I had to drive up to North Carolina recently and — as luck would have it — I was testing the 2010 Dodge Challenger for the week, the perfect car for the trip.
After crossing the Georgia state line, virtually everywhere we stopped someone came up to me with a question about the car, which made my job of digging up information a great deal easier.
And the Challenger turned out to be an exceptionally nice road car — powerful and responsive, easy to handle and really quite comfortable. By the time we returned, I found myself with a grudging respect for the big American muscle car.
And the Challenger does have a lot going for it — an unmistakable design, a proven rear-wheel-drive platform, powerful engines and technology — to the delight of driving enthusiasts around the country.
The Challenger is a five-passenger, two-door coupe, but rides on the same rear-drive platform that complements the four-door Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger. It’s available in three models — SE, R/T and SRT8 — and you have a choice between two legendary HEMI V-8 engines or a fuel-saving V-6.
Challenger SE — lists at $21,320 and comes with a 250-hp 3.5-liter V-6 and four-speed automatic. It has cloth upholstery (leather is optional), air conditioning, power windows/locks/mirrors, 60/40 split-folding rear bench, tilt/telescoping steering column, cruise control, remote keyless entry, AM/FM/CD/MP3 four-speaker stereo, visor vanity mirrors, and 17-inch aluminum wheels.
Other options include an eight-way power driver’s seat, moonroof, disc changer and navigation with real-time traffic, a 276-watt Boston Acoustics audio system, 18-inch aluminum wheels, ABS and electronic stability control and traction control.
Challenger R/T — goes for $29,320 and is powered by a 370-hp 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 mated to a five-speed automatic. It comes with a body-colored rear spoiler and mirrors, metal fuel filler door, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter, illuminated visor mirrors, dual chromed rectangular exhaust pipes and fog lights.
Upgrades include 18-inch aluminum wheels with wider tires, stability control, bigger antilock brakes and a firmer suspension. Options include leather upholstery, navigation system, a 368-watt Boston Acoustics sound system, bi-xenon headlamps, 20-inch chromed aluminum wheels, functional hood scoops, keyless go, remote start, a trip computer with performance pages and steering-wheel audio/data controls.
Challenger SRT8 — lists for $39,320 has a 425-hp 6.1-liter Hemi V-8, Brembo brakes, a special suspension and a limited-slip differential. Many of the options on the R/T are standard, including an upgraded sound system, bi-xenon headlamps, trip/data computer, leather, keyless go, and Sirius satellite radio. The SRT8 rear spoiler is flat black, the hood scoops are functional and the fuel filler is polished aluminum. There are 20-inch forged aluminum wheels and sport seats are standard.
There are more than 25 safety and security features and modern amenities, including Uconnect Navigation with voice commands.
Ron Beasley is the automotive editor for Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277, ext. 261, or by addressing email correspondence to LetsTalkCars@aol.com.