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Long term Hellcat: Winter in Michigan

by Patrick Rall on

I acquired my 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat in late August of 2017, knowing very well that I wouldn’t have much time to enjoy the car before Michigan’s winter – and the road salt that comes with it – forced me to tuck my supercharged Mopar away until spring. I was fortunate enough to be able to drive the car until December 8th without any concern of road salt, but on the morning of December 9th, Mother Nature unleashed her icy fury on my area, burying my Hellcat in nearly a foot of snow. At the same time, the roads were coated with the muscle car-corroding salt, so my Challenger was cleaned off, loaded into a trailer and shipped off to storage for the rest of the winter of 2017-2018.

With the Hellcat Challenger packed away until spring, this installation of my long-term review doesn’t talk much about what I did what my 707hp Dodge. Instead, I will look at all of the features that I had come to appreciate in the three months of supercharged driving and how I miss them while driving something else in the snowy Michigan winter.

 The Winter Drive

I was well prepared for winter without my Hellcat thanks to my 2006 Dodge Ram 1500 Laramie.  When I got the truck, the Laramie was the top-of-the-line, so my truck is loaded (for 2006) with heated seats, heated mirrors and the standard sound system with a CD player and AM/FM radio. In addition to my truck, I also get a great many media test vehicles for reviews and as a result, I have only had to drive my truck for a total of a few weeks during the 3-month long hibernation of my Hellcat.

 

Between my Hemi Ram and the various test vehicles, I almost always had something comfortable to drive over the past few months, including loaded luxury cars, but these three months without my SRT Challenger have helped me really come to appreciate some of the premium features.

Features I Miss

First, my truck doesn’t have remote start, nor do a great many of the test cars I’ve had this winter, so unlike the Hellcat, I have to either hit the road in a cold vehicle or I have to go outside to start the vehicle to let it warm up. My Hellcat has remote start and when it is cold out, that feature automatically engages the heated steering wheel, heated seats, defroster and climate control system. My truck doesn’t have a heated steering wheel, nor did many of the test vehicles this winter, so in addition to the remote start, I missed the heated steering wheel on cold mornings.

Fortunately, one of my test vehicles this winter was the AWD Challenger GT (above), which includes many of the same comfort features as my Hellcat, but other than that car – none of my winter vehicles had all of the interior comforts of my 707-horsepower Challenger (below).

Next, my truck has a standard radio and sound system while my Hellcat has the 19-speaker Harmon Kardon sound system mated to the 8.4-inch UConnect infotainment system. I really missed the UConnect system and that HK sound system when driving my 2006 Ram 1500, and while some of the test vehicles had premium infotainment and sound systems – none of them came close to the sound quality of the Hellcat Harmon system (with the exception of the Challenger GT) or the ease of use of the 8.4-inch UConnect system. Testing so many other vehicles really makes me appreciate the UConnect system and the Harmon speaker system, especially in weather conditions where I can’t really enjoy the drive.

The Hellcat “Je Ne Sais Quoi”

In addition to the interior features that I miss when not driving my Hellcat Challenger through the winter months, there are some other intangible features that I miss when I’m driving my truck…and these are all things that other Hellcat owners will surely understand.

First and most obviously, I miss having 707 horsepower on tap whenever I want it. I miss being able to get to 60 from a stop in three and a half seconds, I miss making 0-100 runs in the seven second range and I miss the ease with which my Challenger will beat just about anything on the street. Of course, none of that really makes any difference when the roads are covered with snow, but there is no question that I miss the power of the Hellcat.

Next, I miss the way that other people stare at the car in traffic and when I roll through an area with people on the sidewalks. Everyone you go with a Hellcat – even though more than 30,000 have been sold since 2014 – the car still gets looks from everyone, everywhere. It turns heads when I am cruising on Woodward, but even when I stop to get gas or pick something up from the store, I have people staring at the car and approaching me to talk about the car. So far, that doesn’t get old, as I love my car and so do many other people.

Finally, I miss walking out of my house on a sunny day only to be greeted by my glowing Go Mango Hellcat Challenger. When I take the car to the store or a friend’s house, I look forward to seeing the car when I leave. I look forward to climbing into the driver’s seat and I look forward to the incredible roar that comes with a push of the start button.

While the Hellcat Challenger creates gobs of power, the car also seems to put off a special energy that fills me and everyone around the car with a sense of wonder – and for the past few months, I have been missing that energy dearly. I have visited the car in storage, making sure that it is safe and sound, but even letting it warm up in the garage doesn’t provide the feeling that I get when I drive my supercharged Mopar muscle car.

Fortunately, with warmer weather on the horizon, my Hellcat should be coming out of hibernation very soon and this summer should be a fun one for my Challenger, chock full of cruising, a little track testing and some exciting upgrades.

In the meantime, check out the other installations of my long term review of the 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat:

Long term test: 2017 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
Long term Hellcat: Brutal break-in
Long term Hellcat: burnouts, lighting and other Demon gadgetry
Long term Hellcat: Ceramic coating

 

Patrick Rall was raised a Mopar boy, spending years racing a Dodge Mirada while working his way through college. After spending a few years post-college in the tax accounting field, Patrick made the jump to the world of journalism and his work has been published in magazines and websites around the world.

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