By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 4/1/2011
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. Once again in the ring with the Mustang and Camaro, the 2011 Challenger delivers clearly recognizable Challenger DNA, a Hemi engine and a 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 that are actually capable of dealing with 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 2011 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 perhaps tidier performance-oriented coupes, such as the BMW 3 Series or Infiniti G37.What's Significant About This Car?
For 2011 the Challenger gets a new base V6 of 3.6 liters and 305 horsepower (55 more than the previous 3.5-liter V6) and 268 pound-feet of torque; it is truly a huge improvement and gives even the base SE model a genuine performance feel. New chassis architecture delivers higher cornering levels and there is additional standard equipment. But the big Challenger news for 2011 is the debut of the SRT8 392, powered by a 6.4-liter version of the Hemi engine and making 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. There will be only 1,142 of the Inaugural Edition models (1,100 for the United States and 392 for Canada), and they will be either deep blue with white stripes or white with blue stripes. The "392" moniker refers to 392 cubic inches, in memory of the 392-inch Hemi of 1957 and '58, but the modern version actually measures only 391 cubic inches; somebody needs a new calculator.Driving It Driving Impressions
The base SE, with the 3.6-liter V6 of 305 horsepower, offers plenty of more-than-reasonable performance. It's also lighter than the previous engine, which helps vehicle balance and handling, and the SE will be available with a Super Sport Group with performance suspension and brakes and 20-inch wheels and tires. But it's the V8-powered models that breathe serious 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 trims, although increased tire size and a stiffer suspension somewhat diminish ride comfort. In R/T form, the 5.7-liter V8 has plenty of push for fast off-the-line starts and blindingly quick passing maneuvers. 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 392 trim is the obvious choice.Favorite Features
6.4-liter Hemi V8
It's the Hemi that brings the Challenger legend to life and with 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, the 6.4-liter monster motor in the SRT8 392 ensures only a handful of cars will be able to keep up.
13-speaker Kicker Audio
Available only on the SRT8 392, 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.