By Aaron Bragman on April 16, 2014
We've seen a new 2015 Ford Mustang unveiled and have enjoyed a slightly refreshed 2014 Chevrolet Camaro, so now it's time for the third member of the American pony-car club to get its update. The 2014 New York International Auto Show is where Dodge decided to unveil its latest 2015 Challenger, which from the outside may not look all the different from the current one.
Certainly the shape is the same, but the retro-mobile's flavor has been moved forward in time a bit. While the Challenger's latest iteration was based on the 1970 model for style and cues, this new 2015 model takes more ideas from the 1971 version. That means a new split-pane grille, a smiley lower bumper opening and split taillights, which are now LED, in keeping with the rest of the Dodge lineup.
You're only likely to notice that this is a 2015 Challenger if you can pick up on those LEDs. The taillights have most of them, but all the other external lights in the car have also been replaced by LEDs — side markers, daytime running lamps — only the headlights are not LED. The changes are most notable from the rear, where the new taillight treatment makes the Challenger look more modern and distinctive. Suffice it to say, if you liked Dodge's modern take on the Challenger last year, you'll likely find it appealing next year, too.
The biggest complaints about the Challenger weren't centered on its exterior styling — in fact, that's the reason most people buy a Challenger, according to Dodge. The interior, however, was why many people decided not to buy a Challenger. That excuse is no longer valid — with the 2015 update comes a new interior that finally brings the Challenger in line with the rest of the modern Fiat-Chrysler world.
Slip inside and the surroundings look similar to the latest Charger, but with a slightly more driver-oriented feel. The dashboard's trapezoidal shape is meant to recall the original Challenger's interior, as are the door panels, center console and shifter.
The Challenger gains the LCD display screen between two round gauges that is now a ubiquitous Dodge brand trait, as well as an optional 8.4-inch touch-screen panel in the dashboard that features Chrysler's next-generation Uconnect multimedia system. The standard things such as navigation and satellite radio can be controlled through the touch-screen, but bigger news is the filtering down of various performance app pages from SRT models to the Dodge models. Everything from launch control to g-meters to drag-race timers is now available on the Challenger, even the base model V-6. All those meters can also be displayed on the gauge cluster screen as well. Every Challenger now has a standard Sport mode, with customizable settings accessed through the multimedia system that allow you to independently adjust steering feel, transmission behavior and throttle mapping.
The new interior is stylish, comfortable and spacious, especially when compared to competitors like the Camaro and Mustang. Black is the standard color for cloth or leather, but there are packages that will trim the seats and doors in white or red leather or red Alcantara simulated suede.
Two types of metal trim are available, but strangely neither really looks like metal. That and the massive overhead visor hinges that still stick down into the driver's sightlines — how could Dodge not have fixed them? — are the only two sore spots in what is now the most modern retro-styled car you can buy.
Cars.com photos by Evan Sears
Detroit Bureau Chief Aaron Bragman grew up in the Detroit area, comes from an automotive family and is based in Ann Arbor, Mich. Email Aaron