485HP – where have you been all my life?
This was another surprise rental from an unexpected one-way rental from an East Coaster escaping Hurricane Florence. Of course I was intrigued about driving a car with nearly TWICE the horsepower as my perfectly capable Acura TL, but I was a little concerned about driving it more than a few miles at a time. On the surface, this would appear to nearly be a track car and could be torturously uncomfortable for more than a short trip across town. The tight suspension was not very forgiving on rough city roads, but was pleasantly smooth on the highway. The “Sport Seats” a.k.a. “Love handle squeezing seats” were ok for our two 90-mile trips, but I don’t think a full day of driving would be comfortable even with the 8-way power driver seat.
I liked the 6.4L Bee ‘mascot’. It was also emblazoned on the front seats and on the dashboard as well as an awesome moving graphic at start-up. It’s an obvious shout out to the Dodge Super Bee logo from the late 60’s.
The menacing front-end means business with the prominent red R/T logo on the driver’s side. There’s no stock Pentastar V-6 in this bad boy. I don’t know what the yellow air dam covers are for since I haven’t seen them on any other Challenger before, but I’ll guess it’s for the high guide bars in the company’s car washes. The low mounted fog lights help illuminate the area on each side of the car a lot, but do very little in the front since the headlights do a great job already.
When I first got in the Challenger, I thought it was odd to have such a huge prominent mute button. But after experiencing the 506-watt amp boosted Alpine system, with subwoofer, I understood the need. It’s impossible to have a conversation inside OR outside the car with the volume turned up only half way. The $895 additional cost for the upgraded stereo was money well spent by anyone that gets to experience the thumping from those 9 speakers, aka kidney function disrupters.
The real magic can be unleashed from this beast with the two buttons below the mute.
(sorry for the sun glare in the next few pictures)
The information this vehicle can give is incredible. On one screen you can get instant dyno information showing torque curve, horsepower, and gear selection. . .
. . . and even instant oil pressure or any combination of the four. I’d like to think that since there’s so much info on the screen that this is more for passenger amusement than the driver. It was really hard to take all of this in without looking away from the road for more than a few seconds.
This was my favorite screen. It can show times and speeds like you were on a drag strip. I did not accomplish that 0-60 time of 5.1 seconds, but I’m curious where a previous renter did that! My personal car can beat that quarter mile time, so it obviously hasn’t been tested to it’s potential. Since track time or drag strip racing in a rental car is strictly forbidden, I’m a little surprised this package is even included in our fleet. Suffice to say, Chrysler fleet sales probably gave them a discount they couldn’t refuse and our purchasing department pounced on it. . . who wouldn’t?
I tried my hand at a quick 0-60 sprint, but I could only do it while doing a left hand turn onto a road from a stop sign. My lame time of 9.2 seconds from 0-60 isn’t pictured, but I sure would like another chance on a straight flat surface to beat that 5.1 second best time so far!
Also pictured in this screen is the phone/Bluetooth setting in the bottom right corner next to settings. I had a difficult time pairing my phone with the car and after a little more searching at a stop light, I discovered that I paired with a previous rental also named “Uconnect”. This prohibited connecting without first deleting the old one. Duplicate Bluetooth names were bound to happen eventually, but I thought that’d take years, not months.
The trunk was made for weekend trips only. The subwoofer is off to the far right and takes up a noticeable amount of room also. If Dodge decides on a convertible version of the Challenger down the road, the trunk will be nearly non-existent with the top down.
Between the racing wheels, matte black paint accents, and the LOUD V8 engine even under slight acceleration, this Challenger is hard to ignore in terms of price, performance, and value.
The throwback “fuel” filler door was a nice tribute to the many decades long Dodge muscle car heritage.
It’s interesting to see how carmakers treat 2-seaters, 2+2 coupes, 2 door cars with back seats, etc. The tiny rear floormats tell the story of the backseat. Legroom is limited to very thin children and compact infant car seats. I didn’t even attempt to get back there and subject myself to what would have to be my knees on my chin.
The dashboard is well thought out, but the speedometer isn’t in full view unless you lean to the left. A first I’ve never experienced, the paddle shifters can be activated by holding a button hidden behind the upshift button on the right. The center display had 8 separate digital screens to choose including speedometer, trip computer, fuel economy just to name a few. At coasting or low load speeds, the center lights up “4-cyl” in green signifying half the cylinders are deactivated to save fuel. Cylinder activation and deactivation was completely seamless every time and the instant fuel economy gauge was the only other indication anything happened at all. As a 4-cylinder cruiser, the instant fuel economy spiked to 36mpg, but instantly tanked to 23mpg at even the slightest road incline.
I consumed a little over a half tank of gas on my 260 mile jaunt today and contrary to what the trip computer says, I’ll have to disagree with it’s assessment of 25.1 MPG. I floored the car just a few times to hear the marvelous V8 exhaust note, but 25mpg in real life seems to be nearly impossible, unless you are going downhill a lot at highway speeds from Denver, CO to Las Vegas. Most of the trip computers that calculate miles per gallon nowadays are fairly accurate within 1 to 1.5 MPG, but this Challenger isn’t one for accuracy.
I’m not ashamed to admit, I liked this car A LOT more than I thought I would. Between the awesome sounds from the speakers, engine bay, and exhaust, it’s hard not to appreciate all it has to offer. The exhaust note even at slight acceleration at 1900RPM in top gear is deafening, but this is in no way a family car and meant to turn heads.
Things of note:
Dodge exclusive halo LED daytime running lamps are distinctive from miles away.
The Challenger price range is from $27,000 for a base V6 to nearly $90,000 for a Demon.
$42,000 seems like a deal for all the tech and horsepower.
8-way power drivers seat, but reclining is manual.
Backseat is not for your friends, but maybe people you don’t like.
Buy it? Rent it? Avoid it?
Chryslers as a whole aren’t known for holding value, but the fun factor of this beast is timeless. A 2-year old 20,000 mile example of a R/T can be had for nearly half price of new. That’s not so great at trade-in time, but a 2nd owner could get a smokin’ hot deal for a 2016 model year 4-wheeled rocket. I’d rent this again tomorrow if I could, but staying away from a drag strip would take a lot of self-control. I REALLY want to try and get 5 seconds flat on that electronic log and it feels like it could go under 5 seconds with a few traction and launch control adjustments.
Dodge if you’re listening . . .
Chrysler has all the trim levels covered from a basic 305hp to an extreme 840hp, but touring seats and an adjustable suspension would be nice for a cross-country trip.
On a scale from 1-100: (1-hints of a 1978 Dodge Omni – 100- hints of a Viper ACR)
Buy it now – 50
Buy it later at half the current price – 75
F.E.D. (Fun, Efficiency & Desirability) – 85
Oooh and ahhh factor – 65
Recommended – (50 to buy / 90 to rent)