Muscle Car Review:
This is a car that's easy to love. It's the new 2009 Dodge Challenger, a
reborn muscle car that flaunts its all American roots. It's proof that
the Chrysler Corp, and indeed, the entire American auto industry, still
knows how to make exciting cars for the masses.
Let's put the
Challenger in perspective. For decades, starting in the early 1980s,
American cars continually became more and more like Japanese cars. This
has been a great thing for quality, as the American brands have finally
caught up with, and in some cases exceeded, their Japanese competitors
in recent years.
At the same time, it
was a terrible thing for automotive styling. America used to lead
the world in design with luxury cars in the 1930s, aerodynamic cars in
the '40s, tailfin decked cruisers in the '50s, meaty muscle cars in the
'60s and dramatic yachts in the '70s. The rest of the world
followed our lead.
But in the '80s,
American cars turned into bland boxes, which happened to look exactly
like the bland boxes from Japan and Europe. They were no longer
distinctive. And worst of all, they were no longer truly American.
The new Challenger is
completely American, following in that grand tradition of making cars
that look distinctive and powerful. It's very retro, looking like
it would be right at home cruising Woodward Avenue in 1968, but it also
has a hint of modern tension. Any way you look at it, it's a stunning
While it's not quite as
noticeable as the body, the Challenger's interior is a comfortable place
with big, roomy bucket seats up front. Materials and construction are
OK, but it doesn't have the same styling flair as the exterior. The
front seats are comfortable and supportive.
The back seats are
fairly roomy, but it can be tough to get back there, especially from the
driver's side. In my test car the passenger-side front seat had a lever
that let you easily slide it forward for the back-seat passengers to
climb in, but the driver's seat didn't have it. You had to use the power
seat controls to slowly motor the seat forward to let a passenger climb
to the back seat.
Challenge drives exactly like a modern muscle car should. It's a big,
heavy car with sloppy, truck-like steering, but it handles better than
you'd expect for a vehicle this size. Body roll is kept in check, and
braking is superb. Best of all, it can spin the fat rear tires at will.
While the base
Challenge comes with a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 250 horsepower, I drove
the Challenger R/T with its big 5.7-liter Hemi V8 engine that makes 372
horses. It's an intoxicating feeling, knowing you can stomp the gas and
squeal the tires any time you want. Coupled with that hot body, it makes
even the nerdiest driver feel James Dean cool.
What was tested?
The 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T with a base price of $29,320. Options on
the test car: Sirius satellite radio $195. Total MSRP price as tested
including the $675 destination charge: $30,190.
Why avoid it?
The interior quality doesn't seem up to par with its competitors, and
the Hemi only gets 16 mpg in town.
Why buy it? The
Dodge Challenger turns heads with its classic muscle-car styling. This
all American design hearkens back to the heyday of the powerful and
thrilling cars of the 1960s. Its classic American body draws lots of
attention, and its available Hemi V8 makes huge, tire smoking power.
Bottom Line: And
really, that's what the Challenger is all about. It's not the most
practical car, nor the most fuel efficient. But wherever it goes, it's
sure to be the coolest car around.
By Derek Price ©
AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Byline: Muscle Car Review provided by
Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Dodge Home Page
Column Name: Challenger
brings back American muscle
Topic: The 2009 Dodge
Challenger Hemi R/T
Word Count: 697
Photo Caption: The
2009 Dodge Challenger Hemi R/T
Photo Credits: Dodge
Challenger Internet Media
Series #: 2009 - 17
the Microsoft Word version here:
Challenger Hemi R/T
Download the Original Image File here:
2009 Dodge Challenger