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2015 Dodge Challenger: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader August 2014

The reinvented 2015 Dodge Challenger has arrived, and it's clear that Dodge felt no need to reinvent this particular wheel -- at least on the outside. It takes a trained eye to tell the new model apart from its predecessor. If you look closely, you'll notice the split grille and the separate LED taillights, both nods to the 1971 Challenger that was the design team's muse this time around. But most folks will think it's just another Challenger -- and they'll be seriously missing out.

Tops on the list of improvements for 2015 is the new interior, which features upgraded materials, a wraparound cockpit for the driver and an available 8.4-inch touchscreen. It's a night-and-day difference from the previous Challenger's rental-spec layout, but for many enthusiasts, the big news is the arrival of the SRT Hellcat model with its supercharged V8 cranking out a mammoth 707 horsepower. In any case, the Challenger continues to offer a roomy back seat and a cavernous trunk, making it a legitimate daily driver and road-tripper, aside from its high-performance potential.

The 2015 Challenger is still a whole lot of car in terms of dimensions and weight, so make sure that the size suits you before you sign on the dotted line. If you're cool with that, grab the keys and don't look back. The Challenger is good old-fashioned fun with all the modern conveniences that you could ask for, and that's a tough combination to beat.

What's New for 2015?

The 2015 Challenger gets so many changes that it's basically a new car. Highlights include a new interior with a larger touchscreen, exterior-styling tweaks, an 8-speed automatic transmission, adjustable steering effort and an SRT Hellcat trim with 707 hp.

What We Like

Awesome V8 power; surprisingly athletic handling; adult-sized back seat; huge trunk; excellent optional 8.4-in touchscreen; inimitable style

What We Don't

Large size can be a hindrance in parking situations and on tight roads; subpar fuel economy with V8s

How Much?

$27,990-$60,990

Fuel Economy

The rear-wheel-drive 2015 Challenger starts with a 3.6-liter V6 engine in the SXT trim, rated at 305 hp and 268 lb-ft of torque. The only transmission for the V6 is an 8-speed automatic. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Challenger V6 returns 19 miles per gallon in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

Stepping up to the R/T nets a 5.7-liter V8 paired with either a 6-speed manual or the 8-speed auto. With the manual, it cranks out 375 hp and 410 lb-ft, while the automatic version drops slightly to 372 hp and 400 lb-ft. EPA fuel economy estimates are 15 mpg city/23 mpg hwy with the manual and 16 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with the automatic.

The Scat Pack models boast a 6.4.liter V8 that makes a whopping 485 hp and 475 lb-ft. The transmission choices are the same as on the R/T. Fuel economy checks in at 14 mpg city/23 mpg hwy with the manual and 15 mpg city/25 mpg hwy with the automatic.

Finally, the SRT Hellcat gets a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 good for a profound 707 hp and 650 lb-ft. Expect its fuel economy to be the worst of the bunch, but when you're talking about a 700-hp muscle car, who's counting?

Standard Features & Options

The 2015 Challenger is offered in four main trim levels: SXT, R/T, Scat Pack and SRT Hellcat.

The base SXT ($27,990) includes standard items such as 18-in alloy wheels, keyless entry/ignition, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, a 6-way power driver's seat, a 5-in touchscreen, and a 6-speaker audio system with an SD card slot and a USB port.

The R/T ($32,490) is similarly equipped on the inside but adds the 5.7-liter V8 engine, 20-in wheels, fog lights, a deck-lid spoiler with a backup camera, performance brakes and bright pedals.

The Scat Pack ($39,490) steps up to the 6.4-liter V8 and also adds luxuries such as an 8.4-in touchscreen and 4-way power lumbar support.

The SRT Hellcat ($60,990) gets the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 and a lot more standard features, including xenon headlights, SRT performance seats, various SRT styling accents inside and out, an exclusive 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with dual subwoofers, and a full-day SRT driving-school experience.

Some of the higher trims' equipment can be specified on lower trims via either the option list or subtrims, such as SXT Plus, R/T Shaker and Scat Pack Shaker, which also come with accoutrements of their own. The non-Hellcat models are eligible for one of two Alpine audio upgrades, and all Challengers can be outfitted with leather upholstery, among other luxury trimmings.

Trunk space in the Challenger measures an impressive 16.2 cu ft.

Safety

The 2015 Dodge Challenger comes with standard stability control, 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, and both side and side-curtain airbags.

Behind the Wheel

The Challenger's new interior is a revelation, with top-notch materials and a sleek center console that wraps around the driver. We especially like the 7-in driver-configurable information display in the gauge cluster; it gives the Challenger a contemporary edge that the Camaro, for example, just can't match. The sporty 3-spoke steering wheel signals the car's intentions, and indeed, a Challenger on the open road has never been this precise. Body roll in corners is minimal despite the car's prodigious dimensions -- a marked change from the roly-poly Challengers of a few years ago. Of course, if you just want to cruise, the Challenger is a champ, eating up highway miles in virtual silence no matter how high your speed. It's a luxury coupe with a pulse, and the suspension's newfound athleticism is a nice plus.

Under the hood, the standard V6 is adequate, but let's face it -- the V8s are really what the Challenger's all about. The R/T's 5.7-liter V8 sounds great and is plenty quick, but it's somewhat limited by its sub-6,000-rpm redline, which seems to cut in right when the party's getting started. The 6.4-liter V8 revs more freely and makes a lot more power besides, with a soundtrack that's totally NASCAR-worthy when you're deep in the throttle. For true power freaks, of course, only the insane supercharged Hellcat V8 will do, but it's frankly difficult to utilize all 707 horses on the street (and the Viper-spec clutch makes the manual version a real workout in traffic). Notably, the Hellcat comes with two keys; the black one limits power to 500 hp, so maybe save the red one for track day.

Other Cars to Consider

Chevrolet Camaro -- The Camaro's styling is as distinctive as the Challenger's; the Chevy handles better, although even the big-bucks Camaro ZL1 doesn't have as much power as the Hellcat (which has more power than just about everything).

Ford Mustang -- Redesigned for 2015, the Mustang is more refined and capable than ever, though hardcore muscle-car fans may find it a touch too civilized.

Dodge Charger -- If you love the Challenger but need four doors, the Charger is a no-brainer. It basically is a 4-door Challenger, and you can even get the Hellcat's supercharged V8 in it if you want.

AutoTrader's Advice

The Challenger was already a great all-around muscle car, but the improvements for 2015 maximize its potential. We like the 6.4-liter models the best, as they're seriously fast and also much less expensive than the headline-grabbing Hellcat.

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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.
2015 Dodge Challenger: New Car Review - Autotrader