The Dodge Challenger entered 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.
“Variety is the spice of Life”, and the Dodge team delivers heaps of available variety in the 2015 Dodge Challenger lineup, which includes 8 trim levels including: 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. And, that doesn’t include the two SRT models – the SRT 392, and the much anticipated SRT Hellcat. All 2015 Dodge Challengers are in a 2-door coupe configuration with 5-passenger seating. Want more variety? How about four different engines and three transmissions?
The engine powering the Challenger R/T Scat Pack is a 6.4-liter HEMI SRT OHV, 16-valve V8 with Sequential, multiport, electronic, returnless fuel injection featuring an automatic Fuel Saver mode. It is also the standard engine for the 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker model Challengers. Other engines include: a 3.6-liter PENTAStar, DOHC, 24-valve V6; a 5.7-liter HEMI OHV, 16-valve V8 with fuel saver technology; 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.
So, you might ask, “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, 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. Essentially, in terms of affordable high performance and practical attributes, the new Dodge Challenger is a “no-brainer”.
In terms of its visual appeal, starting up front, the Challenger’s all-new fascia design represents a sinister 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 evokes 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.
In profile, the 2015 Challenger’s signature muscular proportions and large thruster rear-quarter panels stand out from the crowd, while fender and belt lines tie together at the front and rear of the car creating a sleek 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.
In the rear 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.
During the national media launch of the Dodge Challenger, I was able to pilot a manual transmission version SRT Hellcat on track and later – also an automatic. I was not able to get behind the wheel of a V6 version or the SRT 392 HEMI. Most recently on my home turf, I was able to test a 2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack powered by the SRT 6.4-liter HEMI V8 with the 8-speed automatic transmission featuring wheel mounted paddle shifters. It wore an outrageous exterior finish of Sublime Green with black accents and graphics and had a Black interior with patterned metal trim accents on the dash and console. The base price was set at $37,495 which came to a final total of $47,800 after adding the following options: the Drover Convenience Group; UConnect 8.4″ touchscreen; the Scat Pack Appearance Package; the Leather Interior Group; Technology Group; a Power Sunroof; the TorqueFlite 8-Speed automatic transmission; the Sound Group and Destination charges.
SUMMARY: Everything about the new Dodge Challenger lineup 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 modern in its execution. Perhaps the most memorable thing about the Challenger, aside from its blistering acceleration, is the intoxicating exhaust note. Romp on the accelerator, and you can’t help but smile.
It’s also a blast to nail the throttle off the line (using the launch control or not) and to light up the tires. Perhaps not a nod to frugality, but fun to slip and slide with no water needed.
The newly styled interior is warm and inviting as well as performance oriented and driver focused, and the materials as well as 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. I’m here to say that the Scat Pack is no slouch either, and the 6.6-liter SRT HEMI V8 is capable of hauling booty too.
Valet Mode is provided on both Challenger SRT and Challenger SRT with a Hellcat engine. With the Valet Mode activated, the following vehicle configurations are enabled: Engine is remapped to significantly reduce horsepower and torque; limited to 4,000 rpm; Transmission locks out access to first gear and upshifts earlier than normal; the manual shifter position functions the same as when in the drive position. Traction, steering and suspension are set to their “Street” settings; Steering-wheel paddle shifters are disabled; Drive Mode functions are disabled; Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is enabled to Full-on; and Launch Control is disabled. The driver can activate and deactivate Valet Mode with a personal four-digit PIN code they create. This should work well on teen-aged drivers as well as valets.
In the final analysis, the 2015 Dodge Challenger has a model available that’s capable of suiting nearly everyone from mild to wild. My personal favorite is the SRT Hellcat, but the R/T Scat Pack version isn’t too shabby either. There’s no “Dodging the fact that the 70’s were never this good. In actuality, the 6.4-liter HEMI R/T Scat Pack is really more than enough vehicle for mere mortals, leaving the Hellcat to experts and pros.
SPECIFICATIONS: 2015 Dodge Challenger 6.4L Scat Pack
|Price as Tested:||$66,260.|
|Engine Type and Size:||6.4-liter HEMI SRT OHV, 16-valve V8 with Sequential, multiport, electronic, returnless; automatic features Fuel Saver mode.|
|Horsepower (bhp):||485 @ 6,000 rpm|
|Torque (ft./ lbs.):||475 @ 4,200 rpm|
|Transmission:||Six-speed manual Tremec TR-6060 with a ZF-Sachs 240 mm Twin Disc Clutch – standard / a Torqueflite 8HP70 eight-speed automatic is available.|
|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 – Independent SLA with high upper “A” arm, coil spring over gas-charged ADS BilsteinÂ® shock absorbers and 32 mm hollow stabilizer bar, lateral and diagonal lower links (SRT 392)
Rear – Five-link independent with coil springs, gas-charged monotube shock absorbers, stabilizer bar and isolated suspension cradle, ADS Bilstein shock absorbers and isolated suspension cradle (SRT 392)High-performance Suspension: Standard on Challenger 6.4-liter Scat Pack.
|Brakes:||Power-assisted four-wheel discs – Sport, Performance Brake and Brembo High-Performance packages depending on model., with four-wheel ABS and Traction Control.|
|Tires:||Goodyear Eagle F1 245/45 ZR20 99V mounted on 6-“Y”-spoke graphite painted alloy wheels.|
|Length Overall:||198.0 inches|
|Curb Weight:||4,082 lbs.|
|Fuel Capacity:||18.5 gallons|
|EPA Mileage Estimates:||15 mpg city / 25 mpg highway|
|0 – 60 mph:||Mid 4-second range with 8-speed auto. Top Speed= 182 mph|
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.