Most people who are wowed by the 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 are focused primarily on the fact that it has 1,025 horsepower – and of course they are focused on that number. The Challenger Demon 170 is the first American production car to offer more than a thousand horsepower in factory-stock form, and with the direction of the current industry, it is likely to remain the only American production car with a gasoline engine to pack more than a thousand horsepower. The engineering team did a remarkable job and the results are nothing short of legendary, but the “D170” isn’t just another Challenger with gobs of horsepower.
The team behind the 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 put just as much effort into the drivetrain components as they did the engine. Their goal was to make sure that the final Mopar muscle car of this era could actually use all of that power, so everything downstream of the supercharged, alcohol-injected Hemi has been beefed-up as well. Today, we take a close look at how the Challenger SRT Demon 170 puts the power the ground efficiently enough to run an 8-second quarter mile time in stock form.
If you missed our deep dive on how the Demon 170 engine differs from the supercharged Hemi in the 2018 Demon and current Redeye models, click here.
The transmission of the 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 is the one item in the entire drivetrain that is closely related to the unit used in the rest of the Challenger lineup. The Demon 170 uses a similar ZF 8HP90 8-speed automatic transmission as every other modern Challenger (and Charger, Durango and many other Stellantis models), but it has been upgraded in multiple ways.
First, the team refined the TransBrake feature that was introduced on the 2018 Demon, but TransBrake 2.0 is promised to be more user friendly than the original system. Many people complained that the 2018 TransBrake system was too complicated to quickly use at the starting line, so the team has addressed those issues with version 2.0.
More importantly, the Demon 170’s TransBrake 2.0 system allows the driver to make adjustments to the torque delivery, both on the launch and as they head down track. For example, if the driver finds that the Challenger is spinning on the launch, they can dial back the torque output at launch, but if the car is spinning the tires shortly after the 2-3 shift, drivers can go into the system and dial back torque levels at those points as well. This allows racers to provide their own torque management tuning at the track, based on surface conditions and other key variables.
Next, in addition to the new transmission technology, the 8HP90 in the 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 has been upgraded with an output flange that will accommodate a larger, stronger driveshaft.
The Driveshaft, Differential and Axles
The driveshaft in the 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 has a larger tube diameter, thicker tube walls and larger CV joints than the driveshaft in the 2018 Demon, leading to a 30% increase in overall strength. Seeing as how the Demon 170 offers about 22% more power than the 2018 Demon, that added strength between the transmission and rear differential is vital.
Speaking of the rear differential, it is completely new and unique compared to the Redeye or 2018 Demon diff. The case housing is made by a process called Hot Isostatic Pressing, which results in a stronger unit than traditional casting, and the Demon 170 is the first production vehicle to use this process in driveline components. In researching the process online, it looks as though Hot Isostatic Pressing has previously been used for aerospace and military products. This uniquely-crafted housing also has a 240mm ring-and-pinion, a larger input flange, a larger CV joint, a larger rear cover-mount fasteners and increased case depth, all of which lead to a differential housing that is 53% stronger than the 2018 Demon differential. The Demon 170 housing also has the Direct Connection logo stamped into the rear of the center section.
The half-shafts now feature a 43-spline design with larger CV joints on both ends, a larger inner-connecting spline and revised heat treatment – all of which make these the strongest axles on any modern Dodge product.
Like the other supercharged Dodge Challengers, the SRT Demon 170 features Bilstein adaptive-damping shocks, but the dampers in this car have been tuned to optimize weight transfer like never before. This effort is aided by springs that are 35% softer in the front and 28% softer out back along with sway bars that are 75% softer in the front and 44% softer in the rear. When the Drag Mode is selected, the front Bilstein shocks offer firm compression and soft rebound while the rear shocks are set to firm compression and firm rebound – allowing the Demon 170 to pull 1.2X 60-foot times with the front wheels in the air.
The rear suspension increases the ride height by 10 millimeters and the rear jounce travel is restricted by 17 milimeters, making plenty of room for the Mickey Thompson tires that we will talk about in the next section. Changes to the rear camber increases the contact patch of the tires under load, leading to 2.004 Gs of launch force – a number unrivaled by any production road car.
The Wheels and Tires
The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon was the first production road car to come from the factory with drag radials, which provide more grip than any normal street tire, but it is no secret that the Nittos on the 2018 Demon are far from the best drag radial on the market. On the other hand, many people would argue that the Mickey Thompson ET Streer R is the best drag radial on the market, and that is what the SRT Demon 170 comes wearing from the factory.
In stock form, the 2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170 comes with forged aluminum wheels measuring 18×8 up front and 17×11 out back. The front wheels are wrapped in Mickey Thompson 245/55R18 ET Street tires while the rears are sporting Mickey Thompson P315/50R17 ET Street R rubber.
Those who want the best possible performance will want to opt up to the Lacks Enterprises carbon fiber wheel package. The ultra lightweight wheels feature an aluminum center section and a carbon fiber barrel, held together with titanium alloy fasteners, cutting 20.12 pounds from the front end and 11.98 pounds from the back compared to the standard “street wheels” of the Challenger Hellcat Redeye Widebody.