Car Review

2009 Dodge Challenger: Used Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Ron Sessions January 2015

Two years after reintroducing the Challenger to the market, Dodge widened the pony car's offerings to include a V6-powered SE model and a 5.7-liter HEMI V8-powered R/T model. The new models joined the existing 6.1-liter HEMI SRT8. The 2009 Dodge Challenger is based on the Charger 4-door and shares that sedan's basic steering, brakes, all-independent suspension, rear-wheel-drive setup and unitized body construction. New for 2009 is an optional manual transmission.

With its crowd-pleasing rear-wheel drive and a variety of available powerplants, the 2009 Challenger is a good used-car choice for the performance-minded driver who also wants a stylish coupe with a roomy back seat and trunk.

What We Like

Ride quality of the multilink independent rear suspension; performance of HEMI V8; crisp-shifting manual gearbox; retro muscle-car looks; roomy back seat and trunk; well-bolstered front seats

What We Don't

Lazy acceleration of V6 and slow shifts of 4-speed automatic; rear 3/4 blind spots; steering and brakes could provide a more tactile feel

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The Challenger engine lineup was expanded for 2009 to include three choices:

The SE model comes with a single overhead cam (SOHC) 3.5-liter V6 that is optimistically rated at 250 horsepower and 250 lb-ft of torque. Its sole transmission choice is a slow-shifting 4-speed automatic. Midgrade unleaded fuel is recommended, and it has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.

The R/T model sports Dodge's signature 5.7-liter overhead valve (OHV) HEMI V8. Paired with the standard 5-speed automatic with AutoStick sequential shifting, this version generates 372 hp and 401 lb-ft of torque on midgrade fuel. It also features multidisplacement technology that idles 4 cylinders to save fuel when cruising under light throttle. A Track Pak version of the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 comes with a 6-speed manual transmission and produces 375 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque on premium unleaded fuel. Both 5.7-liter HEMIs are EPA-rated at 16 mpg city/25 mpg hwy.

The big dog SRT8 comes with a 6.1-liter OHV HEMI V8. It produces 425 hp at 6,200 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. It also requires 91-octane premium unleaded fuel. The Challenger SRT8 has an EPA rating of 13 mpg city/19 mpg hwy with the standard AutoStick 5-speed automatic transmission. New for 2009 is a Track Pak 6-speed manual-gearbox option, which is EPA-rated at 14 mpg city/22 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The 2009 Challenger is available in SE, R/T and SRT8 trims.

The entry-level SE trim typically includes standard air conditioning, cruise control, tilt-telescopic steering wheel, remote keyless entry, cloth upholstery, a power driver's seat with manually adjustable lumbar support, a 4-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with MP3 capability, a split fold-down rear seat, 215/65R17 all-season tires on alloy wheels, variable intermittent wipers, touring suspension, and power windows, door locks and mirrors. SE options include heated leather seats, a sunroof, SiriusXM radio, a 6-speaker Boston Acoustics premium audio system, stability control, fog lamps, and 225/60R18 touring tires.

Moving up to the R/T trim adds the 5.7-liter HEMI V8, performance suspension and steering, stability control, fog lamps, a rear spoiler, 235/55R18 tires, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter. Also available are options such as 245/45ZR20 performance rubber, Keyless Go, HomeLink, remote start and a 7-speaker Boston Acoustics audio system.

The SRT8 ups the ante with a 6.1-liter HEMI V8, leather and fabric upholstery, performance front bucket seats, a power trunk-lid release, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, carbon-weave steering wheel and shifter, and a 13-speaker AM/FM/CD/DVD stereo with an MP3 decoder. It also includes 20-in polished alloy wheels, a security system, Brembo brakes, a limited-slip differential, Xenon headlamps and a performance computer.

Pricing

From the relative inexpensive SE V6 models and ever-popular R/T 5.7-liter HEMI V8s to the limited-production 6.1-liter SRT8s, used 2009 Challengers have a wide range of price tags. The SRT8 has collector-car status among Mopar and muscle-car fans.

To get a good idea of the 2009 Challenger's price range, check out the used-car values at KBB.com. You can also search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.

Recalls

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recalls for the 2009 Dodge Challenger:

On Challengers equipped with the Keyless Go engine start/stop push-button ignition switch, the engine can be turned off without the transmission in Park, which increases susceptibility to theft or accidental roll-away.

A missing spindle nut can result in the loss of a front wheel, creating a crash risk.

Defective tire-pressure sensors may transmit incorrect readings, leaving the driver unaware of an issue.

Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, they will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

NHTSA rated the 2009 Challenger at five stars for frontal and side impacts and four stars for rollover performance.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety did not rate the 2009 Challenger for crash-test performance.

Chrysler covered the 2009 Challenger with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty including roadside assistance, along with a 5-year/100,000-mile corrosion-perforation warranty. SE and R/T models received a powertrain warranty with unlimited miles and duration, but the SRT8 powertrain coverage capped at 3 years/36,000 miles.

Dodge certified pre-owned (CPO) cars cannot have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer and must be 5 years old or younger. Every CPO Challenger undergoes a 125-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 3-month/3,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, plus a 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty from the car's original date of sale. Also included are a Carfax report, 24-hour roadside assistance, car-rental allowance and a 3-month trial of SiriusXM radio.

Other Cars to Consider

2009 Ford Mustang -- America's first pony car is still more nimble and engaging to drive than the Challenger, and despite giving up hp to the Mopar, both the V6 and V8 accelerate with more enthusiasm. The Mustang's live rear axle, however, gives it a choppy ride, and the Dodge has a roomier back seat and trunk.

2009 Chevrolet Corvette -- Chevy didn't revive the Camaro pony car until 2010, so the only other 2008 vintage domestic muscle car that can go head-to-head with the Challenger is the Corvette. If you can live without a back seat, the Corvette offers quicker acceleration, better handling and almost double the cargo-carrying capacity. And surprisingly, the 'Vette's 26-mpg EPA highway rating beats the fuel economy ratings of all Challenger engine offerings, including the V6.

AutoTrader's Advice

The SE V6 version offers buyers a chance to tap into the Challenger legacy for less money, and it may be less pricey to insure. We think the stylish Dodge coupe looks and sounds best when powered by a HEMI V8. Unless you're looking for investment-grade rolling stock, we think the HEMI-powered R/T model is the smartest choice. Blowers sticking up through the hood may look cool at a rod and custom show, but you'll be saving money by opting for a Challenger without modifications. Look for a certified pre-owned car or an example with low miles and a Carfax or equivalent car-history report. Check with the dealer to make sure the 2009 Challenger you're considering has had safety recall items resolved.

Find a Dodge Challenger for sale

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Used 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T
Used 2009 Dodge Challenger
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Used 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8
Used 2009 Dodge Challenger
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Used 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8
Used 2009 Dodge Challenger
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2009 Dodge Challenger: Used Car Review - Autotrader