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STYLING | 9 out of 10
Standard with a healthy dose of retro-modern style
Visually, the SE is closest to the 1970 model
Car and Driver
The R/T is no less a head-turner than the SRT8
Styling trends come and go, but for now, retro is all the rage in Detroit. The expanded 2009 Dodge Challenger lineup competes with the equally retro Ford Mustang and upcoming Chevy Camaro for the crown of king pony car.
The latest generation of the Ford Mustang kicked off the yesteryear styling trend among the Big Three, but the 2009 Dodge Challenger cranks it up to 11. The new Challenger Dodge is a "head-turner" that Automobile Magazine says is available in three different trim levels: a "top-spec, SRT8" and "considerably less expensive" R/T and SE models. Externally, all three share what Cars.com calls "Hot Wheels" styling. The visual appearance of the Dodge Challenger varies somewhat across the lineup, but not as much as on some other vehicles. Motor Trend, for instance, is pleased to report "the Challenger SE isn't completely stripped of Challenger R/T and SRT exterior jewelry and doesn't scream 'rental car.'" As for the other trims, Car and Driver contends that "the SE is closest to the 1970 model that was the clear inspiration for this new generation" of Dodge Challengers, while the "R/T adds fog lamps, 18-inch aluminum wheels" and "a body-color rear spoiler," and the SRT8 is distinguished by "faux-carbon-fiber hood strips, xenon lights...a matte black deck spoiler, and a deeper front air dam with functional brake ducts." A moderate amount of customization is available with the Dodge Challenger's exterior, as Motor Trend points out "Mopar can accommodate with everything from a Ram air hood to a coil-over suspension kit that drops the car up to 1.625 inches."
The interior styling of the Challenger Dodge, while not quite as exciting as the sheetmetal work, gets passing grades in reviews read by TheCarConnection.com. ConsumerGuide reviewers love that "the Chrysler-standard control layout places most systems within easy reach," and though "the navigation system absorbs most audio functions," it does so "with good results." TheCarConnection.com's editors also rave about the gauges on the 2009 Dodge Challenger, which are some of the most readable on the market. Among the less favorable reviews, Automobile Magazine feels that "the cabin is nowhere near as stylized as the Ford Mustang's, and the overall look is very muted." Car and Driver also points out that the interior is "dark" and "spooky," and in their opinion, it "absolutely requires the huge optional sunroof to cheer things up." Despite those few criticisms, reviews tended toward the positive end of the spectrum, and most reviewers agree with Motor Trend when they report that the 2009 Dodge Challenger benefits from "a healthy dose of retro-modern style."
Old is in, and the 2009 Dodge Challenger is here to capitalize on the newfound nostalgia of the American car shopper.