With all three Detroit automakers now offering different models, the muscle-car wars are back on—at least for a few more years. The expanded 2009 Dodge Challenger lineup competes with the equally retro Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro, each with their own style statements.
Most reviewers agree that among the three Detroit muscle cars, the 2010 Dodge Challenger plays the retro card to the highest degree. Automobile Magazine calls it a "head turner," while Cars.com refers to its "Hot Wheels" styling.
Motor Trend is pleased to report that "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 says 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."
What's not available, appearance-wise, as a factory option is bound to be available as a dealer-installed Mopar accessory. Motor Trend points out that "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."
While the interior isn't nearly as edgy and retro-extreme as the exterior, it gets mostly favorable reviews from a wide range of sources read by TheCarConnection.com. ConsumerGuide reviewers love that "the Chrysler-standard control layout places most systems within easy reach," and while "the navigation system absorbs most audio functions" it does so "with good results." TheCarConnection.com's editors also appreciate how the gauges in the Challenger are very readable despite following the retro theme. Motor Trend asserts that the Challenger benefits from "a healthy dose of retro-modern style."
It's not all positive, though. 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."