Last week, we looked at a vehicle that was first unveiled as a concept back in 2008, went into production in 2011, and is still being made, with very minimal changes – in case you missed our previous issue, we’re talking about the Karma Revero.
The topic of this week’s test goes back even further! The modern-day Dodge Challenger was shown as a concept in 2006, it then went on sale in 2008 -as a 2009 model year vehicle- and has been in continuous production ever since. Dodge has updated the car slightly, over the years, and has given the world some very fast versions of the Challenger – such as the Hellcat, and Demon- and while the styling has received some refresh, it is still essentially the same car that went into production in 2008, and it still has those annoying interior door handles, which are beside your knees!
However, for 2018, Dodge is offering a version of the Challenger that it has never offered before, one that features all-wheel drive!
Yes folks, the Challenger can lay claim to being the first American muscle car to feature all-wheel drive, beating the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro to the market with this feature, but there is a catch!
You see, the only version you can get with all-wheel drive (AWD), comes with the V6 engine – so it is a muscle car with not much muscle. The familiar, FCA, 3.6L Pentastar V6 motor, is not bad, producing 305 hp and 268 lb-ft of torque, but it doesn’t sound like an engine belonging to a muscle car, and given its curb weight of 1861 kg – it is not light by any stretch of the imagination- so, given its weight and ho-hum V6 powertrain, performance isn’t what you’d call ‘exciting.’
While the sprint from 0 to 100 km/h isn’t terrible -it’ll do it in 6.4 seconds- but the size, weight, and sound of the vehicle won’t encourage you to try that on a regular basis.
Ahh… but you must be wondering, that thanks to all-wheel drive, the handling and high-speed stability must have improved a lot! Umm… no, it hasn’t! First of all, the weight and size are again to blame, pushing the car wide as you throw it into back road bends, and as for highway speed stability, that hasn’t improved much either. The day I picked up this Challenger GT, it was raining quite a bit, so on my highway commute between Mississauga to London, I was expecting this AWD coupe to be as composed and agile as a Subaru WRX – it just isn’t! If you try to drive with some pace, on the highway, in the rain, you’ll experience white knuckles, because the car just didn’t feel planted to the tarmac. So despite this being a muscle-car with all-wheel drive, the Challenger GT AWD is at its best when you just want a lazy cruise.
For cruising around, the Challenger GT AWD is just fine. The ride is comfortable, and you are seated in a spacious, well-appointed cabin. I do like its infotainment system, which is clear and easy to use – not something I usually say about touchscreen systems.
My biggest complaint about this interior, has to do with the seats – they look big and comfortable, but the cushion is very short, so despite me not being a tall person, I still had half my thigh sticking past the seat. On a long drive, this becomes quite annoying!
Also annoying, was its fuel economy – despite this GT AWD making do with a V6, it still drank fuel like a V8! I averaged 11.4 L/100 km during my week long test.
However, a car like the Challenger is not about economy, or even comfort, it is about looking good, and that it does rather well. The design hasn’t changed all that much since it first showed up in concept form back in 2006, but it has aged well, and the few updates it has received along the way, only help increase its curb appeal.
Prices are appealing, too. The Challenger GT AWD starts from $38,895 – that is a lot less than what most all-wheel drive coupes demand from their would-be owners!
If you’re a keen driver, the Challenger isn’t for you, at least, not this GT AWD variant. But, if you need a stylish, spacious coupe, that you can use all year long, than this might appeal to you!