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Rocklin's Jeffrey Weidel on Wheels: 2015 Dodge Challenger

10/02/2015 12:57PM ● Published by David Norby

Photo courtesy of Dodge

2015 Dodge Challenger

Performance: 3.6-liter, V6, 375 horsepower; 5.7-liter, Hemi V8, 375 horsepower; 6.4-liter, Hemi V8, 485 horsepower; 6.2-liter, Hemi V8, 707 horsepower
Mileage estimate: ranges from 14-25 mpg
Estimated price: $27,990 to $60,990
Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles; drivetrain: 5 years/100,000 miles; roadside assistance: 5 years/100,000; corrosion: 5 years/100,000 

Dodge made quite a stir last summer when it introduced the 2015 Challenger SRT Hellcat. What was all the fuss about? Performance – lots of it.

The 707 horsepower Hellcat reportedly can reach 200 mph and left car enthusiasts gasping for air and longing to get behind the wheel for a test drive of arguably the most powerful muscle car ever. 

The classic “muscle cars” that were popularized in the 1960s and continued on for a decade or more were all about one thing: fun. From the classic macho exterior styling to their powerful, steroid-like engines, the muscle cars delivered plenty of enjoyment.

It’s a safe bet that the Hellcat is a helluva lot of fun to drive. But I wouldn’t know. Sadly, I’ve never been lucky enough to feel the full power of this souped-up version of the Challenger.

Of course, muscle cars like the Challenger, Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang are not for everyone. For one thing, they aren’t practical. The typical muscle car is a coupe with a backseat that’s a pain in the butt to enter and not all that comfortable when seated. The price tag can be hefty on these American icon vehicles and the gas mileage is typically poor.

Dodge isn’t kidding itself. The Hellcat is a nice gimmick car, but how many will really be sold? The more realistic buy is the standard Challengers.

The test-driven Challenger here was the 3.6-liter, V6 that produced 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque. The V6 Challenge was pretty darn fast when pushed, so it’s hard to imagine what it would feel like to stomp down on the accelerator in the Hellcat.

The Challenger engine choice also includes a 5.7-liter Hemi, V8 that delivers 375 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of low-end torque or a revised 6.4-liter, V8 with 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque that reportedly goes 0-60 in 4.5 seconds.

Note that the eight-speed automatic is the only transmission for V6 models, while the V8s come standard with a six-speed manual transmission, which might be the preference for many car buyers who prefer shifting gears. The eight-speed is optional with the V8s.

This year’s Challenge gets some mild exterior changes with a new grille, headlights and nose. There’s also restyled back end that includes some intriguing LED taillights that are reminiscent of the 1971 Challenger. 

The interior features, often overlooked in the past, come with changes as well. The screens and gadgetry are much more modern. The dash incorporates an 8.4-inch screen and the gauges are round. A roomy, comfortable front seat remains a Challenger staple, but Dodge says the backseat is now more accommodating. It seats two adults and three small children works as well.

The trunk space is fine at 16.2-cubic-feet and much more room is available with the 60-40 backseat folded down.

For real car enthusiasts who long for a high-performance car with a macho look, the Challenger is certainly a good selection. It offers superior performance that won’t disappoint.

—Jeffrey Weidel

Jeffrey Weidel lives in Rocklin and can be reached at 

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