Dodge has been dominating headlines recently with its introduction of the new 707hp Hellcat models of Challenger coupe and Charger sedan. While these new demons of the pavement rightly deserve their place in modern motoring history let me remind you the automaker still offers modern musclecars for the everyday Joe or Jane, and recently we enjoyed the Challenger R/T Shaker.
The model delivered was an outgoing 2014 that gets some styling and technology makeovers for MY2015. Nevertheless, the R/T Shaker package on the tester that arrived is some of the most fun I have had behind the wheel of a vehicle in quite some time. Here is a car that brings all of the nostalgia of why we fell in love with musclecars in the first place into the modern age.
While Charger gained an extra pair of doors for its reintroduction into society, Dodge remained true to form with Challenger leaving it a coupe (two-door model for you neophytes) but still offering a host of powertrain options, ours getting the 375hp 5.7-liter “baby” HEMI V-8 that also delivers some 410 lb. ft. of torque. It has been five years since I last drove the Challenger models and I stick to what I said back then that for everyday driving I prefer this smaller HEMI mated to the six-speed manual gearbox over the SRT version.
The Challenger R/T arrived with the optional Shaker package that includes functional Shaker hood and air intakes along with unique 20-inch satin aluminum wheels shod with performance tires, track tuned suspension, performance steering system and a host of trim highlights letting others know exactly which model Challenger you are driving past them.
The paint scheme on this vehicle was an awesome Header Orange, and for those of you who can immediately bring that color into your mind you earn extra points and advance to the bonus round.
The car has a very nice exhaust note that is not too obnoxious, and it usually did not disturb our canine housemates (or the neighbors) when coming home at night. When tempted, however, the Challenger gives off a righteous growl worthy of any cruise night gathering. The clutch operation is light yet solid and the pistol grip-style shifter with its short throws proved accurate each and every time delivering a most enjoyable driving experience behind the wheel whether stuck in traffic or slipping through the gears and I found this powertrain setup one of the easiest to do my own rev-matching downshifts when my mind was in “shut up and drive” mode.
For the times when you are either sitting still or just want to be entertained by something other than the engine, this Challenger delivered the rocking Boston Acoustics sound package with separate subwoofer, and thanks to SiriusXM satellite radio I was always in a Classic Rewind state of mind in this car.
Pricing for this 2014 Dodge Challenger began at $30,495 but it arrived with a final sticker of $42,075 with the Shaker, Sound Group, and Technology packages thrown in. Fuel economy is rated at 15 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, and yes, my mileage did indeed vary from these figures because I was NOT competing in any “green car challenge” during my week behind the wheel. Consider this the balance to the weeks I drive the hybrids or EV cars.
Dodge is not apologizing for offering modern musclecars in its showrooms, nor should they. Quite frankly, it may only be a matter of a few more years that they can sell vehicles such as these, so I say go for it. They are not the bulk of sales numbers, and they are cleaner and more efficient than the previous generation models they pay homage to. Now shut up and drive.