Reviews

2017 Dodge Challenger Driving Impressions


Challenger’s 3.6-liter V6 makes 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque with the 8-speed automatic, with enough oomph to feel like a muscle car, never short on acceleration for passing.

The different models have different suspension setups, so they ride and handle differently, but any Challenger is stable and predictable even on twisty roads. The SXT and R/T offer a ride that’s almost luxurious, on their taller sidewalls.

Muscle cars are hardly known for cornering, but the Challenger SXT is firm enough to do that fairly well. A Challenger isn’t as quick-handling as a Mustang or Camaro, but the electric power steering is accurate and nicely weighted. It can be driven quickly.

The Hellcat is very easy to drive for a car with such a humongous amount of horsepower. Its power steering is hydraulic, which gives it more road feel, while its 4500 pounds gives it a feeling that’s anything but delicate. The Hellcat dampers are high-tech Bilsteins, but there’s an available adaptive suspension whose Normal mode isn’t much firmer than the standard SXT. Optional Pirelli P Zero performance tires give the Hellcat heaps of grip on dry pavement, but they’re scary on snow or ice. Big Brembo brakes inspire about as much confidence as you can have in a 4500-pound car that can go 200 miles per hour.

Our seat time in the Hellcat included one 30-minute blast at daybreak on a remote Oregon road that twisted upward into the mountains. We didn’t pass a single car in either direction. We drove it like we stole it, which to say almost as fast as we could without risking tossing it over a cliff. We reached the small town for coffee in about half the time it took 24 other autojournos driving different high-performance cars, and our smile was twice as broad. Mind-blowing acceleration out of corners and a quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission will do that to you. The Hellcat was indeed a beast, but we were almost amazed by how composed it remained.

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