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Thread: 2010 Dodge Challenger

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    2010 Dodge Challenger

    It's interesting how history repeats itself.

    Back in 1970, the Dodge Challenger was a bit rougher around the edges than the Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang - but it still had its own special charisma that made it easy to overlook some of its flaws.

    And the same is true today, 40 years later. Camaro and Mustang are more "finished" cars - but the Challenger probably turns the most heads.

    WHAT IT IS

    The '10 Challenger is a large, rear-drive American muscle car, built to burn rubber and raise hell. It comes in V-6 SE form ($22,735), V-8 powered R/T ($30,860) and amped-up SRT8 versions ($41,230), which comes with a larger and even more powerful V-8 plus other performance upgrades. All current versions are two-door, four-seat coupes (it's possible a convertible will be added to the lineup eventually).

    WHAT'S NEW

    The Challenger came out last year as an all-new model, so the changes for 2010 are mostly minor. Base V-6 SE models get a new five-speed automatic transmission, stability control is standard equipment on all versions and two '70s-era high-impact color choices return - Plum Crazy and Detonator Yellow.

    WHAT'S GOOD

    Reproduces the audaciousness and curb appeal of the original early '70s Challenger - along with even fiercer performance (R/T and SRT8 versions) than the old 440 Magnum and legendary 426 cubic-inch Street Hemi big blocks delivered.

    It's huge. The Challenger's near 17 cubic-foot trunk is bigger than most current mid-sized family sedans' trunks. And, the back seats are actually viable for transporting people - unlike smaller Camaro and Mustang's for-looks-only back seats.

    WHAT'S NOT SO GOOD

    V-6 SE is overpriced and underpowered compared to base V-6 Camaro and Mustang - and can't be ordered with a manual transmission. V-8 R/T is outgunned by new Mustang GT and Camaro SS.

    SRT8 is way overpriced.

    No convertible version (Mustang and Camaro both available with soft-tops).

    ENGINES & PERFORMANCE

    Three engines are available in the '10 Challenger, one V-6 and two versions of Chrysler's Hemi V-8.

    The base SE comes standard with a 3.5 liter, 250 horsepower V-6 and five-speed automatic - the only transmission choice offered with this engine.

    Acceleration is adequate (0-60 in about 8 seconds flat) but compared with the much more muscular base versions of both the Camaro and the Ford Mustang - both of which now come standard with 300-plus hp V-6s and which offer manual transmission with those engines - the base SE comes off pretty toothless.

    Fuel economy is 17 city, 25 highway - decent numbers for a coupe that weighs almost as much as a mid-sized SUV (3,720 lbs. empty). But the V-6 Camaro and Mustang do better while offering 50-plus more horsepower and a lot more driving fun for less money. (Base 2011 Mustang costs $22,680; base Camaro costs $22,145 vs. $22,735 for Challenger SE.)

    Things even up, though, once you move to the Challenger R/T.

    It comes standard with Dodge's famous 5.7 liter Hemi V-8 and your choice of five-speed automatic or (optionally) a heavy-duty Tremec six-speed manual - with Pistol Grip shifter, too. Manual cars also include Hill Start Assist to keep novices from rolling backward on hills.

    If you choose the automatic, your Hemi will make 372 hp (a slight "on paper" increase from last year's 370 hp rating). With the stick, you also get a few extra horses - 376 total. And you'll get a heavy-duty limited slip rear axle, ESP "full off" switch (for smoky burnouts) and bright pedal covers, too.

    Though it's very powerful (0-60 in the mid-high 5 second range with a top speed over 150 mph) the 5.7 liter Hemi is nonetheless outgunned by the new (2011) Ford Mustang GT's 5.0 liter, 412 hp V-8 and the Camaro SS's 426 hp 6.2 liter V-8.

    This means you have to step up to the top-of-the-line SRT8 - which comes with a larger, 6.1 liter version of the Hemi and which makes 425 hp - just to match the new GT and Camaro's muscles - and both of them cost about $10,000 less than the SRT8. ($29,645 for the '11 Ford Mustang GT, $30,945 for the SS Camaro - vs. $41,230 for the SRT8 Challenger.)

    That hurts - if you're a Dodge fan.

    The Hemi V-8 is available with Chrysler's cylinder deactivation technology - which helps fuel economy a little bit. But even with modern technology, the Challenger R/T drinks gas just like a classic 1970 Challenger: 16 MPGs in the city. Highway mileage, though, is better at a possible 25 mpg (thanks to overdrive transmissions, mainly). Still, if you drive this thing as intended, don't expect to average more than mid-high teens.

    The SRT8 is even thirstier, of course.

    Both versions of the 5.7 liter V-8 require premium fuel but the V-6 is designed to run on regular unleaded.

    DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

    Driving the Challenger is a real treat. As the owner of another '70s-era muscle car (a Pontiac Trans-Am) I felt right at home. Same big bruiser/Nextel Cup stock car feel. The engine throbs, the gearshift vibrates. Acres of steel. You feel as invincible as the commander of a King Tiger tank. Push the traction control "off" button and jab the gas; the rear tires break loose in a haze of blue smoke as the rear end slides sideways, you cranking the wheel hard in the opposite direction to keep the car in line.

    If you grew up with big American muscle coupes and remember them with fondness, you will love the Challenger. It is a big, heavy sinister car that dominates its environment - even V-6 versions, because they look tough even though they can't really back it up.

    The Challenger is nearly 7 inches longer, 4 inches wider - and about 200 pounds heavier - than a Mercedes E-Class sedan.

    That makes it enormous - for a coupe - by today's standards.

    If you were born after 1980 and grew up with compact-sized FWD imports, the bulk of the Challenger will probably take a little getting used to. But you'll soon see what all the guys who were lucky enough to have been around when cars like the Challenger were the rule instead of the exception got to play with when they were young.

    Good times!

    STYLING & UTILITY

    Ford has done a really nice job incorporating retro styling elements to the new Mustang and the new Camaro does a fine job of hinting at the '69 - but the 2010 Challenger actually looks like it teleported here in one piece from the early Nixon Years.

    There aren't just hints and echoes of the original 1970 Challenger. The '10 Challenger could easily be mistaken for a meticulously restored '70 Challenger - especially if you order yours in one of the available day-glo colors with the optional stripe and decal packages - and a set of black louvers to the rear glass. (Remember them?)

    It has the same arrogant squat and hungry-looking front end with deep-set hooded headlights and prominent chin spoiler, up-arched rear quarters and twin-scooped hood as the original.

    And somehow, Chrysler designers managed this recreation while also complying with all the federal government's bumper-impact and crashworthiness rigmarole - which may be a boon for safety but which make it very difficult to bring non-standard shapes to production.

    As mentioned earlier, the Challenger is a big car - and it has much bigger trunk than either the Camaro (11.3 cubic feet) or the Mustang (13.4 cubic feet) as well as actually usable rear seats, which you won't find in either the Ford or the Chevy.

    This roominess - pus the car's visual impact and retro-historical appeal - are probably its biggest assets, even more so than its 0-60 and 1/4 mile times. The back seats make it a practical car for people with kids. And the spacious front seats just make it more comfortable - especially for bigger people like the typical over-40s who are probably the most likely people to want one of these trips down Memory Lane.

    The fastback rear glass somewhat limits rearward vision - and there is a little bit of a blind spot at the B pillar near the rear quarter glass. But bottom line, the Challenger looks great from any angle and as with the car's outsized proportions, you quickly get used to the minor visibility issues.

    Seat patterns, the canted toward the driver center console and the trapezoidal shape of the dashpad also echo the early '70s - though modernity shows through in the form of the optional LCD display for the GPS/audio system (with MyGIG music hard drive) as well as the air bag-equipped steering wheel and Bluetooth wireless connectivity.

    SRT8s also come with high-effort steering, high-capacity Brembo brakes, ultra-firm suspension and 20 inch wheels.

    A new Super Track Pack option group will be available later in the year that will include more aggressive final gearing and other performance-minded upgrades - possibly some more horsepower, too.

    QUALITY & SAFETY

    There is another area where the '10 Challenger reminded me of the 1970s.

    When I opened the trunk of my test car, I saw some fairly crude-looking assembly work - specifically, where the rear quarter panels meet up with the trunk shell. Dimpled spot welds and slathered on body sealer at the join points. None of it was clear-coated, either. Several car companies don't clear coat the door jambs, under the hood and trunk - in order to save a few bucks per car.

    It doesn't hurt anything, but it does look cheap.

    The Frankenstinian welding/joining, though, really surprised me. I haven't seen anything like it on a production car in close to 20 years now of test-driving new cars. Like the absence of clear-coating on not-visible panels, it's probably not a functional issue - but it implies slapdash assembly. You would never in a million years see this kind of thing on a current (or even recent) Japanese or European car.

    Or to be honest, even a GM or Ford car.

    Very disappointing. Prospective buyers who see this may react badly.

    The rest of the car seemed ok - and Dodge's powertrains (the 3.5 V-6 and the V-8 Hemi) have a good rep for quality and basic soundness of design. The heavy-duty muscle car underpinnings should prove tough and durable, too.

    The car's sheer size and mass confer a safety advantage, even without all the gewgaws. Like its forbears, this 4,000 pound hunk of burnin' love would accordionize a Honda Civic with only a few scuffs on the bumper to show for the encounter.

    THE BOTTOM LINE

    If you missed out on the original muscle car era and always wanted to find out what it was like, now's your chance.

  2. #2
    Though it's very powerful (0-60 in the mid-high 5 second range with a top speed over 150 mph) the 5.7 liter Hemi is nonetheless outgunned by the new (2011) Ford Mustang GT's 5.0 liter, 412 hp V-8 and the Camaro SS's 426 hp 6.2 liter V-8.

    This means you have to step up to the top-of-the-line SRT8 - which comes with a larger, 6.1 liter version of the Hemi and which makes 425 hp - just to match the new GT and Camaro's muscles - and both of them cost about $10,000 less than the SRT8. ($29,645 for the '11 Ford Mustang GT, $30,945 for the SS Camaro - vs. $41,230 for the SRT8 Challenger.)

    That hurts - if you're a Dodge fan.
    Soultion: buy a used 5.7 challenger and put a http://www.vortechsuperchargers.com/product.php?p=145 on it. Then you can have the performance of a 6.1 SRT for half of the price.

    The Challenger is nearly 7 inches longer, 4 inches wider - and about 200 pounds heavier - than a Mercedes E-Class sedan.
    Why the need for something so big? And isn't the Challenger/Charger loosely based off the W210 E-class?

  3. #3
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Yeah, except it's not factory warranted. I'd be cautious about "pressurizing" an engine not specifically built for it. Not just the engine, either. The rest of the car's driveline may have been built to handle not much more than the output of the stock engine. Increase the output by 30 or 40 percent and you may reduce the life of parts like the tranny and axle by similar percentages... just something to keep in mind.

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    Senior Member Mase's Avatar
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    Last edited by Mase; 03-09-2010 at 11:36 AM.

  5. #5
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    If the situation is the same as a year ago you can't even buy stock in Chrysler. I believe Dalimer and Fiat own considerable percentages of the now bankrupt company, that was taken private.

    Why they're making 60's muscle cars is beyond logic.

  6. #6
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dBrong View Post
    If the situation is the same as a year ago you can't even buy stock in Chrysler. I believe Dalimer and Fiat own considerable percentages of the now bankrupt company, that was taken private.

    Why they're making 60's muscle cars is beyond logic.
    Yeah.

    I predict they'll cancel it well before the second generation refresh - which would ordinarily happen within three or four years of the original car's launch. Chrysler hasn't got the money to invest in a major update and I think the initial buzz that attended the car's appearance will have long since dissipated by then.

    I think the larger problem is that many, if not most, of the people who would love to own a car like this just can't afford it or are afraid to drop that kind of money on what is after all just a toy.

    I'm probably typical. I love the car - but I'm not even remotely interested in dropping $30k on one, let alone the obnoxious taxes I'd have to pay, plus the obnoxious insurance.

    For "work" and getting from "a" to "b" I have a long-ago paid-for '98 Nissan pick-up that costs me next to nothing to operate. For fun, I have a sport bike that's quicker than a 911 turbo but which cost me less than ten grand....

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric View Post
    Yeah.

    I predict they'll cancel it well before the second generation refresh - which would ordinarily happen within three or four years of the original car's launch. Chrysler hasn't got the money to invest in a major update and I think the initial buzz that attended the car's appearance will have long since dissipated by then.

    I think the larger problem is that many, if not most, of the people who would love to own a car like this just can't afford it or are afraid to drop that kind of money on what is after all just a toy.

    I'm probably typical. I love the car - but I'm not even remotely interested in dropping $30k on one, let alone the obnoxious taxes I'd have to pay, plus the obnoxious insurance.

    For "work" and getting from "a" to "b" I have a long-ago paid-for '98 Nissan pick-up that costs me next to nothing to operate. For fun, I have a sport bike that's quicker than a 911 turbo but which cost me less than ten grand....
    That's another good point - who is going to buy this?

    Let's see 55+ yrs old, recently divorced If you live in the north - might as well garage it over the winter, cause that RWD isn't going to be very good in the snow and ice.

    If you're younger the insurance for the V8 is gonna be outta sight. Besides you can get a really nice BMW, Audi, etc for that kind of money.

    It seems the American car companies haven't thought anything out.

  8. #8
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dBrong View Post
    That's another good point - who is going to buy this?

    Let's see 55+ yrs old, recently divorced If you live in the north - might as well garage it over the winter, cause that RWD isn't going to be very good in the snow and ice.

    If you're younger the insurance for the V8 is gonna be outta sight. Besides you can get a really nice BMW, Audi, etc for that kind of money.

    It seems the American car companies haven't thought anything out.

    Yep.

    I need to do a rant on motor vehicle "personal property" taxes and, of course, insurance as major secondary contributors to the problem of new cars just being unaffordable for average people.

    I gar-un-tee that a full coverage policy on an R/T Challenger is going to run you around $1,500-2,000 annually if you're under 35 and live in or near a major urban area, let alone have a few tickets.

    That's another $5,000-$6,000 out the window over the course of a 5-year new car loan. Almost as much as I spent on my pick-up. Not for the insurance policy - the truck itself.

    And property taxes. In Va., where I live, a new Challenger R/T would probably mean another $500 per year to the god-damned state/county for "personal property" tax.

    So, just insurance and property taxes on this thing would tickle $10,000 over six or so years from leaving the dealer's lot.

    Plus the $30k for the car.

    Fuck that.

    I'd rather be solvent (or at least not in debt) and be driving my beat-up old truck....

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