KBB Editors' Overview
By KBB.com Editors
The 1960s gave birth to two automotive legends: The Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. Known as pony cars, the two came to symbolize a new era in automotive lore, which allowed these compact yet powerful performance machines to sell in droves. Not to be sidelined, Chrysler Corporation introduced its own pony car, the Dodge Challenger, in 1970. Unfortunately, the pony car era had seen its heyday and by 1974 declining sales brought an end to the mighty Dodge. In the wake of a muscle and pony car revival, the 2010 Challenger picks up where the original left off, with clearly recognizable Challenger DNA, a HEMI engine and relatively affordable price. Unlike the first Challenger, however, today's car features a modern suspension, traction and stability controls and reliable anti-lock disc brakes actually capable of controlling the car's immense power.
You'll Like This Car If...
Whether you grew up owning one, or regret being born too late for the privilege, lovers of the genre will find the 2010 Dodge Challenger promises the same head-turning good looks and HEMI-powered acceleration as the original.
You May Not Like This Car If...
If you're looking for a light, nimble performance car, the Challenger's large dimensions and somewhat claustrophobic interior may have you moving to more performance oriented coupes, such as the BMW 3 Series or Infiniti G37.
What's New for 2010
The 2010 Challenger R/T will offer a new Super Track Pack that includes 20-inch Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, Nivomat self-leveling shock absorbers, a larger rear stabilizer bar, 3.06 rear axle ratio and "ESC-off" stability control off switch. The SRT8 gets a limited production Furious Fuchsia Edition featuring fuchsia paint, white leather seats and unique rims.
While the base SE with the V6 makes for a comfortable ride, it's the V8-powered models that breathe life into the Challenger's body. Unlike many cars in the genre, the Challenger's interior is pleasantly quiet at speed and the ride is controlled without being jarring; this is true even for the R/T and SRT8 trims, although increased tire size and stiffer suspension somewhat diminish ride comfort. In R/T form, the 5.7-liter V8 has plenty of push for quick off-the-line starts and blindingly quick passing maneuvers; it also has 57 more ponies than the Mustang GT. The steering is a bit heavy, but it's precise enough to inspire confidence executing high-speed maneuvers. The Challenger R/T's suspension is sufficiently tight to control excessive body roll, but if all out handling and gut-punching acceleration take precedence over a comfortable ride and reasonable fuel economy, the SRT8 trim is the obvious choice.
6.2-liter HEMI V8
It's the HEMI that brings the Challenger legend to life and with 425 horsepower and 420 pounds-feet of torque, this 6.2-liter monster motor ensures only a handful of cars will be able to keep up.
13-speaker Kicker Audio
Available only on the SRT8, Dodge calls this 13-speaker, 522-watt sound system the "mother of all audio", and we agree. With this system cranking your favorite tunes, the only notes sweeter than the ones inside the car are found at the end of each exhaust pipe.
When compared to the Challenger's exterior, the lackluster interior design seems to fall flat. The four-spoke steering wheel from the base Charger is definitely out of place, as is the transmission selector (it should be a pistol-grip knock-off similar to the optional manual transmission's knob). Comfortable front bucket seats do a good job of holding the driver and front passenger in place and the Challenger's rear seat can comfortably fit two adults; the same cannot be said for either the Mustang or Camaro. Sub-par plastics don't do much to brighten the interior, but a long list of creature comforts makes spending time inside the Challenger enjoyable nonetheless. A sizeable trunk also gives the Challenger a leg up on its Mustang and Camaro rivals.
The Challenger's exterior is less about retro and more the logical evolution of the original. This strong connection to the past allows the Challenger to attract both old and young, with bright, over-the-top exterior colors, bold stripes and available accessories such as hood scoops and body-colored rear "Go-Wing" spoiler. The narrow side glass helps disguise the Challenger's Charger-based roots; we just wish Dodge could have incorporated the original car's hardtop roll-down rear windows into the design.
Notable Standard Equipment
The 2010 Dodge Challenger SE includes a 3.5-liter V6 engine, five-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels, cruise control, eight-way power driver's seat, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, driver and passenger manual lumbar support and an AM/FM four-speaker stereo with MP3-compatible CD player and auxiliary audio input jack. The R/T trim adds the 5.7-liter HEMI V8, AutoStick transmission, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 18-inch alloy wheels fog lights and automatic headlamps. The SRT8 features a 6.1-liter HEMI V8, hood scoops and black hood decals, 20-inch alloy wheels, a limited-slip differential, HID headlamps, Brembo brakes, heated front seats, leather seating surfaces, Bluetooth and a Boston Acoustic audio upgrade. All Challengers come standard with anti-lock disc brakes (ABS), front and side-curtain airbags and electronic traction and stability control.
Notable Optional Equipment
Available options for the SE include heated leather seats, Boston Acoustic audio, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, fog lights, power moonroof, navigation, 276-watt Boston Acoustics audio system and Bluetooth. R/T trims can be equipped with the Track Pack that includes a six-speed manual transmission, limited-slip rear differential, suspension and steering upgrades and the ability to turn off the electronic stability control. Options for the SRT8 include the 13-speaker Kicker audio system, navigation, a six-speed manual transmission and a power moonroof.
Under the Hood
The Challenger offers a choice of three engines, all based on trim levels. The base SE has a 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 that offers good performance for the money, but is no barn burner. The value leader is the R/T, with a 372-horsepower HEMI V8 plucked from the Charger R/T and paired to a five-speed AutoStick or available six-speed manual transmission. At the top end resides the SRT8's 6.1-liter HEMI engine (so named for the hemispherical chambers in the heads). Producing a whopping 425 horsepower and even more impressive 420 pounds-feet of torque, the only drawback to owning this powerplant is the cost incurred at the pump and possibly the court house.
250 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
250 lbs.-ft. of torque @ 3800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/25
5.7-liter HEMI V8
372 horsepower @ 5200 rpm
400 lbs.-ft. of torque @ 4400 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/24 (manual), 16/25 (automatic)
425 horsepower @ 6200 rpm
420 lbs.-ft. of torque @ 4800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 14/22
The 2010 Dodge Challenger SE has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting around $24,000. The Challenger R/T starts just under $32,000, while a fully loaded SRT8 model tops out around $47,000. These prices closely mirror the Challenger's main rivals, the Mustang and Camaro, but undercut European brands like the BMW 3 Series by a wide margin. To make your best deal, be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price page to see what others in your area are paying for their Challengers. As for resale, we expect the Challenger to hold excellent five year residual values, better than the Ford Mustang and on par with the Chevrolet Camaro.