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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Quick Drive: 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker

      Best bang for your buck?

    I’ve driven my fair share of Challengers on both extremes - from the standard V6 to the high-performance SRT and Hellcat models. But I never had any time behind the wheel of the R/T with its 5.7 V8. That changed in the summer when a bright orange Charger R/T Shaker was dropped off for a week. This allowed me to ask a question that has been sitting in my head for some time: Is the R/T the best bang for your buck in the Challenger family?

    • The Shaker sets itself apart from other Challenger models with the use of a ‘Shaker’ scoop that prominently pops up from the hood. There is also a blackout treatment on several trim pieces and wheels that make it look even more imposing on the road.
    • Along with the scoop, the Shaker package does add a new cold-air intake seated right in front of the driver’s side corner. This addition should boost the output of the 5.7L HEMI V8 (372 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque when paired with the eight-speed automatic. But FCA’s spec sheet doesn’t say anything about the Shaker Package adding more oomph or not.
    • When you first start up the R/T Shaker, it makes presence known with a deep and loud exhaust note. I had to do a double-take the first time as I was wondering if I was given either an R/T Scat Pack or a Hellcat by mistake.
    • While it may lack the high power numbers of the 6.4 and supercharged 6.2 V8s, the 5.7 is no slouch. 60 mph comes in at just over five seconds and power is seemingly available at any speed.
    • My tester came with the optional Performance Handling Group that adds upgraded springs, sway bars, and a set of Bilstein shocks. This does improve the handling by a fair amount with less body roll. But it doesn’t feel nimble due to a curb weight of around 4,158 pounds. The steering has a quick response, but there is a noticeable lack of road feedback. If you want your muscle car to have some handling, consider the Camaro or Mustang.
    • Nothing new to report on the Challenger’s interior. It still has the angled center stack, retro-inspired gauges, and easy to use UConnect infotainment system. The seats are where the Challenger loses some points as it feels like you’re sitting on top of cinderblocks.
    • The Shaker package is surprisingly good value, adding $2,500 to the base price of the R/T which begins at $34,295. But you’ll need to be careful on the option sheet, or you’ll end up with something quite expensive. My tester came with an as-tested price of $46,555, which is $300 more than an R/T Scat Pack Widebody with the 6.4 HEMI V8. 
    • The Dodge Challenger is getting up there in age and sadly cannot compete with the likes of the Camaro and Mustang in terms of handling. But Dodge is still able to offer a lot of performance in the form of the R/T. With a potent V8 engine, old school styling, and different packages like the Shaker to make your Challenger stand out, the R/T is possibly the best value and well-rounded model in the lineup.

    Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Challenger, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas

    Year: 2019
    Make: Dodge
    Model: Challenger
    Trim: R/T
    Engine: 5.7 HEMI VVT V8 Engine
    Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
    Horsepower @ RPM: 372 @ 5,200
    Torque @ RPM: 400 @ 4,400
    Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 16/25/19
    Curb Weight: 4,158 lbs
    Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario
    Base Price: $34,295
    As Tested Price: $46,555 (Includes $1,495.00 Destination Charge)

    Options:
    "Shaker" Package - $2,500.00
    TorqueFlite Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission - $1,595.00
    Performance Handling Group - $1,495.00
    Driver Convenience Group - $1,295.00
    Power Sunroof - $1,295.00
    UConnect 4C Nav with 8.4-inch Display - $1,095.00
    Alpine Sound Group with Subwoofer - $995.00
    Shakedown Graphics - $495.00

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    Sexy as Hell, if I was wanting a weekend play thing for the wife and I, I would buy this over the Ford or Chevy as it looks much better than the bunker look of Chevy or the meh ford.

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    Love. This. Car.

    Still one of my favorite rentals, and put 5,900 miles on a 2017 Challenger R/T Hemi base with no options...LOVED it. Comfy. Solid. Hemi. Perfect 8 speed. Useful daily, without being a slot car.

    And, oddly enough, the best gas mileage recorded in any rental, 29.6 mpg from western PA back to Philly...back in 2017. Great car.

    Had another recently, in July, an AWD 3.6L...and loved it too. Sharp, quick, smooth, felt powerful, moreso than a RWD V6 I had before. Always a fave.

    Oldie but a goodie...

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    The base cloth seats are certainly nothing to write home about, and the headrests are just old blocks that don't adjust much (that did bug me), but comfy is this car's mantra.

    Touch it up with a few more new things, or even the commonly optioned leather/alcantara seats with bigger bolsters, etc. and you're still good to go.

    Can't go wrong with this platform. In a world of tiny turbos, bizarre transmissions, etc., a well baked RWD gut that's beyond proven, a perfect ZF originated 8 speed, still up to date features, etc. they're in their own class. Pardon me, while I go try to see if I can get a rental one again......

    Edited by caddycruiser
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