2011-2014 Dodge Challenger • 2015-17 Dodge Challenger cars
When it made its first huge splash, the new Dodge Challenger came in two versions, the everyday SE and the choice where looks matched speed — Dodge Challenger R/T. Power came from a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine — 370 horsepower with a five-speed automatic and mid-grade fuel, 375 hp with the six-speed manual transmission and premium gas.
The Hemi V8 belted out 398 lb-ft of torque (404 lb-ft with manual), and the Challenger R/T could do 0-60 in under six seconds. Gas mileage was not bad for its size and power, with the Hemi getting 16 mpg city, 23 highway (automatic; the manual transmission was 15 city, 23 highway). Without dropping speed, we maintained 27 mpg with the stick on the highway.
The Challenger SE, with 3.5-liter V-6, was rated at 18/25, but was slower than the bigger Dodge Intrepid R/T had been. A twin-branch tuned intake manifold went from short to long runners for a “supercharging” effect at two engine speed ranges.
The hottest version was the Dodge Challenger SRT8, with its 6.1 liter Hemi V8; available with either the five-speed automatic or Tremec six-speed manual, it did 0-60 in 4.9 seconds, the quarter mile in 13.3, and 0-100-0 in less than 17. Skid-pad results were 0.88g, while braking from 60 mph took just 110 feet, far better than any prior Dodge Challenger.
|SRT-8||425 @ 6200||420 @ 4800|
|R/T manual||375 @ 5,800||404 @ 4,200||15/24|
|R/T auto||370 @5,800||398 @4,200||16/23|
|Challenger SE||250 @ 6,400||250 @ 3,800||17-18/25|
The six-speed Tremec TR-6060 manual transmission was derived from the one in the Dodge Viper SRT10, with triple cone synchronizers in first and second gears and dual cone synchronizers for third through sixth gears, along with new gear ratios. The clutch was the Viper’s ZF-Sachs 250 mm twin-disc design, with a 1-4 skip-shift and reverse inhibit solenoids, and a 5:1 remote shifter.
Hill Start Assist (HSA), standard with the manual transmission, held the brake for three seconds to let the driver start up hills more easily, releasing when the system sensed torque. The manual transmission had a dual exhaust with low-restriction bottle resonators replacing the underfloor muffler, and bright pedals.
The manual-transmission Challenger R/T also had a variable displacement power steering pump, different rear shocks, and other tuning changes — and the ability to shut off the ESP completely. Gas mileage was lower than the automatic, due to the lack of cylinder shutoff.
The five-speed automatic (V8) had an aggressive first-gear ratio for launch performance, and AutoStick to select a higher or lower gear. V6 cars carried forward the old four-speed. Gear ratios for each transmission are listed under “specifications.”
Reliable source “redriderbob” wrote, “Cars were built by Drop Top Customs for Chrysler engineers to see what needed to be done to strengthen the chassis enough to take the roof off the car. Many aftermarket companies, like Prefix, do pre-production engineering with FCA US engineers to build mules, to see if certain things can be done before they are put into production. Unfortunately, the cost was too high to keep the car from being a rattle trap, so the project was scrapped, including the mules, which were destroyed in late 2009 because they don’t have a VIN.”
The company apparently turned to an extremely high-powered stock engine instead — the 707 horsepower Hellcat.
Source oh2o noted that preparations for building a convertible included the front seat belt mounts, mounted ragtop-style instead of being bolted to the B post. That made it easier to make a convertible but less convenient for the driver.
The front suspension was an independent short-long arm design with a high upper A arm, coil spring over gas-charged shocks and stabilizer bar, with lateral and diagonal lower links; the SRT-8 used Bilstein monotube shocks.
The rear suspension was a Mercedes-style five-link independent setup with coil springs, link-type stabilizer bar, shock absorbers, and isolated suspension cradle; the SE and R/T (with automatic) used gas-charged twin shock absorbers, while the SRT-8 used Bilstein monotube gas-charged shock absorbers, and the R/T with manual transmission used gas-charged monotube Nivomat load-leveling shocks. SE did not get the fancy chrome fuel filler door; and the SRT had a half-inch lower ride height. For 2009, SRT engineers fine-tuned suspension settings for both performance tires.
Four-wheel disc brakes were standard. Ducts in the front fascia cooled the front brakes. Each model had different pads.
Four wheel antilock brakes, traction control, and stability control with brake assist were standard on R/T, SRT8, and, with the Popular Equipment Package, on the SE. The SE’s Popular Equipment Package also had 18-inch aluminum wheels, better tires, an eight-way power driver’s seat, fog lamps, luxury ﬂoor mats, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, security alarm, and dual-illuminated visor mirrors.
The popular equipment package for the R/T had leather, six-speaker stereo with big amp, satellite radio, heated front seats, “luxury floor mats,” keyless ignition, seatback map pocket, automatic headlights, and heated otuside mirrors.
Track Pak included a six-speed manual transmission, Hill Start Assist, anti-spin differential (3.73 w/18-inch, 3.92 w/20-inch wheels), and ESP full-off switch.
The price for the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 was just under $38,000, including destination. Its performance, according to Chrysler; was:
The Challenger SRT had a brake-lock differential, all-speed traction control, and specially tuned stability control. The manual transmission cost $695. For 2008, each car had numbered dash plaques.
Inside, the Dodge Challenger SRT8 included leather seats with added bolstering and an orange accent stripe, stitched accents, tachometer, and 180 mph speedometer, with Performances Pages that provided 0–60 mph times, 60–0 mph braking, g-forces, and quarter-mile time. It also included a 13-speaker Kicker audio system with a 322-watt amplifier and 200-watt subwoofer, and satellite radio.
For 2009, the Dodge Challenger SE started at $21,995, while the Challenger R/T started at $29,995, and the SRT-8 started at $39,995. Popular options, according to “CudaAAR,” included a sunroof, $950; MyGIG with GPS, $890; and high-performance tires, $50.
The Challenger had an undeniable presence, whether up on a rotisserie, in photos, in video, or in person, and lent itself to “wild” and vibrant colors. Large yellow running lights provided a neat touch of color and a unique look. The full-length tail lit around a single backup-lamp bar.
It is amazing that the designers were able to get approval for the costly full-length tail-lights, the single-bar reverse light, and the real coup de résistance, the separate sidelights (later copied by the Camaro) and dual-headlight-style grille. The main battle, though, was reportedly to get approval for the grille without the trademark Dodge crosshairs.
Christopher Nowak, senior manager of the RWD product team and lead engineer on the Challenger “base car,” enthused about the combination of ride and handling; the SRT8 Challenger was also a better daily driver than past SRT8s, due to new tuning of the suspension.
We found the R/T and SE seats to be comfortable and supportive, with a more classic appearance and less aggressive side bolsters than the SRT8. Getting into the back seat was fairly easy from the passenger side, thanks to the high position of the seatback tilt-n-slide control, though one had to duck under the seat belt (or disconnect it from its seat loop). The driver’s seat had no tilt-and-slide control.
The interior of each model had subtle changes, including pattern changes; the R/T lacked the SRT’s performance metrics, and the SE had a dechromed logo above the glove compartment.
The Dodge Challenger was a unibody design, as one would expect, with a multilink short and long arm (SLA) front suspension set in a cradle (made of hydroformed steel tube side rails with a stamped box-section lateral member).
The Dodge Challenger SRT8 used a five-link rear suspension; moving from the prior multi-link Chapman strut system reduced the unsprung mass. Decoupling left and right wheels improve tire contact while stabilizer bar attachments to the knuckles reduced lean. For 2008, SRT-exclusive fully-forged 20-inch Alcoa aluminum wheels with 4-season Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires were standard; three-season Goodyear F1 Supercar tires were optional. In both front and rear, multiple links maintained independent control of camber and toe.
Electronic control and engine torque management were used to smooth full-throttle launches, quicken wide-open-throttle up shifts, and allow two-step kick-down shifts.
All four wheels had red Brembo four-piston calipers, with 360 x 32mm vented rotors up front and 350 x 26mm vented rotors in the rear. When the stability control registers over .6 g, the pads automatically went closer to the discs for instant action.
The drag coefficient of 0.353 (9.01 cdA) was high for a modern car, though similar to the 300C SRT8 (at 0.355).
Canadian buyers had two unique models: the Dodge Challenger SRT8 500 and SXT (thanks, Geo Nazos). The SXT was the SE with an option package. The SRT8 500, only available for 2008, had a certificate of authenticity, carbon fibre hood striples, Kicker 13-speaker audio, 6-disc DVD radio, UConnect, alarm, and badging.
Jeff Gale, the famed Tom Gale’s son, led exterior design. He said, “We used the original Challenger as an inspiration. The side mirrors actually started with a mold from the mirrors of an original Challenger. We tweaked a few details for fit and finish, then put them through our modern aerodynamic testing metrics and ended up with a body-mounted mirror that is remarkably similar visually to the original, but offers significantly better aerodynamic performance.”
Brian Nielander, manager of design for the Dodge Challenger, wrote that many interior themes were based directly on the original 1970 Dodge Challenger. Inside, the Challenger used the new chrome-ringed climate controls, which are both attractive and functional; the performance indicators were in the lower half of a gauge pod.
The Challenger was built in Brampton, Ontario. Safety devices and such were similar to the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300C.
TSB 18-006-09, dated February 11, 2009, notes that a computer “flash” upgrade is free, under warranty, for customers with 6.1 liter engines and manual transmissions built before February 6, 2009 (MDH 0206xx). This prevents unnecessary engine-light activation for cylinder 7 misfires (P0307) and may prevent the misfires themselves, smoothing the idle.
Some early manual transmission cars fouled the plugs on cylinder #7 (ECM code P0307). The issue appeared to be sensor calibration, and was fixed with a computer update.
Trivia: Stutz had Hill Start Assist (they called it the Noback) in 1929.
For 2009, the Hemi engine was upgraded to get higher gas mileage and more power, especially at lower engine speeds, via an expanded cylinder cutoff range, increased compression ratio, better port flow, and reduced restriction intake and exhaust. Other updates were crankshaft structural upgrades, a dual-mass crankshaft damper, floating pin piston design, valve spring design, and oil pump capacity increase.
The new-for-2009 Dodge Challenger SE Rallye (starting at $26,490) used the five-speed automatic transmission with the V6. It had 18 inch wheels, a spoiler, chromed fuel door, and faux carbon fiber interior accents, and was the first V6 Challenger to have accented dual stripes, and to step up from a four-speed; it was the first Challenger (in general) to have deck lid stripes. Acceleration was higher than with the SE, but at the cost of 1 mpg (city).
A special-edition Dodge Challenger Classic R/T was sold late in the 2009 model year, with B5 blue paint, black side stripes, unique badging, and 20-inch five-spoke aluminum wheels.
For 2010, the five-speed automatic finally replaced the four-speed across the board, and a deceleration fuel cutoff helped increase mileage at the cost of higher engine braking when it was active. Super Track Pack was an R/T option with the manual transmission. Stability control was standard on all models; automatic headlights with LED cup holder and door-handle lights were standard on R/T. Changes to the Challenger SRT8 were new limited edition Plum Crazy and Furious Fucshia models, serialized dash plaque, and plum accent seat-stripe insert.
The Hemi had a six-speed manual option which achieved the same gas mileage as the automatic. There were also a late-availability Super Track Pack option for R/T, UConnect multimedia with Sound Group I and II, steering wheel audio controls with Multimedia and Navigation, standard stability control on SE, and automatic headlights with LED cup holder and door-handle lights standard on R/T.
The long-rumored 475 hp 6.4 liter engine with cylinder deactivation showed up for SRT, midyear.
The Brampton facility made the Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, and Chrysler 300C on one line. Forty-two robots were added in the Body Shop to weld the Challenger’s unique body sub-assemblies.
Pre-production cars were built and tested on the regular assembly line, without interfering with production. Flexible manufacturing of this type was first used in the launch of the 2001 minivans.
We have separate sections on the
2008-2010 Dodge Challenger cars, including the SRT8, Classic, and Challenger R/T