticate your accessibility. The digital key works just like a regular key, but you use your phone. There is a caveat: it only works with Android devices for now. Hyundai is working with Apple to unlock the currently installed hardware in your iPhone to make it possible.

The calendar just rolled over, but the 2020 Hyundai Sonata is posed to be the best non-luxury sedan you can buy this year. I highly recommend one.

What I am driving: Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack

This week I am driving the Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack wide body. What I love about this car is that it means serious business on the racetrack. But it also comfortable enough for long commutes to the office, and large enough to fit kids with car seats. Under the hood is a naturally-aspirated 485 horsepower V8 motor. It is pure muscle car. While it is no Hellcat Red Eye (almost 800hp), it has a similar look and better fuel economy. You can get to the office and back with 25mpg (highway). Standard is four-piston Brembo Brakes, which is awesome. Brembo are often times used on Ferrari and Porsche sports cars, due to their superior design and efficiency.

Remember, just because you are a Dad, it doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun and drive a cool car. Dodge proves this with the Charger R/T Scat Pack.

2019 Mercedes CLS: It can’t come soon enough!

While visiting Chicago on vacation earlier this month, Mercedes gave me a pre-production version of their upcoming CLS four-door sports coupe to drive around town. The good news is that it is an absolutely stunning example of Mercedes design and a worthy update to the Mercedes CLS nameplate. The bad news is that you likely won’t be able to get one until next year… and I want one in my garage now!

A Design To Excite

For Dad’s (or Mom’s) who need the utility of a four-door vehicle but don’t want to give up the emotion of driving sports coupe, the Mercedes CLS (and this segment) was born for you. Mercedes paratactically invented the “four door sports coupe” segment with CLS back in the early 2000’s. They were amongst the first to offer a luxury four-door sedan with a fastback like roof line and a limited b-pillar. Since then, brands like Audi and BMW have copied the style on their most sportiest family friendly models.

The CLS’ design language is meant to evoke excitement from the minute you look at the car – I even found myself taking a second look at the vehicle every time I parked it. The silhouette with its frameless b-pillar makes you think for a monument that you are driving a traditional two sports coupe. Whether you are going through a mid-life crisis with kids or you just haven’t grown up yet, the style will evoke a sense of pride in ownership that you likely haven’t felt since you were 16 years old.  Click Here To Continue Reading

The BMW 330e makes being green fun again!

Bavarian Motor Works’ sportiest sedan series dates back to 1975, with the BMW 3-series. Back then you were limited to a carbureted inline 4-cylinder motor producing 74 horsepower or an inline 6-cylinder producing 141 horsepower. They were not rocket ships, even for 70’s standards, but fans quickly adored the 3-series’ suburb weight distribution and excellent handling.

Today’s BMW range varies between a 180 horsepower turbocharged inline 4-cylinder (320i) and up to a 425 horsepower inline 6-cylinder (M3). You can’t go wrong across the line up though, because they all have near perfect 50/50 weight distribution for improved handling. This paired with a sporty design will turn a boring commute into an exhilarating adventure; one where you must ace every apex on your way to the office.  Click Here To Continue Reading