Note to Fiat -- This Is Your Best Nameplate - 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T Long-Term Road Test
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2009 Dodge Challenger Long Term Road Test

2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Note to Fiat -- This Is Your Best Nameplate

January 25, 2010

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If you went to this month's Detroit Auto Show, you might have gotten the impression that Fiat executives really aren't as sure about Chrysler's product plan as they claimed to be last November. How else to explain the absence of the 2011 Grand Cherokee (scheduled to go on sale in the second quarter of thisyear) and the presence of the hideous Chrysler-badged Lancia Delta hatchback?

I hope, though, that some of the Fiat leadership havetaken a drive in the Dodge Challenger. From the burbling V8 soundtrack in the R/T to the beautifully executed ride/handling balance, this coupe is easily the best of the cars built off the LX platform architecture.

The Challenger also makes Chrysler look good to the public. When people see our black R/T, they come up to you wanting to talk about the car, not the bankruptcy and government/Fiat takeover. Eighteen months have passed since the Challenger SRT8 went on sale. Yet, even in Los Angeles, where the attention span is short andpreference goes to imports, I still hear people say, "Oooh, that's the new Dodge Challenger..." as I stroll through parking lots looking for a spot large enough to fit the beast.

If Chrysler's going to survive this upheaval, the Chrysler-Fiat leadership simply has to do right by the Dodge Challenger. Keep it alive. Keep it interesting. Absolutely don't neglect it.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 19,106 miles


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