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The 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody Is the Best Challenger

2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody on the track Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry | Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

While the 840-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Demon and 797-hp SRT Redeye stole the headlines, Dodge quietly slipped what I think is the best Challenger into the lineup: the 485-hp 2019 Challenger R/T Scat Pack with optional Widebody package, featuring widened fenders and tires among other features. We’ve driven this car before (on Autobahn Country Club’s track in Joliet, Ill., as well as on the street), but I recently reacquainted myself with the well-rounded Challenger Scat Pack Widebody at the Midwest Automotive Media Association’s 2019 Spring Rally, hosted at Wisconsin’s Road America. It may not be the fastest or most powerful in the lineup, but I think it’s the best Challenger since this muscle car’s reintroduction.

Related: 2019 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack, Hellcat and New Redeye Preview

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What the Scat Pack Widebody does when the road bends is far more enjoyable than the narrow-body version, and having 200-300 fewer ponies than supercharged Challengers also means this version doesn’t hate tires like Challenger Hellcats. The $6,000 Widebody package on top of the $41,740 R/T Scat Pack adds adaptive shock absorbers and bigger brakes, though perhaps the most transformative feature are 305-mm-wide tires stuffed under four widened fenders, which are especially apparent on a track with twisties. The 305 in the tire size (305/35R20) is the tire’s width in millimeters, and the Widebody’s 305-mm tires replace 275-mm-wide tires of the now-discontinued SRT 392, and the hilariously undersized (for 485 hp) standard 245-mm-wide tires of the Scat Pack R/T (275-mm tires are available in an optional package).

2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody at Autobahn Country Club Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry | Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

The Scat Pack Widebody is lighter than its Hellion counterpart by 162 pounds, and perhaps most important, its handling balance is improved with less fat over the nose sans supercharger and accompanying cooling equipment. The front wheels turn with more crispness and eagerness, and weight distribution is 55/45 percent front/rear versus 57/43 for the Hellcat. You can get on the accelerator sooner in the R/T Scat Pack Widebody versus a Hellcat, and overall you have more comfort with the pedal instead of trepidation not knowing just how badly you’ll be spinning in the grass in the Hellcat. And there’s no comparison that the R/T Scat Pack Widebody is a superior handling car against the 245-mm-wide version, which is about as reluctant turning into corners as a toddler is getting into a car seat after being given the purple bottle instead of the red one.

2019 Dodge Challenger steering wheel Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry | Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

I was a judge during our V-8 Muscle Car Challenge that featured the Challenger, Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro test, where the Challenger R/T Scat Pack’s standard skinny tires looked like they were pleading for mercy under the massive Challenger body and hindered pretty much all testing — acceleration and braking on the drag strip and handling on the road course — though it was entertaining barking the tires in each gear down the drag strip with the six-speed manual transmission.

2019 Dodge Challenger Widebody rear tires and fender Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry | Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

When those 305-mm-wide tires are the optional Pirelli P-Zero summer tires ($695), the 485-hp, 6.4-liter V-8 finally has an effective way to channel its power to the ground, benefitting straight-line traction as well as handling grip, of which there is plenty. The wide tires are appropriate rubber that let all 485 hp and 475 pounds-feet of torque stick to the ground rather than turn tires into pulverized, smoking rubber like the narrow-tire cars do. It’s still easy to burn rubber at will, which I enjoy (and hate cleaning chunks of it out of wheel wells) as much as anyone, but when you want to go fast, there’s more control under your right foot.

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Being the best Challenger doesn’t mean perfection, however. The Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody is still the most traditional of the muscle cars and isn’t totally at home on a road circuit like the lighter, nimbler Chevrolet Camaro SS and Ford Mustang GT, though it’s worlds better than what we had before. The $6,000 Widebody package is without a doubt a must-have package if you must have a Challenger Scat Pack. And despite those meats on the front wheels, the car tracks cleanly at highway speeds and doesn’t tug and pull down the road like some cars with wide front tires.

Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry 2019 Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

Really, this is the Challenger we should have had all along, finally sized with appropriate tires and more well-roundedness, both in a straight line and when the road bends. And for 2020, there’s more Widebody goodness around with the introduction of the Widebody package as standard on the 2020 Dodge Charger Hellcat, and optional on the Charger R/T Scat Pack.

Dodge Challenger grille emblem Cars.com photo by Christian Lantry | Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody

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