2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 470 horsepower!
The Bottom Line The big news for the 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is its new 470 horsepower 392 cubic inch HEMI V8 engine, but there's a lot more to the updated Challenger than what's under the hood. What exactly has Chrysler done to the 2011 Challenger SRT8 -- and have they made it worth buying? Read on.
I've always loved the Dodge Challenger SRT8 for its retro styling and over-the-top power, but owning one meant accepting some major faults -- most notably the cheap black plastic interior and the luxo-barge driving dynamics inherited from the Challenger's Mercedes-sourced platform.
My test car had white seats with blue stripes which matched the exterior. I thought were really cool, but my wife said they were ridiculous.
Maybe the new Challenger won't win any design awards, but it's nice to have a cabin that people actually want to sit in.
But the real surprise is the way the Challenger goes down the road -- specifically the About.com Top Secret Curvy Test Road.
Chrysler made some significant changes to the Challenger's suspension geometry, and the difference is night and day.
Don't get me wrong, it's no Lotus Elise, but the Challenger now gets down the road nearly as well as the Ford Mustang, and it feels more alive and connected to the driver than the Chevrolet Camaro, although the improved handling comes at the cost of ride comfort.
And while the Challenger is sharper, it isn't any smaller, and its girth makes it a handful on narrow roads.
And what of the new engine? Not much to say here except that more power is always a good thing.
The engine has been enlarged to 6.4 liters, which translates to 392 cubic inches, the same displacement as one of Chrysler's historic HEMI V8s (never mind that the 392 lived and died in the 1950s, long before the original Challenger appeared in 1970).
My test car had a six-speed manual with a pistol-grip shifter, which really adds to the driving experience -- I can't imagine buying one of these with an automatic.
You'd expect the Challenger to guzzle fuel like it was 1970, but I managed a respectable 17.4 MPG - and that's without the cylinder-deactivation feature, which only comes on automatic cars.
Electronic stability and traction control is standard; the system will allow a respectable burnout, but keeps the car manageable in wet weather. Turn it off, and you do smokey burnouts and donuts all day long (or at least until the tires give out).
As before, the Challenger SRT8 does not come cheap: $44,380 for starters (including gas guzzler tax) and $46,950 for my navigation-equipped test car. For that kind of cash, I would take a good, hard look at Ford's new Mustang Boss 302; it's less powerful but a lot better in the curves.
And let's not forget that the suspension improvements have also been applied to the Challenger R/T, which at $30,495 and 376 hp delivers a lot of bang for the buck.
Overall, I'm really pleased with the changes Chrysler has made to the 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8. The bland interior and indifferent handling were the two biggest reasons not to buy one, and now those reasons are gone. Go, Mopar, go! Retrieved from online 11/4/2011, -- Aaron Gold http://cars.about.com/od/dodg1/gr/2011-Dodge-Challenger-Srt8-Test-Drive.htm
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