- Modern muscle car styling
- HEMI horsepower
- Dynamic handing
- Roomy seating for five
- Available before the Camaro
- No manual transmission until 2009
- Interior not as dramatic as exterior
- SRT8 model is pricey
- We waited so long...
One look at the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 makes you want to stomp on the throttle and light up its big fat radials.
The focus for the all-new 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is performance. That is why for 2008, Chrysler is offering the most potent pony car it can, period. The SRT moniker comes from Chrysler's Street and Racing Technology group--a band of merry men who give the Dodge Viper its venom while adding extra spice to the exclusive SRT performance versions of the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger, and Dodge Caliber.
For the Dodge Challenger, 2008 marks the nameplate's return after a 35-year absence. The most-remembered Challenger is the 1970 model fitted with legendary 426-cubic-inch HEMI V-8. It is fitting that 2008 Challenger reflects the aura of the original. While some have criticized the new Challenger for not reaching far enough in terms of styling, we've seen the 2008 next to a 1970 edition, and we can assure you that the cars are worlds apart. However, while we're fans of the exterior, the interior styling didn't go quite far enough for us.
Muscle cars and pony cars (named after the original 1964 Ford Mustang) aren't really supposed to make perfect sense. Decidedly practical people always ask in a condescending tone, "Why do you need all that power?" Obviously, these folks don't get it. That's OK, not everybody will. Muscle cars are about having fun, and the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is fun.
But even the traditional muscle cars of the 1960s had a practical side--so does the Challenger SRT8. Built off of the same LX platform as the larger Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, the Challenger is the largest two-door coupe around (interior-wise). Adults will fit in its backseat, and seating three across isn't out of the question.
The 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8's 6.1-liter HEMI's power (425 horsepower, identical to the rating of the 426 HEMI from 1970) is a thrilling, throbbing engine, and it's teamed well with the six-speed automatic transmission. Expect 0-60 mph times in the low 5-second range with 1/4-mile times in the low 13s. Top speed is estimated to be around 170 mph. Handling is surprisingly adept, and since the wide, flat design tells you exactly where the Challenger sits in a lane, it's easy to zip in and out and give other drivers a first look at this muscle car. Just be prepared to answer repeated questions at every stoplight--and to rev the engine for gawkers, too.
Performance is expected to improve in 2009 and beyond, as a larger-displacement HEMI is expected, along with a six-speed manual transmission.