The Dodge Demon's Eco mode makes 500 horsepower

Plus more of the drag car's insane facts and figures.

Chris Paukert Former executive editor / Cars
Following stints in TV news production and as a record company publicist, Chris spent most of his career in automotive publishing. Mentored by Automobile Magazine founder David E. Davis Jr., Paukert succeeded Davis as editor-in-chief of Winding Road, a pioneering e-mag, before serving as Autoblog's executive editor from 2008 to 2015. Chris is a Webby and Telly award-winning video producer and has served on the jury of the North American Car and Truck of the Year awards. He joined the CNET team in 2015, bringing a small cache of odd, underappreciated cars with him.
Chris Paukert
2 min read

The splashy headline numbers for Dodge's new 2018 Challenger SRT Demon are 840, 9.65 and 140, respectively. Those are its horsepower rating, quarter-mile elapsed time and the speed at which it blows through the timing lights. Those are absurd, never-before-seen numbers for a bone-stock production car. And yet, there are many more jaw-slackening numbers that Dodge hasn't talked about yet.

I caught Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger car brands at Fiat Chrysler, while he was at the New York auto show, and asked him for some other figures. He was an enthusiastic fountain, and here are some of his most interesting revelations.

  • On Eco mode: "In Eco mode, [the Demon] skips first gear and launches in second gear. It only puts out -- and this is crazy -- 500 horsepower. So we said, 'Hey, what does this car run in Eco mode?' Dodge's version of Eco mode? The car runs 11.59 in the quarter." (We didn't get into mundanities like fuel economy figures, but it sounds like eco mode may be the setting of choice for street use either way, as it clearly has plenty of power.)
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Apparently, the Challenger SRT Demon is loony fun in all of its drive modes.

  • On Valet mode: "Valet mode -- where you put a code in -- it knocks you back to, essentially, 300 horsepower, and won't let you do a burnout... it will control ESP and traction control so it won't allow you to do a burnout. At 300 horsepower, you could still do a burnout, so we don't want them doing that. Those tires aren't cheap."
  • On how the Demon will handle away from the drag strip: "Because of all the tuning that we've done on the suspension, and all the development work that went into the tire package, this car will actually pull 1 g on the skidpad. So the handling of it is amazing. The braking, it will brake from 60 to 0 in 97 feet. It'll actually brake harder and faster than a Viper ACR, so it's an amazing on-road muscle car, and you can go to the track and run times that no one else has ever run."'

2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon is the most powerful muscle car ever

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  • On the life expectancy of its specially designed Nitto NT05R 315/40R18 street-legal drag radials in regular street use: "They have a treadwear rating of zero-zero [00], so, not a lot. Thousands of miles, but that's about it."
  • On performance on street gas, without Demon Crate upgrades: "If you drive this off the showroom floor, don't cool it down, run pump gas, drive it to the track, and just roll up to the starting line and go, the car runs 9.96 at 136 [mph]. It's still banned by the NHRA. It still puts out 808 horsepower. And it still pulls the front end. It still does a wheelie."

My takeaway from all of this? It won't take a box of goodies, a drag strip or even a particular drive mode for the Dodge Demon to deliver startling performance. Fast is fast.