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2017 Dodge Challenger T/A Review By John Heilig

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By John Heilig
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
Mid-Atlantic Bureau
The Auto Channel

REVIEWED MODEL: 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A
ENGINE: 5.7-liter HEMI V8
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 375 hp @ 5,200 rpm/400 lb.-ft. @ 4,400 rpm
WHEELBASE: 116.2 in.
LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT: 197.9 x 75.7 x 57.5 in.
TIRES: P245/45ZR20
CARGO CAPACITY: 16.2 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway/17.3 mpg test
FUEL TANK: 18.5 gal.
CURB WEIGHT: 4,190 lbs. #/HP: 11.2
STICKER: $42,265 (includes $1,095 delivery, $7,775 options)
BOTTOM LINE: Raucous and powerful, the Dodge Challenger T/A is fun to drive, even though its exhaust note may hurt your ears.

Dodge has a good thing going. With the Charger and Challenger they have not only resurrected the styling of the 1970s muscle cars, they have kept the performance image, so much so that the Challenger SRT is the most powerful and fastest muscle car ever. 

But the T/A is no slouch. It still offers 375 horsepower from its 5.7-liter HEMI V8, and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. While this may not be enough to do sub-12-second quarter mile times, it is enough to make any street racer happy. 

And the sound, oh the sound. The Challenger T/A features a 2.75-inch electronically controlled exhaust to deliver the signature Dodge muscle car sound. Now, with many cars that have that distinctive roar, the exhaust is close to quiet under normal driving conditions. However, the Challenger T/A always has a little roar to it.

When we were driving the T/A home from dinner one evening, a car full of teenagers in a MINI came up alongside of us and ogled the Yellow Jacket paint scheme with black stripes (plus the low rumbling exhaust note). So I shifted into neutral and blipped the accelerator to raise the exhaust note. The kids almost fell out of their car. So I did it again, just as the light turned green. I’m sure they were four of the happiest kids at school the next day.

In reality, the Challenger T/A is very similar to the Charger Daytona we drove a while back. The Challenger was yellow, the Charger orange. Both were very visible, and I had to behave. 

I was totally impressed with the Challenger T/A’s handling, even on tight corners. Often, a car with flat handling through the corners will also deliver a harsh ride. Not so with the Challenger. It was fun to drive and offered surprisingly good comfort. While the T/A isn’t a Hellcat and, therefore, not able to do thrilling quarter miles, acceleration is still a lot of fun. Of course, to gain the most from acceleration, you make a lot of noise and scare the birds in the neighborhood.

I was not totally impressed with the instrument panel. The small tachometer and speedometer are hard to read. There is a nice digital speedometer in the middle of these two dials that somewhat compensates. This information section also has a “performance” screen with 0-60 times and last and best times. Have fun folks.

The clear 8.4-inch square infotainment screen had the usual options - radio, climate, media, apps, nav, phone, settings. With Uconnect it’s very easy to navigate and use. I like the option of being able to turn the screen off if you find it distracting.  Front seats are very comfortable with excellent side support. However, as with many racing-inspired seats, overweight people need not apply. The wide center console between the front seats could be a pain, but with soft surfaces it makes for a comfortable knee rest. Rear seats are minimal and offer essentially no leg room with the front seats pushed back to decent levels. 

The manual shifter itself is fun to use. And with the abundance of torque available in the engine, you can be “lazy” and cruise in higher gears. Okay, so you have a choice between performance driving and shuttling to the supermarket. Soft interior surfaces abound, a concession to modernity. The dash is soft, as is the console. The two assist handles over the doors are elastic, rather than hard. 

I was impressed with the trunk. It’s very good for a performance car. It is wide enough to carry a couple of golf bags crosswise. The trunk is also very deep and well proportioned. 

It may seem minor, but the sun visors seem small, even with extensions. In order to fit around the mounting arm, they are cut away and provide a “window” for the sun to blaze through at what I found was the wrong time of day.  Overall, the Dodge Challenger T/A has fantastic retro styling that has served Dodge well. It also has a fantastic HEMI engine with more than enough performance for this old man, yet it still can be driven “normally.” 

(c) The Auto Page Syndicate