Comparison Test: 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 vs. 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt

2008 Dodge Challenger Coupe

(6.1L V8 5-speed Automatic)
  • Dodge Challenger SRT8 vs. 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt Comparison Test Video

    Watch the Dodge Challenger SRT8 vs. 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt Comparison Test Video on Edmunds' Inside Line | September 23, 2009

1 Video , 21 Photos

  • Comparison Test
  • Top 7 Features
  • Data and Charts
  • Final Rankings and Scoring Explanation
  • 2008 Dodge Challenger Specs and Performance
  • 2008 Ford Mustang Specs and Performance

The rebirth of the American muscle car is about a lot more than retro. It's about pride. It's about recalling a time when Americans looked down the road to the future with confidence, and they wanted a great big V8 engine to get them there as soon as possible.

It's no wonder the 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt has our respect. It's the best version yet of the 2005 Ford Mustang, the car that set Detroit on fire again with enthusiasm for good old American muscle. Maybe the fuel-guzzling muscle car won't save Detroit from the challenge to build cars that people need, but it's surely restored the domestic car industry's confidence in its ability to do so. And it's shown that Americans can build cars that are utterly unlike anything you'll find in Stuttgart, Shanghai, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur or any of those other places that economists think they're so clever to know about.

Now that the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is here, Chrysler is cracking the seal on its own Mopar-branded can of muscle-car whoop-ass to show that it understands what's at stake in the muscle-car sweepstakes. The Bullitt and the Challenger are the two coolest cars in America, and it's only natural to bring them together.

Mustang Mania
The Mustang, with more than 9 million examples sold since its introduction in mid-1964, is as synonymous with American culture as Marlboro Reds, the White Stripes from Detroit and blue jeans from Levi. It's no wonder Ford has been doing little else but building specialty models of the Mustang over the last two years.

The latest addition to the Mustang lineup owes its existence to the role a Mustang GT 390 played opposite Steve McQueen in the 1968 cult classic Bullitt. Minor changes to the inherent goodness of the Mustang GT Premium model ($28,215) have netted a noticeable improvement. Stripping off the pony badges and gimmicky rear wing help, as do the repro Euro-style wheels and the paint in Dark Highland Green. (Black is also available.)

Of course, we really appreciate the Bullitt's new cold-air intake system, free-flowing exhaust with an H-pipe and recalibrated engine electronics. A new, more sophisticated ignition system allows the Bullitt to run on either regular or premium fuel (we used 91 octane exclusively during this test), and the V8's redline has been extended to 6,500 rpm. Top speed is 151 mph. The 3,517-pound Bullitt's engine setup nets 315 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 325 pound-feet of torque at 4,250 rpm, so each horsepower has 11.2 pounds to carry around.

It shows, as the Bullitt's throttle response is quicker than that of a stock GT, while the sound of the Bullitt's dual exhaust, tuned to replicate the movie car's unfettered glass-pack rumble, is appropriately lustworthy. The Tremec five-speed manual transmission is matched with a snappier 3.73:1 final-drive ratio. New springs and shocks, along with a front strut tower brace, are tuned to deliver crisper handling, working through BFGoodrich g-Force T/A KDWS tires. Finally the Bullitt's front brake pads are more aggressive, adding feel and reducing fade.

You could transform your stock Mustang GT into a Bullitt with a parts list, a spray booth, a clever ECU code cracker and a few weeks of down time, but for the Bullitt's $3,130 option cost, why not buy one with a Ford factory warranty and call it a day?

Enter the Challenger
Even if your dad were a television repair man with the ultimate set of tools, you could not cobble together a 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 from the Dodge Charger SRT8 on which it is based. For one thing, you'd have to slice 4 inches out of the wheelbase with a plasma cutter, then hammer out new body panels and get to work fashioning everything from a new driveshaft and a unique grille to a complete interior and those trademark taillights.

The Mopar guys have always been a little different, a little off center. Their cars were always a little larger, and they came in flamboyant colors that defined the muscle-car era — Go Mango, Plum Crazy, Sassy Grass, Sub Lime, Top Banana and Tor Red. But what made Mopar truly unique was the Hemi, the V8 engine of the legendary Ramchargers.

Now the Hemi is back, and the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8's Hemi V8 displaces not the celebrated 426 cubic inches of the past, but 370 instead, or 6.1 liters. What these two Hemi V8s from different eras share is a prodigious output of 425 hp, once under-reported but now SAE certified.

Exclusive to SRT8-badged products from the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT8 to the Chrysler 300 SRT8, every Hemi 6.1 makes the same 425 hp at 6,200 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque at 4,800 rpm. In our 4,154-pound Challenger SRT8, this means it hustles just 9.8 pounds of metal, plastic and glass with each stallion. No tree-hugging multi-displacement technology here; instead a gas-guzzler tax of $2,100.

Unfortunately every 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 comes with Chrysler's five-speed automatic transmission with a tall 3.06:1 final-drive ratio. And instead of a mechanical limited-slip differential (LSD), the Challenger makes due with a brake-lock differential (BLD), a kind of electronic traction control that uses the brakes to control wheelspin and direct torque to the tire with the most grip. A manual transmission and LSD are on the Challenger's to-do list, but you'll have to wait until next year. (More about this later.)

Muscle-Car Time Slips
Though the Mustang Bullitt is 637 pounds lighter than the Challenger and has shorter overall gearing, the mighty Challenger ruled on the drag strip. The Hemi simply pulled its weight, even in this 4,154-pound wrapper.

The Bullitt sprinted to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds (5.1 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip), while the Challenger made the trip in 5.1 seconds (4.8 seconds with 1 foot of rollout like on a drag strip). The quarter-mile arrived in 13.2 seconds at 107.5 mph. The Challenger is substantially quicker to 60 mph than the almost identical Charger SRT8, and we think the Challenger's optional Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires make the difference.

It took only a couple of runs to get the most from the Mustang. Once you coordinate the clutch and throttle to get just the right amount of wheelspin, the Bullitt delivers times that are so easily repeatable that we'd recommend it as an ideal bracket racer. Five consecutive quarter-mile times were separated by just 0.09 second, and we ultimately recorded 13.7 seconds at 103.0 mph.

Easier still, however, was getting the best run out of the Challenger. Simply disabling traction control and dropping a size-43 Piloti on the go pedal put the Bullitt in the Challenger's rearview mirror. As far as drag races go, a half-second and 4.5-mph margin of victory is pretty decisive.

As far as automatic transmissions go, we have to admit the W5A580 five-speed in the Challenger SRT8 is a pretty good one. Intelligent and aggressively programmed, it usually goes about its business unobtrusively, but it'll pop off an upshift crisply with a momentary pause between gears that sounds something like Satan belching fire through a stainless-steel esophagus. Torque converter lockup is so aggressive that it's almost necessary to lean your melon against the headrest when you upshift at full throttle.

Nudging the leather-wrapped shifter into manual mode actually prevents the engine from running into its rev limiter at 6,400 rpm, the transmission shifts up a gear on its own. We even caught it short-shifting from 1st to 2nd gear to quell wheelspin in certain conditions. (SRT says its customers requested this feature, but we're skeptical.) After the Challenger is driven hard for awhile, the transmission program learns your behavior and even the downshifts get pretty aggressive.

Muscling It
Even after five stops from 60 mph, the Brembo-equipped Challenger was still improving its braking performance, with the best stop at 115 feet. Feel remained excellent, fade was never an issue and each stop was straight and shudder-free. Conversely, the Bullitt's first stop was its best at 126 feet, and then the distance grew another 6 feet or so thereafter. Though the feel of the brake pedal is improved from a stock Mustang GT and the fade resistance is good, we'd like more bite from the brake pads.

The size of the Challenger proved to be a challenge in the slalom, but finally the immense grip afforded by the Challenger's optional Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires and the quick steering transitions afforded by the short-travel suspension helped produce a 66.2-mph pass. A remarkable feat, really, from a 2-ton automobile. The Dodge's skid-pad performance was similarly incongruous, with a 0.86g effort.

The only real complaint from the Challenger's driver seat came from our experience in the slalom, where the combination of the slow (16.1:1) steering ratio, a large steering wheel, and so much size and weight made us feel like we were tacking a small boat upwind.

The 3,519-pound Mustang felt alert and nimble in comparison. Quick turn-in characteristics made the car seem far better balanced than you might guess from its weight distribution of 54 percent front/46 percent rear (which it shares with the Challenger). In the end, however, the Bullitt's old-school solid rear axle limited its slalom speed because slight pavement irregularities upset the rear of the car long before the front goes off line, ultimately making the Bullitt more of a handful than the Challenger.

Yet by timing the slide from the rear just right, the Mustang's limited-slip differential hooked up the car through the last slalom gate and we shot across the finish line at 66.1 mph. Around the skid pad, the Bullitt's upgraded suspension paid off with good balance up to the point of mild understeer on the way to an impressive 0.87g orbit.

Driving in the Real World
While the Challenger held the upper hand in our track testing, technically outscoring the Bullitt in five of the six instrumented categories, it was on the open road and in average daily use where the Dodge really proved to be the more capable, more modern car.

On the highway, the Challenger's ride is characterized by a sense of big, heavy wheels, but we've got to admit that as skeptical as we were of 20-inch forged-aluminum wheels wrapped by 45-series tires, the Challenger's ride quality is fantastic. There's some tire thump over sharp seams in the pavement, but the impacts are enveloped quickly by the sophisticated suspension: double wishbones in front and a multilink arrangement in the rear. There's no secondary or sympathetic shudder or vibration transmitted to the chassis or passengers. We wouldn't have believed it if we hadn't experienced it ourselves.

On the other end of the evolutionary suspension timeline, the Bullitt's highway manners remind us why live-axle rear suspensions are relics found in pickup trucks. If the Mustang isn't required to tow anything, why does it need a live axle? So omnipresent were the motions of the rear suspension on anything but freshly steamrolled asphalt that it was damn near impossible to read the already inscrutable speedometer. We'd hate to guess what would happen if the Bullitt's 18-inch wheels were replaced with the Challenger's 20s.

Will the Real Car Please Step Forward?
The old-versus-new question tips the comparison of interiors in the Challenger's favor as well.

Unlike the Bullitt's 2+2 setup, there are four truly inhabitable seats in the Challenger. The Bullitt's rear accommodations don't offer hostages an armrest, cupholders, a power point or even an air vent. The Challenger does, and gives passengers 2 inches more legroom and 3 inches more headroom. The Challenger's front seats (exclusive to the SRT8) are like racing seats compared to the Bullitt's retro-to-a-fault front buckets.

All the switches, dials, buttons and stalks in the Challenger feel substantial and operate so cleanly it's as if they have been oiled. There are audio, trip computer, vehicle status and performance-related telemetry buttons on the Challenger's steering wheel, while the Bullitt has only cruise control. This Bullitt has an optional DVD-based touchscreen navigation and audio system, but it's so poorly laid out and encumbered with safety lock-outs that we'd rather keep its $2 grand cost.

Finally, the Challenger offers as standard convenience equipment like an MP3 adapter, Sirius Satellite Radio and HID headlamps. All are optional on the Mustang.

Muscle Without Retro
So is the $40,145 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 really some $5,440 better than the $34,705 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt? Yes, and when we crunched all the numbers into our comparison test formula, factoring performance, features, price, evaluation scores and personal/recommended choices, the Challenger won by three points.

This might not be a win decisive enough for some budget conscious muscle-car buyers, especially if we're accurately predicting at least a $5,000 dealer markup for the first year's allotment of Challenger SRT8s. After all, if you have $45,000-$50,000, you could consider the 500-hp Shelby GT500, which is quicker than the Bullitt or the Challenger SRT8. Then again, even the Shelby has a live axle and the same interior as a common Mustang.

Here's the bottom line. Be patient. Let the guys who gotta have 'em go ahead and snap up every 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 with its automatic transmission, brake-lock differential and dealer markups. If you're smart, you'll wait for the 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8. Just make sure to check off the option box that says, "Track Pak." You'll get a louder exhaust system, more aggressive steering alignment with more caster, firmer springs and dampers, and a stiffer rear antiroll bar.

More important, the Track Pack will feature the Tremec TR-6060 six-speed manual transmission (from the SRT10 Viper) with a ZF-Sachs twin-disc clutch and an even more aggressive 3.91:1 final-drive ratio, plus a mechanical limited-slip differential. It'll also have a pistol-grip shifter.

Some things that are retro are worth having, aren't they?

The manufacturers provided Edmunds these vehicles for the purposes of evaluation.

Second Opinion

Senior Road Test Editor Josh Jacquot says:
I love the idea of Dodge's new Challenger. I also love the original car on which it is based. Hell, I even love bad movies written around this car.

So what's the problem? The Challenger is more powerful, more sophisticated and quicker than the Mustang. So it's the easy choice, right? Not quite. Let's be honest. Neither of these cars was designed to win refinement awards. Neither was designed for elegance going around corners. And nobody ever passed Grey Poupon between American muscle cars. What these knuckle-dragging beasts are designed for, to put it simply, is judicious wheelspin — burnouts and powerslides. And both should be able to accomplish those feats simply and easily.

But the Challenger can't. Its electronic ninnies must be disabled with a dance of button pushing, button holding and pedal play before any rubber will smoke. And even then it won't really smoke with authority. This, friends, is an insult to drag strips and motorheads across our great nation.

Even with its traction and stability control "disabled," it insists on upshifting, closing the throttle or applying brakes to quell wheelspin. These demons make even a modest burnout or, heaven forbid, an honest-to-goodness powerslide near impossible. As evidence, just look at the photos and video which accompany this story. Don't see anything resembling serious tire smoke from the Challenger, do you? Sure, there's a little here and there, but you'll never see the Challenger carry a slide around a skid pad or produce a genuine smoke-trailing rolling burnout.

And that's just plain wrong.

But the Mustang does all this with ease. Partly, this is thanks to its manual transmission. SRT8 Challengers won't be available with a manual transmission until the 2009 models roll out. What's more, the Mustang requires only a single button push to eliminate its electronic ninnies. Completely. And, believe us, pushing that button is as refreshing as ushering your mother out of the room during a first date.

I want to love the new Challenger. But with half its appeal lost to fear of liability, there's little choice but to pick the solid-axle, manually shifted, tire-smoking Mustang.

For the purists, the biggies here are a manual transmission and a limited-slip differential. What self-respecting muscle car would leave home without 'em? Beyond these items, safety, comfort and convenience count for something.

Features

Features
2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt
Manual transmission N/A S
Limited-slip differential N/A S
Electronic stability control S N/A
Tilt-telescoping steering wheel S N/A
Xenon headlamps S O
Navigation system O O
Satellite radio S O

Key:
S: Standard
O: Optional
N/A: Not Available

Manual transmission: While the benefits and liabilities of automatic and manual transmissions could be debated ad nauseam, everyone must admit that there are few things more satisfying than muscling a husky shifter from gear to gear when it's orchestrating the performance of a rowdy American V8. While the Challenger's five-speed automatic adapts to your needs rather intelligently, it does have a mind of its own that sometimes gets in the way of uninhibited hoonage. The Challenger won't get its six-speed manual until the 2009 model year.

Limited-slip differential (LSD): Whether torque-sensitive (based on a mechanism with either worm gears or a clutch pack) or speed-sensitive (based either on the use of viscous fluid or a combination of hydraulic pump and a clutch pack), an LSD ensures that the driven wheels rotate at the same speed in order to optimize traction. In ways that only a mechanical engineer could explain, an LSD is as useful at a drag strip (so you don't leave one stripe of tire rubber) as it is on twisting roads (so you can maximize speed at the exit of a corner). If there's nothing to control the torque distribution between right and left wheels, it's an open differential. The Ford's got an LSD and the Dodge doesn't — sort of.

In its own corporatespeak, SRT calls the Challenger's rear end an "anti-spin differential." We would describe this as a brake-lock differential (BLD), which actually means it uses an open differential and traction control sensors to detect wheelspin and then applies a brake in order to direct torque to the other wheel. The BLD works adequately for many situations, like getting under way from a stop in conditions such as when one wheel is on pavement and the other is in the mud. But the BLD also suppresses the car's ability to powerslide around an uphill hairpin. A true limited-slip differential is standard on the Bullitt and won't be available for the Challenger SRT8 until next year, and then only in conjunction with the Track Pack.

Electronic stability control (ESC): It's only a matter of time before every new vehicle sold will have one more way of saving you from yourself, as new federal standards for stability control will appear in 2010. Of course, with these two cars, that's probably a pretty good idea. If we had to split hairs, it's nice to have as many of these choices as possible within the sometimes strict confines of electronic nannydom: 1) an Off button; 2) an Off button that can be activated at any speed; and 3) different thresholds of stability control intervention. There's standard three-mode ESC on the Dodge, but it's not available on the Ford — for now anyway.

Tilt-telescoping steering wheel: It's pretty obvious that more adjustability is better when it comes to seats and steering columns. Driver comfort and thus vehicle management are improved when you're happy with the position of your body relative to the vehicle controls. The Ford's wheel only tilts, while the Dodge's tilts and telescopes, so it fits a wider variety of driver body types.

Xenon headlamps: Seeing is believing. Continuous, short-arc, high-pressure xenon arc lamps have a color temperature closely approximating noon sunlight. Such headlights are standard equipment for the Dodge Challenger and a $525 option for the Ford.

Navigation system: You can get a pretty trick nav system based on a hard drive in a Mitsubishi Lancer these days, so it's probably no surprise that this feature is optional for both the Ford and the Dodge. Of our test cars, only the Mustang came with navigation, a $1,995 DVD-based system.

Satellite radio: Satellite radio is here to stay. It might cost a few bucks a month, but it offers a better variety of programming than traditional terrestrial radio, featuring a wide variety of distinct categories from which to choose. And unlike your favorite AM or FM station, the same satellite radio stations come in loud and clear from coast to coast — with the obvious exception of when the car can't "see" a satellite. Standard on the Dodge; a $195 option on the Mustang.

Dimensions
Engine & Transmission Specifications
Warranty Information
Performance Information


Dimensions

Exterior Dimensions & Capacities
2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt
Length, in. 197.7 188.0
Width, in. 75.7 73.9
Height, in. 57.1 55.3
Wheelbase, in. 116.0 107.1
Manufacturer Curb Weight, lb. 4,154 3,517
Turning Circle, ft. 38.9 37.7
Interior Dimensions
2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt
Front headroom, in. 39.3 38.6
Rear headroom, in. 37.4 34.7
Front shoulder room, in. 58.2 55.4
Rear shoulder room, in. 53.9 53.3
Front legroom, in. 42.0 42.7
Rear legroom, in. 32.6 30.3
Standard trunk volume, cu. ft. 16.2 13.1

Engine & Transmission Specifications

Engine & Transmission
2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt
Displacement
(cc / cu-in):
6059 (370) 4601 (281)
Engine Type Cast-iron V8 Aluminum V8
Horsepower (SAE) @ rpm 425 @ 6,200 315 @ 6,000
Max. Torque, lb-ft @ rpm 420 @ 4,800 325 @ 4,250
Transmission 5A 5M
EPA Fuel Economy City, mpg 13.0 15.0
EPA Fuel Economy Hwy, mpg 18.0 23.0
Observed Fuel Economy combined, mpg 14.5 17.3

Warranty

Warranty Information
2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt
Basic Warranty 3 years/36,000 miles 3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain 3 years/36,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
Roadside Assistance 3 years/36,000 miles 5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion Protection 5 years/100,000 miles 5 years/Unlimited miles
Free Scheduled Maintenance Not Available Not Available

Performance

Performance Information
2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt
0-60 mph acceleration, sec. 5.1 5.4
Quarter-mile acceleration, sec. 13.2 13.7
Quarter-mile speed, mph 107.5 103.0
60-0-mph braking, feet 115 126
Lateral Acceleration, g 0.86 0.87
600-ft slalom, mph 66.2 66.1
Final Rankings
Final Rankings
Item Weight 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 2008 Ford Mustang Bullitt
Personal Rating 2.5% 100.0 50.0
Recommended Rating 2.5% 50.0 100.0
Evaluation Score 20% 78.6 71.0
Feature Content 25% 61.9 57.1
Performance 30% 99.2 87.8
Price 20% 84.3 100.0
Total Score 100.0% 81.6 78.6
Final Ranking 1 2
$40,145 $34,705

Personal Rating (2.5%): Purely subjective. After the test, each participating editor was asked to rank the vehicles in order of preference based on which he or she would buy if money were no object.

Recommended Rating (2.5%): After the test, each participating editor was asked to rank the vehicles in order of preference based on which he or she thought would be best for the average muscle-car enthusiast shopping in this segment.

20-Point Evaluation (20%): Each participating editor ranked each vehicle based on a comprehensive 20-point evaluation. The evaluation covered everything from transmission performance to interior materials quality. Scoring was calculated on a point system, and the scores listed are averages based on all test participants' evaluations.

Feature Content (25%): For this category, the editors picked the top 7 features they thought would be most beneficial to the consumer shopping in this segment. For each vehicle, the score was based on the item being standard, optional and included, optional but not included, or not available at all.

Performance Testing (30%): Because these two cars exist primarily to satisfy muscle-car enthusiasts, we chose to endow this category with more influence on selecting a winner than we normally would in a comparison test. All the usual tests were performed and weighted appropriately.

Price (20%): The numbers listed were the result of a simple percentage calculation based on the less expensive vehicle in the comparison test. Using the "as-tested" prices of the actual evaluation vehicles, the less expensive vehicle received a score of 100, with the other vehicle receiving its score based on its relative-percentage cost.

Vehicle
Model year2008
MakeDodge
ModelChallenger
StyleSRT8 2dr Coupe (6.1L 8cyl 5A)
Base MSRP$40,095
Options on test vehicleGoodyear Eagle F1 Supercar Performance Tires
As-tested MSRP$40,145
Drivetrain
Drive typeRear-wheel drive
Engine type90-degree V8
Displacement (cc/cu-in)6,059cc (370 cu-in)
Block/head materialCast iron/aluminum
ValvetrainOHV, 2 valves per cylinder
Compression ratio (x:1)10.3
Redline (rpm)6,400
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)425 @ 6,200
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)420 @ 4,800
Transmission type5-speed automatic
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)I = 3.59, II = 2.19, III = 1.41, IV - 1.00, V = 0.83, FD = 3.06, R = 3.16
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent, double wishbones, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearIndependent, multilink, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Steering typeSpeed-sensitive, hydraulic-assist, rack-and-pinion power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)16.1:1
Tire brandGoodyear
Tire modelEagle F1 Supercar
Tire type3-season performance
Tire size, front245/45ZR20 99Y
Tire size, rear255/45ZR20 101Y
Wheel size20 X 9.0 front, 20 X 9.0 rear
Wheel materialForged aluminum
Brakes, front14.2-inch ventilated disc, 4-piston fixed calipers
Brakes, rear13.8-inch ventilated disc, 4-piston fixed calipers
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)3.4
0-60 mph (sec.)5.1
0-75 mph (sec.)6.9
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)13.2 @ 107.5
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)4.8
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)29
60-0 mph (ft.)115
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)66.2
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.86
Sound level @ idle (dB)48.2
@ Full throttle (dB)82.7
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)71.1
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsWith ESP and traction control disabled, the quickest launch was the result of simply whacking the throttle to the firewall -- no brake torque. Just the right combination of gear ratios, available torque and tire slip produced a textbook-perfect launch, bog- and wheelspin-free. Upshifts are blazingly fast with a built-in burp between gears. Gearing and power delivery are very well matched. Exhaust is almost too muted inside the car.
Braking ratingExcellent
Braking commentsFirm pedal with excellent feel. Virtually no dive, little ABS noise and zero fade from first to last stop.
Handling ratingVery Good
Handling commentsSlalom: Given its size, I was initially apprehensive to throw the Challenger around, but its capabilities became immediately obvious after the first slalom pass, which was very controlled and produced little body roll. From then on, it was only a matter of coming to terms with finding the widely spaced corners of the car. Steering wheel feels about 2 inches too large in diameter, but offers a decent balance between effort and precision. Road feel is a little vague, as is turn-in. Balance is quite neutral and short-travel suspension helps it transition surprisingly well in directional changes. Skid pad: Mild understeer on the limit that turns into gentle lift-throttle oversteer. Nice. Steering doesn't seem to load much.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)64
Wind (mph, direction)0
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)13 city/18 highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)14.5 Combined average (16.5 best, 11.5 worst)
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)19
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)4,140
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)4,154
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)54/46
Length (in.)197.7
Width (in.)75.7
Height (in.)57.1
Wheelbase (in.)116
Track, front (in.)63
Track, rear (in.)63.1
Turning circle (ft.)38.9
Legroom, front (in.)42
Legroom, rear (in.)32.6
Headroom, front (in.)39.3
Headroom, rear (in.)37.4
Shoulder room, front (in.)58.2
Shoulder room, rear (in.)53.9
Seating capacity5
Cargo volume (cu-ft)16.2
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)Standard 60/40 split-fold (volume not specified)
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain3 years/36,000 miles
Corrosion5 years/100,000 miles
Roadside assistance3 years/36,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenanceNot Available
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsNot Available
Head airbagsStandard front and rear
Knee airbagsNot Available
Antilock brakes4-wheel ABS
Electronic brake enhancementsBraking assist, electronic brakeforce distribution
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlStandard
Rollover protectionNot Available
Tire-pressure monitoring systemStandard tire pressure monitoring with 4-corner readout
Emergency assistance systemNot Available
NHTSA crash test, driverNot Tested
NHTSA crash test, passengerNot Tested
NHTSA crash test, side frontNot Tested
NHTSA crash test, side rearNot Tested
NHTSA rollover resistanceNot Tested
Vehicle
Model year2008
MakeFord
ModelMustang
StyleBullitt 2dr Coupe (4.6L 8cyl 5M)
Base MSRP$31,075
Options on test vehicleAnti-Theft System ($325), Sirius Satellite Radio ($195), HID Headlamps ($525), DVD-Based Navigation System ($1,995), Ambient Lighting ($295), Triptunes Advanced ($295)
As-tested MSRP$34,705
Drivetrain
Drive typeRear-wheel drive
Engine type90-degree V8
Displacement (cc/cu-in)4,601cc (280.3 cu-in)
Block/head materialAluminum/aluminum
ValvetrainSOHC, 3 valves per cylinder
Compression ratio (x:1)9.8:1
Redline (rpm)6,500
Horsepower (hp @ rpm)315 @ 6,000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm)325 @ 4,250
Transmission type5-speed manual
Transmission and axle ratios (x:1)I = 3.38, II = 2.00, III = 1.32, IV = 1.00, V = 0.68, FD = 3.73, R = 3.38
Chassis
Suspension, frontIndependent, MacPherson struts, coil springs and stabilizer bar
Suspension, rearSolid axle, multilink, coil springs, trailing links, panhard rod and stabilizer bar
Steering typeSpeed-sensitive, hydraulic-assist, rack-and-pinion power steering
Steering ratio (x:1)15.7:1
Tire brandBFGoodrich
Tire modelg-Force T/A KDWS
Tire typePerformance all-season
Tire size, front235/50ZR18 97W
Tire size, rear235/50ZR18 97W
Wheel size18 X 8.0 front -- 18 X 8.0 rear
Wheel materialCast aluminum
Brakes, front12.4-inch vented disc with 2-piston floating aluminum calipers
Brakes, rear11.8-inch vented disc with 1-piston floating iron caliper
Track Test Results
0-45 mph (sec.)3.6
0-60 mph (sec.)5.4
0-75 mph (sec.)7.8
1/4-mile (sec. @ mph)13.7 @ 103.0
0-60 with 1 foot of rollout (sec.)5.1
Braking, 30-0 mph (ft.)32
60-0 mph (ft.)126
Slalom, 6 x 100 ft. (mph)66.1
Skid pad, 200-ft. diameter (lateral g)0.87
Sound level @ idle (dB)50.2
@ Full throttle (dB)81.5
@ 70 mph cruise (dB)70.8
Test Driver Ratings & Comments
Acceleration commentsWith the traction control turned off and quick clutch engagement, it's easy to find the sweet spot in terms of wheelspin for an aggressive and highly repeatable launch. So consistent is the Bullitt that of the five runs we made, 0-60 times varied by 0.1 second at most, and quarter-mile by 0.09 second. This thing would be an excellent bracket racer. Clutch engagement is a little vague, shifter is a little heavy (appropriately so) but accurate. I believe the higher redline (250 rpm more than GT) allowed the Bullitt to cross the finish line in 3rd gear, saving time-wasting shift.
Braking ratingGood
Braking commentsThe first stop from 60 (at 126 feet) was best by 8-10 feet. We couldn't duplicate that short stop, but the Bullitt maintained 132-134-foot stops thereafter, showing no signs of fading. Despite Bullitt-spec front pads, the pedal still doesn't have the kind of resistance/feel/feedback we'd like to experience in a sports car. Good brakes, but not great.
Handling ratingVery Good
Handling commentsRemarkably adroit turn-in in the slalom, but even the fortified Bullitt-spec suspension leaves a little more room for improvement. The car takes a good set, but the up-down motions of the rear axle affect the overall balance in quick transitions. On the other hand, the LSD pays off on the exit, where the Bullitt blasts through the timers in a controlled, slideways attitude. Skid-pad behavior is biased slightly toward understeer, with moderate body roll and plenty of grip.
Testing Conditions
Elevation (ft.)1,121
Temperature (F)58
Wind (mph, direction)0
Fuel Consumption
EPA fuel economy (mpg)15 city/23 highway
Edmunds observed (mpg)17.3 Combined avg (21.2 best, 14.5 worst)
Fuel tank capacity (U.S. gal.)16
Dimensions & Capacities
Curb weight, mfr. claim (lbs.)3,540
Curb weight, as tested (lbs.)3,517
Weight distribution, as tested, f/r (%)54/46
Length (in.)188
Width (in.)73.9
Height (in.)55.3
Wheelbase (in.)107.1
Track, front (in.)62.3
Track, rear (in.)62.5
Turning circle (ft.)37.7
Legroom, front (in.)42.7
Legroom, rear (in.)30.3
Headroom, front (in.)38.6
Headroom, rear (in.)34.7
Shoulder room, front (in.)55.4
Shoulder room, rear (in.)53.3
Seating capacity5
Cargo volume (cu-ft)13.1
Max. cargo volume, seats folded (cu-ft)Standard 50/50 split-fold (no volume specified)
Warranty
Bumper-to-bumper3 years/36,000 miles
Powertrain5 years/60,000 miles
Corrosion5 years/Unlimited miles
Roadside assistance5 years/60,000 miles
Free scheduled maintenanceNot Available
Safety
Front airbagsStandard
Side airbagsStandard dual front
Head airbagsNot Available
Knee airbagsNot Available
Antilock brakesStandard
Electronic brake enhancementsElectronic brakeforce distribution
Traction controlStandard
Stability controlNot Available
Rollover protectionNot Available
Tire-pressure monitoring systemStandard tire-pressure monitoring (not assigned to wheels)
Emergency assistance systemNot Available
NHTSA crash test, driver5 stars
NHTSA crash test, passenger5 stars
NHTSA crash test, side front5 stars
NHTSA crash test, side rear4 stars
NHTSA rollover resistance5 stars
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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2008 Dodge Challenger in VA is:

$148 per month*
* Explanation
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