âI knew itâd be a young man behind the wheel of that car. Thatâs a young manâs car. Thatâs the kind of car Iâd have if I were young like you.â His eyes must be failing him a bit â how else would he miss the grey in my beard? With 40 inbound like a careening freight train, I appreciate the inference that Iâm a young man in his eyes, and thanked him for both his compliments and his service.
Normally, Iâd end a conversation like this with a rumble of throttle in appreciation â but I didnât want to disappoint our sailor with the sounds of a minivan engine. So I motored off in relative silence. While this V6-powered, all-wheel drive Dodge Challenger GT doesnât have the aural pleasures of its Hemi-powered brethren, it clearly still makes people take notice.
Yes, I said a minivan engine. The 3.6-liter V6 fitted to this Challenger GT is basically the same Pentastar fitted to my daily Town & Country and countless other Mopar products. At 305 horsepower, this V6 compares nicely to the V8 engines fitted to pony cars 15 years ago. It just doesnât sound as lovely as a proper V8.
And, yes, itâs all-wheel drive. Itâs Canadian, after all â built in Brampton, Ontario. Hockey practice simply canât be missed.
I know â the essence of a pony car is a V8 and rear-wheel drive. But really, since the introduction of the genre in 1964, many more four or six-cylinder models have been sold than their V8 counterparts, which affirms that most buyers buy such a car for looks first. And even though this same basic car has been around for 10 years, the Challenger is clearly still quite capable of turning heads.
Really, the only complaint I have about the Challenger GT is the relative lack of adornment â V8 models wear any combination of wider wheels, flared fenders, bigger scoops on the hood, tape stripe packages, and spoilers. This Challenger GT looks a bit demure, with relatively narrow 7.5-inch wheels front and rear shod with 235/55-19 tires leaving the car appearing under-tired. The dark grey multi-spoke wheels do look quite good on this car. I do absolutely love the F8 Green finish on this car (few cars can pull off the olive drab look in style), but the Challenger does it. Call it Milspec Metallic, or something like that â it’s stunning in person.
The interior works nicely, though the relatively short wheelbase means rear passengers donât get quite as much room as theyâd like. I had to move my seat forward a bit any time my 5-foot-4-inch daughter rode behind me, unless I wanted knees in my kidneys. But the front seats were quite comfortable and supportive while hustling the big coupe through the corners. The leather-and-Alcantara seats are both heated and ventilated â thankfully, as the suede-like material can get warm on bare legs in summer heat.
Iâve said it before: I love Chryslerâs UConnect infotainment system. While there are many menus to toggle through to change settings, the frequently-used ones can be dragged to the menu bar at the bottom of the 8.4-inch screen. Everything works quickly, with many controls duplicated on the steering wheel and on the lower half of the center console. Standard Apple CarPlay and Android Auto complement the SiriusXM and Bluetooth streaming capabilities.
Cargo space is listed as 16.2 cubic feet, but it seems like even more than that, as the trunk is remarkably deep. The lift-over height is a bit higher than most, however, so big cases of longnecks or heavy pails of cat litter will have to be hoisted a bit to stow properly. A split folding rear seat adds more utility.
Depending on who you believe, the Challenger GT can hustle from 0-60 in the low six-second range, which not long ago was an impressive figure. I didnât get a chance to run instrumented tests, but I can believe it. Itâs not massively quick, but 305 hp paired with all-wheel traction helps this big car move. Itâs all drama-free with no tire squeal. The electric power steering is a bit numb, but Iâm otherwise impressed with how solid this relatively old platform feels when pushed. Itâs a sturdy, comfortable ride, whether on city streets or on a long interstate drive. Iâd have no hesitation hopping in this tomorrow and driving across the country.
I saw just under 24 mpg on my week in mixed driving â a long drive would likely net the EPA 27 mpg highway estimate. And, unlike the V8-powered Challengers, this V6 is perfectly happy on 87 octane.
It isnât your typical pony car, but thatâs perfectly fine. The Dodge Challenger GT works brilliantly as a commuter car, and is even a bit of fun to drive. Itâs just not as rowdy as its V8-powered siblings. It provides all of the style, minus the fuel economy penalties.
Chris Tonn says he’s disappointed by the lack of adornment. I say thank God for it. The stripes and scoops belong on the V8 models. This V6 with AWD can appeal to many people – including those looking for a modern replacement for the personal luxury coupe (i.e. the Chevy Monte Carlo, 90’s Ford Thunderbird, etc). This car would work for me and many other boomers.
@ Steve Biro – agreed. I realize the author qualifies that opinion by saying “relative lack of adornment” compared to other trims, but for goodness’ sake, this thing has a lip spoiler and (nonfunctional?) hood scoops. Apparently a Bandit Trans Am is the baseline for style, and anything more subdued than that is considered lacking.
In playing with their configurator, one big plus I’m seeing for FCA is that sunroofs are a standalone option for many (all?) of their cars. $1200 is no small sum in my world, but it’s better than getting roped into a $3000 package.
FCA really needs to reconsider the 5.7L in AWD models. Iâm still driving my â13 AWD R/T in part because I canât replace it. Iâm in the snow belt and I donât want a car I can only use for six months, the hills around here are brutal in the winter. Iâll have to run studs or switch to the pentastar, there are worse choices in life.
What I’ve heard is that when they switched to the ZF 8 speed there wasn’t room for AWD on the hemi models. It would take some reworking of the floor pan.
I know a guy who runs a Scat Pack year round in Michigan. With some respectable winter rubber and some mass in the trunk it’s a fine daily driver in the snow. I mean, it’s certainly no worse than EVERYTHING ON THE ROAD from the ’70s on back.
Cool looking car, but being a full half second slower in nearly every acceleration metric compared to a Lacrosse AWD (which I honestly think is a closer CGT competitor than a Camaro V6) stings a lot.
The 10k price difference and not looking like you are on the way to Golden Corral for the early bird special makes one forget the sting rather quickly. You win, gramps, you win.
A curious thing about coupes, my wife’s grandfather traded a Grand Marquis for one of these a few years back. Apparently a 2 door makes it a lot easier when you need to stow your fold up walker in the back seat.
Though the case of your grandfather-in-law testifies more to these two things (1) the Challengers are also comfortable cars and (2) decent 2 door cars that doesn’t require you to break your back to get into are just so rare these days, old people are resorting to Challengers to find a modern day replacement for the MKVIII/Thunderbirds/Monte Carlos/etc
I was going to make a wiseguy comment about the new Lacrosse ST but AWD isn’t standard on the ST model AND the 20 in wheels with HyPer Strut is still an OPTION on the ST.
It is a handsome car. I like the color, not so much the wheels, but there is no denying it’s a very good looking car.
I saw a Demon in this color yesterday and was blown away by how good it looked in person. Green is such an underappreciated color for a car.
On my recent trip to small-town east Texas these things were EVERYWHERE. I think they’re the only option seen there as suitably macho for men who don’t want to drive pickup trucks.
Personally, I could do without the Cartoon Retro image. In any case if I’m going to live with two doors I want to at least get a smaller and lighter car out of it.
Yeah, you can run a Pentastar on 87 octane dishwater but why would you want to do that? At least feed it midgrade for gosh sakes. I won’t even put that vile swill in our Grand Caravan.
I was sitting in the waiting area at my local Jeep/Ram/Dodge/Chrysler dealer today while my Jeep was being serviced, and there was a white Challenger GT sitting in the showroom. White with black/white interior. I looked at the sticker but didn’t see which engine it had. I assumed, rightly or wrongly that it had a V-8. I read something about a transfer case on it so I think it was all-wheel-drive. It was very nice. It listed for $40,821 or thereabouts.
To read the comments and see how little people appreciate about what Dodge has done with the Challenger. This is aging (aged) platform that dates the the early/mid Daimler period. The bones are good but what Dodge has done to keep the Challenger fresh and relevant and competitive is pretty amazing. And what they’ve done is offer variants that satisfy anything the market wanted and several things the market didn’t want. Want a pony car that sacrifices some style but makes up for it in passenger/cargo room and style? There’s a Challenger for you. Want a pony car with ridiculous horsepower? There’s a Challenger for you. Want a pony car with AWD? There’s a Challenger for you. It’s all been pretty brilliant and amazing that this is the same company that still can’t figure out how to get Jeep a three-row vehicle.
It’s OK- there’s a Durango R/T out there too. I’m appreciative that the Charger still rocks as well, for those of us that need a four door.
Also, the sounds of the 90’s are on Lithium…not 90’s on 9. That’s the only thing I see wrong with it.
Seriously, the base engine pony cars have done a nice job of becoming viable options versus punishments as was the case back in the third gen F body and fox body Mustang days. I drove an ecoboost Mustang and it was not lacking for performance. I haven’t driven this car with the pentstar but I’ve driven it in other cars and I have no doubt it will pull it around just fine.
Agreed. I heard Imagine Dragons followed by You Outta Know by Alanis Morisette (before she got sappy) today on there so I’ll allow it.
I was on a lot this morning where there was a Challenger T/A 392 in F8 green. I haven’t felt that level of want for a car in a while, and it was parked between sub-lime and go mango hellcats.
This green as well as the battleship gray offered look nice on this and the Charger. Considering how they were mocked when they were part of the Earl Scheib color palette 30 plus years ago.
Minor nitpick re fuel options for the V8 Challengers: the 5.7/automatic R/T is fine with 87 octane, though 89 is preferred.
(I know this because I have one, and appreciated the additional flexibility after coming from a 5.7/manual that was supposed to run on 91, but ended up getting a few tanks of 89, or even 87 once the refineries twisted South Dakota’s arm into having the prior 87 E0/89 E10 choice that was common at small town stations turned into 87 E0 / 87 E10…)
Still looks great (well, not the dash design), but just isn’t right w/o the sound of a V8 accompanying it.
Just too bad a lighter platform (and a much needed weight reduction) isn’t in the works anytime soon.
Well I can think of a couple of 2018 model I wouldn’t drive across the country in. Just to list the good cars I’d consider owning but not taking cross country, Miata, Wrangler, Fit, Fiesta ST, Civic SI or BRZ. To say nothing of the cars I wouldn’t own that I wouldn’t take cross country. THe Challenger GT I’d take across the country.
For the last few years (since my BRG 2004 MINI CooperS passed its 10th birthday) I have looked each year at most of the Cars available in any shade of Green( in my under $50,000 new Price Range) Its mighty sim pickings out there for cars that are not White, Black,[and various shades of grey] Silver, and Red with the odd Blue tossed in there to keep you guessing. What drove me to the MINI 14 odd years ago (when you had to order and wait 3+ months for your new car) was the choices they offered(and still do in the paint department) in the color you could have. I was also able to special order a set of red leather seat covers direct from England which gave me what I have always liked best a dark green car with Red leather interior.
What ever happened to red interior design? I recall my folks 55 Black Oldsmobile Rocket 88 convertible with its red interior and my grandfathers 61 dark (almost black) green Lincoln convertible with its red interior. then a 63 Ford country squire also in green with a red interior with white accents… and on and on. Today if you want a red leather interior design in your new car you have to go to the mega bucks end of dealership row in your city to even have a chance. is it due to the way Red leather used to fade over time with a lot of sunlight? surely that has been fixed with modern die and coating? I detect no fading after 14 1/2 years of the Red leather seats of my MINI But it has always been garaged and as I am retired it does not spend all day in an office parking lot
I think one of the things that MINI has going for is the large range of color they offer in their paint and yet they too offer mostly dark and drab interior design choices just like the rest of the industry. I wonder if offering more customization and choice would be a good move for a design department to trial.
My sister has a 1999 Green Beetle. I call it bug gut green. It does stand out. With a small car a bright color helps set it apart in a sea of black white and gray. She bought it new, has thought of replacing but with no manual transmission in the Beetles she’ll make the current one last. Hers was a left over so it has a plain black interior. The minis and the beetles of the early 2000s were offerred with decent color selection. As much as people bad mouth FCA, they seem to still offer and stock a variety of exterior colors.
I wanted my Fiesta ST in that bright green they offered. Alas you wait until 2018 and it seemed in the Ford tradition I could get any color I liked so long as it was black.
I’ve been sniffing around Pacifica Hybrid Limiteds now for a year. The website and brochure list, with a straight face, three interior colors: black, off-white, and brown. The brown is by far the prettiest and is in all the brochure and press shots. But literally 90% of the cars at dealers have the black, and at least three-quarters of the rest have the off-white. I think there is one van with a brown interior in the entire Pacific Northwest at the moment… and its exterior color? City Government Fleet Refrigerator White. No sale.
This exact car can be had with a red leather interior. If you want that with the green, itâd almost surely have to be ordered, but you can get it.
You must not have visited Mini’s website lately. They’ve moved to trim levels like everybody else. Expect a $30K sticker for anything that’s not one of their 3 basic colors
No I noticed that Mini had gone the way of the rest and put the interesting colors as a part of the named trim levels…. and I actually like the supercharger on my old 04 with a smaller pully and and new mod chip the car has been trouble (knock wood) free and still uses less than a quart of oil between the 12000 mile oil and filter changes. Thats why I am still driving my 2004 and not something newer…. considering getting something low mileage coming off of a 2 year lease (Make and model to be decided later) and taking it to a good custom shop for a color change to something interesting and then a custom red leather interior…. I think it may be the only way to get what I want for what at my age might become my last car before I am carted off to gods waiting room (assisted living)
2) that it’s regrettable that the 6.4 liter is not a $1,200 to $2,200 standalone option (it probably costs $300 more – max – to produce than the 5.7 liter — where’s tresmonos for backup?),
3) that FCA should strive to cut the overall length by 8″ to 10″ and the weight by 375 lbs to 550 lbs,
5) that the other standalone option package should be a very reasonably priced Brembo 4-Piston High-Performance Brakes & Bilstein High-Performance Suspension (this, along with the weight carve out, will make this vehicle more capable in the corners for those who care about such things, and bridge the gap with the Mustang (but not the Alpha-based Camaro, which for all of its many, cheap, hideous, nasty warts, including a metric ton-load of Chinese parts, has two things going for it in the fact that it has a capable and very torsionally rigid chassis, and two excellent V8 engine choices in the upper-trim, track package offerings).
With that said, FCA has performed a miracle keeping this platform, which underpins some excellent FCA vehicles, better than many much “newer” vehicle platforms from competitors (newer does not always equal better, and in some/many cases equals worse, and I could give MANY examples of this), and the Brampton crew deserves props for taking true price in the way they assemble these vehicles, from panel fit/finish to outstanding paint application (Brampton crew is world-class).
The Pentastar 3.6 liter is a fantastic motor, but does not belong in the Challenger, and is an insult to its heritage, regardless of past and present 0-60/1/4 mile times.
The Challenger deserves the bigger V8s (the 6.4’liter, TBH), heard at WOT through the Active Exhaust, the vehicle needs to shed 300 to 500 lbs, and be fitted with the much tighter Bilsteins and the much better Brembos, to be fully appreciated.
FCA should make this as loud and fast as possible, while making dramatically improved handling and braking standard, while shaving nearly a foot from it and 2 1/2 Jack Baruths of weight from it (or 5 Mark Baruths).
For those who just want to roll in the retrosphere, and don’t really care about stout a$$ acceleration or much tighter/capable handling, there’s the Charger, which fits that form better as a 4-door, anyways.
5) Maybe this might make sense with the aforementioned size and weight reduction; for now, it would be the Dancing Bear Package.
6) The 3.6 is more than the equal of most V8s that were in most original Challengers. The big motors were rare options then too.
That’s what an active/multi-mode exhaust is for. It’s quiet at low speeds and loud at WOT. Although a selectable system like on the Camaro SS is superior to what FCA offers.
At least the Challenger isn’t going to 4 cylinders like both Mustang and Camaro. The V6 with the ZF 8 speed is a good match for the car for the market outside of the V8 only buyers.
The weight difference is there but I don’t see either Ford or Chevy being as comfortable to live with on a daily basis. A base Challenger is only ~350lbs more than a base Mustang. I don’t know on what planet the 500-1000lb weight reduction would be possible but it will require a brand new platform to do that and if so, expect the Hemis to be in danger since these news any new platform will have to look forward to CAFE2025 being kept in place if CARB, et al get their way.
I have a 2014 Challenger SXT with the Pentastar and 5 speed auto, this review is nothing like my ownership experience. The Pentastar sounds so good it sold me the car, I stopped entertaining the thought of going with a used V8. I’ve had it for almost 3 years and I can’t stop stepping on it. Removing length and weight and making this car a bastardized Maserati would destroy all of the good will and sales momentum it has built up GM went with superlight weight and track handling, with an unusable interior and trunk, look at where it got them, with overproduction and rebates. I love the soft comfy springs, I love the huge trunk I can put my bike in, and I strongly disagree on the back seat, its the biggest back seat in a coupe that isn’t a Rolls, and is comparable to a Fiesta back seat.
On the other hand, the panel gaps are hilarious, but no one ever notices until I point them out, usually they give me a “you notice things like that?” look.
The automotive journalists are fans of track handling, I can appreciate that. But they also need to understand that the obsession Nurburgring type handling is killing the car market with all the coupes and sedans getting stiffer and more jarring to ride in, even full size sedans have infected with the disease. LX/LY remains one of the last hold outs of heavy comfortable cars and sure enough, you have all the observers calling it overweight and handles poorly when in fact the actual buyers find them just fine.
And then the automotive observers act surprised when people defect in droves to softer sprung CUVs and even 1/2 ton trucks.
Wish this was out when I was car shopping 4 years ago. oh and by the way the 383 was a station wagon motor until mopar gave it the magnum treatment. Should have ditched the fiber coated timing chain gears though.
This is a good driving car, better balanced than the V8. It is hilariously heavy, so it’s a bit of a “Petey the Dancing Bear” situation, but it works. It’s also ridiculously spacious inside (trunk too!) for as cramped as those tiny windows make it look from the outside.
Yeah, it’s 6″ too wide and 12″ too long and 1000 pounds too heavy but screw it, that makes for a silent, smooth highway cruiser. The AWD will murder MPG, but the 2WD model even gets great real world highway MPG.
I agree that the Challenger, even with the V6, fills a niche that many people want in a daily driver compared to the Camaro or Mustang (or assorted smaller, harder riding Japanese or European vehicles), in that it rides great (especially on the smaller, more sidewall tires), has tons of room in the front, rear and trunk, is quiet and composed, etc.
What I’m saying is that FCA can cover those customers with the existing Chrysler 300 (a better luxury vehicle than Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors GM has at any price point in any of it’s chock-full-of-Chinese parts divisions) or Charger (not a fan of dash, but it also works as a practical, comfortable, solid, roomy sedan with a more sporting pretense than the 300).
The Challenger, as the only coupe on the shared platform, should be put on a diet, have even a standard susoension appropriately damped down and tightened (not nearly as aggressively as the Camaro ZL1 by Guangzhou-Guadalajara Motors, though, for example, which is useless as anything remotely approaching a daily driver), and be offered only with V8s.
Let the 300 and Charger soak up fleet/rental and other duties with the V6 in sedan form, but recraft the Challenger as a more purpose driven coupe with far more sporting pretensions standard.
The Challenger is not (meant to be) a sports car. The call to shave size and weight to make it more cramped and sporty are ignoring the fact that in its current form, it’s great, fast highway cruiser.
Also, for all of the bile the ownership of Chrysler by the Germans always gets: at least they know how to package a car that accommodates drivers of all sizes. The Challenger is one of the few sportier cars that will allow both me (6’4″) and my wife (5’3″) to cruise in comfort – all day long. Same with the Charger.
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BTW: FCA has already stated that they will not be going to a smaller platform for the next generation, but instead will update the current one – which made me very happy :-)
I agree on the size. I think FCA would most benefit from a all aluminum hemi engine. This would allow same power less nose weight and could be used across the line in cars, SUVs and trucks.
I have been thinking about the Charger GT as a fun commuter car. I find the AWD appealing for the months of December through March where I live over my currrent front wheel driver car. I also rented a V6 Charger not long ago and liked the V6. I found it plenty sporty and the mpg was great.
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