The rear-wheel-drive two-door Dodge Challenger is a beast that competes with the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro.
There’s something undeniably great about the Challenger. There is nothing subtle about it, from its wide tires to an available purple paint job. It’s meant to go fast and attract attention. It can be a monster in a straight line, and goes around corners well enough to be acceptable. After all, the chassis has been around for nearly two decades.
Judged objectively, the Challenger can’t run with these smaller, nimbler and more graceful cars. But in the world of muscle cars, it’s about brand loyalty. A MoPar guy just isn’t going to buy a Ford or Chevy, at least not without feeling like a turncoat. The comparisons will and should continue, but we doubt if they’ll have much effect on buyers.
Base engine is the SXT’s 3.6-liter V6 making 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque, followed by the Challenger R/T’s 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 375 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. The R/T Scat Pack and SRT 392 use a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 making 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet. Finally there’s the Challenger Hellcat’s supercharged 6.2-liter V8 making a mind-blowing 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. It’s the most powerful American car in history. It can blast down the quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds and hit a top speed of 200 mph. Take that, Mustang and Camaro.
The standard transmission in the Challenger is an 8-speed automatic, but the V8s can come with a 6-speed manual. The R/T and SRT are opposite.
For 2017, the Hellcat gets new wheels, and all models except the base SXT get infotainment upgrades with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity. In the center of the steering wheel on SRT models, there’s now a white LED logo for Hellcats and red one for 392s. Other than that there are no real changes for 2017.
A Challenger V6 achieves an EPA-rated 30 miles per gallon Highway, and the V8s can get 25 mpg.
In crash testing, the NHTSA gives Challenger five stars overall, with four stars for frontal collision and rollover. The IIHS gives top Good scores for moderate overlap front and side impacts, but only Marginal in the difficult small-overlap front collision test, with Acceptable grades for roof strength head restraint security. Automatic emergency braking isn’t available on the Challenger.