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  • William Maley
    William Maley

    Review: 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT 392

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      Blending Old and New School


    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.

    2015 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 2

    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.

    2015 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 14

    My test Challenger featured the excellent Uconnect infotainment system with the 8.4-inch touchscreen. I have praised the system for being very easy to use and quick to respond. But on the Challenger SRT, Uconnect gets an extra component. Under the screen is a SRT button which brings up a special SRT section. This section allows you to customize settings for the power and adjustable suspension, provide extra gauges such as oil pressure and temperature; and give performance data such 0-60 and quarter-mile times. It's a nice touch for those who go for the SRT model.

    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

    Overall Width:

    Dodge Challenger: 75.7 inches

    Chevrolet Camaro: 75.5 to 76.9 (Z/28) inches

    Ford Mustang: 75.4 inches

    Curb Weight:

    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)

    2015 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 11

    Dodge and SRT has been working on this with an adjustable suspension system. For 2015, the system has been tweaked to provide more settings and more stiffness when you put it into sport mode. Does it make a difference? It does up to a point. The suspension isn’t fully able hide the weight and size, but it does a surprisingly excellent job of reducing it. Also, the suspension deserves a round of applause for making the Challenger feel more nimble than it should. Driving the Challenger on a curvy road, I was surprised by how fast I could go in corners. Some of the credit should also go the steering which has excellent feel and weight.

    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.

    2015 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 7

    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

    Year: 2015

    Make: Dodge

    Model: Challenger

    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)

    Options:

    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

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    Recommended Comments

    I can only imagine walking out of my apartment and seeing this in my parking space. I absolutely admire this car!! It has so many awesome features and the looks turn heads everywhere the thing goes. It's like driving a Lamborghini for the price of a Porsche and having improved gas mileage.

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    This a fantastic car, but the grill irks me for some reason.

    Looking back at it, I think what irks you is what bothers me about it. Looks a bit cheap as an after thought generic plastic grill. They could have done something a bit better I think.

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    Guest bender

    Posted

    I just traded in my 13 r/t classic for a 15 392 srt and I cannot be happier, it is as fun to drive as it sounds and looks, the only thing I do not like is the nervous feelings I get when my wife is behind the wheel.

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    This review captures the essence of the new Challenger really well. It's an old school bruiser and the refresh tweaked the design in JUST the right ways. I'm also a huge fan of the 392 Hemi. I think that's the sweet spot for this car.

     

    I'd go as far as to say that if Chrysler had released this design and interior when they shuffled the powertrains and introduced the Pentastar V6, it very well could have shaken up the pony/muscle car wars.

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    • By William Maley
      For the past decade, Acura has felt lost at sea. Not sure of what it wanted to be as a brand. This was shown by mixed messaging in their lineup as they weren’t sure to focus on luxury, technology, or sport. This muddled mess of identities would cause a fair amount of issues. But in the past couple of years, Acura started to get its act together thanks in part to new leadership. The first fruits of their efforts came last year in the form of the third-generation RDX. 
      It has been over two years since I last drove an Acura, so when the opportunity for an RDX A-Spec landed on my desk, I took it with both hands. It was time to see what Acura has been up to and if they’re taking a step in the right direction. 
      You Want Presence? You Got It!
      The RDX is the first production model to feature Acura’s newest design language and its no shrinking violet. The front end draws your attention with a large trapezoidal grille paired with a massive Acura emblem. Sitting on either side is Acura’s Jewel-Eye LED headlights that add a distinctive touch. My A-Spec tester takes it further with distinctive front and rear bumpers, 20-inch alloy wheels finished in black, and a special Apex Blue Pearl color that is only available on this trim. This crossover garnered a lot of looks during the week I had, something I hadn’t experience in quite some time.
      Cozy, Polarizing Interior
      The RDX’s interior captures the feeling of being in a sports car with a symmetrical dashboard design that cocoons the front passengers. A rotary drive-mode selector found in the center stack echos the design found in the NSX supercar. While it does emphasize the sporty nature of the vehicle, the position of the knob does make the climate controls a bit hard to reach. A-Spec models have some special touches such as red contrast stitching, a suede panel on the passenger side of the dashboard, and new trim for the instrument cluster that help it stand out. Material and build quality are quite close to some competitors from Germany.
      A set of sport seats with increased bolstering and power adjustments come standard on the A-Spec. I found them to be quite comfortable for any trip length and were able to hold me if I decided to be a bit enthusiastic. Back seat passengers will be plenty comfortable with an abundance of head and legroom. I would have like to see the back seat be able to slide forward and back to offer more comfort. Cargo space is towards the top of the class with 29.5 cubic feet with the rear seats up and 58.9 when folded. There’s also a little storage nook under the cargo floor to stash valuables.
      Intuitive Infotainment?
      Acura’s previous infotainment system drew a lot of ire from people. The dual-screen layout was confusing as some functions were split between the two screens such as changing the audio input. Not helping was the two different control methods for this setup; touchscreen for the bottom portion and a controller for the top screen. Thankfully, Acura has introduced a new infotainment system for the RDX. A large 10.2-inch screen sits on top of the dash and is controlled by a touchpad on the center console. Seeing the touchpad for the first time sent chills down my spine as I thought back to my frustrating experiences with Lexus’ Touchpad Controller. But Acura says this controller is much easier and logical to use than competitors. Okay, challenge accepted.
      Acura’s touchpad controller is slightly different from Lexus’ setup as it is mapped to the screen. So if you want to access the navigation, you tap that part of the pad that corresponds to the screen. This removes the dragging of the finger across the touchpad to get it to the selection you want. This seems quite logical on paper, but I found to be somewhat frustrating. It took me a few days to mind-meld with the system as I was still used to dragging my finger across the touchpad to select various functions. This made simple tasks such as changing presets or moving around in Apple CarPlay very tough.
      There is also a smaller touchpad that controls a small section of the screen. This allows you to scroll through three menus - audio, navigation, and clock. This would prove to be the most frustrating aspect of this system as it didn’t always recognize whenever I scroll down on the touchpad to move to another screen.
      Thankfully, Acura has left a number of physical controls for the audio and climate systems. I’m glad that some luxury automakers aren’t falling into the trap.
      Powertrain Goes Back To Its Roots
      The RDX has always found itself with a different powertrain throughout its various generations. The first version used a turbo-four engine, while the second-generation moved to a V6. For the third-generation, Acura went back to the RDX’s roots and settled on another turbo-four engine. The 2.0L engine punches out 272 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. This is paired with a 10-speed automatic and either front or my tester’s Super-Handling all-wheel drive system.
      The turbo-four is quite a potent engine with little turbo lag when leaving a stop and a seemingly endless amount of power for any situation. The ten-speed automatic is very smooth and quick when upshifting. But it does stumble somewhat when you need a quick shot of speed. 
      I did notice that the 2.0L turbo isn’t a quiet engine when traveling on the expressway, going above 2,000 rpm when traveling at 70 mph. This may explain the slightly disappointing 21.7 mpg average I got during the week. EPA fuel economy figures for the A-Spec SH-AWD are 21 City/26 Highway/23 Combined. The standard RDX models see a small bump in their EPA fuel economy figures.
      Capable Driver
      Acura is no stranger to building a crossover that is good to drive, the larger MDX crossover is a prime example. But the RDX A-Spec takes that a step further. This version gets a slightly stiffer suspension setup which negates a fair amount of body roll on a winding road. The steering firms up nicely when pushed through corners. When going through the daily grind, the RDX A-Spec will let in a few more bumps and road imperfections due to its suspension tuning. Road and wind noise are kept to very minimal levels.
      Welcome Back Acura
      The 2020 RDX shows that Acura is starting to figure out what it wants to be; a brand that offers something playful in the class. The RDX certainly has the qualities with a bold exterior, punchy turbo-four, and a surprising chassis that offers sporty handling and a mostly-comfortable ride. The slightly-confounding infotainment system and poor fuel economy figures do sour it a bit. But the RDX is a very compelling alternative to many compact luxury crossovers.
      It does give me hope that Acura is figuring out who it wants to be and excited to see what comes down the road such as the new TLX.
      How I Would Configure An RDX: For me, I would basically take the exact RDX tester seen here. That will set me back $47,195 after adding destination and $400.00 paint option. Everyone else should look at the Technology package that will get you most of the safety equipment that is part of Acurawatch, along with a 12-speaker ELS audio system, navigation, and parking sensors. It will not break the bank at $41,000 for FWD or $43,000 for AWD.
      Disclaimer: Acura Provided the RDX, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
      Year: 2020
      Make: Acura
      Model: RDX
      Trim: A-Spec
      Engine: Turbocharged 2.0L DOHC 16-Valve VTEC Four-Cylinder
      Driveline: 10-Speed Automatic, All-Wheel Drive
      Horsepower @ RPM: 272 @ 6,500
      Torque @ RPM: 280 @ 1,600 - 4,500
      Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 21/26/23
      Curb Weight: 4,015 lbs
      Location of Manufacture: East Liberty, Ohio
      Base Price: $45,800
      As Tested Price: $47,195 (Includes $995.00 Destination Charge)
      Options:
      Premium Exterior Color - $400.00

      View full article
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