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Roadshow Video Reviews
2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8If you've ever wanted to fall in love with a bad-boy muscle car, this is the one--and it's got tech brains, to boot. But can its tech cred and horsepower overcome its high price? Molly Wood takes a test drive.
It's big, brash, loud, and bright red. It is the opposite of subtle. It screams big hair, loud music, and irresponsible driving. Any cop worth his salt should see this car coming and pull you over for probable cause of trouble making. In some, it's just about the most fun you can have with your clothes on. It's the 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT-8. What? You were expecting someone else? Back in 2009, the Dodge Challenger was our CNET Editors' Choice muscle car. Good tech, great handling, plenty of power, great throwback looks. Those things are all still true, but fast forward a year and the Mustang and the Camaro each outsell this car by 2 to 1. So, what's missing here? I'm Molly Wood, let's get inside and check the tech. It certainly isn't missing any power. The SRT-8 option adds $10,000 to the price of a Dodge Challenger RT but it bumps you up from a 5.7-liter V8 Hemi to a 6.1-liter V8 Hemi. You also get hotter cams, revised heads, and freer flowing intake and exhaust. That gives you more horsepower because you have more to burn in this big old combustion engine. The end result, 425 horses compared to 357 in the RT. You also get 420 pounds of torque which is good for getting you from 0 to 60 in about 5.4 seconds. It's a thirsty engine, though, and to be honest, it's questionable whether the horsepower is worth the hit in fuel economy. The RT has MDS which means that engine will drop down to 4 or 6 cylinders at cruising to save on fuel economy. That doesn't happen in the SRT-8 so your fuel economy is 14/22 with a six-speed manual. That's 13/19 in an automatic. Those are not good numbers. Both the Camaro and the Mustang do better than that. Now, let's get back to that transmission. The first thing I noticed when I got into this car is that it's a good old fashion six-speed manual, not Tiptronic, no paddles on the steering wheel here, an actual clutch and an actual shifter. But you know that times have changed because this manual transmission is an option. In fact, it's a $700 option but it makes this car so much fun to drive that I would say get it. In fact, skip the $900 sunroof and get the manual instead. Now, the other thing I love about this car is that freer flowing exhaust that we mentioned because I'm pretty sure that's what's responsible for this. Now, the SRT-8 package adds the 6.5-inch touchscreen LCD for media controls and navigation. You also upgrade the stereo to add DVD, plus you get a built-in 30-gig hard drive which will hold a little over 6700 songs. You get an aux jack here, a USB connector, and Sirius satellite radio. Add the $590 media system package and then you'll get GPS navigation with integrated Sirius traffic control--more on that a little bit later. You'll also get the Bluetooth voice control features for both dialing and media controls and these are great, plus you'll get an iPod adaptor here. Now, if you add the SRT-2 package for another $700, then you get the bumpin' stereo with some pretty ridiculous bass. Now, the touchscreen navigation on this system is absolutely a joy to use. It's actually one of the cleanest I've seen. The buttons are nice and big. No matter what mode you're in, you have these nice big touch buttons. One note about the nav, though, although the maps are crisp, the interface is really easy, I have a hard time at this point in the technological universe justifying upgrading to a navigation package that doesn't even do turn-by-turn directions as well as my Android phone. Now, as I mentioned, the nav system integrates with Sirius Traffic and that's very cool and handy. In fact, I've never seen this before. Once it actually rerouted me based on traffic along my route, and that was great except that it kept rerouting me so I kept switching back and forth between the original and the alternate route and there was no button to say just pick one and stick with it. The real star here is the voice system. If you have that option, the Uconnect voice control, you have not only Bluetooth voice dialing for your phone but you have an entire suite of voice controls for whatever system you're using. Now, but one of our big complaints about this system in the 2009 model was that the voice control button is not on the steering wheel. Instead, it's way over here on the right side of the console so you can imagine that when you're driving, this takes your hand off the wheel and potentially your eyes off the road when you're trying to find the right button. That was a big quibble we had and I'm surprised they didn't fix it. Now, one other cool tech trick in this car, right here underneath the speedometer, there's a little LCD monitor that gives you all kinds of driver settings. You can change presets. You can determine how fast you want the car to be going when the door's locked, but you also get this very fun Performance Features menu and that one actually lets you monitor and track your 0-to-60 times, your one-eighth and one-quarter mile times, your two-axis G forces. Now, I do also wanna note that the color of this car is a custom job. It's a $300 special paint color called TorRed so that you can stand out even more 'cause that's what this car needs--to stand out more. Okay, but let's talk about what we're really here for, the driving. Like I said, the six-speed manual makes the challenger a joy to drive but it's not just the manual. The Challenger may be packing 425 horsepower but it's a very accessible daily driver. It's not jumpy, it's not jittery, it's not hard to handle. This isn't the most technical term but the Challenger is just flat-out fun to drive and all that power is available just about every time you need it. Oh, and did I mention that exhaust note? Just one more time. Possibly the best part about it is that extra bark you get whenever you shift into a new gear. I love driving this car. It makes every other car seem kind of bland. So why aren't people buying the Challenger? It's unbelievably fun to drive, it has a great tech package for a muscle car--or any other car, for that matter. If you price this thing as an impulse buy, it is going to fly out of showrooms and you are gonna fly down the street, loudly, and having a lot of fun.