2015 Dodge Challenger SXT, R/T First Drive
Still Wild and Fun, Even Without the Hellraiser
Let's get the obvious out of the way -- the 2015 Dodge Challenger is here and the model to covet is the SRT Hellcat, which churns out 707 hp from a supercharged V-8 and is priced right, with an MSRP of nearly $61,000 (including destination and gas-guzzler charges). Impressive indeed, but that much power for that much money is a bit much for most people. Thankfully, other powertrains do exist, including the carry-over 3.6-liter V-6 and 5.7-liter V-8, though those engines can now be bolted to a new eight-speed automatic. But the big news is that Dodge is now offering its big and burly 6.4-liter V-8 -- previously offered in only the Challenger SRT -- in a non-SRT Challenger, allowing you to upgrade to more power while saving some coin in the process.
Read our 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat First Drive here.
Read our 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat First Drive here.
The Challenger R/T Scat Pack and Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker are the two non-SRT models getting the 6.4-liter V-8, which now makes 485 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque (the 2015 Challenger SRT 392 also makes the same power), an increase of 15 horses and 5 lb-ft compared to the 2014 Challenger SRT's engine. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a carry-over six-speed manual or an all-new eight-speed automatic that finally puts the archaic five-speed auto to rest.
The benefits of the power bump and new automatic gearbox are noticeable. For starters, the Challenger feels much stronger off the line and the eight-speed shifts smoothly, regardless if you're driving hard on the track or going for an easy cruise on the street. Better yet, Dodge says the automatic improves fuel economy by about 8 percent, achieving an estimated 25 mpg on the highway compared to 23 mpg for the 2014 Challenger SRT paired with the five-speed.
Additionally, the new automatic allows the 6.4-liter-equipped Challenger to skirt the gas guzzler tax, bringing the R/T Scat Pack's base price to $39,890. The six-speed manual is dinged with a $1000 guzzler tax, but is still cheaper at $39,490.
As Dodge points out, the R/T Scat Pack bridges a gap that once existed between the 5.7-liter-powered R/T and the Challenger SRT. Model-year 2015 prices for those cars start at $32,490 and $46,990, respectively. That said, the R/T Scat Pack presents itself as a pretty good value and we doubt Dodge will have any issues selling a ton of them. The R/T Scat Pack's list of standard features includes 20-inch rims, Brembo four-piston brakes, sports suspension, and an active dual-exhaust system that produces a nice deep growl.
Four-piston Brembos, by the way, were used on the 2014 Challenger SRT. The 2015 Challenger SRT 392 and Hellcat now get a more substantial Brembo brake setup that includes six-piston clampers up front. Other SRT-exclusive features include an adaptive suspension system and SRT's selectable drive modes. In all, the R/T Scat Pack finally brings the Challenger to the same playing field as the Camaro SS and Mustang GT. Meanwhile, the Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker adds a shaker hood with functional cold-air intake, Nappa leather, and other visual treatments.
Slotting below this 2015 Challenger R/T Scat Pack is the Challenger R/T, which is still powered by a 5.7-liter V-8 making 375 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. We sampled an R/T with the new eight-speed auto (the six-speed is still available) at the Portland International Raceway and the powertrain never seemed out of breath, even on the long straights. The R/T's engine and exhaust note are a bit more docile than the 6.4's, and it's whisper quiet at cruising speeds. The R/T's suspension is a bit softer, too, but it's relatively stable through corners as long as you scrub off a lot of speed beforehand. That said, the Challenger excels on the open highway as a grand tourer, soaking up bumps with ease.
We also got behind the wheel of a V-6-powered Challenger SXT, which, at first glance, left us wondering if a six-cylinder would be enough for the two-door brute. It didn't take long to quell those doubts and the eight-speed auto definitely helps the 3.6-liter V-6 (305 hp and 268 lb-ft) shine. (The six-speed manual is still off limits to the V-6.) Dodge says this powertrain will get 30 mpg on the highway, which is 3 mpg more than the outgoing 2014 model with the five-speed auto.
In addition to the new gearbox, the Challenger's electronic architecture has been upgraded, which means the two-door can now be had with advanced tech such as adaptive cruise control, forward collision assist, and blind-spot monitoring. But Dodge didn't stop there. The automaker also put a lot of effort into making the cabin a better place to be, with updated soft-touch surfaces, revised switchgear, and an eye-catching instrument panel. The large, 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment touchscreen, which has impressed us in other Chrysler products, is finally available for the Challenger. Exterior tweaks are a bit more subtle, but include a revised front fascia with headlamps bordered by halo-style LED accents. Out back, the 2015 Challenger gets LED taillamps.
Dodge boasts that sales of the last-gen Challenger were strong -- the Challenger's sales tally in 2013 doubled the amount it achieved in 2009 when it first launched. While Dodge undoubtedly did its homework for the SRT Hellcat, the automaker was wise to put a lot of effort into the rest of the lineup, especially the addition of the 6.4-liter V-8 for the "normal" Challenger. The R/T Scat Pack (and 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker) isn't quite the hellraiser the SRT Hellcat is, but it'll be entertaining to watch it pester the Mustang GT and Camaro SS. It can start doing just that when it, along with the rest of the Challenger lineup, arrives in showrooms this fall.
|2015 Dodge Challenger SXT, R/T|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD, 5-pass, 2-door coupe|
|ENGINE||3.6L/305-hp/268-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6; 5.7L/372-375-hp/400-410-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8; 6.4L/485-hp /475-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8|
|TRANSMISSION||6-speed manual; 8-speed auto|
|CURB WEIGHT||3800-4100 lb (mfr est)|
|LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT||197.9 x 75.7 x 57.5 in|
|0-60 MPH||4.5-6.5 sec (MT est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||14-18/23-30 mpg (MT est)|
|ON SALE IN U.S.||Third Quarter 2014|