By KBB.com Editors - Updated Date: 11/8/2011
The 2012 Dodge Challenger coupe continues to play in a 3-car rivalry with the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro. While it remains true that the Challenger's V6 and V8 engines fall short of the horsepower benchmarks set by Ford and Chevy, the differences are not insurmountable. There is still plenty of performance to be had from the 2012 Dodge Challenger coupe, especially in the potent SRT trim. With comparable pricing and features for each corresponding trim, you might be wondering why you'd choose a less powerful Challenger model over a Mustang or Camaro. Comfort is a big reason, as is everyday drivability. Where the Mustang and Camaro offer practically no rear-seat room and a tiny trunk, the larger 2012 Dodge Challenger coupe provides ample space for four people and their luggage. The Challenger's interior is also much less claustrophobic than that of the Chevrolet Camaro, although its interior plastics are not quite up to the standard set by the Ford Mustang.
If you're old enough to remember driving or craving to drive the original Challenger, the 2012 Dodge Challenger coupe will bring back a lot of memories. If you're not old enough to remember the original, now's your chance to share a little bit of history repeating.
If you're all about maximum horsepower and top speed, the Ford Mustang GT and Shelby editions, as well as the Chevy Camaro ZL1 easily outmuscle the 2012 Dodge Challenger R/T and SRT8. Those looking for a light, nimble rear-drive sport coupe might be happier in a BMW 3 Series or Infiniti G37 Coupe.
Along with new trim designations, the 2012 Dodge Challenger gains some new optional features including a 900-watt, 18-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system, and zinc steering-wheel paddle shifters on SXT Plus and R/T. The SRT8 392 trim gains a new 2-mode adjustable suspension-damping system and an available heated steering wheel.
Even the most basic 2012 Dodge Challenger SXT coupe comes with a 305-horsepower V6 engine that provides plenty of get-up-and-go. But, if you really want to experience what the 2012 Dodge Challenger is all about, you must slip behind the wheel of a HEMI-powered R/T. Unlike its 1970s' namesake, the current Challenger is a pleasure to drive. The ride is firm, but not jarring, although things do get a bit more rigid with the upgraded 20-inch wheels and sport suspension packages. In R/T form, the Challenger's 5.7-liter V8 has plenty of muscle for fast off-the-line starts and terrifyingly quick passing maneuvers. While some of our testers found the 2012 Dodge Challenger's steering to be on the heavy side, no one complained of losing confidence when executing high-speed maneuvers. The 2012 Dodge 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.
18-speaker Harman/Kardon audio
This 900-watt powerhouse uses the latest energy-efficient technology to produce amazing sound with minimal power draw.