Model tested: Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Wide Body
Engine: 392 V8 SRT Hemi
Transmission: TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic
Horsepower: 485 • Torque: Unavailable
EPA ratings: 15/city, 24/highway, 18/combined
Base price: $39,245 • As tested: $56,600
Overview: Unmitigated performance is the Dodge Challenger’s hallmark. This modern-day reprise of the 1970s muscle car exudes the pure swagger of the golden muscle-car era. There are six versions of the rear-wheel drive Challenger: the SRT Hellcat and Hellcat Redeye, replacing the 840-horse SRT Demon; the new R/T Scat Pack — our test driver, on which this review will focus; the SXT; GT; and R/T. The SXT and GT are available with all-wheel drive. Hellcats and R/T Scat Pack come in standard or wide-body trim. A rearview camera is standard, and all except SXT get rear parking sensors. However, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alerts and forward-collision warning are all optional, while automatic emergency braking is unavailable.
Walkaround: Styling mimics the 1971 Challenger, but this successor is bigger and more powerful — especially in wide-body form — with fender flares adding 2.5 inches to overall width. The wide, deep-inset grille is bracketed by round headlights. Prominent rear haunches and a low roofline add to the menacing look, while performance-tuned models get a rear spoiler and front splitter, along with more aggressive hoods, fascias and spoilers available.
Interior: The driver-oriented cabin features high-quality materials, Houndscloth cloth upholstery reminiscent of the original, and a driver-focused dashboard. Because it’s a large coupe, there’s both space and comfort — front and rear — with large, nicely bolstered, bucket seats. Three passengers can fit in back, but why? The infotainment system is easy-to-use, featuring an 8.4-inch screen. The trunk boasts a sizable 16.2 cubic feet, but liftover is high.
Driving impressions: The Challenger is getting long in the tooth compared to its Mustang and Camaro rivals. Added power delivered by the Scat Pack’s V8 is especially evident at higher rpms, with a sexy, authoritative exhaust rumble. Zero-to-60 takes only 4.4 seconds. Riding smoother than its rivals, on a trip over Blewett Pass to Leavenworth and back, the Challenger handled competently. The R/T Scat Pack — the most track-focused model — is suitable for daily driving and provides great road feel.
Bottom line: Few performance-car lineups are as varied as the Challenger, which scores high for both style and power. While not as nimble as the Mustang or Camaro, the well-equipped Challenger delivers a more comfortable ride and overall character.