Getting that many kibbles and bits out of a two-valve engine isn’t necessarily easy, likely requiring a fairly saucy camshaft. And a gnarly bump-stick is probably why this engine shivers and vibrates a bit at idle. With fewer mechanical components in play, it simply doesn’t have the same control over its valvetrain like “more modern” multi-cam engines do. It’s No Spring Chicken The Challenger and its siblings including the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger share derivations of FCA’s LX platform, an architecture that harkens back to the dark DaimlerChrysler days, long before Cerberus or Fiat entered the corporate equation. In simple terms, this means the car’s bones are anything but fresh. Many parts of the Challenger feel outdated, and not in a fun, retro way like its exterior styling. The interior is nice, but not great, with large swaths of marginal-quality plastic.
The analog gauges are stylish, but a cluttered layout and small typeface can make them quite difficult to read, especially on the go. Thank goodness for the digital display between the speedometer and tach!
You’ll find a pair of bucket seats up front. Trimmed in red and emblazoned with a bumblebee emblem they look the muscle-car part, but are a too squishy and are not particularly comfortable.
Likewise, the shifter controlling our tester’s six-speed manual gearbox looked totally retro, but while driving, it shook around in its boot like an overly excited Labrador’s tail. The effort required to stir that tough-as-nails Tremec TR-6060 also proved to be annoyingly high.
Despite its outsized dimensions, the Dodge Challenger isn’t as spacious as you might expect. Trunk volume measures a respectable 16.2 cubic feet (459 liters), though the lift-over height is towering at more than 33 inches (843 millimeters). The noticeably smaller Mustang offers 13.5 cubes (382 liters) while Chevy’s Camaro is graced with a paltry 9.1 (258 liters).
But perhaps most ridiculous of all is this car’s foot-activated parking brake. The loud swoosh-whap sound it makes when released is even more absurd. Can we have a proper handbrake, please?
Of course, despite the Challenger’s noticeable faults it looks great and sounds even better, plus it does one important thing its crosstown rivals, the Camaro and Mustang don’t have a hope of achieving. It can haul four life-sized adults in reasonable comfort. Even small children are a tight fit in the back of that Chevy and Ford.
The Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody rumbles like an earthquake from the instant you crank ‘er over, the reduction-gear starter’s high-pitched whine recalling classic Mopars. Underway, that engine is just as intoxicating, emitting a deep rumble from its duet of squared-off exhaust tips. The car is just loud enough to be fun without wearing on one’s nerves.
This burly 6.4-liter Hemi pulls like a freight train in lower gears, building revs frenetic enthusiasm. Despite the relatively large displacement it blitzes to redline practically in an instant. Unless you’re hitting the dragstrip every weekend there’s really no need for the Hellcat. This machine offers ample performance without making it feel like you’re going to die if you explore more than half the accelerator pedal’s travel.