The latter half of the oughts have seen the Detroit automakers come out swinging with their muscle cars. General Motors has gone crazy with the Camaro, while Ford keeps amping up the Mustang. Dodge has been quietly working on improving the Challenger for the most part - and of course introducing the Hellcat V8. But while the Hellcat has taken the spotlight for the Challenger, it has put other Challenger models in the shadow. That’s kind of a shame since Dodge has worked on bettering the Challenger with major improvements and new trims. To find out whether or not other Challenger models deserve a spot in the light, I spent some time in a 2015 Challenger SRT.
Looking at the Challenger SRT, you can’t help but think that Dodge issued an edict to its designers saying to keep the basic shape of the original Challenger, but bring it into the 21st century. It seems the edict worked as the current Challenger holds true to the original name-bearer. From the gun-barrel headlights and split grille lines; to the short rear deck and distinctive rear light setup: There is very much a clear lineage to the original Challenger. The SRT tester was draped in a Billet Silver paint color with black strips, and a set of 20-inch forged wheels wearing a coat of black which adds bit of aggression.
One of the biggest problems for the pre-refreshed Challenger was its interior. A somewhat plain looking dashboard was mixed with cheap plastics mostly common in compacts from the eighties and a steering wheel that felt more at home in a tractor than a muscle car. But with the refreshed Challenger, Dodge fixed many problems. To start, the dashboard has been completely re-worked with a new design that angles the center stack towards the driver and boasts better materials such as brushed plastic trim, aluminum, and soft-touch materials. Paired with a smaller steering wheel and a set of supportive bucket seats with extra side bolstering to keep you in place, help make the Challenger SRT a very special place indeed.
For Powertrain and Handling Thoughts, See the Next Page
Power for the Challenger SRT comes from 6.4L HEMI V8 engine with 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque. This can be paired up to either a six-speed manual or my tester’s eight-speed automatic. If you ever wondered what a 70’s muscle car was like, just go for a drive or ride in the SRT. The V8 growls when you start it up or sit at a stop. Plant your foot onto the pedal and the V8 roars to life. Thrust from the V8 engine is able to move the 4,251 pound vehicle like it was nothing. The eight-speed automatic is an excellent partner to V8 as it provides rapid-fire up or downshifts and is able to respond to the needs of driver, whether driving like a mad man or normal. Fuel economy is rated at 15 City/25 Highway/18 Combined. I saw an average of 17 MPG for a week.
A big complaint of the Challenger is that compared to its contemporaries - Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang - is that it doesn’t have the nimble handling characteristics. I can see that because the Challenger is not only heavier, but also slightly larger that its competitors. Here are the measurements:
Overall Length and Wheelbase:
Dodge Challenger: 197.9 inches, 116.2 inches
Chevrolet Camaro: 190.6 inches, 112.3 inches
Ford Mustang: 188.3 inches, 107.1 inches
Dodge Challenger: 75.7 inches
Chevrolet Camaro: 75.5 to 76.9 (Z/28) inches
Ford Mustang: 75.4 inches
Dodge Challenger: 3,834 to 4,449 pounds
Chevrolet Camaro: 3,702 to 4,149 pounds*
Ford Mustang: 3,526 to 3,729*
(*Camaro and Mustang's curb weight are only for coupes)
Now the suspension has one other trick up its sleeve. Put it into normal or comfort, and the Challenger becomes an excellent long-distance cruiser. The suspension in either mode is able to soak up bumps with almost no problem. Wind and road noise is kept a decent level, despite the shape of the Challenger.
The Challenger SRT has one big problem and that happens to be the Challenger R/T Scat Pack model. For $7,500 less than the base price of the SRT, you pretty much get everything except the adjustable. This begs the question whether the SRT model is worth the extra change? At the moment, I would say yes because the suspension makes a big difference in how the Challenger handles.
But the nevertheless, the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT is huge step in the right direction. It might not have all of the agility or lighter weight that the likes of the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang, but it definitely has the performance soul to match and/or exceed either one of those. To sum up the Challenger, I liken it to that quiet guy at the bar. You know the one who sitting there quietly, enjoying their drink, and wanting no part in what's taking place. But if provoked, he will smash your head into a door.
Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Challenger SRT, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Trim: SRT 392
Engine: 6.4L HEMI V8
Driveline: Eight-Speed Automatic, Rear-Wheel Drive
Horsepower @ RPM: 485 @ 6,100
Torque @ RPM: 475 @ 4,200
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined -
Curb Weight: 4,251 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario
Base Price: $44,995
As Tested Price: $49,675 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
TorqueFlite Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission - $1,400.00
Technology Group - $995.00
UConnect 8.4AN AM/FM/SXM/HD/BT/NAV - $695.00
Twin Center Black Stripes - $595.00