2008 Dodge Challenger
The long-awaited return of Dodge's classic muscle car comes this April in the form of the 2008 Challenger SRT8, a performance version akin to the Charger SRT8 sedan. Dodge will build 6,400 for 2008, only in the high SRT8 trim level, and will add more affordable and modest versions in the 2009 model year. The two-door's competition includes the Ford Mustang, Nissan 350Z and upcoming Chevrolet Camaro.
Unlike the Charger sedan, which borrowed only a name from the muscle-car era, the Challenger was designed after the 1970 model and is unmistakably the Challenger from any angle. It has a broad grille and rear-end treatments, and three colors this year to bring out different elements of the exterior. On the Hemi Orange and Bright Silver Metallic models, the black rocker panels and bumper extensions make the car appear to ride higher than it actually does, recalling the classic Challenger. Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl Coat (that's metallic black paint) makes it look lower and sleeker. The true dual exhaust ends in chromed rectangular tailpipes tucked into notches in the bumper.
Carbon-fiber-patterned racing stripes on the hood are standard, as are two vents alongside the center ridge that cool the engine compartment. A semigloss finish on the rear spoiler also hails from the classic era. Twenty-inch aluminum wheels are standard.
A black headliner (ceiling fabric) pays homage to the classic Challenger, but the interior otherwise emulates the Charger's — specifically the SRT8 trim level, which itself has exclusive materials and prominently bolstered leather sport seats with accent stitching and embroidered SRT8 logos. Each of the limited-production 2008 models will have a dashboard plaque displaying its number in the production run.
One of the most intriguing features is the Challenger's Reconfigurable Display with Performances Pages. The bottom of the speedometer face is a display that can show — in addition to such mundane information as a trip odometer and outside temperature — readings of the car's 0-60 mph and quarter-mile times, braking performance and roadholding, expressed as lateral g force.
Standard and optional modern amenities include a premium stereo, Sirius Satellite Radio, a navigation system and MyGIG, an advanced entertainment system.
Under the Hood
As an SRT8 model, the 2008 Challenger comes only with a 6.1-liter version of the legendary Hemi V-8. A bored-out, tweaked version of the already robust 5.7-liter Hemi, this one cranks out 425 horsepower and 420 pounds-feet of torque. As in all the other Chrysler and Dodge SRT8 models, this engine does without the fuel-saving cylinder-deactivation technology of the smaller Hemi. In the end, the EPA-estimated mileage is 13/18 mpg city/highway.
Unlike its archrival, the Mustang, the Challenger has an independent rear suspension. It's sport-tuned for handling, but Dodge says its ride quality is comfortable. Rear-wheel drive and a torquey V-8 aren't the best choice for all seasons, but the standard tires are Goodyear Eagle RS-A all-seasons. Goodyear F1 Supercar summer performance tires are optional.
Also unlike the Mustang, the Challenger comes only with a five-speed automatic. Ford offers manual transmissions in all Mustang versions. Challenger drivers must settle for the AutoStick clutchless-manual mode.
The brakes are Brembo four-piston calipers at all four wheels, with 14.2-inch vented discs in front and 13.8-inch discs in the rear. Dodge says the car can go from 60 mph to zero in 110 feet — which is good performance.
Originally cited as the "low 5 seconds," Dodge announced a 0-60 mph time of 4.9 seconds at the Challenger's Chicago Auto Show introduction. The quarter-mile, it says, is under 14 seconds, and the Challenger's top speed is 170 mph.
The safety feature complement includes side curtain airbags, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system with traction control. Xenon headlights are standard this year.
Cars.com Expert Reviews
|Joe Wiesenfelder||Cars.com National||April 30, 2008|
|Cars.com Staff||Cars.com National||February 27, 2008|
|Bob Golfen||AZCentral.com||June 30, 2008|
|Jim Mateja||chicagotribune.com||May 19, 2008|
|Dan Neil||Los Angeles Times||May 14, 2008|
|Steven Cole Smith||Orlando Sentinel||May 10, 2008|
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