2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Brings me back to my coupe roots
May 13, 2009
"I'm a single-seat guy living in a world full of fenders." That's an approximation of a quote by the Executive Editor here at Inside Line, Michael Jordan. We're sitting around one day talking about, surprise, cars. More precisely, we're talking about how it is we got caught up in this crazy business of driving cars and how, real surprise, we're getting paid to do it.
"Not me." I shoot back, "If I ever stumble blindly into a pile of money I'm buying a Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe and I'm going to drive it very slowly up and down the coast. Windows down, seat heaters on."
My formative years, while dotted with sports cars, was primarily occupied with sport-luxury coupes. I grew up in the northeast, the only thing more plentiful than bland, straight roads were bored cops with twitchy radar guns. Cornering, grip and G-loads never played a big part in my life. Burnouts, powerslides and all-night road trips to NYC or Montreal were more my speed.
I've owned Thunderbird Super Coupes. I've fruitlessly searched for a clean Lincoln MK VIIIs. Every six months or so I check eBay to see if the '05 GTOs have continued their price decline. And I promise you this: before I die I'll own a Mercedes-Benz CL65.
What, if anything, does this have to do with the Dodge Challenger R/T? Very little, actually, but it does give you a background of information to prime you for what I'm about to say.
As much as I dislike looking at the '09 Challenger, I'm happier driving this car than virtually any other in the long-term fleet. The ride is soft but never floaty. The engine drones, but never in an unpleasant way. It can't corner, it's not terribly good at braking and it'll get gunned down at a stoplight by any college girl in her mom's 335.
Let them have their corners and off-the-line speed. This thing can cruise. Looking over 50-feet of hood, it's a joy to drive aimlessly for hours with the windows down regardless of the weather. Sure the '09 Challenger will do a big silly burnout at your buddy's house, but despite tire-melting power, this car doesn't tempt me to go to the mountains, it tempts me to drive to Mexico, or Canada, or Maine. Or to Detroit to slap them for not making this years ago.
If it didn't look so stupid, this car would be on my list of Must Own toys. What are the odds that Dodge will, pending survival, make a 2-door Magnum a-la the Chevy Nomad that drives like this? And would I be the only buyer?
Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 4,852 miles