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First Drive Review: 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye is a potent, pricey beast

Dodge has designed a new top-tier variant of the Charger, the 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The Dodge Charger entered its seventh generation in 2011 with major changes coming for 2014 making it the car it is today. Now 10 years on, the model continues to be popular with buyers thanks in no small part to the number of variants the automaker offers it in: Charger SXT, Charger SXT AWD, Charger GT, Charger GT AWD, Charger R/T, Charger Scat Pack, Charger Scat Pack Widebody, Charger SRT Hellcat, and Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye.

The 2021 Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye is a new, 797-horsepower track-ready beast. But, it's also a calm, yet ready-to-pounce kitten on city streets. Here, Dodge has struck a balance delivering comfort, power, convenience (hello, four doors and three car seats across the back), and a good-looking exterior. Still, the car isn't a home run.

2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye The rear of the model features familiar Dodge Charger design. Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

On the surface, there's not too much differentiation between the Charger models - a hood scoop here, larger intakes there. Dodge struggles to make this particular Charger look special. For its $80,000-ish price tag, it's apparent that buyers are paying for the under-body parts rather than the interior and technology. Dodge says that's on purpose giving the "if you know, you know" wink, wink, nudge, nudge edge to customers that are part of its "brotherhood of muscle".

Dodge has done a fantastic job harnessing the muscle of the Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye. The top-of-the-lineup model has the most powerful engine option of the lot, a supercharged 6.2-ltier HEMI high-output V8 that is mated to a high-performance eight-speed automatic transmission. It gets 797 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque. Engineering makes all that power manageable whether on the track or off.

When you're on the track, you can accelerate in a responsive jiffy while slowing and cornering in an appropriate amount of time. Even with a helmet on, you can hear the car's technology working to the driver's advantage, When left in its standard automatic drive mode, the transmission shifts loudly and appropriately to modulate the revs going up and down while in less harsh street driving conditions, the transmission is seamless and silent in its workings. All the while, the Charger stays stable, not letting on too much that it's aging like the Durango does.

2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye The interior features standard Laguna leather seats. Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Where the age of the car shows is in the cabin. Here, the materials are appropriate for a $40,000 car, maybe even a $50,000 one. However, one look at the gauge cluster or climate controls will tell you exactly how old the Charger's current generation is. There's a fair amount of hard plastic and rubberized surfaces in the model, which lacks the true modern polish of other vehicles in its price point.

The car has a standard 8.4-inch infotainment screen located in the center of the dashboard that runs Uconnect 4 (Uconnect 5 isn't available in the Charger). The screen is responsive and relatively easy to navigate. However, switching between a vehicle with the new system and the Charger with the old in the same day made the faults of the red and black color schemed system stand out and show just how much of an improvement Uconnect 5 is.

Ask how it is as you pass me by on the street and I'd likely say, "I mean... It's fine" and sigh.

But you don't buy a Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye for its interior. You buy it for the roar of the engine that makes everyone look at you as you leave them squarely in your rearview mirror, for the badging that makes those who know stop and take notice, and the sheer power exerted when you press on the throttle.

2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye The 797-horsepower Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye features a functional hood scoop. Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The 2021 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye starts at $78,595. There's a $1,495 destination and delivery charge piled on top of that amount. Does the car look like $80k? No. Does it drive like it? Maybe. If you're looking for four doors of American muscle, the Charger may be your best bet, but unless you're dead set on hitting the track as often as possible, you'll want to spend less and go with a traditional Charger SRT Hellcat ($70,000-ish) or Charger Scat Pack ($42,000-ish) where you'll feel like you got more bang for your buck.

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New sports sedan

2022 Infiniti Q50 gets more standard tech

The car sees new tech and interior features for 2022.

Infiniti

The Infiniti Q50 is an aging but still-stylish sedan that offers value and power, but it hasn't quite kept pace with the crop of more engaging premium European cars. However, it's still worth a look, and to press that point further, Infiniti has updated the car for 2022 with a healthy list of standard features.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Exterior styling has not changed for 2022.Infiniti

Headline updates for the 2022 Q50 are wireless Apple CarPlay and newly standard Bose Performance Series Audio. There's now leather for every trim, but in the ways that count, the car is the same as the one we saw last year, the year before, and so on.

That's not to say that the car is bad. After all, it still offers a 300-horsepower twin-turbo V6 as standard and can be upgraded with a 400-horsepower version of the engine. And, despite its aging exterior styling, it's still a handsome car with smooth, sculpted bodywork. The seven-speed automatic transmission and available all-wheel drive remain in place.

2022 Infiniti Q50 All-wheel drive is available for all models.Infiniti

Pricing for the 2022 Infiniti Q50 starts at $43,125, which includes a $1,025 destination fee. The car gets standard wireless Apple CarPlay, leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, and Bose Performance Audio. All-wheel drive is available for a $2,000 upcharge.

2022 Infiniti Q50 Wireless Apple CarPlay and Bose audio are standard.Infiniti

The mid-range Q50 Sensory starts at $48,825, and comes with 19-inch wheels, black open-pore wood interior accents, navigation, and an air purifier system. Stepping up to the top Q50 Red Sport 400 will run $56,975, and brings the more powerful V6 engine, semi-aniline leather upholstery, and Dynamic Digital Suspension, which adjusts damping settings depending on road conditions and driving style.

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Biden will target 50 percent of all vehicle sales for EVs by 2030.

Ford

In the last several months, we've seen automakers from all corners of the globe commit to some degree of electrification by the end of the decade and beyond. That includes the American Big Three: Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and Stellantis (Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, others). Today, President Joe Biden plans to throw his weight behind these efforts by signing an executive order that sets a goal of pushing the sales of zero-emissions vehicles to half of all vehicle sales in the U.S. by 2030.

Biden's target is not legally binding, but the industry is already jumping on board. In a joint statement, Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis confirmed that they aim to hit an EV sales volume of 40-50 percent annually. It's worth noting that the President's 50 percent goal and the automakers' sales targets also include plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use a traditional gasoline engine.


Jeep PHEV The target also includes plug-in hybrid vehicles, which still use gas engines.Jeep


Auto unions and dealers are not opposed to the ambitious roadmaps laid out by the Big Three, but both have differing views on what is essential and how things will ultimately play out. While aware of the goals, the UAW is focused on wage growth and the preservation of jobs and benefits. It feels that an increase in EV production volume must happen here in the U.S. to include good-paying American union jobs.

Dealers, to a degree, are supportive of the goals but skeptical of their ultimate success. Some feel that electric vehicles do not present the earth-shattering shift in functionality and usability that other new products, such as smartphones, did in different industries. Regardless of concerns and skepticism, it appears that automakers are going all-in on the shift to electrification, so we're bound to see a wealth of new battery-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles in the next few years.


GM battery facility rendering Automakers are pledging billions to increase EV and PHEV production volume.GM

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