The Challenger

The Dodge Challenger is an interesting car.  It’s a big car that can go fast.  Fundamentally, that makes it scary.  It’s a Muscle Car at heart.  I’m not going to bring up the original Challengers because they have nothing to do with the new ones other than some subtle character lines on the outside.

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This is the Challenger RT “Classic Package”.  Really the only thing classic about it are the throwback style wheels that remind me of all my favorite HotWheels as a kid… I have to say, I really like the look of this car.  Blood Red, with those wheels… It hits a spot with me.  Unfortunately, this car would attract way too much Cop Eye for me to ever have any fun in.    And really that “HEY LOOK AT ME!” color is just not me.  It’s not as bad as the bright Orange and Yellow Challengers, but still…. it’s pretty bad in the grand scheme of things.  I do like the look though.  Just on someone else’s car.

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Then I test drove this one.  I had driven a Challenger before, but it was a base model, with a V-6.  That car felt huge and ponderous and it didn’t feel all that great.  That hood really felt like it was way out there, and it just felt like I was piloting a barge.   This model though, was different.  The Hemi V-8 really makes this a different car.  And it was a Manual.  This one was better.  This one was the RT Shaker edition.  The Shaker as in the Hood Scoop that would shake in the originals… But it doesn’t do that on this one as the hood scoop is basically only a cold air intake.  Which is good.  But not giving you the ram air effect of the original.  So for the most part all it is about is the look.  And it looks good.  The hood scoop is very visible when you are driving.  But not really getting in the way.

This car could really get up and move thanks to the V-8 and the 6 speed manual.  It liked to chirp the tires.  It cornered flat.  It handled speed bumps very well.   And it had a big enough rear seats that two adults had no problem riding comfortably back there.  They had leg room and head room.   That’s a key factor for me.  Not that I’d be riding back there myself, but I have boys.  Big boys.

One thing I didn’t like about it, and it could probably be adjusted… The Clutch.  It’s starts off too high.  My leg had to come off the seat quite a bit to get to the clutch… And maybe that’s not such a problem.  But the clutch’s engagement was at the top.  This makes fast gear changes and any sort of smoothness pretty much just out of the question.  I’ve driven farm trucks with a more useable clutch… for me.  This is a personal taste sort of thing, but I like the clutch to do it’s thing closer to the bottom of the travel, not at the top.  And I like less travel distance in the peddle too.  So because of this, I think for the first time in my freaking life, I’d have to say I’d take the automatic.  I’m not happy about this.  And I could have just mentioned this, but in my heart I really think I’d have to take the automatic in this car.  This kinda pisses me off.  I had originally said that I could find no fault in the car… but the more I think about it the more this bothered me.  I like to do fast gear changes with a manual and the shifter was good for that… but that clutch peddle wasn’t.  For me.

Something about it though… It’s still a huge car with a long, way out there hood… which makes it difficult to really live with in the real world of parking lots and stop and go traffic.  And maybe it’s not really all that long – it just very much feels like it.  Also, it didn’t have the center mounted touch screen infotainment center, and it didn’t have a backup camera.  I think a backup camera should be required equipment on anything bigger than a Miata, but that’s just me.  But that’s not it.  The brakes are good but really not quite good enough and the handling was good, but not quite good enough.   So really the problem that I had was the Shaker was not an SRT8 Package.  The SRT8 Package really is the only way to go in the Challenger… and I can’t stress that enough.  If you are going to buy a Challenger, you have to go the extra mile and get the SRT8.  You just do.  The tighter suspension, the bigger Brembo Brakes, and the bigger 6.1 liter Hemi engine that brings the Challenger to it’s full potential.  Everything else is just less and lacking.

Now Dodge has a couple versions of the Challenger that look awesome.  The Blacktop Editions are very sexy… all blacked out and sinister with black wheels and tinted glass… They are awesome.  But they are only the RT packages.  Then there is the Redline edition, with a Red stripe around the wheels and a red stripe across the top of the car… it looks cool too, but they are only in the base V6 cars.  These are only cosmetic touches of course… and you are really paying for lesser cars, so don’t even look at them.
I’d take an RTS8, with the Shaker hood, with the Classic Package wheels, with the Blacktop appearance package over all of that, and give it a touchscreen infotainment center with XM and Nav and a backup camera.  Then… Then I’d consider the Challenger.

9 thoughts on “The Challenger”

  1. Decent cars. Chrysler’s build quality has improved of late which helps quite a bit. I actually like them better than the Camaro ( which gives me the unshakeable impression of sitting in a bathtub ) and the SRT8 package is definitely the way to go.

  2. Positives They kept it a two door unlike the “charger”. It is a nice update of the classic original,a bit to high in the body vs original. The overwhelming negative Still from the autobailout Chrysler which with GM, was redistributed billions from mom and pop investors by the administration. Thank the Almighty for Ford Mustang GT!

  3. Like the looks of the Challengers..but still in love with the 2015 Mustang! But the Challengers are a close second..

  4. I like the muscle car era MOPAR cars. I’m 63 years old and owned and competitively raced a prepped ’70 340 Plymouth Duster, 4 speed. Bought the care We blueprinted the engine and ran it in showroom stock class. The 340 horsepower was drastically under rated for insurance purposes and was very easy to build power through blueprinting. I miss that car. Excuse the trip down memory lane. To Ogre’s post:

    I agree that today, fast cars probably need to be stealthy. The “Sublime Green” of my Duster was anything but sublime and it was a cop magnet on the street. I had to limit my fun to the dragstrip. Today, guys who like to actually use the performance need something with the power and suspension, but with more sedate appearance.

    I currently drive an ’08 Mazdaspeed 3 that is highly modified. Other than the rather noticeable difference in exhaust tone, it is virtually indistinguishable from any regular mundane, silver colored, generic Mazda 3 hatchback. I like that. it is actually just about as quick as my ’70 musclecar, even after the tricks we did to it.

    Fastforward to today. The little Mazda has 96,000 trouble free miles on it even though it is probably close to 100 horsepower up over the already robust stock turbo engine. When it turns 100,000, I’ll probably sell or trade.

    Because Mazda corporate has seen fit not to continue the Speed 3 version in its current line up, I’m looking around.

    I don’t think it will be a Challenger, not even the SRT-8 (392), because of the look and all of that porky weight.

    I’m leaning strongly toward the new Chevrolet SS. Frumpy Malibu looking 4 door. But it comes with the LS3 Corvette 415 horsepower engine, Brembo brakes and a very buttoned-down suspension, lots of interior creature comfort for old dudes like me. It too, has a rather noticeable difference in exhaust tone, but otherwise would pass unnoticed on the street. I like that. Unfortunately it weighs a porky 3975 pounds, but that is still 200 less than the two door Challenger with the 392 engine.

    It is actually a rebadged Australian sourced Holden Commodore, believe it or not. But, my beloved MOPAR is now Italian owned. Life goes on.

  5. Don’t think I’d care for one of the brighter colors offered on the Challenger; as you said: Cop magnet. Same with the Chargers…although everybody who spots a late-model Charger these days immediately thinks you’re a cop. (And my local sheriff department’s – Jackson County, MO; metro Kansas City – last order of patrol cars was a batch of unmarked black Chargers that look just like your typical murdered-out street racer, complete with window tint…until the lights come on in your rear-view mirror.

    OTOH, I spotted a new Challenger at a dealership a couple of weeks ago in a sort of really dark gunmetal grey, no spoiler or racing stripes, with (I believe) the 5.7 Hemi, black chrome wheels and tinted windows. Niiiiiiice.

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