Monday, March 4, 2013

First Drive: 2013 Dodge Challenger SXT

The first time Dodge used the Challenger was in 1959 with the Dodge Silver Challenger, a two door coupe that only came in silver and was available with either a six-cylinder or eight-cylinder engine. The first generation was produced from 1970 to 1974, serving as Dodge's entry in the pony car market, competing with the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. The Challenger shared the Chrysler E-Body platform with the Plymouth Barracuda. 165,437 first generation Challengers were sold. The second generation Challenger was sold from 1978 to 1983. It was a rebadge Mitsubishi Galant Lambda. The second generation Challenger was a subcompact two-door coupe. It was available with either a 1.6L I4 engine or a 2.6L I4 engine. On February 6, 2008, Dodge debuted the third generation Challenger at the Chicago Auto Show. For the 2008 model year, the Challenger were only SRT-8s and came with a 6.1L Hemi V8 and a five-speed automatic transmission. Starting in 2009, more options and trim levels were available for the Challenger. After years of seeing Challengers at various Houston car events, I was able to drive one at the 2013 Houston Auto Show. The version I drove featured a 3.6L V6 and an automatic transmission. The Challenger I drove is also a front-engine, rear-wheel drive, two-door pony car with a 2+2 seating arrangement. Since it did not have a V8 engine, I cannot classify the car I drove as a muscle car.

The Dodge Challenger has a retro styling. It looks like a modern day version of the first generation Challenger. The Challenger has a sporty, aggressive styling. It is  The Challenger has a small spoiler on the edge of the trunk lid, which I prefer over a large wing. I like the design of the hood. It is not flat like most cars. Since the version I drove was a Challenger SXT Plus, there are fog lights in the lower part of the front bumper. The interior is nothing special. The seats are comfortable. I had a good amount of head room and leg room behind the wheel. There is space for rear passengers.

The Challenger I drove is powered by a 3.6L V6, paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual shifting mode, that produces 305 hp and 268 lb-ft of torque. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds and reaches a top speed of 114 mph. The Challenger SXT has a comfortable ride. The car drove smoothly along the test route. The Challenger is also responsive when I turn the steering wheel, push the accelerator pedal, and press the brake pedal. The Challenger has a good drive quality. It has good performance, while being comfortable to sit in. Prices for the Challenger SXT start at $25,795.

Overall, the Challenger is a good car. It is comfortable behind the wheel while having good performance. This is the base model and is good for everyday driving. If you want more power and performance and want a V8 engine instead of a V6, then go with either the Challenger R/T and Challenger SRT-8, both being available with Hemi V8 engines. The only thing Dodge needs to do is to improve the interior of the Challenger. The Challenger's interior is nothing special and is very similar to interiors found in other Dodges. Dodge and Chrysler should put a sportier interior into the Challenger, something that compliments the retro sporty exterior styling of the Challenger. But if you are looking for a good pony to use as an everyday driver, give the Dodge Challenger SXT a test drive.

Photo was taken by a digital camera.
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