By Keith Buglewicz
You could be forgiven for thinking the 2015 Dodge Challenger muscle car was all-new. The wonderfully refreshed exterior gets a new nose and tail. The interior, finally, boasts a modern design that incorporates Chrysler's Uconnect infotainment system and a much-needed backup camera. But the real news is under the hood. The standard engines all return: a 3.6-liter V6, a 5.7-liter V8, or a 6.4-liter V8 in the SRT, and all are mated to an excellent 8-speed automatic transmission. But wait, as they say, there's more. The 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat debuts with a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8 capable of an incredible 707 horsepower. That not only out-muscles the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang, it makes the Hellcat the most powerful American production car ever.
Who doesn't love the classic looks of the Challenger? Beyond that, if you crave the power and sound of a Hemi V8, or simply hate tires so much that only 707 horsepower will let you destroy them quickly enough, then there's a 2015 Dodge Challenger for you.
About the only reason you'd be turned off to the Challenger is if you fall into the "I'd rather push a (different manufacturer) than drive a Dodge" camp. If you have a Ford oval or Chevrolet bowtie tattooed on you somewhere, well, why are you even reading this, really?
The 2015 Dodge Challenger gets a new grille, nose, and headlights, a newly restyled tail that includes very cool taillights, and finally, an all-new interior that brings this muscle car into the modern age. Oh, there's also that whole 707-horsepower V8 we mentioned earlier.
While the biggest news this year is the SRT Hellcat and its 707-horsepower supercharged V8 engine, the reality is that every 2015 Dodge Challenger benefits from significant upgrades. The standard-issue...
... automatic transmission is now the excellent 8-speed we've enjoyed in the Chrysler 300. Here, it helps even the V6 SXT achieve new performance heights. But let's be honest: The Hellcat is the one everyone's talking about. Its prodigious power makes the tremendous acceleration nearly impossible to explore on busy public roads. It has a stiff highway ride, but it's no worse than, say, a Corvette. At a steady cruise the engine noise is subdued, with the supercharger whine a companion only as revs rise. Put the Hellcat and non-supercharged SRT Challengers into Track mode, and they transform with sharper throttle response, harder shifts from the automatic transmission, and stiffer shocks. Yup, this big boy can move.
Grab your red key fob, and the Challenger SRT Hellcat out-powers the most powerful versions of the Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang with 707 horsepower. If that's too much for every day, a black key fob dials it back to "only" 500 horsepower; a valet mode dials it back further.
While the Challenger has always been a great place to pass the time, the interior has been at best boring, and at worst cheap feeling. The new one incorporates all the modern screens and gadgets we see in other Dodge products, with a style unique to the Challenger.
The 2015 Dodge Challenger finally gets the interior upgrade it has needed for years. The all-new dash incorporates the same 8.4-inch screen that we've enjoyed in the Dodge Charger and other Dodge and Chrysler vehicles. The retro-style gauges look fantastic, and there's another sharp-display TFT screen nestled between the two. Luckily, all the good stuff is still there, too. There's plenty of room in front for two, and the rear seat can accommodate three passengers, the only muscle car capable of making that claim. The trunk is surprisingly large and useful, despite a pretty high liftover.
Exterior changes to the 2015 Dodge Challenger aren't quite as radical as those inside, but they're enough to draw a bright line between this year and its predecessor. The new headlights are nestled in a revised vertically split grille, reminiscent of the classic 1971 Challenger. The taillights are now LEDs, and are also styled after that 1971 classic. SRT models get a cold-air intake on the hood, and the SRT Hellcat actually loses two headlights, with the driver's side high beam replaced with a ram-air intake. Through all the changes, the classic profile and proportions remain, to our delight.
The 2015 Dodge Challenger lineup starts at the base SXT model with a V6 engine. In addition, you get Uconnect infotainment with its 5.0-inch touch screen, Bluetooth, a USB and auxiliary input, and six speakers. SXT models also come with a 6-way power driver's seat and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, plus dual-zone automatic climate control. Keyless entry and push-button start are also standard equipment, as is advanced instrumentation with a 7-inch TFT screen between the gauges. All Challengers also come with multiple airbags, including a driver's knee airbag.
Beyond choosing various V8 engines with the R/T, SRT and SRT Hellcat models, there are numerous upgrades available for the 2015 Challenger. These include new option packages, such as a Technology Group that adds forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control. There's also a Driver Convenience Group that includes HID headlights, backup sensors, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-path detection, helpful considering the Challenger's rear view is, well, challenging. Then there are optional models like the R/T or 392 Hemi Shaker, with their above-hood intakes, and the 6.4-liter Scat Pack. These add visual punch to the already impressive performance.
Counting the SRT models, there are four different powertrain options for the 2015 Dodge Challenger. Standard on SXT models is the 3.6-liter V6, making 305 horsepower. Next up is the 5.7-liter Hemi in R/T models, which makes 375 horsepower with a 6-speed manual transmission or 372 with the 8-speed automatic. The 392 Hemi Scat Pack and Challenger SRT 392 share the same 485-horsepower 6.4-liter V8. Then there's the SRT Hellcat, with its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 putting out 707 horsepower, the first factory-supercharged Hemi that has ever come out of Dodge. Available with all V8 engines is a 6-speed manual gearbox, and it's a lot of fun to be sure, but the new 8-speed automatic is a quick-shifting delight that doesn't shortchange drivers on performance.
305 horsepower @ 6,350 rpm
268 lb-ft of torque @ 4,800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 19/30 mpg
5.7-liter Hemi V8
372 horsepower @ 5,200 rpm (automatic)
375 horsepower @ 5,150 rpm (manual)
400 lb-ft of torque @ 4,400 rpm (automatic)
410 lb-ft of torque @ 4,300 rpm (manual)
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/25 mpg (automatic), 15/23 mpg (manual)
6.4-liter Hemi V8
485 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
475 lb-ft of torque @ 4,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/25 (automatic), 14/23 mpg (manual)
6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8
707 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
650 horsepower @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 13/22 mpg (automatic), 13/21 mpg (manual)
What may be most surprising about the 2015 Dodge Challenger is the price. The base SXT starts at a reasonable $27,000 and includes a ton of standard equipment. The V8-powered R/T starts at $31,500, while the Scat Pack with the 392 starts at about $38,500. The SRT with the 392 starts at $46,000 – pricey, but not bad considering the upgrades to the overall package this year. But the biggest surprise has to be the Hellcat: Starting price, including the gas guzzler tax, is right at $60,000. If you want more power from the factory, you'll have to pay an extra $260,000 for the Ferrari F12berlinetta, and even that only gets you an extra 24 horsepower. Be sure to check the Fair Purchase Price on KBB.com to see what others in your area are paying. We expect resale values on the 2015 Challenger to hold up well.