2015 Dodge Challenger Review
This modern day muscle car has been a favorite of its fans and owners. For 2015, Dodge upped the ante with revisions that keep its followers wanting more. CarSoup.com recently drove a 2015 Challenger R/T Scat Pack to find out if it lives up to its legendary status.
What is a “Scat Pack?” The name was first used for a marketing program to promote Dodge’s muscle car lineup in 1968 and connect with its owners and fans through newsletters and other related paraphernalia. For 2014, Dodge revived the name as a three-stage package that added more power to the Challenger, Charger and Dart. For 2015, the Scat Pack name is now an upgrade package to the Challenger R/T model. The biggest upgrade is under the hood, however there is more to this than just a name from the past.
One cannot mistake the Challenger from any other car on the road. It continues the familiar retro shape that began in 2008 that reminded us of the original 1970-74 model. The notchback coupe design starts off with a long hood and a deep snout framed by quad headlamps. As with the prior Challenger, the inboard lamps are turn signals with LED lighting ring all four lamp units.
The big change for 2015 is a new grille texture. The dual cowl inserts are from the 1971 Challenger. Some models have them in chrome, but not the R/T Scat Pack model tested with the 6.4liter SRT engine. The 1971 influence is seen out back with split tail lights replacing the full length cluster of prior models. The Scat Pack comes with black 20-inch aluminum wheels wearing Goodyear rubber, a huge finish to the look of this Sublime Green beast and its black stripes out back. In all, this Challenger retains its heritage, while continuing with its relevant look and stature.
Compared to the 2008-2013 models, the huge change is inside. A new instrument panel is now more focused than ever, with the center stack canted towards the driver. The instrument cluster includes a larger TFT screen providing all vehicle, trip, fuel consumption and performance readings – including lap times, and lateral acceleration. You will find that some of these screens have been fashioned by the retro-designed tachometer and speedometer on each side.
The canted center stack houses the 8.4-inch UConnect Touch screen. In this model, the screen featured SiriusXM satellite radio, a navigation system, climate control settings, access to add apps to your infotainment system, and the Performance Pages. This is where you would be able to customize your drive mode settings, engage launch control and create settings for other performance-oriented readings. If you are more concerned with your sound, Alpine provides nine speakers throughout the cabin with a subwoofer included.
The front seats are huge with deep bolstering. The inserts are suede with Nappa leather bolsters and the R/T logo on the seatbacks, providing true track-inspired seating for the front occupants. The same upholstery is fashioned for the rear seat. Room is not as plentiful, though two children would be fine in back with appropriate safety seats.
The one retro touch that remains is the center console with a shape that goes back to 1971. The rest of the console is all modern, with a series of switches within reach of the driver below the center stack and the toggle gearlever for the new TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission.
The 6.4liter V8 under the hood of the R/T Scat Pack used to power the Challenger SRT. While the new SRT gets the 707-horsepower supercharged 6.2liter V8, this engine – also known as the “392” – makes do with just 485 horsepower. Not that it is a bad thing…it is absolutely amazing. There is all the power you need with just a quick tap from the accelerator pedal. To save fuel, there is cylinder deactivition technology that shuts off half the cylinders to save the engine at cruise. This engine has a soundtrack that is pure rock-n-roll with a mighty roar and a burble that would bring you back to the days when the muscle car ruled the road.
To manage this power, the aforementioned ZF-designed TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic sends the 392’s power back to the rear wheels. Normally a smooth shifting transmission, it has a heritage feel instead, giving you the feeling when engines and transmissions loved to take on the road instead of being caught in traffic. You could also choose a Sport mode where you can easily access the transmission through its paddle shifters for more track inspired gear changes while applying maximum grip down to the road.
Though it has a firm suspension set-up, the overall ride is much more compliant and comfortable on smooth surfaces. Rougher surfaces reveal resistance to the dampers, but not enough to cause concern. Balance is the best word to describe the Challenger R/T Scat Pack’s driving dynamics. It corners as flat as possible, but with some give to make things comfortable.
No matter if you set it to Normal or Sport, the steering feels exact and weighted. There is absolutely no play in the wheel and it has a great reaction to each turn. The turning radius might not be tight, but wheel response is excellent to compensate on most u-turns. Brakes are very strong and sharp, thanks to its Brembo set-up and huge rotors on all four wheels.
One does not buy a Challenger for its fuel economy. Using strictly Premium fuel, the R/T Scat Pack managed an average of 18.6MPG, just above what the sticker said the 6.4liter engine would average.
The Challenger lineup starts off with a 305-horsepower V6-powered SXT model at $26,995. Our tester resides in the middle of the lineup – an upgrade on the R/T model – with a sticker price of $46,165 as equipped. If you are indeed ready to handle the Hellcat, pricing for the supercharged SRT model starts at $59,995.
For those of us who still love the days of the muscle car, the 2015 Dodge Challenger marks a new chapter of its legendary history. It is also the kind of car that excites people of all ages – whether they drive something ordinary or not.
If you love this kind of car, whether it is your only one or something to take out between spring and fall, you would not be disappointed by the experience. Once you chose the Challenger as your ride, remember that you have all the power in the world.
**If you are interested in a Dodge Challenger, log onto CarSoup.com to find out what is available on sale. **
Photos © Chrysler Group LLC