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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T Review

Resurrected Racer

A three-quarter front view of a blue 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T

In short: A modern take on Dodge's classic pony car.

Standing in front of the awe-inspiring backdrop of the Manhattan skyline, Chrysler executives recently revealed the all-new 2009 Dodge Challenger to the automotive media—and suddenly, nobody cared about the skyline anymore.

The 2009 Dodge Challenger is an eye-opening and heart-throbbing muscle car that is perfectly crafted to reflect the bygone days of hot rods, cool chicks and midnight drags in the desert. However, despite its outwardly-macho appearance, the guts of this retro ride are purely 21st century, with enough high-tech amenities and modern-day gadgets to make even luxury car buyers sit up and take notice. Just imagine what the Dodge owner of the 70's would have thought if he saw the 2009 Challenger's tricked-out interior, complete with a voice-activated navigation system, keyless push button ignition, and iPod connectivity. The list of the new Challenger's advanced interior features goes on and on, but you get the picture. The 2009 Dodge Challenger is a throwback muscle car with today's state-of-the-art technology.

Also updated for 2009 is a new, roomier seating arrangement. If you were ever unfortunate enough to experience the "back seat" of the old Challenger, you'll be happy to hear that the new version seats three adults comfortably, with head and legroom that is rated best in class. That's a good thing, too, because the Challenger is one car in which the whole family is going to want to go for cruises.

Available in three trim levels (SE, R/T, and SRT8), the Challenger features both V6 and V8 engine choices, with Hemi power available in both the R/T and SRT8 versions. The Challenger SE features a 3.5-liter V6 engine that generates 250 horsepower with a four-speed automatic transmission. The next step up in terms of price and power is the R/T, which sports a 5.7-liter V8 HEMI that produces 372 horsepower when combined with a five-speed automatic transmission, and 376 horsepower when paired with the new six-speed manual transmission. But if that's not enough fun and frolicking for you, there's also the SRT8, which packs in a 6.1-liter V8 HEMI that churns out 425 horsepower when mated with either the five-speed automatic transmission or six-speed manual transmission. With all of that power under the hood, this baby will definitely blow your socks off before you even get to the hop.

When designing the new Challenger, Dodge took great pains to carry over some of the important design elements from the classic version, including the horse collar grille, the rear spoiler, the pistol grip shifter, and of course, the iconic racing stripes that streak down the side of the Challenger's sleek body. Stepping into the 2009 Dodge Challenger is almost like stepping back in time and strapping yourself into the dream car you never got to drive—or perhaps the one that got away. In any case, with the new Challenger, you'll be able to relive the past without sacrificing the luxury that we've come to expect from today's vehicles.

Warranty/Service: 3-year/36,000-mile basic limited warranty; lifetime powertrain limited warranty; 3-year/36,000-mile 24-hour towing assistance

Base Price: $30,220 / As tested: $38,970

Technical Specifications

Vehicle type: front engine, rear-wheel drive, 5-passenger, 2-door coupe

Engine: 5.7-liter V8 Hemi VVT engine
Horsepower: 376 hp @ 5,200 rpm
Torque: 401 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual

Curb weight:
4,041 lbs
Wheelbase: 116 in
Length/Width/Height: 197.7/75.7/57.3 in
Turning circle: 37.5 ft

4-wheel disc perf brakes with ABS
Suspension: independent front and rear suspension; rear stabilizer bar

Traction: all-speed traction control; electronic stability program

0-60 mph: 5.5 seconds
Top Speed: 138 mph

EPA City:
16 mpg
EPA Highway: 25 mpg

advanced multi-stage front airbags; supplemental side curtain front and rear airbags

Likes: retro looks; power

Dislikes: mpg; heavy weight; seat operation


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Photography: AlphaMedia

PNW042310 (Updated 04/29/10 NW)