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It's time for the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat -- the most powerful muscle car ever. But 2015 is also time for the first truly major update of the muscle-car lineup since it was launched as a 2007 model. With carefully refined exterior styling, new powertrains, upgraded suspension, and an all-new--and far more pleasant--interior, the 2015 Dodge Challenger stays up to date in the face of competition from not only the Chevy Camaro but an all-new Ford Mustang this year.
The Challenger has always been the largest and blockiest of the muscle cars, giving it substantial road presence. Looked at through a different lens, the Challenger has been slightly more of a touring coupe--large and comfortable, with a supple ride on long trips. Now that persona is joined by an array of even more powerful, rip-up-the-track models at the top end, for Challenger buyers who want to keep pace with the most powerful vehicles in the competition's lineups.
The revised exterior styling adopts cues from the classic 1971 Challenger, including a new split grille in a slimmer front opening with projector headlamps surrounded by LED halos, a pronounced and fully functional "power bulge" hood, and LED tail lamps in a glossy piano black surround. Inside, the 2015 Challenger's interior has been completely revamped. The sweeping surfaces of hard black plastic are gone, replaced by a modern dash with soft-touch surfaces and a fully modern instrument cluster with a fully customizable 7-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) center display screen and available 8.4-inch touch-screen system.
Its slightly larger size pays dividends inside: The Challenger is the only one of the three muscle coupes to offer seating for five. Access to the back seat will entail some contortion, and only two adults will really fit back there, but it's doable. At 16 cubic feet, the trunk is also larger than those of even some mid-size sedans on the market.
The standard powertrain on the 2015 Challenger is a 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6. Then there's the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, which will be rated at up to 375 hp and 410 lb-ft or torque. Finally, there's a new 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 that Dodge estimates at 485 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque. All three engines can be mated to a new eight-speed automatic transmission, the only one offered on any of the three U.S. muscle cars, with a Sport Mode and paddle shifters as well as visual and tactile feedback on the electronically-actuated shift lever. A six-speed manual gearbox remains available as well. Like all three of its competitors this year, the Challenger remains a rear-wheel-drive vehicle with independent rear suspensions.
Suspension changes across the board include a Super Track Pak available on all Challenger models, uprated suspension, and new electric power steering with three modes: Normal, Comfort, and Sport. A fully track-ready 6.4-liter Scat Pack model includes not only the 6.4-liter Hemi but also 20-inch aluminum wheels, Brembo disc brakes, and the 392 Scat Pack Shaker model adds a functional Shaker hood inlet scoop.
Eight separate trim levels will be offered on the 2015 Challenger: SXT, SXT Plus, R/T, R/T Plus, R/T Shaker, R/T Plus Shaker, 6.4-liter Scat Pack and 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker. Customization options mean no two Challengers need be identical, with fourteen different interiors, nine wheel options, and a range of new paint colors, including retro shades like Sublime Green and B5 Blue.
Challenger sales have increased steadily throughout its life, so there's clearly a market for a retro muscle car. We tend to think that the best deals in the lineup include the base SXT, where the Challenger costs less than $30k and is far more flamboyant and exciting than any other comfort-oriented mid-sizer. R/T Scat Pack models are also quite the deal, with as much performance as you could possibly take advantage of on the street, all for around $40k.
- Updated retro looks
- 707-HP Hellcat flagship
- Comfortable ride
- Adult-size back seat
- Manual shifting available (V-8s)
Next: Interior / Exterior »
- Poor outward visibility
- Awkward back-seat access
- Still quite thirsty
- Social stigma, depending where you are