- Styling like no other
- Good balance between handling and ride comfort
- Nice manual gearbox
- Ever-present V-8 exhaust sound
- Tough backseat access
The 2010 Dodge Challenger is the most retro of 'em all, but don’t let that make you think it’s disappointing in features, comfort, or refinement.
The 2010 Dodge Challenger is a sporty coupe that evokes the designs of muscle cars of the late 1960s and early '70s. Dodge aims to appeal to more than the Baby Boomer fans of the original coupes by equipping the Challenger with modern tech features along with the comfort extras of a luxury coupe.
Three distinct models of the 2010 Dodge Challenger are available: the SE, R/T, and SRT8. Despite all the differences in performance and features between the three models—and the vast price range from around $23,000 for the base SE model to about $46,000 for the SRT8—the evocative exterior style of the new Challenger remains powerful across the entire line. The SRT8 adds just enough extras for true enthusiasts to spot the difference, but with its bold nose and strong bodylines, there's no mistaking a Challenger for any other car.
The Dodge Challenger is a bit larger than the Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro on the outside, and it translates to a bigger interior—at least for front-seat passengers. The seating layout is quite conventional for a large coupe, though the instruments are laid out with plenty of retro inspiration. The gauges are nestled in four pods, but unlike in other overly styled coupes, they remain easy to read and free of reflections. A big center console is included, and nice touches like the pistol-grip shifter recall the past—without looking too much like a fashion victim.
Provided you stick with one of the V-8 models, the 2010 Dodge Challenger delivers performance that supports its very authoritative styling. The base Challenger SE gets a 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6, which includes a five-speed automatic and can deliver 0-60 times in the low seven-second range. It doesn’t feel quite as perky in real-world driving as those numbers might indicate, but it’s a refined combination and earns EPA ratings of 17 mpg city, 25 highway. Although the SRT8 is much thirstier, with ratings of 13 mpg city, 19 highway, the R/T achieves about the same as the V-6, at 25 mpg on the highway.
The Challenger R/T model upgrades to a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, rated at 372 or 376 hp; it has a character more befitting of the overt styling and is offered with a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual. The 5.7-liter can get the Challenger to 60 mph in the mid-five-second range.
Full-on performance enthusiasts will be drawn to the go-fast SRT8, which brings a big 6.1-liter HEMI producing 425 hp. As with the R/T, a six-speed manual gearbox is available. Performance is impressive, with a top speed of over 170 mph. Compared to beasts like the Dodge Viper, the SRT8 is surprisingly drivable and docile in dense traffic even with the manual gearbox, which shifts neatly and has a smoothly engaging clutch pedal. The SRT also gets a host of serious performance upgrades for braking and suspension, along with interior accents and LED cabin lighting. New for 2010 is a Super Track Pack, which brings numerous upgrades that make the Challenger suitable for weekend track outings.
The Challenger has comfortable bucket seats as standard up front, and there are three seat belts in the rear. Two adults, with some wedging, will be able to ride in the backseat, but three would be pushing it. Those in the front may have to slide their seats forward to provide ample legroom for those in the rear. Also with the available power driver seat, when access to the rear seat is necessary, the driver's seat lacks a quick-release mechanism. The solution is to motor the seat forward or access the rear seat from the passenger side—very inconvenient. However, the folding rear seats (60/40 split) help give the Challenger excellent and flexible cargo-carrying capabilities.
With no squeaks or rattles, the quality on all the Challengers tested by TheCarConnection.com has been excellent, and interior materials are a step up from the much-maligned trims used on the cheaper models in the Dodge lineup. The Challenger is surprisingly refined overall, with very little wind or road noise, but beware that in V-8 models the engine noise is tuned to be ever-present, which might get tiring on highway trips.
Some shoppers might tend to completely overlook safety in the 2010 Dodge Challenger, favoring performance and style, but it comes with all the essentials. Front side airbags and full-length side-curtain bags are standard, as are electronic stability control and anti-lock brakes with brake assist. The Challenger gets excellent crash-test ratings, with five-star results from the federal government in frontal and side impact, although the insurance-supported IIHS hasn’t yet tested this coupe.
For those who place some weight on luxury and entertainment features, the 2010 Challenger has that covered, too. Top options include heated leather seats, power heated mirrors, Uconnect hands-free Bluetooth communication, a navigation system, hard-drive media storage, and a sound system with Sirius Satellite Radio and Boston Acoustics speakers. The available Uconnect Multimedia and Uconnect Navigation systems now include enhanced steering-wheel controls.