Barely more civilized than the SRT-8
The Challenger is a car to which it is impossible to remain indifferent. Touch those keys and you’ll find yourself nostalgically remembering the 1970s even though you’re dealing with a 2009 model. Yes, it’s muscular and the very picture of manliness, but more than anything, it’s a veritable time machine. If buying a car is an emotional experience, then those who have made the Challenger’s acquaintance in the past will let themselves be reeled in by their feelings.
The R/T version is a bit more civilized than the brutish SRT-8, but not by much. After all, the 5.7-litre HEMI is only 50 ponies short of the 6.1-litre engine’s stable. No matter the engine, the Challenger is still a big boy’s toy, slightly temperamental but oh-so-fun to drive.
A Blast From the Past
The feeling of being catapulted smack into the middle of the 70s is a permanent one. Not that the car is outdated – quite the opposite – it’s just that Dodge’s stylists really put the emphasis on the Challenger’s retro appeal. Let’s just say that both inside and out, this version looks simply like the evolution of the original.
A very nice cabin welcomes you inside, with black and grey leather seating featuring 70s-style top stitches. The dash board shines in its simplicity and lack of pretension. I know it’s a bit old-fashioned, but a nice wood steering wheel like in the glory days of the Challenger, would really add a wistful touch.
The thing that stands out the most has got to be the revolver-shaped shifter. Its grip practically conveys a sense of authority. The cabin features better quality plastics than the Camaro, but lesser quality than the Mustang. The instruments are easy to read and the overall ergonomics are efficient.
When you’re looking to buy a Challenger it’s usually the result of love at first sight. However, some things do become annoying over time, like the hard-to-access rear seats and the total lack of visibility in almost every direction. The high door sills and low seats give the very real impression of driving a tank.
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