2008 Dodge Challenger

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2008 Dodge Challenger Review

Note: This review was created when the 2008 Dodge Challenger was new.

The 2008 Dodge Challenger is a retro-styled muscle car that will attract more attention than nearly anything else on the road today.  It's a good-looking brute and a high-performance beast.  However, the Challenger's safety and reliability are unknown, and some say its interior is cheap in comparison to its dramatic exterior.

Pros & Cons

  • Dramatic styling-- it looks like nothing else on the road
  • Performance that lives up to its looks
  • Surprising cargo capacity for a sporty car
  • Safety and reliability are completely unknown
  • No manual transmission
  • Disappointing interior 
  • Poor fuel economy

2008 Dodge Challenger Overview

The Dodge Challenger arrives on a wave of buzz bigger than any the automotive industry has seen in years. While other manufacturers have added retro styling to some cars in thier lineups, Dodge has taken the concept to the extreme on the Challenger, with a dramatic body that screams out for attention. It closely follows the lines of the legendary Challengers of the early 1970's, where other recently revived classics have merely suggested their forebears.  It is available with up to 425 horsepower and, according to Road and Track, "0-60-mph sprints can be clocked in the low 5-second range, with the quarter-mile trap triggered in the mid-13s. A top speed of 160 mph can be reached without breaking a sweat."  In the first eight published reviews of the Challenger, the word "badass" appeared nine times.  Enough said.

But the automotive press is puzzled by some things Dodge seems to have overlooked when bringing the Challenger back.  Most obvious is the fact that the Challenger is available with only an automatic transmission.  The cabin comes in for some criticism as well.  Automobile Magazine says much the interior "could have been lifted from any current rear-wheel-drive Chrysler car."

The Challenger is an entirely new car for 2008.  It will initially be sold only in its high performance, SRT8 trim, featuring a 6.1-liter HEMI V8 that lays down 425 horsepower.  With gas prices hitting record levels in 2008, the Challenger is notable for its poor fuel efficiency.  It manages only 18 mpg on the highway, and only 13 in city driving.  So far, that has not slowed down sales -- all 6,000 Challengers built for 2008 are spoken for, though it may still be possible to buy one if a buyer who has reserved a car backs out of the deal.  For 2009, the Challenger will be available with several more fuel-efficient engines. The Challenger's most obvious competition in the retro-muscle-car market is the Ford Mustang.  Chevrolet plans a retro-styled Camaro to challenge the Dodge in 2010.  If you are interested in the Challenger but need something slightly more practical, its Dodge Charger cousin might be worth a look as well.

  • + "Sorry, Ford. Your by-default reign over the American musclecar party is about to come to an end. This is clear the instant we climb aboard...the Challenger SRT8, fire its 425-horse Hemi V-8, and plant our right foot hard to the mat. The engine screams to over 6000 rpm, the rectangular exhaust outlets bellow, and the Big Bad Dodge's husky butt fishtails in response, just like the good old days. Better, in fact."  -- Motor Trend
  • The sounds and sensations after pushing the keyless-start button ignite memories of those thrilling days of yesteryear when an original Hemi V-8 lit up its Goodyear Polyglas rear tires and sent an original Challenger hurtling down the highway" -- Car and Driver
  • The new Challenger takes a storied icon into an altogether modern realm." -- Popular Mechanics
  • When Chrysler invited us to drive a mechanically correct Challenger SRT8 prototype, we jumped at the chance. And when officials asked us to wear a helmet and a firesuit for the drive, we knew we were in for some serious thrills on the track" -- Road and Track
  • "Rest assured - the Dodge Challenger SRT8 is a true performance car, not some sissy, profiling retro-mobile.: -- Automobile Magazine

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