2015 Dodge Challenger review

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The 2015 Dodge Challenger lineup has been largely upstaged by one of its own: the Hellcat. A new 707-hp top-performance model, the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat arrives this model year as the most powerful muscle car ever.

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 As for the rest of those changes to the 2015 Challenger models, they're significant. With carefully refined exterior styling, new powertrains, upgraded suspension, and an all-new—and far more pleasant—interior, the 2015 Dodge Challenger stays up to date in the face of competition from not only the Chevy Camaro but an all-new Ford Mustang this year.

The Challenger has always been the largest and blockiest of the muscle cars, giving it substantial road presence. Looked at through a different lens, the Challenger has been slightly more of a touring coupe--large and comfortable, with a supple ride on long trips. Now that persona is joined by an array of even more powerful, rip-up-the-track models at the top end, for Challenger buyers who want to keep pace with the most powerful vehicles in the competition's lineups.

The revised exterior styling adopts cues from the classic 1971 Challenger, including a new split grille in a slimmer front opening with projector headlamps surrounded by LED halos, a pronounced and fully functional "power bulge" hood, and LED tail lamps in a glossy piano black surround. Inside, the 2015 Challenger's interior has been completely revamped. The sweeping surfaces of hard black plastic are gone, replaced by a modern dash with soft-touch surfaces and a fully modern instrument cluster with a fully customizable 7-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) center display screen and available 8.4-inch touch-screen system.

Its slightly larger size pays dividends inside: The Challenger is the only one of the three muscle coupes to offer seating for five. Access to the back seat will entail some contortion, and only two adults will really fit back there, but it's doable. At 16 cubic feet, the trunk is also larger than those of even some mid-size sedans on the market.

Dodge Challenger

Dodge Challenger Styling :

The Challenger has always been the largest and blockiest of the muscle cars, giving it substantial road presence. Looked at through a different lens, the Challenger has been slightly more of a touring coupe--large and comfortable, with a supple ride on long trips. Now that persona is joined by an array of even more powerful, rip-up-the-track models at the top end, for Challenger buyers who want to keep pace with the most powerful vehicles in the competition's lineups.

The revised exterior styling adopts cues from the classic 1971 Challenger, including a new split grille in a slimmer front opening with projector headlamps surrounded by LED halos, a pronounced and fully functional "power bulge" hood, and LED tail lamps in a glossy piano black surround. The basic shape remains unchanged, with a long nose, flat hood and deck lid, thick Seventies-inspired roof pillars and a pronounced kickup in the waistline. It keeps the Challenger more faithful to its decades-old ancestors than either the Camaro or Mustang, which have evolved with the ages.

Inside, the 2015 Challenger's interior has been completely revamped. The sweeping surfaces of hard black plastic are gone, replaced by a modern dash with soft-touch surfaces and a fully modern instrument cluster with a fully customizable 7-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) center display screen. The available 8.4-inch touchscreen in the center of the dash includes the UConnect Access system, with apps and navigation as well as the usual audio functions.

Dodge Challenger Performance :

Fully living up to muscle-car expectations, the 2015 Dodge Challenger packs big V-6 and V-8 engines under its hood, has rear-wheel drive, and handles well enough to feel controllable and secure with all that power—even the 707 horsepower of the top SRT Hellcat. It's definitely not nimble, but the Challenger has the goods to satisfy for most who crave a particular kind of uniquely American performance car.

At the base level, Challenger SXT and SXT Plus models get a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, making 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque. It's now solely offered with an eight-speed automatic transmission, and the combination offers up both enough off-the-line pep to feel like a muscle car but enough high-revving passing power to never feel short on steam.

Above that, on R/T models, you get a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 maki8ng 375 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. R/T models with the automatic transmission make 372 hp and 400 lb-ft and include Chrysler's Fuel Saver Technology, which allows the engine to run on four cylinders when coasting or cruising at low speeds; otherwise, the R/T doesn't feel all that much faster than the V-6 models, although it makes all the right sounds.

Dodge Challenger exterior

Dodge Challenger Comfort & Quality :

The 2015 Dodge Challenger, at around 198 inches long and 76 inches wide, is a pretty large car. And although the Challenger doesn't necessarily deliver on the interior space that a modern sedan with its footprint promises, it offers generous seating space in front, enough room for adults in back, a large trunk, and a surprisingly sophisticated, quiet ride.

All along, the Challenger has always been a little more of a touring coupe than the other muscle cars or pony cars—and we feel like the interior changes of the 2015 lineup, collectively, take it further in that direction. In all, the standard 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT, SXT Plus, and R/T models feel almost like luxury coupes—refined, comfortable, and very finely detailed. They’re quiet, too, except for some engine noise when you want to hear it, which is when you’re accelerating hard in the V-6 and on all but gentle low-rev cruising in the V-8.

Front seats in the Challenger feel like they could be front a luxury car; they're soft yet supportive—although their width means that some slimmer drivers will be lacking side support. Meanwhile the new dash offers soft-touch surfaces pretty much everywhere the driver or front passenger will touch.

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Dodge Challenger Safety :

The 2015 Dodge Challenger is hardly a car that you'd think of if you're prioritizing safety; although it has no lack of items that, given responsible driving, will help keep you safe and sound.

All the passive and active safety features you'd find in a premium sedan are here in the Challenger—including seat-mounted side pelvic-thorax bags, knee bags, active head restraints, anti-lock brakes, Brake Assist, and Hill-Start Assist. Adaptive Cruise Control is available, as is a long list of active safety features that includes Forward Collision Warning, Blind-Spot Monitoring, Rear Cross Path detection, a ParkSense assist system, and a rear backup camera system. Depending on the version, rain-sensing wipers, LED taillamps and HID headlights are also offered, with a 911 emergency-assist feature as part of Uconnect Access.

The federal government has crash-tested the 2015 Dodge Challenger SXT, and gave it five-star rating overall, with a four-star rating for frontal impact and five stars for side impact.

2015 Challenger interior

Dodge Challenger Features :

In addition to the top-of-the-line SRT Hellcat, the 2015 Dodge Challenger will be offered in SXT, SXT Plus, R/T, R/T Plus, R/T Scat Pack, and SRT 392 models. And as before, there are lots of personalization extras, as well as individual and packaged options.

Especially of interest to enthusiasts on a little more of a budget is a Challenger R/T Scat Pack model that brings a lot of the features of last year's SRT model, with the 6.4-liter 'Apache' Hemi engine now making 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque; 0-60 mph numbers roll in the low four-second range, and Chrysler estimates that it will get up to 25 mpg highway. It starts at just $39,490—that's nearly $3,000 less than last year's SRT Core.

The base-level Dodge Challenger starts at just $27,990, including the 305-horsepower Pentastar V-6 and newly standard eight-speed automatic transmission. SRT Plus models are the models for those who want a lot of convenience features, as they step up to 20-inch polished alloys, Nappa leather seating, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, the 8.4-inch version of Uconnect, Alpine sound, rear parking sensors, a backup camera, and a garage-door opener.

Dodge Challenger Fuel Economy :

The 2015 Dodge Challenger lineup is more fuel-efficient than before; even though it's big and brawny-looking, with big engines and an emphasis on performance, much of the lineup will return numbers well near or above 25 mpg on the highway -- or, in the case of V-6 models, 30 mpg on the highway.

R/T models and their 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 return an EPA estimated 16 mpg city, 25 highway with the automatic, or 15/23 with the manual. Meanwhile, the SRT 6.4-liter in the R/T Scat Pack and 392 Shaker gets 14 mpg city, 23 highway with the manual or 15/25 mpg with the eight-speed automatic.

Top-performance, 707-hp Hellcat models, whether with manual or automatic transmissions, are rated at just 13 mpg in the city, with the automatic doing 22 mpg on the highway -- one better than the manual. This model will lope along on the highway and deliver that or even better in real-world driving, as we've observed.

Pros :

  • Updated retro looks
  • 707-HP Hellcat flagship
  • Comfortable ride
  • Adult-size back seat
  • Manual shifting available (V-8s)

 


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