2017 Dodge Challenger Review

Challenger

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2017 Dodge Challenger Overview

While the Big Three each have their own modern pony car, the Dodge Challenger has taken a decidedly different path than either the Chevrolet Camaro or Ford Mustang. It’s a burlier, more traditional muscle car that seems perfectly happy roasting tires and setting quarter-mile records. Its styling even looks more like that of its ancestors than any of its competition.

The Challenger has gotten styling tweaks here and there, but to the casual observer it has looked almost exactly the same since its 2008 refresh. 2017 sees only minor changes, like new wheels, new paint colors, and the addition of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to the infotainment system. Most importantly, though, two new trims have been introduced—the T/A and T/A 392, resurrecting a name not seen on a Challenger since the ‘70s. Both come with features from the SRT Hellcat and are based on the R/T and Scat Pack trims. Their exterior styling is characterized by different headlights, a black hood, Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, hood pins, a black fuel-filler door, a black rear spoiler, and black T/A racing stripes.

You can spend anywhere from 30 to over 60 grand on a Challenger—it all depends on what you want under the hood, and you’ve got lots of options. Even though this muscle car weighs in at about two tons, the standard V6 engine’s output of 305 hp and 268 lb-ft of torque still makes the Challenger one of the fastest cars on the road. For those who absolutely need a V8, the R/T and T/A trims feature a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 good for 372 hp and 400 lb-ft with an automatic transmission and 375 hp and 410 lb-ft with a manual. If that’s not enough, the R/T Scat Pack, T/A 392, and SRT 392 trims come with a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 capable of a tire-screeching 485 hp and 475 lb-ft.

To be the undisputed king of the hill, though, you’ll want the Challenger SRT Hellcat. Its 6.2-liter Hemi V8 makes a formidable 707 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. It boasts a 0-to-60 time in the mid-3-second range and a quarter-mile time of 11.2 seconds with street tires, and it can reach 150 mph in 17 seconds. While it might not put the power to the ground quite as well as the longer Charger Hellcat, some might find the extra danger of the Challenger more thrilling.

Unlike the Charger, the Challenger is available only with rear-wheel drive (RWD). An 8-speed automatic transmission is standard across the range, but a 6-speed manual is a popular option on trims with a V8. Big Brembo brakes and adjustable dampers are available on the more powerful trims, and while most Challengers come with electronic power steering, the SRT Hellcat features a well-weighted hydraulic power-steering system. A Super Track Pak package, which comes standard on the T/A trim, adds performance steering, upgraded brakes, Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, and a sport suspension.

The Challenger’s interior has become increasingly refined over the past few years, and a number of luxury options are available across the Challenger’s broad price range. Standard on all trims is a customizable 7.0-inch instrument cluster, and the 5.0-inch infotainment touchscreen can be upgraded to an 8.4-inch display. The T/A Plus trim adds heated and ventilated Nappa leather front seats, a heated steering wheel, and a premium 6-speaker sound system. While driving, the Challenger is reportedly quiet even in the sportier trims, although the V8s will make themselves heard when accelerating. As for practicality, the Challenger is somewhat of a mixed bag—its front seats are large and supportive, but the rear seats aren’t quite as spacious as you would expect from its size. Trunk space is an appealing 16.2 cubic feet, but the car’s rear visibility is fairly poor thanks to its thick roof pillars and small rear window.

While the Challenger isn’t lacking in the horsepower department, its safety technology is less up to par. The reversing camera is not standard equipment, and automatic emergency braking is not available. Safety options do include adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitors, and rear cross-traffic alerts, however, so it’s not all bad. The 2017 Challenger also earned a 5-star overall rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

In many ways, the Challenger is a bit old-fashioned, but that’s just part of its character. With its high-impact colors, loud engines, and ‘70s styling, it’s the in-your-face kind of muscle car you just don’t see much anymore. Other than performance upgrades, Dodge hasn’t updated the Challenger to any great degree in quite some time. But with its wide range of engines and pricing options, there still isn’t anything else quite like it on the market, which saves it from looking too long in the tooth.

Updated
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Andrew Newton first got into cars through vintage racing a 1969 Lynx Formula Vee. After receiving two degrees in history, he followed his passion for cars and became a contributor for sites like Sports Car Digest, BoldRide.com and JamesEdition.com in addition to serving as Education Manager at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, MA. Andrew currently covers the collector car market full time as Auction Editor for Hagerty Classic Car Insurance.

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