There are several different level Dodge Challenger Coupes to choose from – 8 different models to be exact, paying homage to the old “Variety is the spice of Life” adage, with the Dodge team delivering loads of available variety in the 2015 Dodge Challenger lineup, which includes not only the 8 trim levels: SXT; SXT Plus; R/T; R/T Shaker; R/T Plus; R/T Plus Shaker; 6.4-liter Scat Pack; and 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker. Not including the two SRT models – the SRT 392, and the bestial SRT Hellcat. All 2015 Dodge Challengers are in a 2-door coupe configuration with 5-passenger seating. Need more choices? How about four different engines and three transmissions to choose from. Our review here will be of the 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT Plus.
The Dodge Challenger bowed on the American muscle-car scene some 45 years ago, and has been held in high esteem ever since. The Challenger has evolved continually and progressively into what has become a legendary status symbol or icon since that first 1970 model appeared. The Challenger was originally available as either a 2-door hardtop or in convertible form in four levels of trim: Base; SE (Special Edition); R/T (Road/Track); and T/A (Trans-Am). Available powertrain choices offered numbered eight, ranging from a 145 horsepower 225 cubic-inch inline slant-six-cylinder to the 425 horsepower 426 HEMI® “Elephant motor”. There were also two 440 cubic inch V8 motors that provided either 375 or 390 horses. Driveline selections for the various engines included Chrysler’s TorqueFlite automatic transmission as well as a three or four speed manual gearbox, which could be outfitted with a Hurst “pistol grip” shifter. Big block powered Challengers could be ordered with a heavy-duty Dana 60 differential equipped with a limited-slip differential. Available paint schemes even shouted performance with outrageous colors such as: Plum Crazy or HEMI Orange, accented by “bumblebee” stripe graphics. Further customization was available by ordering twin-scooped hoods, “shaker” hoods and trunk-lid mounted wings. The design inspiration for the 2015 Dodge Challenger models were inspired by the 1971 Dodge Challenger, paying homage to the nameplate’s muscle-car heritage, while adding a more contemporary and authoritative Dodge attitude.
The engine powering our Dodge Challenger SXT Plus test vehicle was a longitudinally-mounted 3.6-liter Pentastar, DOHC, 24-valve V6 that delivered 305 horsepower at 6,350 rpm while also developing 268 pound feet of torque, with a TorqueFlite® Eight-speed automatic transmission gearing power to the rear wheels. The Challenger SXT Plus is at the lower end of the food chain. It is difficult to predict which 2015 Dodge Challenger model will wind up being the volume leader, but it will likely be one from the 5.7-liter V8 powered R/T lineup, which resides in the middle of the pack. Other engines include: a 6.4-liter HEMI SRT OHV, 16-valve V8 with Sequential, multiport, electronic, returnless fuel injection featuring an automatic Fuel Saver mode; and topping the lineup is the SRT 6.2-liter HEMI Hellcat V8 – also an OHV, 16-valver, but it’s supercharged and cranks out 707 horsepower and generates 650 pound feet of torque.
Available transmissions include: a six-speed manual Tremec TR-6060 with a ZF-Sachs 240 mm Twin Disc Clutch – standard on all R/T models, the 6.4-liter Scat Pack and 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker (a ZF-Sachs 258 mm twin-disc clutch variant sees duty on the SRT Hellcat; a Torqueflite 845RE eight-speed automatic is standard for 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 Challengers; and a Torqueflite 8HP70 eight-speed automatic is available to change gears on 5.7 liter and 6.4-liter HEMI V8 powered Challengers, while a Torqueflite ZF HP90 variant 8-speed auto is supplied for the Hellcat.
It is difficult to predict which 2015 Dodge Challenger model will wind up being the volume leader, but it will likely be one from the 5.7-liter V8 powered R/T lineup. So, you might be asking yourself, “What’s the appeal of the new Dodge Challenger”? For starters, it’s a real car with sporty, muscle-car performance credentials and it has a back seat and accommodates 5. It also has a spacious trunk, is easy to get into and out of – at least for the front seats, and it looks great. Okay, beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and somebody who owns a Hyundai Genesis coupe is going to like his or her car more. Never-the-less, it still looks great, featuring retro styling cues, but with a modern flair and contemporary touches. In essence, it celebrates the nameplate’s muscle-car heritage, while displaying an authoritative Dodge attitude. ‘Vette owners beware, the Challenger delivers more versatility and functionality while also serving up more muscle in the same price range. Granted the Corvette weighs less and in high-speed scenarios on a challenging road course it may fare better, depending on who’s doing the driving.
In terms of its visual allure, beginning up front, the Challenger’s all-new fascia design represents a bolder update of its 1971 inspiration. The power-bulge hood is larger, featuring more aggressive forward-located dual snorkel inlets for enhanced engine cooling, while an all-new vertical split-grille is traceable to the historic 1971 model. All-new quad projector headlamps give this Dodge muscle car a more detailed appearance, while a more aggressive brow “chops” the upper portion of the lamp design even more than before. Four halo LED headlamps display a cool glow from beneath the brow. Below, a wider trapezoidal front air dam and slimmer grille opening emphasize the coupe’s width, while providing the necessary cooling. Integrated projector fog lamps are pushed to the corners, also accentuating width, while helping to illuminate the road, and a new duck-bill fascia spoiler helps to improve the vehicle’s aerodynamics.
From the side, the 2015 Challenger’s signature muscular proportions and large thruster rear-quarter panels stand apart from the crowd, while fender and belt lines link together at the front and rear of the car creating a sleek “in motion”look. Black sills accentuate the proportions were re-tuned improving aerodynamics. Nine wheel designs are available to fill the wheel wells, including standard 18-inch satin carbon aluminum on the SXT and standard 20-inch Satin Carbon aluminum on the R/T. Hard-core enthusiasts, will likely prefer the new lightweight 20-by-9-inch forged aluminum wheel design finished in matte Hyper Black II, shod with three-season high-performance rubber to provide stellar road-holding properties. and a unique one-of-a-kind look.
Aft is a new split tail-lamp design and new rear fascia. Tail lamps feature Dodge brand’s signature LED graphic with its smooth glow of LED lights. A redesigned rear valance gives a more planted on the ground impression, while fascia-mounted exhaust tips (with the Pentastar V-6 engine) provide an integrated look.
My test 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT Plus Coupe wore an exterior finish of Phantom Black Tri-coat Pearl (metallic) while the interior sported Black and Ruby Red colors with faux carbon fiber tram accents. The base price was set at $29,995., while the options, which included: the special metallic paint; the SXT Plus package with 20-inch polished aluminum wheels with graphite painted pockets, the Driver Convenience Group, Power sunroof, UConnect; and the Destination charge elevated the final tally to $34,175.
SUMMARY: Nearly everything about the new Dodge Challenger pulls together to deliver an exhilarating driving experience. The aura is definitely suggestive of the 1971 Challenger, while the technological updates reward the occupants with the latest in safety features, connectivity and infotainment. The automatic transmission’s T-handle shifter is a nice throwback to the iconic pistol-grip shifter of yesteryear, yet is modern in its execution. Perhaps the most memorable thing about the Challenger, is its overall feeling. Romp on the accelerator, and you’re transported back to the good old days. If you weren’t there, not to worry, you can make your own memories.
Nailing the throttle off the line and lighting up the tires may not be a nod to frugality, but it’s fun none-the-less. Admittedly the Hellcat version is a great deal more fun.
The newly styled interior is warm and inviting as well as performance oriented and driver focused, and the materials along with the fit and finish are certainly a cut above the levels offered by many competitors. It is more comfortable than a Viper, and in the case of the SRT Hellcat, the performance is superior to that of the Viper as well, so don’t be surprised if there is a flooding of used Vipers on the market soon.
Handling characteristics are admirable and the ride quality is surprisingly compliant, while also being exceptionally stable.
Bottom line, the 2015 Dodge Challenger lineup offers a model that’s available and capable of suiting nearly everyone’s fancy from mild to wild. My personal favorite is quite obviously the SRT Hellcat, but the SXT Plus version provides a more affordable ticket to driving enjoyment. There’s no “Dodging” the fact that the 70’s were never this good. In actuality, the SXT Plus is a more practical vehicle for mere mortals, leaving the Hellcat for expert and pro drivers. Besides, you’re likely to get fewer tickets.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT Plus
|Price as Tested:||$34,175.|
|Engine Type and Size:||3.6-liter, DOHC, 24-valve Pentastar V6 VVT with sequential, multiport, electronic returnless fuel injection.|
|Horsepower (bhp):||305 @ 6,350 rpm|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||268 @ 4,800 rpm|
|Transmission:||TorqueFlite® Eight-speed automatic.|
|Drive Train:||Longitudinally mounted front engine. Rear-wheel drive.|
Front -Independent SLA with high upper “A” arm, coil spring over gas-charged monotube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar. Lateral and diagonal lower links with dual ball joint knuckles.
Rear – Five-link independent with coil springs, gas-charged monotube shock absorbers, stabilizer bar and isolated suspension cradle.
Performance suspension Standard on Challenger SXT, SXT Plus, R/T and R/T Plus
|Brakes:||Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented front). Sport Brake Package standard on SXT models.|
|Tires:||Firestone Firehawk GTV P245/45 R20 mounted on 5-“Y”-spoke alloy wheels.|
|Length Overall:||197.9 inches|
|Width:||85.8 inches – with mirrors|
|Curb Weight:||3,834 lbs.|
|Fuel Capacity:||18.5 gallons|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||19-mpg city / 30-mpg highway|
|0 – 60 mph:||Not tested.|
Arv Voss is a Northern California based freelance motoring Journalist and member and past officer of several noted Automotive Journalist organizations who contributes regularly to a number of national and international media outlets. He reviews not only cars, trucks and SUVs, but motorcycles as well.