Following the success of Ford's retro Mustang design, Dodge revived the Challenger, a muscle car originally produced from 1970 to 1974. The new version not only updates the look, but updates the tech as well.
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The Challenger comes in three trims, SE, R/T, and SRT8, ranging in price from the low 20s to about $40,000. Each trim has its own engine, starting with a V-6 up to a V-8.
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The SRT8 comes with the monster 6.1-liter V-8 producing 425 horsepower. It rumbles nicely, but other automakers have hit that amount of power and beyond with less displacement, through the use of direct injection and forced air induction.
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The Challenger is a coupe with distinctive retro looks. The side mirrors sit on struts in a style not seen for decades. The headlights bookend the grille, the entire structure neatly framed by hood and bumper.
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The SRT8 comes standard with Brembo brakes, providing the necessary stopping power for the engine's 425 horsepower. We also like how easy it is to modulate the brakes, applying partial stopping power to bleed off speed.
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The ride quality in the Challenger SRT8 is surprisingly good, as is the handling. Dodge uses an independent suspension, as opposed to the original car's live axles.
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We like how the trunk lid extends to the base of the rear window, providing an accessible load area.
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The sport seats in the SRT8 are comfortable and enveloping, but some of the dashboard treatment looks a little cheap.
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Bucket seats in the rear are actually usable, although, as it is a coupe, access is limited.
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These white-face dials are a nice retro touch to the car, but a modern feature is the performance computer, which measures zero-to-60 mph time, lateral g-forces, and stopping distance.
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The six-speed manual transmission is a very necessary option, as a five-speed automatic comes standard.
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The maps show good resolution, but the display is small and the color scheme a little cartoonish. The round cursor lets you browse the map, but we found it very sluggish.
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These buttons echo the overall graphic design of the navigation unit, which is a little cartoonish.
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Traffic data is one of the modern features of the navigation system. The system uses it to dynamically avoid traffic jams.
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As the system is hard-drive-based, Dodge reserves room for music and even a few photos.
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Dodge conveniently puts an iPod cable in the console, making it easily accessible.
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Not so convenient is the CD slot, hidden behind the LCD.
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The CD player can read MP3 tracks. The interface is usable but a little cluttered.
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Both the hard-drive-stored music and the iPod library use this interface.
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