2009 Dodge Challenger Long Term Road Test


2009 Dodge Challenger R/T = Road/Trip

June 22, 2009

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I read in a magazine a few months back that, "A man likes to drive--alone." While I've always felt this to be true, I had never seen it spelled out so succinctly. It's true. It gives a man time to think, sort things out, prioritize in silence and arrive with a clear head. There's a particular Zen to driving alone: Putting miles behind you with the sound of a V8 burbling in the background, or with music of your choice playing as quietly or loudly as you care. That's why I jumped at the opportunity to drive our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T for an extended weekend drive up to the central coast. Problem was that I started my drive on a Friday afternoon from Orange County.

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You see, my wife and daughter were already there (in Arroyo Grande in the first photo) planning a Father's Day weekend. Two-hundred, ten miles and 4.5 hours later, I arrived, though not as refreshed as I had hoped. Yes, that's a 46-mph average. Woof. Just getting out of the greater L.A. area proved a challenge; even at 1:00pm on a Friday. The first 50 miles took 2 hours. Had there been an ice pick in the center console, I would've used it to put a clean little hole in the nav screen. Why?

I'm not sure how often the traffic info is updated, but it wasn't often enough for my needs. I've got route options (I-5 up the middle to 101, 57N to the 60W to the 101, and so on) and based on the *green* freeway icons, I chose the most direct, but apparently most congested route there was. Hundreds of thousands of other people were Zenning right along with me.

Finally, somewhere around Camarillo, the road opened up and I could make use of the V1 and 6th gear. On the trip up, my fuel economy averaged 20.4 mpg, but that included the stop-and-go of L.A. So much for Zen, but thank goodness for Raw Dog comedy on Sirius.

Then on Sunday, when my wife asked if I'd like to go wine tasting in Paso Robles, I thought it'd be a perfect weekend activity. I plugged in the address of first winery and off we went. Here are a few photos of that drive.

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(Chimney Rock Road on the way to Justin Winery -- deserted)

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(Justin Winery)

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(back down Chimney Rock Road to J. Lohr on the other side of Paso Robles)

Well, you get the idea. We had a wonderful Father's Day. Sunny, great red wine (we've got a case arriving twice a year from J. Lohr), and a beautiful drive.

As good as wine tasting was, I was looking forward to the peaceful drive home that hadn't happened on the way up--and it did.

Leaving Arroyo Grande at 9:00am on a Monday is apparently the right time.

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(US 101S/Hwy 1 -- blue sky and Pacific Ocean almost the whole way home)

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(...and this time, the green traffic indicator was correct)

Besides a positive outlook on life and a general feeling of kindness toward my fellow man, one other thing that improves with free-flowing traffic is fuel economy. On the 3-hour drive home, the Challenger averaged 26.4 mpg! Combined with my less-than-zoomy trip up, the on-board fuel economy calculator topped out at 24.6 mpg, but by my math it was closer to 22.5 mpg.

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Still, that's not bad for a 5.7L V8. Obviously, cruising in 6th with less than 2,500 rpm works.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 7181 miles

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2009 Dodge Challenger in VA is:

$148 per month*
* Explanation
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