The Challenger's low athletic ride is pronounced by the wide, full-width grille. Be careful entering and exiting driveways; that front chin spoiler is prone to scraping.
The amount of attention we got while driving the Challenger was unprecedented. Everywhere we went, people wanted to stop and talk about this car. Some even asked for pictures!
The Challenger's clean body looks as good from the side as from the front. A single crease flowing uninterrupted from the nose to the tail rises to accent the Challenger's muscular rear fenders.
While the Challenger's style and panache is decidedly old-school, the technology underlying it is as modern as it gets, as indicated by these xenon HID headlamps.
There's no question about what the Challenger's packing under the hood. Tough-looking hood scoops and 6.1L HEMI badging let would-be challengers--pun intended--know that this Dodge means business.
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 chrome-detailed fuel-filler cap is a beautiful detail. That's a good thing, because you'll be seeing it often, thanks to the Challenger SRT8's low fuel economy.
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.
The wide, low theme is continued on the Challenger's tail end with this full-width light and reflector assembly.
SRT8 versions of the Challenger receive this tasteful black-lip spoiler. We're not sure how much it helps aerodynamically, but we love the way it looks.
Unlike many high-performance sports cars, the Challenger features a big, functional trunk.
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.
An LCD display at the bottom of the speedometer shows vehicle information, navigation instructions, and, in SRT8 trim, a performance meter that measures G-forces and acceleration.
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.
Tucked in the center console is a 30-pin iPod-dock connector. Here we have an iPod Touch connected.
When playing music from an iPod or the hard-drive, the UConnect system allows quick browsing of artist, genre, and album, along with many more criteria.
The UConnect system comes with a one-year subscription to Sirius satellite radio. While the interface for searching channels is a bit odd, the system is easy to use and well integrated.
The Challenger's GPS navigation features attractive graphics and easily readable text.
The navigation menu offers many options for finding where you are and where you want to be. Big virtual buttons and crisp text are easy to read and touch.
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.
Hidden behind the motorized faceplate is the CD/DVD slot. The UConnect system can rip audio tracks from CDs or playback MP3-encoded discs.
Hidden beneath a faux-button, the UConnect system has a USB port. Audio files can be copied from USB devices to the hard drive, but--in our experience--not played back directly from a device.
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.
The SRT leather seats feature two-level heating for both the driver and the passenger.