With its sculpted intake manifold, the 6.1-liter HEMI V-8 is a work of modern art hiding beneath the hood. What's not visible in this picture is the Hemi Orange painted-engine block. More than just a pretty face, the engine delivers 425 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque when the accelerator is stomped.
The SRT8's big 20-inch wheels measure 9 inches wide and are wrapped in performance rubber. Our vehicle came with optional staggered tire sizes, with even wider tires in the back. Tucked inside the wheels are big Brembo brakes with rotors larger than most cars' wheels!
Making sure the rubber stays firmly planted on the road is the job of the independent rear suspension and the premium coilover dampers at all four corners. Thanks to this combination of wide, sticky tires and modern suspension tech, the Challenger SRT8 is the best-handling American muscle ever.
With as much tech power in the cabin as horsepower under the hood, the Challenger is as much fun to sit in as it is to drive. Unfortunately, inconsistent build quality and cheap plastic in many places dampen the cabin experience.
The meaty leather-wrapped steering wheel feels good when whipping the Challenger around curves. The face buttons are easy to access with the thumbs, but the lack of a voice-recognition button slightly limits the functionality.
The Challenger's instrument cluster features white gauge faces with bold, retro text. The slightly greenish electroluminescent illumination looks almost cheap at night, but goes well with the high-tech retro theme.
The six-speed pistol-grip transmission is a $700 option, but we think it's worth every penny. With a heavy, easy-to-modulate clutch pedal and a fantastic shifter with notchy, positive engagement, nailing a perfect shift in the Challenger is a rewarding experience.
The centerpiece of the Challenger's tech experience is the touch-screen UConnect system. With a 30GB internal hard-drive and a beautiful and responsive UI, we're surprised to find a system this good in a muscle car.
The UConnect GPS features Sirius Traffic integration and comes with a 1-year subscription. Traffic data can be overlaid onto the map or viewed in a list. The combined Sirius Radio and Traffic packages are valued at about $200.
Almost every aspect of the UConnect system can be voice commanded. Unfortunately, the lack of a steering wheel-mounted Speech button means that drivers will have to reach past the touch screen to activate the system, which sort of defeats the purpose. Once activated, the system gives onscreen prompts of available commands, eliminating guesswork.
SRT leather seats are deeply bolstered, but not uncomfortably narrow like the seats in many Japanese and European sports cars. Suede inserts help keep your rear end in place and an accent stripe classes up the look.