Sunday, September 7, 2014

First Drive: 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T


The Dodge Challenger first went into production in 1969 as a mid-size pony car. It was designed to compete against the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang. Production run of the original Challenger ended in 1974. The Challenger name came back in 1978 as a rebadged Mitsubishi Galant Lambda. Its production run ended in 1983. On February 6, 2008, Chrysler debuted the Dodge Challenger SRT8, which was powered by a 6.1L Hemi V8 engine. For the 2009 model year, the Challenger lineup was expanded to include a V6 engine and a 5.7L Hemi V8 engine. One thing lacking for the Challenger was technology. At the 2014 New York International Auto Show, Dodge unveiled the 2015 Dodge Challenger and the 2015 Dodge Charger. On September 1, 2014, I was able to get behind the wheel of a 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T. The one I drove came with the all new eight-speed automatic transmission. A six-speed manual transmission is available on all Hemi powered Challengers.

The 2015 Dodge Challenger got a styling update from the previous model year. The 2015 Challenger features a new grille with design cues from 1970-1974 model, quad LED "Halo Ring" head lights, LED tail lights, and a functional hood intake on all Hemi models. The interior is redesigned as well. Available is an 8.4" touchscreen, retro styled gauge cluster, ventilated seats, and a 7" TFT display. Also available for the Challenger is blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and a reverse camera. The Challenger I drove was the Challenger R/T that had a 5.0" touchscreen, a reverse camera, projector fog lamps, high performance brakes, performance steering, 20" hyper black aluminum wheels, rear body-color spoiler, and steering wheel paddle shifters.

The 2015 Dodge Challenger is powered by a 5.7L Hemi V8 that produces 372 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque. It can go from 0 to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. The Challenger R/T is a quick vehicle. It also has good steering response, braking response, and throttle response. Turning on sport mode improves the overall driving experience. Compared to the previous model year, the 2015 Challenger is more comfortable to drive. Dodge improved the seat comfort. The addition of the eight-speed transmission greatly improves the ride quality. The shifts are smoother, which help give the 2015 Challenger R/T a smoother ride. Prices for the 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T start at $32,490. Adding the eight-speed automatic transmission increases the price by $1,400. The version I drove has an MSRP of $34,585. The Challenger is reasonably priced. It has performance and comfort.

Overall, the 2015 Dodge Challenger is a huge step up for the previous Challengers. Changing the lights to LEDs helps with the styling. The interior is greatly improved. Going with the Uconnect 5.0/Uconnect 8.4AN instead of the 130/430N/730N infotainment systems helps with user friendliness. Plus the eight-speed automatic transmission greatly improves the ride quality. I love how smoothly the transmission shifts. The 2015 Challenger is also available with a reverse camera and blind spot monitoring system, which is needed in a sports car. The one issue with the Camaro, Mustang, and Challenger is blind spots. Adding the blind spot monitoring system will help make the Challenger safer on the roads and freeways. If you need more performance, there is still the Challenger R/T Scat Pack and the Challenger SRT, both with a 6.4L Hemi V8 engine that produces 485 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque. Available in 2015 will be the Challenger SRT Hellcat, which gets 707 hp for a supercharged 6.2L Hemi V8 engine.

CarJunkie
Photo was taken by a camera phone.
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