Old Pony, New Tricks: 2008 Dodge Challenger

By: Terrence Haynes

2008 Dodge Challenger (Photo provided by www.dodgechallenger.com)
2008 Dodge Challenger (Photo provided by www.dodgechallenger.com)

Watch out Mustang drivers. There is a new kid on the Pony Car block, and it’s an absolute head turner. Dual round headlights, shiny chrome rims and a performance oriented hood-scoop have the new Challenger screaming retro muscle car.

The concept for the Challenger debuted in 2006, and car enthusiasts have been patiently waiting ever since.

Dodge introduced the original Challenger in 1970 to “challenge” the Mustang, and other vehicles in the muscle car market.  With the recent success of the retro-styled fifth-generation Mustang, Dodge decided that it was time to bring it back again. The original Challenger was available with three different engine options, and had a hard top or a convertible body style. Unfortunately, the new Challenger is currently not available as a convertible.

Staying true to the Challenger of the past, Dodge once again introduced the sports car with three distinct engine choices. Buyers have the option of a 3.5 liter high-output V6, a 5.7 Liter V8 Hemi or the powerful 6.1 Liter V8 Hemi.  The 6.1 Liter Hemi is only available in the SRT-8 version of the Challenger, and comes with a price tag of over $42,000. Many muscle car enthusiasts love the sporty feel of a manual transmission. Dodge doesn’t offer the manual transmission as an option for any of the motors in the 2008 Challenger but plans on adding it to the line up for the 2009 model. The 6-speed shifter will be similar to the original Challenger and be shaped like a pistol grip.

The Street and Racing Technology team (SRT) set this Challenger apart from the rest by giving it 425 horsepower and 420 pound feet of torque. The SRT-8 also comes with 20 inch wheels, heated leather bucket seats, and all the other bells and whistles that a proper muscle car deserves. The Challenger R/T and R/T J package comes equipped with the 5.7 Liter Hemi and packs an impressive 375 horsepower and around 400 lb. ft of torque. The R/T is available with a feature known as the Multi-Displacement System (MDS). MDS will switch the vehicle from its normal eight cylinder engine down to four cylinders for better fuel efficiency. The Multi-Displacement System only kicks in if the car is stuck in traffic, or cruising at highway speeds.  The third package available in the 2008 Dodge Challenger is the SE model. The SE is the only Challenger available with a V6 engine. This 3.5 liter high-output V6 is also available in the Dodge Charger and the Dodge Avenger. The Challenger SE offers 250 horsepower and 250 lb. ft of torque. The 250 horsepower and 250 lb. ft of torque in the Challenger is a whopping 40 horsepower and 10 lb. ft of torque more than the V6 Mustang. Those who want a Challenger but don’t want to get beat at the gas pump should look at the V6 as a possible option.

None of the three Challenger models get great gas mileage. The SE gets 17 miles per gallon on the street, and 25 on the highway. Consumers who crave the power of a V8 should expect to see 16 mpg on the highway and 25 on the highway with the R/T model. The SRT-8 model is a gas guzzler that only achieves 14 mpg while cruising around town and 22 on the highway. If paying $42,000 for a car is not an issue, most likely paying for the gas is not either.

The original Challenger had an outstanding following from the muscle car enthusiast. Dodge is hoping to rekindle some of that magic with the introduction of the new Challenger.  Retro styling, three powerful engine options, and rear wheel drive make the all new 2008 Dodge Challenger a car to consider.  Still not completely convinced? Take a trip down to the dealer and check one out.

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