By DAVID GOODSPEEDBeing the most practical adult on your block will
most likely earn you points at the PTA meeting and
the weekend youth soccer tournament, but for the rest of us, well, that’s why they invented pony cars.
Back in the 1960s and Õ70s, two-door muscle cars
were rolling out of Detroit in grand fashion, carrying
names like Mustang, Camaro and of course,
But before many of us could earn our driver’s
licenses, practicality put a stop to all of that “foolishness.”
A few lucky souls held on to their prized
chariots of a bygone era, but most were relegated to clunky, slow,
unleaded sleds in ugly square body styles that delivered
neither show nor go.
Fast-forward to the new millennium where
Detroit automakers have seen fit to bring about the
dawn of a new era of the pony car, writing new
chapters in the bench racer’s manual.
And I, for one, could not be happier.
Ford struck first with the rebirth of Mustang,
and Chevy has finally graced us with its release of a new Camaro.
And then there’s Dodge.
Some of the strongest emotions I have seen in the company of musclecar enthusiasts are related to the Mopar heritage.
In recent years, the Chrysler Corporation has given us a new breed of rear-wheel-drive sedans, many carrying a new generation of HEMI engines. But where was the pony car?
I give you Challenger.
For this resurrected badge, Dodge is delivering
a two-door cruiser complete with modern-retro
styling and a range of powertrains sure to please all.
For me, anything less a HEMI under the hood would be a disappointment,
and for 2009, the hot V-8s are available with a six-speed manual
gearbox and limited-slip rear differential.
Our recent Challenger R/T tester came rolling in with the 5.7-liter HEMI and included the six-speed manual tranny along with optional Trak Pak that consists of taller rear end gears, anti-spin rear differential and dressier pedals. The R/T package adds the body side stripes, even taller rear end gears, larger brake package and cool 20-inch chrome wheels that bear a striking resemblance to the Cragar SS mags we all had in the “good old days.” Pricing for the complete package comes to $37,410.
“Our all-new 2009 Dodge Challenger
is a modern-day muscle machine
representing the best from the past and
present,” Mike Accavitti, director,
Dodge Brand and SRT Global Marketing,
said. “Nearly 40 years following
the debut of the original, we are
bringing Dodge Challenger back and
loading it with essential hardware,
styling and technology desired by
To date, I have driven the Challenger with both SRT-8 powertrain and the 5.7-liter HEMI and, in my opinion, prefer the smaller engine with the manual gearbox on the R/T package. It is an easier package to drive every day in mixed road conditions and that R/T trim package just kicks things up an extra notch.
The Dodge Challenger SE, powered
by the 3.5-liter High Output V-6 with a
four-speed automatic transmission,
produces 250 hp and 250 lb. ft. of
The Dodge Challenger R/T features
the new-generation 5.7-liter HEMI V-8
engine with a five-speed automatic
transmission that produces 372 hp and
401 lb. ft. of torque. For 2009, the
HEMI engine is upgraded to get on
average a 4 percent improvement in
fuel economy, an increase of more than
30 horsepower and up to 20 lb. ft.
improved torque over a greater range of
engine speeds. The Dodge Challenger
R/T also offers a precision-shift, six-speed
manual transmission Ð the first
for a new-generation HEMI-powered
car Ð that produces 376 hp and 410 lb.
ft. of torque when running on premium
fuel. The Dodge Challenger R/T can go
from zero to 60 mph in less than six
The 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8
features an SRT-exclusive 6.1-liter
HEMI V-8 engine mated with a newfor-
2009 six-speed manual transmission
or a five-speed automatic transmission
with Auto Stick that generates
a blistering 425 hp and 420 lb. ft. of
torque. The vehicle can go from zero to
60 mph in less than five seconds.
Patterned off the Dodge Charger
architecture, the front short- and longarm
suspension and five-link independent
rear suspension system on all
Dodge Challenger models provides
excellent ride and handling characteristics.
The Dodge Challenger design team
stayed true to the concept revealed at
the 2006 North American International
Auto Show, while drawing upon elements
from the original Challenger.
The result: A bold, aggressive muscle
machine that blends nostalgia with
modern Dodge style.
On the exterior, the long, raised performance
hood with scoops and
recessed grille with round dual headlamps
are reminiscent of the original
Dodge Challenger. The bold A-line, or
character line, that runs from stem to
stern gives the all-new 2009 Dodge
Challenger an instantly recognizable
muscle-car profile. Retro dual rectangular
exhaust outlets complete the look
from the rear.
On the interior, the trapezoidal
theme of the door-panel cove and
gauge cluster, dark headliner and slanted
shifter console are inspired by the
original Dodge Challenger. The modern
interpretation of the Dodge Challenger
offers exceptional rear seating
and cargo capacity for a two-door
The all-new 2009 Dodge Challenger
offers customers a full range of innovative
¥ uconnect gps provides cutting-edge
audio and navigation with integrated
voice recognition and touch screen for
¥ uconnect phone provides convenient,
voice-activated communication with
Bluetooth cellular phones;
¥ uconnect studios with SIRIUS Digital
Satellite Radio offers a variety of commercial-
free radio programs and music;
¥ Keyless Go allows the driver to start
the vehicle with the simple push of a
¥ Remote Start starts a secured vehicle
with the key fob.