2015 Dodge Challenger
By Tony Swan
On Sale: Fall 2014
Expected Pricing: Starting around $26,000
If you're old enough to remember the heyday of American muscle, this car will look familiar. Though if your memories of that era are exceptionally sharp, you may be a little puzzled. Was it 1970? Or 1971?
Those were the years when the Dodge Challenger joined the pony car derby, a latecomer to the field, but formidable, with Hemi horsepower and snappy styling.
Extensively updated for 2015, Challenger retains its retro roots, with revised styling drawn from the 1971 model, rather than 1970, according to the Dodge. That year was the high water mark for Challenger performance, its second year on the market and final year with the option of 426 Hemi V8 power.
The styling changes from 1970 to 1971 were subtle, and that's true of this freshening. The front and rear fascia have been redesigned with a thinner split grille slot, deeper front air dam, an LED halo surrounding the quad headlights, a bigger power bulge in the new hood, a new Shaker hood option, and LED taillights on the revised rear.
But as was true of the transition from 1970 to '71, the 2015 Challenger's profile is essentially the same as before. With the exception of a new cast aluminum axle housing and electric power steering, that's also true of the chassis. The loyalty to yesteryear also extends to the paint palette, which includes B5 Blue, Tor Red, and Sublime, an incandescent green that guarantees visibility. Dodge calls them high impact heritage hues. And there are seven heritage-inspired stripe options.
While the exterior maintains its cosmetic ties to the early '70s, the all-new interior blends retro design with contemporary technology. Highlights include a new 7-inch TFT cluster between the tachometer and speedometer, with programmable information via Dodge's Performance Pages feature; a new 8.4-inch touchscreen option with Chrysler's Uconnect telematics; driver selectable operating modes; and a new rearview camera. An S3 card slot, auxiliary audio input and USB outlet are integrated into a new media hub housed in the center armrest.
The front seats have been redesigned, with upholstery choices ranging from cloth to Nappa leather, and the option of heating and cooling for seats clad with leather. There's also a performance seat option with more pronounced thigh and torso bolsters.
Dodge claims more rear seat legroom for the 2015 Challenger versus the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro, although this distinction seems academic, rather than practical. The Challenger is rated for five passengers, but the rear center position is barely habitable, and only for short distances.
Pony cars have always been about performance, and there's no shortage of hustle in the Challenger powertrain inventory. Engine choices are familiar: Chrysler's 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6, and 5.7- and 6.4-liter Hemi V8s. Output for the 5.7-liter Hemi ranges up to 375 hp and 410 pound-feet of torque in the Challenger R/T, when intake air enters via the optional Shaker hood and the engine is paired with a Tremec 6-speed manual transmission.
The Shaker package goes beyond cold air, extending to chassis elements via the Super Track Pack, with upgrades to suspension, brakes, steering, three-mode stability control, and Goodyear Eagle F1 performance tires.
The 6.4 Hemi, (known as the 392 within Dodge), generates 485 hp and 475 lb-ft with the Scat Pack Hemi package. Both V8s will include the option of Chrysler's TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic (standard with the V6), replete with paddle shifters and a new electronic shift feature.
In addition to the 6.4-'s Scat Pack Hemi option, Dodge has also introduced an entire line of Scat Pack accessories from Mopar that includes 5.7-liter engine hardware, performance suspension parts, 20 x 9-inch forged alloy wheels, and Brembo brakes, plus a Scat Pack appearance package with a 276-watt audio system and animated start-up screen.
The 2015 Dodge Challenger models will reach showrooms this fall, with some of the high performance elements due later in the year.