In this current economic and environmental situation, the new 2010 Dodge Challenger is like building a mansion for a banker in the middle of downtown Detroit. Not only isn’t it the best place to live, but it might be a bit inappropriate to the underprivileged of the city. Building a car that manages to get 13 miles per gallon and uses a motor the size of a tug boat seems a tad off in today’s green age.
That being said, they’re not the only ones who are going all out to kill more endangered animals in the arctic. Ford has the Mustang - although their new V6 gets 31 miles per gallon - and Chevrolet has the new Camaro SS, both aren’t exactly green.
During the Challenger’s first year, Chrysler was on the ropes and was looking down the barrel of demise. With Fiat taking control of the helm, the company seems to headed in the right direction, but let’s not forget that this muscle car was created during darker days.
Hit the jump to read the rest of the review.
The 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is a step backward in terms of automotive design. For those of you wondering, SRT stands for Street and Racing Technology. The Challenger is based on the Chrysler LX platform, which is used on the 300C, the Charger, and the disappointingly hilarious Magnum.
The design of the Challenger is one of our favorite areas of the car, as it harks back to the muscle car heyday. Like most American cars – and Americans – the car has grown wider, taller, and longer than the original version.
There are numerous models available to buy, including a V6, a 5.7-liter V8 Hemi R/T, and our test car for the week, the 6.1-liter V8 Hemi with a five-speed automatic transmission with sport shift.
The Dodge Challenger is aimed at the Ford Mustang GT500 with its 5.4-liter supercharged 500 horsepower V8, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The GT500 is miles ahead, so for realistic tests, we will compare it to the 5.0 GT and the Chevrolet Camaro SS.
There aren’t many new features that are debuting on the new 2010 Challenger. In terms of automotive advancement, the Challenger is a step in the other direction. While most car companies are focusing on fuel economy, emissions, and that sort of thing, Dodge placed a 6.1-liter V8 that manages to be none of those things.
For 2009, Dodge equipped the SRT8 with a six-speed manual transmission and we would much rather have that in our driveway, but we’ll try to avoid complaining too much. There is also a new limited-slip differential.
From the outside, the Challenger is just about as badass as it gets. While it does appear to be a larger version of the older model, we aren’t complaining. Dodge engineers added black plastic on the rocker panels and the front spoiler to try and make the car look smaller, but it didn’t really work. The front of the car looks sensational and the amber running lights that were mounted inboard of the HID headlights look pretty darn good, but they could only work on a car like this.
The black underlip front spoiler and the spoiler around back will aid downforce, but they’re mostly there for looks. The two hood scoops bring cooling air into the engine, as it does run a tad hot. The TorRed color scheme helps the car stand out, not that it needed any help, and the carbon-fiber-look tape looks decent, but it’s not for us. One of the final retro pieces on the exterior of the car was a silver throwback gas cap that was unable to be locked.
The interior is where the Challenger – and where most Chrysler products – fail to meet expectations. The dash is covered in black plastic, black plastic, and more black plastic. Dodge attempted to bring some life into it with some red stitching on the seats, but more needs to be done.
The seats on the other hand, are absolutely amazing. If you’re a large individual, the large side bolsters might make it difficult to enter the car, but once you’re in, they keep you firmly in place. The tilt and telescoping wheel allows drivers of any size to get a good feel behind the wheel and the center console is easy to understand, but a bit dull. The 6.5-inch navigation and multimedia screen is one of the easiest systems to use for music, but the navigation system was a bit poor. On the build quality side of things, it felt like we could easily yank some of the knobs and the controls too hard and break them, especially the level for adjusting the steering wheel.
If you’re looking for the battery, walk around back and look in the trunk. The location helps add weight over the rear wheels and it’s a nice throwback to the seventies drag racing cars. The Challenger also comes with a 60/40-split rear seat, which will help the 16.2 cubic feet cargo capacity, which is very good.
One thing that really shows the lack of attention to detail over a Dodge is the horrendous access to the rear-seat. We were unable to find one level that slid the seat all the way forward. Instead, we had to move the seatback up first and then reach down and move the seat up. This was way too much work that should have been avoided with some simple designing.
Overall, it would appear that we really don’t like the 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8 one bit, except for the exterior looks, of course. Well, while that might be true, there is one thing that saves it. The 6.1-liter 425 horsepower Hemi V8 with 420 pound-feet of torque is brilliant. Our car came with a five-speed automatic transmission that had the beans to take the abuse, but was very idiotically designed. There was no separate shift gate for the sport shift mode. Instead, you must slap the gear level to the left or right to manually shift it. That sounds all well and good, but once your in the sport shift mode, you must either shift into neutral or go to the highest gear to get out of it.
Still, despite our anger towards the transmission, the monster motor made up for it. Put your foot all the way down on the pedal and a monster of a noise comes out of the tail pipes, as the front-end snorts up and speedometer hits 60 miles per hour in just 5.1 seconds. We managed to get to 60 in as little as 4.95 seconds, but we averaged around 5.1.
Fuel economy was poor to say the least, as the EPA rates the Challenger at 13 miles per gallon city and 19 on the highway. We managed an overall rating of 18 miles per gallon with a mix of highway and city driving.
Taking corners is one of the areas that will make bring you closer to whichever God you’re choosing to believe in. The steering is numb and the car’s massive weight makes it feel like the car is just rolling through the corners. We took a corner at high speed once and had to go home to change our pants because it was that bad. This is a muscle car and meant for speed in a straight line, so corners were an afterthought.
Overall, the Challenger isn’t a very good car. The interior is built up to the same standards as most Chrysler products, the handling is so awful that it’s scary, and the fuel economy can bankrupt you. Had the car been boring and packed a 250 horsepower V6 it would have gotten a very low score, but the muscle car has that monster of a V8 that lives under the hood which saves it. For getting noticed, there is nothing better than the 2010 Dodge Challenger STR8.