Who was it who said that muscle cars have faded from memory? Not Dodge for sure, because right now, the automaker offers a range of Challengers that by far exceeds anything the company achieved in the 1950s and 1960s. Buyers have a great choice when it comes to Challengers with a very wide range of power levels available and prices beginning at a modest $28,995 MSRP.
The first Dodge “pony car” was produced from 1969 to 1974, though there had been a “Silver Challenger” during1958 and 1959 an a splendid piece of fifties kitsch it was. There was a generation of Challengers from 1978 to 1983 which were offshoots of Mitsubishi Galants, but these are best forgotten. The current generation appeared early in 2008 and was an immediate sensation. The Dodge stylists had cleverly captured the looks and ambiance of the “pony car” Challenger beautifully and although there are some excellent rivals from rival muscle car automakers, many think the Challenger still reigns supreme.
For 2015, Dodge brought us the widest selection of Challengers yet - no less than five separate variants, each with specific trim levels and characteristics. Even the least expensive SXT is an impressive vehicle with a 305-horsepower engine and an estimated 7.8-litres/100 km on the highway, making it an excellent performance choice for the fuel-thrifty. The TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic helps fuel efficiency and is a seamless and capable transmission too. Standard kit includes a rear view camera and there’s an available touch-screen display, the best in the industry in my view. Of course, the car looks just as striking as the most expensive Challenger and is available in some interesting colours.
Move up to an SXT Plus at $32,995 and you get a similar spec with a roster of added goodies, including ventilated leather faced seating and the Uconnect touch-screen. The Challenger R/T hikes the horses to 375 and includes all the features of SXT and SXT Plus and several more, plus a nice fifties touch on one version - a “shaker” hood with a functional air scoop. Next in the line is the Challenger R/T Scat Pack and 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker which starts at $45,995 MSRP. This one includes such performance features as Brembo brakes and 20-inch forged alloy wheels. You can also tailor the drive modes with an adaptive suspension system. Incidentally, this variant boasts fully 485-horsepower and will top 100 km/h in the 4-second range.
As if all this power and performance wasn’t enough, Dodge launched the remarkable Challenger SRT Hellcat with an all-new 6.2-litre supercharged engine this year and claims it’s not just the most powerful Challenger ever, but the most powerful muscle car by any automaker. It produces a staggering 707-horsepower and a massive 650 lb-ft of torque to run quarter mile times in the 10.8-second range. This is an astonishingly fast and potent automobile and would probably take on any of the Italian exotics on a dragstrip and shut them down. It will cost you $63,995, but try and match that level of performance with anything twice the price?
Of course, all Challengers have very high levels of safety equipment and a variety of stability control and braking electronics. They are all fast and sleek, but at the same time, probably some of the safest sports coupes on the market. And if appearances matter just as much as anything else, Dodge will sell you one of these in Sublime Green, Redline Red Tri-Coat, Pitch Black Clear Coat and many other intriguing shades.
SPECS AT A GLANCE…
BODY STYLE: Two-door sports coupe
ENGINE: Wide range from 306-horsepower to 707-horsepower
TRANSMISSION: 8-speed automatic
PERFORMANCE: Zero to 100 km/h in well under 4-secs with the Hellcat
FUEL ECONOMY: Varies according to choice
PRICE: MSRPs range from $28,995 to $63,995