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2015 Dodge Challenger First Drive

Can muscle and refinement coexist?

What It Is
The most powerful muscle car ever built, Dodge says.
Best Thing
Power delivery is almost evil.
Worst Thing
Still difficult to maneuver in tight spaces.
Snap Judgment
The Challenger serves up a sweet combination of power and value at every price point.


If you're going to be the dark horse, you might as well look the part. That is exactly what Dodge has always done with the Challenger. While it may not always sell as well as the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro, the Challenger delivers a unique brand of sinister fun. On top of this, it proves itself to be surprisingly practical. For 2015, the Challenger ups the ante with increased fuel economy and an interior with all the technology a driver needs and wants.

Buyers can walk away with a base V-6 Challenger for as little as $27,990, and stepping up to the top-of-the-line 707-horsepower Hellcat costs just $60,000. At a recent event in Portland, we were able to test out the Challenger model that bangs out best-in-class horsepower for the buck. The 2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack is all-new for 2015, providing buyers with 485 horsepower for as little as $37,495. Taking some obvious cues from classic Challengers from 1970, the new Scat Pack brings the Challenger into the modern era with incredible performance and a world-class interior.

2015 Dodge Challenger RT Scat Pack Rear End In Motion 02

Walkaround

Keeping true to Dodge heritage, much of the Challenger's visual changes for 2015 are subtle. While the Challenger keeps its same basic size and proportions, it has a larger bulge hood, updated taillights, and a redesigned rear for a more modern look. The Scat Pack model in particular comes standard with a black decklid spoiler, polished 20x9 inch aluminum wheels, Scat Pack badging, and an aggressive front splitter. On our model, an optional Scat Pack appearance package tacked on matte black color to the wheels, a gloss black grille, HID Headlamps, and a Bumble Bee rear stripe. Not ostentatious, but formidable enough to lure buyers to embrace their dark side. With one look at this car, you definitely know you are driving one of the most powerful Challengers on the road.

Sitting Down

Other than its contrasting red and black interior, the first thing you notice about the Challenger is its livability. The Challenger has long offered a good amount of headroom, legroom, and cargo room for its class, and the 2015 model is no exception. This new Challenger provides plenty of space for all occupants, even those in the back row. But those in the driver seat will find the most fun. We were able to drive for hours without any discomfort thanks to the comfortable, extremely wide leather seats with soft Alcantara suede.

All Challengers now come with six-way power driver seat and a Uconnect 5-inch touchscreen, although our upgraded model came standard with a huge 8.4 inch screen that made navigating around town easy. And since the door handles are placed strategically low and within reach of the driver, entering and exiting the vehicle is not a hassle, something which can't be said about many other sports cars.

Driving

Our drive with the Challenger took us through a pretty diverse set of roads. From windy hills and city traffic to narrow bridges and even the Portland International Raceway, we couldn't have had a more complete experience with this new muscle car. We found the Scat Pack Challenger brings a healthy dose of performance using a sonorous 6.4-liter V-8 that pumps out 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque.

Starting out in the city, you could feel the car's eager delivery of power with just the slightest push on the gas pedal. Our model came with an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission, which behaved extraordinarily well and provided an effortless driving experience. We also had nothing to complain about with the car's suspension, which tackled potholes and rough road surfaces with poise. It felt like a sporty ride, but without the drawbacks.

All these improvements, however, don't take away from the fact that the car is—and feels—very large. Maneuvering the behemoth through narrow roads was often a hassle. And pulling in and out of parking spaces also proved difficult, although this task was aided somewhat by a new high-tech rearview camera. While the Challenger offers three steering modes-Comfort, Normal, and Sport-they all offer an exceptionally stiff ride, which not all mainstream consumers will enjoy.

While the model we tested had a large amount of power, definitely don't count out the 300-hp V-6. We were able to briefly drive this base version on the track, and it delivered impressive responsiveness and incredible handling around those tight turns. And it doesn't hurt that fuel economy is estimated at 30 mpg hwy, five above the 6.4-liter Scat Pack.

Summary

The all-new 2015 Challenger delivers increased power, fuel economy, and interior refinement to warrant its continued success in the muscle car market. A wide variety of models will help the Challenger to appeal to a large group of buyers looking for the ultimate in street performance. Drivers will find it capable as a daily driver, but its large size will deter a number of buyers.

There is no "right" or "wrong" model in this lineup. Most Challenger buyers currently opt for the V-6 version, Dodge says, and we think drivers will be satisfied with this model thanks to its long list of standard features. At the same time, those opting for more exclusivity and a boost in performance shouldn't hesitate to look at one of the V-8 models.

Basic Specs

6.4-liter HEMI V-8, 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission, rear-wheel drive, 485-hp, $37,495 (base), $47,860 (with options) 16 mpg city/25 mpg hwy

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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A Few Photos of this Vehicle

Click thumbnails for detailed view

A Few Photos of this Vehicle

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