Friday, May 16, 2008

2008 Dodge Challenger

Dick Scott is excited about the opportunity to provide our customers with two of the most talked about vehicles of the year. The 2009 Nissan GT-R and the 2008 Dodge Challenger. Edmunds had this to say about the Challenger:

The 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is a muscle car, right? An American muscle car. So naturally, the first thing I want to do when I jump behind the wheel is a big American smoky burnout. "Not here," says Pete Gladysz, the Dodge guy babysitting our test car and riding shotgun, as he looks around the leafy, tranquil residential street we're on in the middle of Pasadena. "Wait 'till we get to the track." Gladysz, powertrain senior manager for Chrysler LLC's SRT Group, sounds serious. So I wait.

A Big Brute
With all that bulk and its softer shock tuning, I frankly don't expect much in the handling department. Like that Charger, around town the Challenger is a big, heavy, ponderous car, a feeling amplified by its heavily bolstered, leather-upholstered bucket seats and the greenhouse of mail-slot-size windows. But the harder I push the Challenger on the endless curves of the Angeles Forest Highway, the lighter on its feet it gets. This car belies its nose-heavy 54 percent front/46 percent rear weight distribution with a neutral feel right up to the point where the electronic stability program (ESP) starts to activate. In fact, the ESP is programmed to let you play a little with oversteer if you want to balance weight transfer with throttle in tight corners. And in broader sweeping turns, you can actually hang the rear end out a little before the ESP selectively applies braking and modulates throttle input to save you from yourself. Later, at the test track negotiating our 600-foot slalom, the Challenger's capabilities once again became obvious on the first flat, controlled pass. From then on, it's only a matter of finding the quick way through the cones. Our testers note a quite neutral balance despite being a little vague on turn-in, but the short suspension travel helps transitions from left to right.

The Real Deal
The 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 will be the talk of the town for the next few months, as well it should be. Available in Hemi Orange, Bright Silver Metallic or Brilliant Black, it looks, feels and sounds like a muscle car. It's got one of the sweetest exhaust notes you'll hear this side of a Flowmaster muffler. And they're only building 6,400 examples before they move on to lesser-powered versions. Of those, 4,000 are already sold. With all the standard leather inside and all kinds of high-tech stuff in the instrument panel, it's something of a performance bargain at its $40,095 base price. It's a true muscle car in every sense of the word.