the Ford Mustang still going strong and the Chevy Camaro back on the
road, it’s inevitable that Chrysler’s pony car entry would return as
well. Looking incredibly similar to the historical car of four decades
ago, but significantly larger and completely up-to-date, the Dodge
Challenger is back.
“Our all-new 2009 Dodge Challenger is a modern-day muscle machine
representing the best from the past and present,” said Mike Accavitti,
director of the Dodge Brand and SRT Global Marketing, Chrysler LLC.
“Nearly 40 years following the debut of the original, we are bringing
Dodge Challenger back and loading it with essential hardware, styling
and technology desired by today’s buyer.”
Based on the tried-and-true platform from the successful Chrysler 300
and stable mate Dodge Charger, the new Challenger is a substantial ride.
Despite being considered a compact by the EPA, it’s a solid cruiser, and
a fine one at that. I was surprised at its poise as it rolled down city
streets and shot down the freeway as a daily driver.
Like a good pony car, this two-door coupe comes with a choice of mild or
wild engines, including two brawny HEMI powerplants. My SE tester had
the base 3.5-liter V6, which puts out 250 horsepower and an equal 250
lb.-ft. of torque, and despite hauling 3,819 pounds, it is pretty quick
off the line. This rear-wheel-drive car comes only with an automatic
four-speed in V6 configuration.
Next step up is the R/T model, which boasts a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 (now
we’re talking!) with a big jump to 372 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of
torque through a five-speed automatic or a six-speed manual
transmission. This is the first application of self-service clutch
shifting in a modern HEMI engine. It can run zero to sixty in under six
The mightiest Challenger in town is the hulking SRT8, with its exclusive
6.1-liter HEMI V8 cranking out a sizzling 425 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft.
of torque through your choice of automatic or 6 speed manual. It does
the zero-to-sixty in under FIVE seconds. Whew.
The SE with the V6 earns a reasonable 17 City, 25 Highway EPA Fuel
Economy Estimate, with EPA Green Vehicle scores of 7 for Air Pollution
and 5 for Greenhouse Gas. The HEMIs do less well, with the SRT8 with
automatic getting 13 City, 19 Highway and a decent 6 for Air Pollution
but only a 2 in the Greenhouse Gas score. Friends of the Earth members
are unlikely to be friendly to this version of the car.
get some perspective, I visited a 1970 Challenger at Kassabian Motors in
Dublin, California. In historically appropriate Plum Crazy purple, the
old Challenger reminded me of just how far cars have progressed in four
decades. The old car sat low, much like a period Mustang or Camaro would
have, and was significantly smaller all around than the ’09 model.
Inside, the dash seemed delicate and slim. Of course, it had much less
behind it than today’s airbag and computer equipped vehicles. However,
Chrysler’s design wizards have conjured up a surprisingly big dose of
the old design in the new car, from the four-gauge instrument panel to
the trapezoidal door panels and black headliner.
Outside, the character line along the sides of the new car is dead-on
with the original, so much so that it’s a shock how differently sized
and proportioned the two cars are. The 2009 wears the same face, a
recessed simple grille with 1960’s style quad sealed beam headlights,
and a Challenger badge to the side. The tail is one long taillight from
end to end, again like the original. Dual rectangular exhaust outlets
complete the picture.
teenage boys were buying cars, the Challenger would be a hit. My son’s
pals loved it, even in its mildest SE form in subtle Dark Titanium
Metallic clearcoat paint. I had teenagers hanging out of cars shooting
images on their cell phones.
The Challenger felt smaller than its nearly two tons with its front
short- and long-arm suspension and five-link independent rear suspension
system from the Charger, and it was completely dialed-in and ready to
Prices start at just $22,545, including shipping for the SE and go up
from there. My SE tester came to $27,690 after adding the Customer
Preferred Package 25G, which includes a batch of goodies ranging from
18-inch alloy wheels to satellite radio, four-wheel disc brakes with
traction control, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, and
The Sound Group matches a 276-watt amplifier with six Boston Acoustics
speakers. The leather Interior Group provides beautiful heated leather
chairs, which were remarkably better bolstered than their 1970’s
Built in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, this very (North) American car
delivers the goods buyers of traditional sporty cars want. Let’s just
hope it helps in rising Chrysler’s pentastar again.
By Steve Schaefer ©
AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
The Bottom Line:
The 2009 Dodge
Challenger is a retro car with the street creed to compete head to head
with the Camaro and the Mustang. With three engines, three transmissions
and three models to chose from there is a Challenger for everyone. From
the fast and furious SRT8, to the quick R/T, to the nimble SE,
Challenger has what it takes to turn heads and smoke the tires, both
traits of a true pony car. Price, Perception and Power make it the first
Mopar on everyone’s wish list. Buy one now, as these cars are on the
governments automotive endanger species list, and will not be here for
Review provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
“Tony the Car Guy”
is an automotive writer, editor and publisher in the San Francisco Bay
Area. If you have a question or comment for Tony send it to
TonyLeo@pacbell.net or visit
Dodge Home Page
Column Name: The Dodge Challenger is back
Topic: The 2009 Dodge Challenger
Word Count: 1010
Photo Caption: The 2009 Dodge Challenger
Photo Credits: Dodge Challenger Internet Media
Series #: 2009 - 63
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2009 Dodge Challenger
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2009 Dodge Challenger