Roadshow Video Reviews
2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8A member of the pony car stable with undeniable style - and a need for a tech refresh.
-A few years ago, all the retro pony cars seemed to have come back and everybody was in love with the 70's again. Let's see if that decade lives as well as it reads as we drive the 2013 Challenger SRT8 392 Hemi, the big boy, and check the tech. Now, to my eye, the Challenger is perhaps the nicest looking of the retro pony cars from almost every angle until you swing around the rear then it gets about as big and tall and thick as a building in the middle of the plains. I don't know what happened back there. Now, an SRT8 means several specific things. Most importantly, a 6.4 Hemi, not a 5.7. As if that's not enough, adaptive suspension on all four corners, limited slip in the rear, launch control, 20s underneath those big wide tires, a unique interior, and of course, a little different body thing. Now, inside, I find the Challenger to be one of the less attractive of the cars in its class. This is a lot of cheap, plastic and acres of it with not a lot of distinguishing detail. SRT8s have this special kind of velour interior with this kind of leather bolstering. The red is not necessary. You can change up the color scheme and the gauges, to me, are pretty damn ugly with that silver and red and blue, and all these busy little patterns that say, "Race Car." Let's get to the tech, though. We have the upgraded head unit. This is called the 730N. It's the largest and most well-equipped of your options. 6-1/2-inch touchscreen and I wanna point out, the touch response is outstanding. It is one of the quickest this side of a Hyundai, Kia which is my normal favorite for fast touch response. Now, for sources, as you can see, you've got a hard drive here. I'm not normally big on that. For what it's worth, you have 20 gigabytes available to you. The other 20 are for the NAV system. Optical disc lives up here, peekaboo style behind the screen. We have satellite radio, of course, which powers our satellite traffic on the navigation system. Here's the main menu for NAV. As you can see, this is the older system. This is not the big Uconnect that they're putting into more recently revised Chrysler products. This has been getting awards for the most easy to use navigations, Garmin stuff. The menuing is very clear. It's not a sexy interface by any stretch, but you know what, it works. Now, you can also use voice command if you can figure it out. Here's the voice button. And here's the voice button. After a day with the car, I can't recall which one owns which functions. Between them, though, you can use voice to run the bluetooth handsfree system obviously, the navigation system and call out certain functions of the entertainment system, just keep pushing on both 'til you get the right one. Now, along with the 730N top head unit, you also have to go with the Harman Kardon audio upgrade. Two subs in the doors, two subs in the back, 18 speakers, 900 watts. That is not all that unusual. What is, is that the audio amplification, the output side, is 32-volt. Remember, cars are 12-volt. They have been, since cave men were driving them. So, what's happening here is they're moving toward a higher voltage that can allow you to achieve higher current levels which is really important for low-end in particular and do so with the same wiring or an even thinner wiring that weighs less and takes up less space. This is the only piece of technology in a car I've yet encountered with 32-volt. It's interesting. Another key part of the interface on this car is the hidden buttons. It's a big Chrysler thing. Back here, you've got a button and then a rocker above and below it mostly for operating your media controls, like over here is my volume as well as 3 inches away, my volume. Not necessarily the most useful thing. No paddles here, of course. We have a manual. This is the six-speed manual that is based on these cars. You can option up to an automatic when you would have paddles on the wheel. Don't do that. Okay, the heart of big dummy is this engine, the 6.4-liter Hemi, not the 5.7. This one makes that one looks smallish. No blower. No turbo. No direct injections. It's just a big ole high-displacement V8 with hemispherical combustion chambers. And Hemi, by the way, is a Chrysler trademark, though other cars have hemispherical combustion chambers. The numbers: 470 horsepower, 470-foot pounds of torque, 0 to 60 for this 4200-pound car, 4.8 or so, while getting you 14/23 MPG, that's bad enough to earn you $1000 gas guzzler tax. The power always goes out on an SRT8 through that six-speed manual with a pistol grip out to a limited slip rear end. You can get an automatic in a Hemi V8 Challenger, but you've gotta drop this guy out of SRT class to the 5.7 Hemi and then you can get your automatic and it's only a five-speed. The thing that impresses me first but not in a good way is the ride quality is horrendous. It's jouncy. It's kind of unrefined. It's not a pleasant car to drive. And I don't feel like it's a very good performance suspension because of all those unmanaged sort of dynamics that I'm getting. The exhaust note is nice. The clutch and the transmission interaction are pretty good. You do not have any option for rearview camera and I don't know if you could see, but there's a big ole [unk] back there on those-- one of those C-Pillars and they are pretty massive. I can't see a hell of a lot out of this vehicle, so I could use a backup camera. This performance features menu here is one that, again, if I was on a track, I could do something with, but it lets me setup trap times for quarter mile, eight miles, 0 to 60, so lots of track tools in this car that, again, if you have access to a track and you do that kind of thing, you've got a real tool kit here to work with. Okay, let's price this top of the stack challenger SRT8 with the manual. It's the only way you can get the 6.4. It's gonna run you about $44,700 or so with destination. Add into that $790 for that head unit which, given the price, I would do. The $2000 option is the Harman Kardon audio. If you like thump, it's got a ton of it and the only other charge, not an option, it's standard, is the gas guzzler tax of $1000 bucks. All in, we're somewhere around $48,500. Now, the Challenger has a role in the world. It's a somewhat unique pony car in this revival area of elephant motors. Take it as a dragster you can take to work and it may fit the bill.