New Car Review: 2018 Dodge Challenger GT AWD Review by Larry Nutson +VIDEO
Consumer Reports Rating: 2018 Dodge Challenger, Overall Score 53; Road Test 70; "It may look old school but its a modern thrilling barnstormer."
2018 Dodge Challenger GT
All-Wheel Drive Ponycar
By Larry Nutson
Senior Editor and Bureau Chief
The Auto Channel
I’ve been privileged to drive the Dodge Challenger in all of its drive train variants. This includes the 3.6-L V6, the 5.7-L Hemi V8, the 392-cu-in 6.4-L Hemi, the supercharged 6.2-L Hellcat Hemi and the supercharged 6.2-L SRT Demon Hemi. Wow, what a stable! All of them are rear-wheel drive.
Early last year Dodge went to the parts bin and dragged out the all-wheel-drive Charger’s underpinnings and bolted them into the Challenger. Not a difficult task as the two models share a common platform.
Thus was born the Dodge Challenger GT and the first two-door American muscle car with all-wheel drive. Some folks have winter’s snow and slush to deal with in the Northeast or Midwest, or high-elevation snows in the Rockies, or perhaps frequent trips to California’s snow peaks. The Challenger GT can provide confident year round personal transportation in nearly every driving condition.
Just thinking about all this brought back many memories of seeing various pony/muscle cars of different makes with their fat tires and lightly weighted rear drive wheels basically going nowhere in unexpected winter snows.
The Challenger GT has Dodge’s 305-HP, 3.6-L V6 under the hood. The engine has an eight-speed automatic bolted up to it. The all-wheel drive (AWD) system features an active transfer case and front-axle disconnect for year-round optimized performance and fuel economy. To help a bit off the line, the final drive ratio is 3.07 versus 2.62:1 on the RWD V6 Challenger SXT.
Dodge designed the AWD to transition between rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive with no driver intervention. It does it smoothly and seamlessly. Under normal driving conditions, the front axle is disengaged and 100 percent of the engine’s torque is directed to the rear wheels. Meaning, in dry road conditions the fun, performance and handling characteristics of a rear-wheel drive vehicle is still there. Sensors monitor the need for additional traction, or when temperature drops below a certain level, and switch the system automatically to engage the front axle.
The Challenger GT is heavier, by a bit over 200 lbs., than its rear-drive sibling and the suspension tuning has been tweaked to account for that. Grounding the Challenger GT are 19-inch aluminum wheels fitted with P235/55R19 all-season performance tires. The combination of the compliant suspension tuning along with the tall cross section 55-series tires makes for a comfortable and yet firm ride.
On the inside the Challenger GT offers the same features as other Challengers and also includes paddle shifters and Sport mode, which holds shifts longer with quicker gear changes and revs are held higher. A Super Track Pack button activates the Dodge Performance Pages and launch control features embedded in the 8.4-inch touchscreen radio. Performance information, such as reaction times, 0-60 times, G-force indicator and lap times, can be monitored. The new Challenger GT model also features three-mode ESC with “full-off” mode, a fun feature for drifting through snow.
An all-new GT Interior package, unique to the Challenger GT AWD model, includes performance Nappa leather and Alcantara suede seats, nine Alpine speakers, including a subwoofer and a 506-watt amplifier, and the Dodge performance steering wheel.
Base price on the Challenger GT is $33,495 The GT Interior package is priced at $995. My test car had a few more options and totaled at $38,965.
There’s seating for five, but the usefulness and comfort of the back seat depends a lot on the size of the passengers. With its 16.2-cubic-foot trunk and split-folding rear seats there is a bit of usefulness that would make a weekend ski trip quite possible. A heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated front seat are standard.
The Challenger GT is quite fun to drive. The V6 delivers on the performance end with zero to 60 mph times in the 6.5 second range or perhaps a bit lower. EPA-estimated fuel economy ratings are a bit lower compared to the V6 SXT at 21 mpg combined with 18 city mpg and 27 highway mpg. For comparison, the rear-drive Challenger SXT with its V6 is rated at 23 mpg combined, with 19 city mpg and 30 highway mpg.
The timing of my test drive was towards the tail end of winter so I didn’t experience the real benefit of all-wheel drive in snow conditions. Dodge has sponsored some snow-country drive programs with the Challenger GT and from what I have seen of the reports the system delivers on its promise.
More information, specifications and features on the Challenger GT can be found at www.dodge.com.
I think the Challenger GT with its V6 engine would be a good choice for those who live in snow-belt areas and also yearn for a sporty coupe for their daily commute or a weekend road trip.
© 2018 Larry Nutson, the Chicago Car Guy
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