Wednesday Walkaround: 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8

This is the one I have been waiting for – and I was not disappointed!

Click on image for video walkaround.
UPDATED: Review now posted.

Being the most practical adult on your block will most likely earn you points at the PTA meeting and the weekend youth soccer tournament.
For the rest of us, well, that’s why they invented pony cars.
Back in the ’60s and ’70s, two-door muscle cars were rolling out of Detroit in grand fashion, carrying names like Mustang, Camaro and of course, Challenger.

But before many of us could earn our driver’s licenses, practicality put a stop to all of that “foolishness.” A few lucky souls held on to their prized chariots of a bygone era (Terry and his “Zip-N-Z,” for one) but most were relegated to clunky, slow, unleaded sleds in ugly square body styles that delivered neither show nor go.

Fast-forward to the new millennium where Detroit automakers have seen fit to bring about the dawn of a new era of the pony car, writing new chapters in the bench racer’s manual.

And I, for one, could not be happier.

Ford struck first with the rebirth of Mustang, and Chevy continues to tease us with the approaching release of a new Camaro. And then there’s Dodge.

In recent years, a little “skunkworks” department has been taking production vehicles and modifying them with performance parts under the badge of SRT (street and racing technology), scoffing in the face of practicality (and from the originator of the minivan phenom, no less).

This year Dodge follows Ford’s lead and resurrects its pony car nameplate Challenger, delivering a two-door cruiser complete with modern-retro styling and a range of powertrains sure to please all.

For me, anything less than the big elephant HEMI under the hood would be a disappointment, and for 2009, is available with a six-speed manual gearbox and limited-slip rear differential.

I was not disappointed.

As I gaze out the window at this brutish beauty, take a gander at the nuts and bolts of the 2009 Challenger here:

“Our all-new 2009 Dodge Challenger is a modern-day muscle machine representing the best from the past and present,” Mike Accavitti, director, Dodge Brand and SRT Global Marketing, said. “Nearly 40 years following the debut of the original, we are bringing Dodge Challenger back and loading it with essential hardware, styling and technology desired by today’s buyer.”

Essential Hardware
The Dodge Challenger SE, powered by the 3.5-liter High Output V-6 with a four-speed automatic transmission, produces 250 hp and 250 lb. ft. of torque.

The Dodge Challenger R/T features the new-generation 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine with a five-speed automatic transmission that produces 372 hp and 401 lb. ft. of torque. For 2009, the HEMI engine is upgraded to get on average a 4 percent improvement in fuel economy, an increase of more than 30 horsepower and up to 20 lb. ft. improved torque over a greater range of engine speeds. The Dodge Challenger R/T also offers a precision-shift, six-speed manual transmission – the first for a new-generation HEMI-powered car – that produces 376 hp and 410 lb. ft. of torque when running on premium fuel. The Dodge Challenger R/T can go from zero to 60 mph in less than six seconds.

The 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 features an SRT-exclusive 6.1-liter HEMI V-8 engine mated with a new-for-2009 six-speed manual transmission or a five-speed automatic transmission with Auto Stick that generates a blistering 425 hp and 420 lb. ft. of torque. The vehicle can go from zero to 60 mph in less than five seconds.
Patterned off the Dodge Charger architecture, the front short- and long-arm suspension and five-link independent rear suspension system on all Dodge Challenger models provides excellent ride and handling characteristics.

Essential Styling
The Dodge Challenger design team stayed true to the concept revealed at the 2006 North American International Auto Show, while drawing upon elements from the original Challenger. The result: A bold, aggressive muscle machine that blends nostalgia with modern Dodge style.
On the exterior, the long, raised performance hood with scoops and recessed grille with round dual headlamps are reminiscent of the original Dodge Challenger. The bold A-line, or character line, that runs from stem to stern gives the all-new 2009 Dodge Challenger an instantly recognizable muscle-car profile. Retro dual rectangular exhaust outlets complete the look from the rear.

On the interior, the trapezoidal theme of the door-panel cove and gauge cluster, dark headliner and slanted shifter console are inspired by the original Dodge Challenger. The modern interpretation of the Dodge Challenger offers exceptional rear seating and cargo capacity for a two-door coupe.

Essential Technology
The all-new 2009 Dodge Challenger offers customers a full range of innovative technologies including:
• uconnect gps provides cutting-edge audio and navigation with integrated voice recognition and touch screen for easy operation;
• uconnect phone provides convenient, voice-activated communication with Bluetooth cellular phones; • uconnect studios with SIRIUS Digital Satellite Radio offers a variety of commercial-free radio programs and music;
• Keyless Go allows the driver to start the vehicle with the simple push of a button; and,
• Remote Start starts a secured vehicle with the key fob.

At 425hp and more than 40 grand, the 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 may not be the most practical choice for your modern motoring needs, but it will speak to the inner self that got left behind nearly four decades ago.

Categories: Autos, Reviews

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3 replies

  1. Someone wipe the drool off my mouth please :) I saw this advertised a couple of years ago and think it is the perfect car for me. If my wife hadn’t already spent $45K on my Dodge Ram Megacab diesel truck I would be all over the Challenger. I loved this style since I was a teen driving my Dodge Dart Sport and hope to someday own the Challenger, but for now I’ll keep dreaming.

    Great review that kept me closely reading every word.

  2. I’m sending those Challenger goodies to you today, Matt… :-)

  3. I LOVE the Challenger and I so want one. It’s a modern day muscle car!