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2015 Dodge Challenger Review by John Heilig +VIDEO

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)
2015 Dodge Challenger (Hellcat Shown)

By John Heilig

Reviewed Model: 2015 Dodge Challenger

Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V6
Horsepower/Torque: 305 hp @ 6,350 rpm/268 lb.-ft. @ 4,800 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 116.2 in.
Length x Width x Height: 197.9 x 75.1 x 57.5 in.
Tires: P245/45R20
Cargo: 16.2 cu. ft.
Economy: 19 mpg city/30 mpg highway/25.1 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 18.5 gal.
Curb Weight: 3,834 lbs.
Sticker: $33,975 (includes $995 destination, $2,985 options)

The Bottom Line: The Dodge Challenger looks like a performance car, drives like a performance car and has all the goods and bads of a performance car. And this isn’t the HOT one.

Dodge designers have done a great job with the Challenger. It certainly looks like a 1960s Challenger/Charger, but just modern enough to make it better. This has to be one of the best retro designs around. The paint was great, black with sparkles. I’ll be they didn’t have that one in the Sixties.

My one big complaint about the design is that with the wide sail panel at the C-Pillar, combined with the passenger seat headrest, there is a dangerous blind spot to the right rear. You simply cannot see. Also, the rear window is narrow, but at least it’s a window and you can see out of it.

We had very good performance from the 3.6-liter V6. It’s rated at a healthy 305 horsepower, it isn’t as powerful as the big 707 hp HEMI V8 SRT Hellcat, but it’s plenty enough for this old man. When you provoke the engine, there is a nice exhaust note.

Handling is very good. It is a bit firm for normal driving, but it is very good for driving the curves. We drove the Challenger over a wide variety of roads and the car did a nice job on all of them. Both hillclimbs were fun, the one with the tighter turns and the one with the smoother turns. We also drove the Challenger over some farmland roads in Pennsylvania Dutch country and had fun.

The front seats are comfortable with good side support. They are both heated and ventilated with excellent legroom. The rear seats are not as comfortable. There is tight leg and knee room with a tall center hump. Access to the rear seats is typically difficult as one would expect from a coupe.

There are courtesy lights by the door handles, which I found hard to find during the day. It may have been their location versus the car I drove the previous week. I liked the fat steering wheel.

Two cupholders and a small cubby to hold the keys reside in the center console.

I was able to get my golf bag in the trunk and would have had room for one more if I could get anyone to drive with me. Also, the rear seats fold to increase cargo capacity.

Like the Ram pickup, the similarly designed speedometer is difficult to read. However, there is a digital speedometer readout in the center of the analog gauge that eases the problem greatly. When you’re driving a car with this much performance potential, you want to be sure you’re at least close to the speed limit. I would like to have seen a clearer, maybe less retro, instrument package. The audio and HVAC worked fine.

The brakes were good and not tacky. There is an excellent collision warning system. A very bright red “BRAKE” appears on the information panel in front of the driver. Cross traffic alert is a necessity with the rear blind spot.

Nice features included the automatic high beams and the gear lighting up on the shifter as well as indicating on the instrument panel.

Needless to say, the Dodge Challenger is a faithful reincarnation of the 1960 Charger/Challenger. Performance is probably better than it was back then, and for me, that was one of the fun parts about this car. Several people commented on the design of the car and drooled over possibly getting a chance to drive or ride in it. They didn’t.

2014 The Auto Page