As many of you saw on Facebook and Twitter last week, I was driving a 2012 Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet in Los Angeles. Upon my return to rainy Portland, a black beauty with a SRT8 badge was waiting for me. With a scowl on the front end and a nice rumble under the hood, this is one mean machine, and I’m loving every minute of it.
As the temperature drops here and the rain continues, the heated steering wheel has been a welcome feature, as have the heated seats.
The time has finally come, the New York Auto Show came and went. The last major U.S. auto show of the season. If you ask many in the industry, you might hear a collective sigh of relief. Last week was a flurry of press conferences and vehicle reveals.
As you might expect, some were great, but there were definitely some winners and losers. Of course, we must mention the WTF section as well. So without further delay, let’s jump into it. Read More…
As some of you know, I sold my Jeep. Funny thing is, when I put it up for sale no decision had been made on its replacement. Now that the dust has settled and my Jeep will be going to its new owners this weekend, it is time to get serious about what my next vehicle will be.
Over the past three weeks I have narrowed the choices down. Some were impractical, while some were going to just be money pits. In the end some clear winners have emerged – unfortunately they are all so different and I am having trouble deciding. Each choice has an upside and of course, like everything else, a downside. Lets get right to it. Read More…
I will be the first to admit that I was not around during the beginning of the pony car wars. Luckily for me, I am around at the rebirth of the pony car wars. The Ford Mustang really never left , while the Challenger had been off the market for some time. The Challenger beat the new Camaro to market, but the Camaro is making up for lost time with killer sales numbers. So back to the Challenger SRT8, is this beast one blast from the past or should it just be left in the past?
The exterior really is a retouched 21st century take on the original formula. The exterior lines and design is unmistakably Challenger. The SRT ups the formula with a chin spoiler, larger wheels and brakes, along with a small trunk lid spoiler. Up front you have what almost looks like a sucker mouth front clip with four round lamps, the two inner lights being parking lights while the outer two are the headlights. The fog lights below put out a surprising amount of light. The character line that flows from the headlights down the side of the fenders and door flows into the rear haunches, which are exaggerated and quite large. They look terrific. The rear end is somewhat tall but stays true to the retro recipe set forth by the rest of the styling. The rear tail light is a strip across the back that is really three pieces – but usually if you look quick, you would not notice. Two squared off polished exhaust tips peek out from the bottom of the bumper to let you know, “hey I’m here, I can and will let you hear me.” From the retro metal fuel cover to the raised hood with functional air inlets, I love the exterior lines. They are classic – pure and simple.
Some have called the Challenger’s interior bland or boring. I really actually feel it fits the car. It is not over done, but the materials are all soft touch and have a feeling of quality. The seats are nothing short of terrific. I did note the seat bottoms were a little flatter then the seats in the Charger SRT8 I recently tested. That said, they are terrific ,with great bolsters for your backside. They were all-day comfortable and then some. The gauge cluster consists of four round barrels with the tachometer and speedometer in the center and the fuel and engine temp gauges to the side. The SRT8 model had a built in performance meter set up. This included everthing from the ability to time 1/4 miles and 0-60 runs, to braking and even a G meter. I must say this is very trick. The head unit in this Challenger was the optional Uconnect system. It is hard drive based and easy to use. Something of note is that automatic climate control is not currently available in the Challenger. While this does not bother me, it seems to irk some when they see the price tag on this particular car. Did I mention the seats? Overall, I liked the interior.
Like the other SRT8’s, the engine bay is filled with a 6.1 liter HEMI V-8 pumping out 425 horsepower to the rear wheels. The power is channeled through either a pistol-grip six-speed manual or a five-speed automatic. I had the later and it was acceptable. I noted the block of the engine was painted orange in a nod to the history of this vehicle , and I really liked that little detail.
I drove this car in town during the week and went up north during the weekend. On the open highway the car was a very comfortable cruiser. Composed at any speed, it enjoys straight lines. When the turns start coming the car can handle it, but this is no light weight. The car weighs over 4,000 lbs! On the way back from up north I had my mother, girlfriend and sister all in the Challenger SRT8, along with a full trunk. After the nearly four-hour drive I asked how they fared. Only the person behind me (the driver) said it was cramped. I still managed to average 22.7 mpg on that highway jaunt with the cruise control set at 77 mph. In the city I averaged 16.5 mpg, and that included downtown stop and go along with suburb and highway driving. The car is rated at 13/19, which I easily exceeded.
So what do I make of this modern day remake of the Challenger? It’s big, it’s comfy (did I mention the seats?) while being somewhat practical for what it is. A ton of fun, but at a price. Ringing in at $44,940, this is no cheap trick. That is a lot of coin considering what Ford and Chevrolet are offering now with the new Mustang and Camaro. Still, this car has a different personality then both of those cars, and I think it sells on its own merits. Would I recommend the Challenger? In a heart beat! Now, if you asked if it is better then the Mustang or Camaro? I would say that is all inyourdefinition of better.
Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by Dodge
The Dodge Charger hit the scene back in 2005 and made quite a splash. That splash was two fold: firstly the fact that many people were less then thrilled that the Charger name was applied to a four door sedan. If you remember, the original Dodge Charger was a 2 door. The second part was the bold and in your face styling, which was fresh and really spoke to many people. The Charger has now been on the market since 2005 with only a few major changes (depending on how you look at it). So lets dive in and see how this once-popular muscle car has fared.
The Charger has a bold styling that can be described as chunky by some. The SRT8 kicks it up a notch, but in a subtle way. The hood has an integrated scoop that is functional, funneling outside air into the engine bay to keep that large engine nice and cool. The front end is lower to the ground and slightly more aggressive. There is a belt line that runs from the top of the headlights down the side into the rear “haunches” that begin at the rear of the back doors. These haunches go over the rear wheels and into the tail lights. The tail lights are one piece but they have been refreshed and now have four (two on each side) circles. The trunk has a small but raised spoiler. It is tasteful, but I still wonder if I would want it on my SRT8. The spoiler is attached by four bolts and I think it could be removed (not that I tried). The wheels are 20-inches, and ride on low profile tires. My favorite line on the whole car is the intersection of the belt line and the shoulders in the rear. It almost looks like a lightning bolt.
The interior was originally a horrible mess. The materials when the car launched were all hard plastic. I am not talking about just any plastic. We are talking about plastic that even Lego would reject for quality control. Back in 2008, a mild refresh fixed that, and everything you touch and even most things you do not are now soft touch. Very little hard plastic is still left. The belt line is high, which makes it feel smaller then it really is. Sight lines are surprisingly good. The interior has tons of space both in the front and back. The rear seats fold down almost flat – the bolsters prevent them from being perfectly flat. That said, it is nice to see that they are able to fold. This increases functionality for hauling large items. The seats were very well bolstered and more then comfortable. The bolsters are leather and the center of the seat is a suede-like material that keeps you from sliding when driving aggressively.
The SRT8 is powered by not just any HEMI but the HEMI. The 6.1 liter HEMI puts out 425 horsepower and 420 pound feet to the rear wheels. The power is channeled through a one-choice five-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capabilities. No manual is offered, though how cool would it be if they offered the pistol grip six-speed from the Challenger? This engine just sounds terrific. You literally just want to slam the gas to hear it over and over again. Of course you would expect with this amount of power this car has, mileage suffers- -and you would be correct. It is rated by the EPA at 13/19 mpg, I saw an average of 14.3 mpg with a mix of city and suburb driving.
This car drives like a big sports car. Wait – well not like just any sports car. This is not a Porsche, rather this is a large car. It will push in the corners and you will feel its weight. That said, it is very composed. It drives European-like which should be no surprise, because the basic frame and transmission is a hand-me-down from the 1999 generation Mercedes Benz E Class (W210).
I actually was moving when the Charger SRT8 was in my possession. I used this vehicle to see just how practical it was in daily service. The seats folding down helped and the trunk swallowed a surprisingly large amount of boxes. The subwoofer in the corner of the trunk did eat into some of the cargo space, but that is minimal. The practicality of this vehicle was demonstrated in spades.
Alright so what do we have here? Well, it is practical for a sports car. A large trunk and large interior while still going like a bat out of hell. I already know what you are going to say – but Joel it gets crappy gas mileage. To that I say this – it gets no worse then my Jeep and many other SUV’s that Americans love, yet it is a heck of a lot more fun to drive. This Charger SRT8 was fully loaded and had a sticker price of $43,730 and that is a lot of coin. You can get any of the other new muscle cars such as the new Chevrolet Camaro SS or Ford Mustang GT with just as much power, better fuel economy and for a lot less coin. But they do not have four doors. It is all about what you need and or want. I would say this is a great family sedan for the guy that simply wants fast but can not compromise and get a two door. With the Pontiac G8 GXP now dead and gone, this is one of the cheapest four-door sports sedans that houses over 400 hp.
Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by Chrysler
What you are looking at is in fact the new upcoming 2011 Dodge Charger. The Ram’s head logo might be replaced by the two diagonal stripes which are Dodge’s new logo. The production launch should be starting late in November this year which will be the same time as the slightly refreshed 2011 Dodge Challenger. The upcoming models will feature the new Pentastar V6 along with the usual Hemi V8. The next generation SRT8’s will have a 6.4 liter Hemi V8 replacing the current 6.1 liter V8. Power output could be as high as 500 hp from the 6.4 liters powering the SRT8’s, though 440-475 hp is more likely. We can expect the SRT8’s to most likely appear towards the end of 2011 or beginning of 2012. A 5 speed automatic will be the transmission in the 2011 at launch, though rumors peg a ZF designed 8 speed transmission possibly coming to the line up. The 8 speed might only make it to the SRT’s and trucks but who really knows at this point. Also possible is a 7 speed automatic again this it is really unknown what will happen on this front.
The greenhouse seems to be smoothed out possibly for aerodynamics. The grill is restyled and enlarged. The hood has more sculpting and more creases appear all over. Overall this looks like a healthy update and I personally can not wait to see the rear. We can naturally assume the new refreshed models will be revealed later this fall.
Episode 27 starts in the garage where we talk about the 2010 Dodge Challenger SRT8 I was in for the past week. We quickly discuss MAMA as I am now part of this group and will be attending the spring rally this week. We then move along to the major news of the week segment. This week included-