- Styling like no other
- Good balance between handling and ride comfort
- Nice manual gearbox
- Drag-strip-worthy acceleration of SRT8
- 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.
2010 Dodge Challenger
Squint just right, and the 2010 Dodge Challenger looks a lot like a '70 model, but it has just enough modern for broad appeal.
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."
2010 Dodge Challenger
The 2010 Dodge Challenger R/T offers satisfying acceleration, though it remains more of a high-speed cruiser than a canyon-carver.
The 2010 Dodge Challenger is also available as a much more affordable Challenger SE, but serious muscle-car fans and enthusiasts will want to go with one of the HEMI V-8-powered models, the R/T or SRT8.
The uninspiring 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter V-6 on the Challenger Dodge SE is, in the words of Motor Trend reviewers, "not slow; it's just not fast, either." Nobody will describe either of the V-8s that way, though, and ConsumerGuide raves that the HEMI-powered "R/T is quite potent, with ample passing reserves." The highest praise is saved for the very capable Dodge Challenger SRT8, which Cars.com describes as "a rocket booster strapped to your fanny" and that Jalopnik says can achieve "a 0-to-60 time of five seconds." Cars.com reports that the 6.1-liter V-8 in the SRT8 provides a "blustery 425 horsepower."
Last year Dodge addressed the lack of a manual transmission on the Challenger with an excellent Tremec six-speed manual gearbox. In addition to the manual option, Cars.com says that the V-8 Dodge Challengers can be fitted with "a crisp-shifting five-speed automatic." Both the five- and six-speed transmissions fare well with reviewers, with ConsumerGuide finding that "the manual transmission has positive, mechanical shift action and a smooth clutch," while the "responsive automatic transmission shifts without harshness."
The V-6 isn't much more fuel-efficient than the V-8 R/T. The official EPA estimates for the Dodge Challenger lineup are 17 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway for the SE, while the Dodge Challenger R/T offers 16/25 mpg and the SRT8 a measly 13/19 mpg. Road tests appear to verify the SRT8's projected fuel economy, and ConsumerGuide reports that "an automatic-transmission SRT8 averaged 15.8 mpg."
The 2010 Dodge Challenger is somewhat larger than the Ford Mustang and other sporty coupes, and that can make its handling feel a bit more cumbersome, especially in tight curves. Steering response also could be better. Automobile Magazine says that "for a sporting machine...the steering feels light and slow," and Motor Trend describes the Dodge Challenger as "more Interstate/autobahn cruiser than mountain-road slalom champ."
Braking performance is a pleasant surprise, especially for such a heavy car, and ConsumerGuide says that the "brakes provide sure-footed stopping control."
2010 Dodge Challenger
Comfort & Quality
The 2010 Dodge Challenger is much more practical than you might think, with a reasonably comfortable interior, good ride quality, and great seats, but materials could be better.
For the most part, the Challenger has a very comfortable and well-appointed interior. The supportive front seats—good for long road trips—are a plus. But other cabin details leave some critics wanting.
Reviewers almost unanimously rave about the front seats in the 2010 Dodge Challenger. Cars.com holds nothing back when talking about the "excellent leather seats with good side and back support" that they feel are "easily the best [they've] seen in a Dodge." On the Dodge Challenger SRT8, Car and Driver reports that the "thick, high-backed Alcantara-and-leather performance seats...glue the driver in place regardless of lateral forces," while the Dodge Challenger "R/T and SE models also feature comfortable and nicely bolstered bucket seats."
While there are five sets of seat belts in the 2010 Dodge Challenger, you'll probably want to stick to four. Cars.com observes that "head and leg room also are great up front, but foot room is more moderate in back." Automobile Magazine agrees, claiming that "pushing the front seats too far back causes rear legroom to disappear in a hurry," and noting that "anyone beyond booster-seat age will be too big for the middle rear spot." ConsumerGuide remarks that rear-seat "entry and exit are sporty-coupe awkward."
Coupe design aside, the Challenger remains surprisingly practical. The trunk is particularly noteworthy and the backseats fold forward. ConsumerGuide says that "for a sports coupe, Challenger has impressive trunk space" that "offers more room than many midsize sedans." Automobile Magazine also makes a point of mentioning the "the generous trunk space (16.2 cubic feet) and fold-down rear seatbacks…impart some genuine practicality into this sports machine."
While TheCarConnection.com's editors point out that the Challenger has a better interior than Dodge's front-wheel-drive models, a number of reviewers find fault in some of the details—especially the materials used throughout the cabin. ConsumerGuide feels that the "Challenger's cabin houses plenty of cheap plastic, but everything is nicely assembled." The Jalopnik reviewer also slams the "horrifyingly plastic interior," while Car and Driver says that the Dodge Challenger SE's "mostly black interior features some silver-painted plastic that does less to warm up the interior than to reflect its cheapness." Fortunately, ConsumerGuide points out that Dodge Challenger "R/T and SRT8 are available with chrome, faux carbon fiber, and suede accents that help dress up the interior a bit."
Reviewers are consistently impressed with the overall refinement of the Dodge Challenger, which almost surely trumps the other muscle cars in this respect. ConsumerGuide calls the Dodge Challenger SE "surprisingly refined," and says that it's "nearly silent when cruising." Motor Trend also refers to the Dodge Challenger as a "refined car" with a "much quieter" ride than the competing Ford Mustang. Of the noises that occasionally invade the cabin, one of the most prominent is the note from the "tuned exhaust system" that Jalopnik contends "sounds great in the lower gears."
Ride comfort is widely lauded. Cars.com cites "a nice blend of sport and comfort," and they note that "big craters and railroad tracks give Challenger only a slight jiggle." ConsumerGuide raves about the "surprisingly supple" ride, "especially given this car's performance mission."
2010 Dodge Challenger
All the essential safety features are represented in the 2010 Dodge Challenger, and crash tests have been positive, but visibility could be an issue.
Although the 2010 Dodge Challenger hasn't been crash-tested by both major U.S. agencies, it's fared very well in one set of tests; the federal government (NHTSA) gave the Challenger five stars in all frontal and side tests.
Nearly all the expected safety equipment is now included on the Challenger. Electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, front side airbags, and side curtain bags are standard across the model line. The top-of-the-line 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8 heaps on additional safety features, which Motor Trend lists as "Hill Start Assist, which helps manual transmission cars launch more securely on inclines," and upgraded Brembo brakes. Cars.com reports that the Dodge Challenger "SRT8 has traction and stability control to avoid spinning the tires and [keep] you headed in the right direction," a valuable feature in a car as prone to wheelspin.
Several reviewers suggest that outward visibility is an issue in the 2010 Challenger. According to ConsumerGuide, the Challenger's "roof design severely limits visibility to the rear corners." Car and Driver expands upon that criticism, finding that the "outward sightlines are hampered by thick pillars, fixed rear headrests, a low roof, and a long hood."
2010 Dodge Challenger
The 2010 Dodge Challenger offers a lot of features for a reasonable base price, but those who option up an R/T or SRT8 might be shocked at the sticker.
The Dodge Challenger comes equipped with a lengthy list of desirable standard features, even in base SE trim, and moving up to the SRT8 only adds to the interior goodies. Taking a longer look at the options list reveals that several tech features you wouldn't expect to see in a muscle car are offered on the Challenger.
ConsumerGuide is impressed that the base Challenger Dodge SE offers a "tilt/telescopic steering wheel, cruise control," an "eight-way power driver seat," full power accessories, and an "AM/FM/CD/MP3 player," all as standard features." Most of the price bump that comes with upgrading to the R/T trim of the Dodge Challenger is due to the extra two cylinders under the hood, but ConsumerGuide does note that a "leather-wrapped steering wheel" and "illuminated visor mirrors" are added to the standard features list.
Most of the popular options for the 2010 Dodge Challenger have been piled into options packages, which are more convenient but can also be pricier for those who are only interested in one or two particular extras. For those looking for the middle-of-the-pack power of the Dodge Challenger R/T but the features load-out of the SRT8, you'll be pleased to hear that Motor Trend says a "popular equipment package gets you such SRT standards as leather interior, Boston Acoustics six-speaker, 276-watt amp, satellite radio, heated front seats and Keyless Go." The Challenger Dodge in R/T trim offers another appealing bundle: the "$995 'Track Pack' manual package" that Jalopnik says brings "a Hill-start Assist...a limited-slip differential," and "a tuned exhaust system" that the Dodge Challenger SRT8 gets as standard.
The aforementioned options are all nice to see on the Dodge Challenger, but reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that the real gem is the available MyGIG Multimedia system. MyGIG, according to ConsumerGuide, includes a "navigation system" with "traffic information," and "in-dash 6-disc CD/MP3 changer" and a "hard drive" that can store thousands of songs.