2009 Dodge Challenger Long Term Road Test

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Goodbye, Old Friend

June 28, 2010

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On the way to deliver the 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T to the buyer, I stopped to have it washed. The only problem was, there was no spot-free rinse so I arrived with a dripping car that was soon to have driving marks all over it. Before we even signed papers Matt, the new owner, grabbed a towel and dried it off. As the water disappeared, the luster of the black paint began to gleam. "This is so awesome," Matt said more than once as he lovingly rubbed down his new car. When we were done he signed quickly and I slid two sets of keys across the table to him.

Yes, sadly, the Challenger is gone. It didn't quite fetch the high price we had hoped but we still feel pleased with the result. We might have done better but there are other cars to buy and we need to keep moving forward. So here's a quick rundown on the selling process.

We began by offering the car at $29,900 -- $800 over TMV. I got several calls but no serious action. So after two weeks we dropped the price to $28,900. I immediately got two calls. Strangely enough, they were both from guys named Matt.

On Father's Day, Matt #1 arrived with his father. They took a long test drive, enjoying driving the Challenger and remarking on the shift action, the suspension and its great looks. I felt an offer coming and I hoped it was a good one.

"Here's something for you to think about," Matt said. "I'll give you $26,500 for it." It took me a second to realize that Matt had undercut the asking price by $2,400. I didn't respond at all, hoping that Matt #2 wouldenter the fray and make a better offer. So for now, I just thanked Matt #1 for coming to see the car.

Matt #2 never called back so the next day, I called Matt #1 and talked about how the Challenger's trunk was plenty big for his golf clubs. This led to a friendly little chat about golf, his handicap and what courses in the area are fun to play. As we talked I felt he would open to a strong counteroffer so I told him we could be convinced to part with the Challenger for $27,800, an $1,100 discount from our asking price. He bounced back with $27,500 and I accepted.

Later, when I looked at the numbers, I realized we had done well to get that much for a one-and-a-half-year-old used car with 26,800 hard miles on it. Unlike many American cars, it only depreciated 20 percent from our purchase price of $34,600 a year and a half ago. That means it lost $7,100 of its value. That's a whole lot of fun for a small price tag.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Up Yours Sir Henry Clinton!

June 15, 2010

Sometimes I'm at a loss for words, andcan onlyresort to this graphical representation of my thoughts ...

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Why Buy Used?

June 14, 2010

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Some of the comments on the blogs about the sale of the 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T have pointed out that you can get a new one for a starting price of $30,860 (before destination, tax and registry fees). This makes our asking price of $29,900 look unattractive by comparison.

After a Sunday afternoon with the Challenger parked near a busy street, and the phone not ringing at all, I began to lose faith in our price. I consulted with the pricing gurus here at Edmunds and they pointed out that there are incentives on the Dodge making our price even more unrealistic. However, when I looked at the actual incentives, I found a different story.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Sales/Mileage Update

June 11, 2010

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For an unexplained reason (probably a computer snafu) our Autotrader ad was rejected without our knowledge and we lost some valuable time selling the 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T. When it finally posted a few days ago we got two calls immediately but neither one was very serious. Still, it's a positive sign that indicates we are in the ballpark with our asking price of $29,900. In our experience, if the price isn't close, the phone doesn't ring.

Meanwhile, the Challenger has been doing a lot of highway driving and logging some respectable fuel economy for a muscle car. On a road trip in May it set a personal best for 401 miles on one tank and got 23.8 mpg. The lifetime average is 17.5 mpg and the EPA says the combined figure is 19 mpg. Given that we tend to be enthusiastic drivers, and that we spend a lot of time on clogged Los Angeles freeways, that's pretty close.

Philip Reed, Edmunds.com Consumer Advice Editor @26,490 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Let the 2nd Guessing Begin

June 04, 2010

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The ad for our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T has been posted at the selling price of $29,900. My previous blog triggered a firestorm of speculation about the integrity of True Market Value prices, the psychology of buyers and other mysteries of the universe.

Some comments were thoughtful and insightful such as this: "Will you change the TMV calculator if you can't get it ;)" Our TMV experts definitely keep an eye on our long term sales and might modify the price slightly. However, this is just one sale, one piece of data, and TMV is based on thousands of transactions, both at auctions (for trade-in prices) and at dealerships (for dealer retail prices).

Another commenter said, "Considering I just priced out a new one on Dodge's website for $32,500, with no options save the manual transmission mind you, I'd rather pay extra for a new one." Well, our car had $6,000 worth of options so it would be about $38,500. To buy ours at $29,900 would be quite a savings.

Moving now to the more vitriolic comments we have this opinion from blueguydotcom: "25-26k. Dead company, car has a limited amount of appeal and TMV is pretty much always wrong." Did I miss something? Has Dodge been eliminated? As far as "limited" appeal, it was the top pick in coupes in Consumers Top Rated.

And finally this, from firstwagon: "TMV is a pretty much useless number. A used car is worth exactly whatever someone is willing to pay and not a cent more. You're free to ask whatever you want but the price is set by the guy who writes the check."

From this comment I'm led to believe that we should list our cars for sale and invite people to make offers based on what they want to write checks for. And as far as TMV being a "pretty much useless number," it is only a reflection of the market, an average of sales that have already taken place. Doesn't it make sense that anyone wanting to sell an item would check to see what others have been able to sell that item for in an open market?

Hey, TMV is free, check it out. Unlike Kelley Blue Book, which has a strong history of dealer support, Edmunds.com has no vested interest in presenting prices that are artificially high. It's a guide, a reflection of the marketplace, a starting place for people selling cars.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: The Driving Experience

June 01, 2010

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I never expected to like driving our long term 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T. It just doesn't suit me even though I grew up during the muscle car era it evokes. But I do love driving this stealthy monster and I've been struggling for a way to put the experience into words. Certainly, a lot of the pleasure comes from the deep well of power and the throaty rumble of the 372-horsepower Hemi V8. I also like the cool feel of the pistol-grip shifter in the palm of my hand. Beyond that, it's a blend of so many elements that it defies words. So, in lieu of any forced prose, I offer this photo which conveys a feeling of the driving experience for anyone who has not had the great good fortune to find themselves behind the wheel of this car.

Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 26,300 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Asking vs. Selling Price

May 28, 2010

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We priced out our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T and were pleasantly surprised. Even with a $600 hit for extra miles (we're at 26,200 miles now) the True Market Value Price is $29,200. Back in February 2009 we paid $34,600 for it so the drop off hasn't been too harsh.

We're thinking that black is the preferred color for this bad boy, as is the six-speed manual transmission, so we're going to put it up for sale for $29,900 and see what kind of interest we get.

Philip Reed, Edmunds Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 26,200 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Beautiful When it's Clean

May 26, 2010


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We're getting ready to sell our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T so I gave it a bath and rubbed it down to keep off the drying marks. It reminded me of a piece of advice I once heard. Before you buy any used car you should wash it because it makes you touch all the body panels and you will notice any dents, dings and the quality of the paint.

What I noticed is that the paint on this car is gorgeous. It lives up to its name on the sticker: Brilliant Black. The only drawback is you have to keep it clean.

We're going to price the Challenger and post a for sale ad soon. It'll be interesting to see how much interest there is in this car. We'll keep you posted.

Philip Reed, Edmunds.com Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 26,100 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: For People Who Really Really Love Cars

May 26, 2010

This commercial made me laugh last night. The fact that it's basically our Challenger made it all the more cooler. Man I'm going to miss it when it's gone.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Our Favorite Caption

May 21, 2010

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Thanks to mrryte for this week's favorite caption.

Here are the others that made us chuckle:

Ancient proverb say "Man who sticks head in sand gets True Grit" (ergsum)
Dude....Dude......is it a Hemi? (spin2win)
Picacho!?!? Peak your own Acho! (saxdogg)
Separated at Birth (dougtheeng)
I like big wheels and I cannot lie... (rayray633)
I Challenge you to a dual!!! (rayray633)
I think it's compensating... (rayray633)
What would the Duke do? (ed124c)
Professor Challenger has found the Lost World. (technetium99)
The Challenger gets ostrichsized! (ergsum)
Meet the all new 2011 Chrysler Town & Country-Bumpkin (rayray633)
Ed stops by the Mechanics day job to ask why he hasn't written any articles lately. (technetium99)
Poultry in motion. (sherief)
Rooster Cogburn; licensed to quill. (mnorm1)
Challenger gets "Plume Crazy" paint job. (ergsum)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger: You Write the Caption

May 21, 2010

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Senior Editor Ed Hellwig sent me this photo of our Dodge Challenger R/T at the Ostrich Ranch just outside of Tucson, Arizona.

Don't bury your head in the sand. Write a caption.

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

By the way, how are your Photoshop skills? Better than mine I'm sure. Enter our new contest over on Straightline. Show us what you got.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: 25,000 Milestone

May 19, 2010

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It's been 14 months-- almost to the day-- since we added our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T to the fleet and it's already crossed 25,000 miles. Quite a feat for a coupe.

In that time we've had it in theinaugural Burnout Contest, loaned it out to a guy we shouldn've, drove to Phoenix, to Tucson, to Willows, CAand a number of other places certainly during our 1,800-mile-a-month average.

14 months and 25,000 miles later, we're still impressed by this Dodge and still fight over the keys most nights-- especially if there's any sort of ground to cover.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 25,749 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Our Favorite Caption

May 14, 2010

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Thanks to technetium99 for this week's favorite caption.

Here are the others that we thought were sweet:

Man, this place is the pits! (technetium99)
Vanishing Pit (ergsum)
Jackpot! (ergsum)
Dodge Challenger: As American as cherry pie. (technetium99)
Da Cherry Bomb. (technetium99)
Your Cherriot Awaits (ergsum)
Damn, I misspelled Virginia in the GPS. (ergsum)
Rev the Hemi, pop the cherry. (e90_m3)
Marchionne Cherry (ergsum)
Why sports cars have back seats (sm42)
Out for a Sundae drive (mnorm1)
Unlike some, the Challenger will lay rubber. (mnorm1)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: You Write the Caption

May 14, 2010

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Automotive Editor John DiPietro sent me this photo of our Dodge Challenger.

We're not touching it with a caption.

You do it.

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

Don't forget the caption contest over at Straightline.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: This Coulda Been Our Challenger

May 10, 2010

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You'll notice that the Challenger pictured above is not, in fact, our tasteful, black long-term runner. No, this is the car that our Challenger could have been, had we decided to bolt on a bunch of new Mopar parts to our car as we once considered doing.

Well, life got in the way of Mopar-izing our long-termer. But our friendly neighborhood Mopar folks recently loaned us a TorRed Challenger kitted out with pretty much everything they have on offer.

Join us after the jump as we pass judgment on each add-on.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Styling Is Holding Up Well

May 06, 2010

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I don't get it really. The "new" Dodge Challenger has been out for a couple years now and it still get all sorts of attention on the road, even in Santa Monica.

Consider that the streets here are littered with every AMG, M and Porsche 911 on the planet and yet people still stop and stare at our Challenger and its big ol' sidewalls.

Say what you will about its retro styling, but it's pretty clear to me that Dodge nailed it on this one.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 24,282 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: The Streets of San Francisco

April 22, 2010

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I recently took the Challenger to San Fran for a business trip and just had to check out Lombard Street, one (if not THE) most famous crooked roads in the country. We're talking eight sharp, hairpin-style turns! Before that zig-zag section came up, I had to stop several times while ascending the steep street and was thankful for the Challenger's hill-holder feature. What I wasn't thankful for was the car's broad shouldered physique as I wound my way down through the hairpins of this carnival ride. But we emerged unscathed and I can now check that one off the road trip bucket list.

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Real Estate Agent Approved

March 29, 2010

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We all have our idea about a real estate agent's car. I've never seen one that wasn't white, and I'm generally shocked if it isn't a Mercedes-Benz, BMW or Lexus. Take my new realtor, who drives a white BMW 328i.

Yet, he pretty much flipped out when he discovered "my car," the very black, very un-real-estate-agent Dodge Challenger.He'sfrom France,too, so perhaps there's hope for them yet -- real estate agents and the French.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 22,156 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Retro vs Retro

March 26, 2010

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Which do you prefer?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger: The Last Big, Comfy American Coupe?

March 24, 2010

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A big, comfortable American coupe. It may look like a retro muscle car, it may have the engine of a modern muscle car, but in the end, the 2010 Dodge Challenger is a big, comfortable American coupe. They used to be all over the place, but rarely have they been as cool as this Challenger.

I started to wonder, what was the last such car to grace this fine land? Over the past 10 years or so, big coupes have been dying off. Ford's had nothing since the retro, two-seatT-bird replaced the older Super Coupe variety. Chrysler had the Sebring, but it was based on the Mitsubishi Eclipseand thus it wasn't that big and presumably not that comfortable (I never drove it, not that I would admit if I did). There was the Lincoln Mark VIII and Buick Riviera, but they died before the Millenium. The Cadillac Eldorado survived it, but shouldn't have.

And then I thought of it.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Longing for Open Road

March 18, 2010

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What is it about the Challenger that makes me want to drive into a Springsteen album cover and never stop? You can try and rationalize this car all you want, but the second the V8 soundtrack starts and the convex hood starts bending open skies, your inner Mad Max starts growling about finding some far flat horizon to run down. Is this collective muscle-car unconscious generational? Will younger folk feel the same odd longing to unwind a Hemi V8 until center lines begin to blur? Questions for our varied readership...

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2009 Dodge Challenger: What's the Perfect Soundtrack?

March 12, 2010

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Driving in to work today with our 2009 Dodge Challenger, I was listening to Jack FM, a radio station that caters to all tastes, when Van Halen's "Jump," filled the speakers. OK, that's a good song but doesn't really suit the burly, intimidating Challenger what with all the synthesizers. Maybe something from the '70s, more guitar? Heart's "Barracuda"?

I asked resident car geek/music lover editor John Di Pietro for his opinion on the matter and he suggested The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" or really any Rolling Stones track from the '70s.

But I think found the perfect song! See my pick after the jump.

"Immigrant Song" by Led Zeppelin! No? What do you think is the perfect soundtrack for cruising in the Challenger?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: NASCAR Decals

March 04, 2010

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He couldn't hold it.That face, I mean. You know, that face you make when you cruise up alongside some guy on the highway and invite him to engage in an illicit exhibition of speed.

Anyway he couldn't hold it and just laughed and we were both laughing really, since we were each driving down the Harbor Freeway in a Dodge Challenger and were surrounded by people who were not as lucky as we were. So he sped off toward his exit after this traditional rite of the True Brotherhood and it made me think about the tenuous hold that cars like the Challenger have in a world that threatens them with extinction every day. When you think about it, the Challenger is a car that could disappear overnight.

Maybe NASCAR will keep this from happening.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: You Can Leave Your Hat On

February 23, 2010

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In the usual horsepower-hazed stupor that envelopes me every time I drive the Challenger, a thought crossed my torque-addled brain. I thought, "If the Challenger was a convertible, I could really hear that wonderful exhaust." So here's my photo-chopped version. Not very good, right? Somehow, the car looks even heavier and chunkier than it did with a roof. Then there's the issue of chassis strength. I have a feeling this bad boy would flex like the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. I suppose some things are best left untouched.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 20,360 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Do Not Mess With Me

February 22, 2010

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When I first got the keys to our 2009 Dodge Challenger as my weekend car on Friday, I have to admit I was kinda bummed about it. "If I change my mind, I'll let you know," I told Mike Schmidt, the keeper of keys, so he could pass them on to the next person in line for cars. The Challenger is too big for my urban lifestyle, I'm not crazy about driving stick in the omnipresent L.A. traffic and ever since I got in a car accident last year (different car) I've been extra skittish about its blind spot via the passenger-side B-pillar.

But then things changed over the course of the weekend. I LOVE this car. It's so bad-ass. People actually move out of my way. Yesterday when I was on the freeway on the far left lane, I was at least two or three car lengths behind a 350Z. We were going the same speed and I wasn't putting pressure on him or anything but inexplicably he moves out of my way. And when I drive past him, he jumps back into the lane right behind me. Weirrrd and neat! This happened with other cars, too, even SUVs.

I wouldn't mind having this as a road-trip car. The seats are comfortable; score that there are seat heaters. And it has satellite radio.

My only beef is with the navigation. It feels like it takes forever to plug in an address. But no biggie. Anyway, I'm glad I didn't hand the keys over to someone else this weekend.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 20,341 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: 20,000 Miles and Counting

February 16, 2010

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I hadn't taken our Challenger any distance, so this sounded about right: a long weekend when we'd be blasting up to Santa Barbara for a lacrosse game, 132 miles away, almost all freeway, sometimes trafficky. If the car managed a freeway cruise okay, great. If not, it wasn't all that long a trip.

The black Challenger did fine. I've complained how big and heavy and soft the new Challenger is for a retro-ponycar, but settling in for a couple hours on US 101, that wasn't an issue. (I aired up the tires to 36 psi instead of the recommended 32, and maybe that sharpened things a bit, but I still think THIS should have been the Charger and the Challenger should have been smaller and more athletic. But that's just me. I have a 1968 Charger, and it feels like the Queen Mary as I dock it in the garage, yet this 2009 Challenger is 200 pounds heavier than it is!)

Burbling along at 75, the Challenger feels relaxed and comfy. The seats are okay (the front ones, at least; don't put anyone in back for long), the HVAC and stereo and NAV work well enough, visibility is okay (except to the rear quarters), and the interior is plenty roomy enough for two and a snack bag and a weekend of stuff. Best of all, the car has a certain presence on the road that I like. And others like it too. This may be the only car currently in our fleet that kids in other cars take cell-phone pictures of.

My favorite feature in the Challenger is the shifter. It has to stir some heavy-duty gears down there, but it still feels light and positive, the gates are easy to find, and the sort-of pistol grip shape is quite functional. Honorable mention for a best feature has to be the exhaust note, which has great character without actually being all that loud.

For my least-favorite feature, the Challenger gets dinged for a pet peeve of mine: the door handles. This is the first physical contact you make with a car, and their feel should give you confidence. They should be solid and sturdy, with good, natural action. The Challenger's aren't. The lightweight handle feels flexy and loose when you pull it, and its angle in the body side has you lifting up too much. A small thing, but in a very vulnerable place. I've already cringed a little to myself, and I haven't even gotten in the car. Note to manufacturers: don't scrimp on door handles!

But that's about all I have to complain about. The Challenger makes a fine medium-range cruiser, with decent fuel economy (low-20s) to compliment its slightly malevolent attitude. I'd take it again.

Kevin Smith, Editorial Director, at 20,169 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Girls Need Cars Too

February 11, 2010

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If I asked a girl out and she showed up driving a Furious Fuschia Dodge Challenger R/T with the pistol grip, it wouldn't matter if she wasa Yankees fan and her father was Bill O'Reilly. That would pretty much seal the deal right there. And if she looked like her up there, well, even better.Seriously, howawesome wouldshe be?

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: All Ages

February 01, 2010

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Whenthe 2009 Dodge Challengerfirst came out, it seemed that only those that grew up with the old Challenger gave it a second glance. That's how it seemed when I drove our long term test car the first couple of times, anyway. This theory was given extra credence by the chorus of "mehs" and "I don't get its" that issued from some of the younger staffers in the office.

But this weekend was markedly different. At Ruby's a little boy pulled his daddy by the arm to "go see" the car. Dad seemedproud, perhaps,that his son saw something interesting there and wanted him to tell him about it, so he did. It was parked between a new Mustang and a New Beetle, but neither of them earned the slightest glance from this pair.

A young dude outside another restaurant walked all around our black R/T and peered inside it during his smoking exile. A teen girl walking through the Home Depot parking lot with her mom broke ranks and did the same thing, exceptwithout the cigarette. She was actually giddy and I heard her mutter the word "cool" under her breath.

Then there was the guy whomanages Ranch Enchilada, the local Mexican food joint I frequent. He took off his apron and headed outside for a closer look as we walked out to the car.

It's almost as if they'd never seen a Challenger. They certainly have, I'd wager, so I'll put forthanother theory. People recognize goodness when they see it, and now that the Camaro has made it's much ballyhooed appearance, the Challenger stands alone as the best-looking most authentic modern interpretation of the original of any retro-themed car out there. It has staying power, it has presence. It looks cool. People of all ages get it.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 19,383 miles

Photoby: Scott Jacobs

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Hello Mopar

January 26, 2010

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Last night I broke bread with Jim Sassorosi.Who, over hunks of red meat and enormous bacon-covered baked patatoes,told me thatthe Dodge Challengerrecently surpassed the Ram truck as the vehicle Chrysler Corporation customers accessorize the most.

He should know. Jim is the Director of Mopar Parts Sales and Marketing which means he's in charge of selling you everything from Hemi crate motors to fancy floor mats. And according to Jim, Dodge dealers are now selling more Mopar stuff for Challengers then they are for Rams.

I think we need to get in on the action.

Of course our dinner conversation turnedto our long-term 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T, which Iof course brought to the restaurant to show Jim.

"Jim, ol' buddyol' pal, I think our Challenger can use a little love," I said as we exited the Manhattan Beach bistro for the parking lot. "Maybe some of those parts you were showing off at SEMA back in November."

"Sure, what do you want," he replied. "Lower suspension? Torque Thrust style wheels?How about a strobe stripe down the side and a Challenger T/A style hoodscoop like we used back in 1970."

"Um, okay," I replied before he could reconsider. "And how about some floor mats."

"No problem."

So what do you think? Should we start throwing parts at our Challenger?

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief

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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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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Vegas Valets Like It

January 13, 2010

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Oneof the things I love aboutLas Vegas is that valet parking is free -- at all theswank hotels.

The valets at those hotels see just about every high-ballin' car out there. This past summer, during one visit alonewe spotted several NBA players by the pool -- you can just imagine what they drive. And at the 2010 CES this past week, anew blacked-out Aston DBSwas parked in my hotel's driveway.

But nearly every time I pulled up in our long-term 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T last week,I was greeted with questions and compliments from the valets.

"I like those," I overheard one valet say to another. "Howdo you like it?" and "It's nice" were accompanied by enviousstares at the Challenger.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Back to Vegas 2010 CES

January 04, 2010

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I'm heading back to Vegas, this time in our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T. I'll be going for the 2010 International Consumer Electronics Show (more commonly known as CES).

I chose the Challenger for its prescence and comfortable ride.It's well-suited for Vegas.

I'll be posting some interesting tidbits on Straightline starting this Wednesday.
And my colleague Senior Technology Editor Doug Newcomb will be covering the show on Edmunds Daily.

So make sure you check us out!

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Drive It Again For The First Time

January 04, 2010

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Challenger, right ... the slow one with the limp handling ... bigger than a G8 for godsakes ... Camaro and Mustang always seem to win the comparos ...

No. Wait. Stop your brain right there. You cannot, I repeat, cannot think of the Challenger as a wannabe Camaro or Mustang. Comparing this thing to the other so-called muscle cars is like comparing a Rolls-Royce Phantom Coupe to, well, anything. Because the Challenger is in a class of one. It's awesomely, unapologetically, enormouslyAmerican. It's a rolling middle finger to the Honda/BMW generation, i.e., the ones whose idea of a good time is a firm suspension and a shortage of low-end torque. It's what the Cadillac coupe should be.

It's the kind of car that I thought -- feared -- this country didn't know how to make anymore.

To take a Challenger R/T 6MT on a multi-day road trip, as I did up the coast to Monterey last week, is to realize that this is the most authentic slice of Americana to hit dealerships in decades. The highway ride is downright pillowy, which makes the 64.7-mph slalom speed on slippery tires even more impressive. The seats, front and back, are wide and comfy. The cabin is living-room quiet. Elevated speeds are conveyed by the speedometer needle, not by any loss of dynamic composure. This isn't some rough-around-the-edges burnout machine; no sirree. It's a personal luxury coupe in the grand American tradition, with modern handling capabilities thrown in for kicks.

As for the powertrain, "Amen" is what I have to say about that. Unlike the Camaro's strangled LS3, the Challenger's 5.7-liter Hemi always sounds right, whether burbling distantly at 1,600 rpm (which is where the hilariously tall sixth gear puts you at 70 mph) or roaring toward its lovably low 5,700-rpm redline. The pistol-grip shifter feels meaty and delivers satisfying throws through tolerably notchy gates. Throttle response is surprisingly sharp and intuitive when matching revs, and I much prefer the Challenger's clutch to the Camaro's or 370Z's. I wouldn't mind a little more power at higher velocities, where it feels like the Challenger's weight and aerodynamics are getting in the Hemi's way, but overall this is one of the most engaging engine/transmission pairings out there.

Dislikes? Well, I guess I'm with just about everyone else in finding the Challenger's interior design disappointingly uninspired for such an inspiring car. But honestly that's the only thing I really wish I could change, and even so, I still appreciate the soft-touch dash, which complements the car's upscale driving character. Call me a chubby dude working at Home Depot, but I would totally buy this car. Take one on a trip and tell me you wouldn't do the same.

Josh Sadlier, Associate Editor @ 17,590 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: There is no doubt

December 22, 2009

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Here's a pic of a red Challenger R/T to keep you in the Christmas spirit.

There's been a lot of Long-Term Blog activity recently on our dink cars -- the Fit, Insight, Mini E, and the SX4.

And while these petite vehicles may have their charms (a few), I prefer our long-term Challenger R/T, especially when it comes to the engine and exhaust sound.

With thoseeconomy,hybrid, and electric cars, youcan barely tell if they're running, even when you're moving.

But with the Challenger R/Tand its glorious 5.7L Hemi V8-- there is no doubt.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer@ 16,650 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Five for Flinching

December 10, 2009

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So I was down in our parking garage this morning and started up our 2009 Dodge Challenger when its initial rumble ended up setting off the "wee-ooh wee-ooh wee-ooh" alarm of the car parked next to me.That was so funny I had to do it four more times.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Headlights and Blinkers

November 30, 2009

Challenger Headlights

As I mentioned this weekend, I had the opportunity to drive the Challenger at night through the desert. This was a perfect test of its headlights, which I thought were sufficient for the desert's pitch black darkness. Despite not being xenons, the wash of light was consistent and bright enough. I wasn't as enamored with the high beams, though. They aren't particularly brighter than the regular lights, just whiter in light and the beam casts itself higher toward tall shrubs and big reflective signs. I didn't find the high beamsuseful and stuck with the regular headlights.

Fast forward several days when I was driving in a torrential downpour on I-10 just east of Palm Springs. The cabin was quite noisy.I was concentrating on the treacherousroad ahead. The turn signal indicators are buried on the far left and right of the instruments and in a dim yellow color. You guessed it, I turned into Grandpa with his turn signal on for 157 miles.Thankfully, I didn't get that farbecause the Challenger has a pleasant feature that dings you the standard warning chime shared with the low fuel light and displays a "Turn Signal On" warning in the trip computer. What a smart feature.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 15,562 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Honest

November 25, 2009

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I soooooo didn't want to like the new Challenger

I even brought it home and invited some friends over so we could all sit around and mock its gargantuan proportions, completely uncreative and uninspired throwback styling and downright depressing interior. But after a few hours and more than a few cheap tacos, something very unexpected happened.

We all liked it. It's just so honest.

Especially in our car's R/T trim, there's no pretense made by the styling. It's not some over styled street-tough like the Camaro. The interior's nothing special, but it works. Dodge didn't try to trick you into thinking this car is sporty either by leaving that huge steering wheel in your lap. The suspension's soft and the sidewalls are tall, but in return you get a pretty nice ride on ANY surface and side benefit, you get to squeal and spin the tires around slow corners. Did I mention you can hear the tires break loose as you grab third gear? Yeah, that doesn't hurt either.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 14,306 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: I Love Road Trips

November 25, 2009

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Over the weekend, I put 1,100+ miles on our long-term 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T. It was a rushed trip, but an enjoyable trip, and I'll be posting a couple more entries about it this week.

For now, I'll say that the Challenger is an excellent road trip car when you'retraveling solo. Is it too much car for the task? Oh, most definitely. But the combination of big, usable torque (401 pound-feet at 4,400 rpm, but plenty below that), a compliant ride quality and soft but adequately supportive seating (for the driver) make for a blissful journey up the interstate.

And frankly, the 19-gallon gas tank is great, too. If you're disciplined enough to keep it at 75 mph in this car, you're looking at close to 500 miles of range. Even at my worst, 400 miles on a tank was easy. Gas mileage bragging will come in tomorrow's post.

There's also a big sensory component to driving the Challenger R/T. You look out over its long, black hood, as you hold its oversize steering wheel, as the sun fades north of Sacramento, and is life really so bad? I think not.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 14,221 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Open Thread

October 27, 2009

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What do you want to know about the 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T?

Have you driven one, sat in one, seen one on the road? Write your review in the comments section.

Any details you want us to take photos or video of?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Plum Crazy

October 26, 2009

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Plum Crazy pearl coat paint will be available for the 2010 Challenger R/T and Challenger SRT8.

It's a traditional color that will bring back fond memories for you original Challenger lovers out there.

Now, how about the other oldies likeSublime and Go-Mango. We want them all.

Read the full story on Inside Line's News section:

2010 Dodge Challenger Gets "Plum Crazy" Paint Job

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: In the Air Tonight

October 26, 2009

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As a child of the 80's, I was struck by the visual richness of Miami Vice. One scene in particular stuck with me through the years. It was from the pilot episode, a Tuxedo-black Daytona Spyder zooming down the streets of Miami, with Phil Collins' In the Air Tonight playing in the background.

Here is my photographic homage to that scene with our Challenger R/T.

And here's the original scene, complete with kitschy 80's style and weak dialogue. Click through to see the other two shots. I really wish I had a stronger camera rig to get the nose back shot that Michael Mann had on the Daytona, though. And for the record, yes, I was listening to In the Air Tonight as I shot these.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Look Again

October 25, 2009

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Our Dodge Challenger's number is up again. It's getting another turn as car of the week.

You know, one of the best parts of Inside Line's redesign, IMHO, is the photo galleries feature.

Go back to the Introduction of the Dodge Challenger and look at all the photos in full-screen mode. Follow this link. You won't be disappointed.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger: The Choice of 60-Year-Old Professors

October 19, 2009

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I ran into my old journalism professor this past weekend and inevitably got to chatting about cars. After decades of buying Buicks (he owned the last Riviera when I met him and owns the 1951 Buick Eight pictured), he finally gave up and bought a pair of his and her Priuses. Well, he no longer likes his. He was about to explain, but judging by intonation I already knew why he didn't like his Prius. It was the same reason I wouldn't like my Prius.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: If It Was Mine...

October 16, 2009

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I like the Challenger, really, I do. If it was mine, though, I'd drop it an inch or so. It rides too high for my tastes, plus, I think it looks better - even a bit more sinister. I'd also have to cut the wheelwells out a bit so the tires won't tuck under the bodywork. Finally, I'd rig together one of those induction tubes from the 2010 Mustang to get some of that wonderful engine noise to blend with the thumpin' sound system.

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 12,289 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: The Tale of Two Hemis

October 16, 2009

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(Two vastly different generations of Dodge Hemis. Photo by Andrew Reed.)

I came out yesterday to get in the 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T and found it had made a new friend. Or maybeit had become reunited with a long lostrelative.

My neighbor is a big muscle car fanatic; he also has a Viper. He bought this car at a swap meet and has been restoring it. When he fires it up, our whole house shakes.

Anyone know what this is? After the jump there is a better picture of it.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Some Cars and Songs Are Just Made for Each Other

October 12, 2009

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I was enjoying a cruiseup the coast in our Challenger on thishalf-holiday (half the people I know had it off, half didn't) out here in SoCal and was doubly blessed.Grey skies meant an unusually empty PCH, and the Challenger'ssatellite radio meantSpringsteenwas readily available.

With "Ramrod"blaring out of the speakers, I had no choice butto graba 5>3 double downshift and lean into it to addappropriate backing "vocals" when this passage came up: "Well she's a hot-steppin' Hemi with a four on the floor..."

It was all enough to put a smile on my face as wide as the Challenger's grille. Cars like this were meant for songs like that...

What are y'all fave driving songs?

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor@ 12,100 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Which One?

September 18, 2009

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Which one do you think looks better?

Karl's Plum Crazy 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T SE or our long-term 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Official Soundtrack for Pistol-Grip Shifter

September 17, 2009

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Last night I found the perfect soundtrack for our manual-shift 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T -- Rage Against the Machine's "Pistol Grip Pump."

As always, I like the feel of the pistol-grip shifter on our Challenger R/T's 6-speed. But it's not like you can shift quickly in this car -- the throws are looong. So you might as well have some appropriate music playing. Note: This is a "clean" clip from this particular Rage song, so those with sensitive ears needn't worry, and you'll have to crank the volume on your computer to hear anything. As always, enjoy the high-quality, shaky-handheld cinematography.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Open Thread

September 15, 2009

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What do you want to know about the 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T?

Are there any details you want a photo of?

Have you driven one? Sat in one? Write a review in the comments section.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: 10k

August 30, 2009

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Friday night, our Challenger's odometer clicked over 10,000 miles.

The only thing I noticed is the disappointing amount of tread still on the rear tires. I would have thought that, by now, these tires would be as bald as I am. I think this car's been hauling too many handbags and not enough ass.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 10,000 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Wrong Door Handle

August 12, 2009

Dodge Challenger Wrong Handle

Note how the Challenger's door handle is of the latch variety and placed on the upward slant of the door. As such, the handle is almost parallel to the ground when lifted. Its underside has a rough texture to it, but there's not enough grip or leverage available to properly open the heavy door. My hand slips off the handle every second time Itry to get into the Challengerand I haven't been alone in this gripe.

It could be a pull-style handle, but that would ruin the retro motif. SoI would suggest moving it to the door's vertical plain instead and making the handle itself bigger.

This isn't a major issue, though, so I've only used my small WRONG stamp.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 8,916 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Octane in the Membrane

July 23, 2009

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AFuel Octane Saga is currently swirling around our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T. Brent Romansheard somewhere that it needed 91 octane, but he was flummoxeda few weeks ago by a fuel filler door that made no mention of a premium fuel requirement. His theory was supported by this statement on page 315 of the owner's manual:

"The 5.7L engine (with manual transmission) is designed to meet all emissions regulations and provide excellent fuel economy and performance when using high-quality premium unleaded gasoline with an octane rating of 91 or higher."

So he unleashed his mad fabrication skillz and devised a cunning warning label of his own, the results of whichyou can see above.

But the utter lack lack of afactory-installed gas-door warning that stipulated the use of 91 octane was a red flag for me. Any carmaker worried about reducing warranty claims and warranty costs (and thats ALL of them) wouldn'tdream of omitting such a warning if 91 octane were required. There might even be a legal requirement for such a label.

So I did a little investigating...

1) The owner's manual references our R/T's fuel requirement in TWO places.

a) Re-read the statement above from page 315. Nowhere does it say that 91 octane is required. It says only that 91 or higher octane will "meet all emissions regulations and provide excellent fuel economy and performance". It doesn't say thatthe engine will be damaged by the use of 87 octane regular. Sure, performance would be lower on 87, but fuel economy and emissions could easily be the same or better.

b) Page 412 is a specifications chart, the kind that tells you what kind of oil to use, etc.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Our Favorite Caption

June 26, 2009

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Thanks to world champion ergsum who takes the titleagain. But it was a very creative week for everyone. Here are the other captions that made us snort:

Smokey Links and the Bandit (ergsum)
And I thought I had a fat ass (dougtheeng)
From the look of that backside, you really love doing donuts. (ergsum)
Boss Hog! (ergsum)
Full Boar = Smoked Meats (altimadude00)
Hello, Officer. (vwthing1)
We pulled in to the porking lot at this swinery. (vwthing1)
Just another evening at the Boar's Nest.....YEEEHAAWWW!!!!! (threem)
and now you just attach a rope and...voila! pulled pork! (dougtheeng)
Gotta LOVE the HAMI engine....(daddiod)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: You Write the Caption

June 26, 2009

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Our Chief Tester Chris Walton took this photo of the Dodge Challenger at the Eberle Winery in Paso Robles.

Here are our attempts at a caption: "Yesterday, I peed on a new Camaro." Now that's starting the day off with class. Or how about "Boarn To Be Wild"

We look forward to reading yours.

We'll post our favorite at 4PM Pacific Boar Time.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Making New Friends

June 15, 2009

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"What kind of car is that?"

This was actually the third time the guy had asked the question. The first two times, I couldn't hear what he was sayingbecause he was 30 yards away,standing next to his geriatric blue-and-primer Chevy Suburban. Finally, he walked over.

Me: "It's the new Challenger." Him: "Huh." Pause."Hemi?" Me: "Yep." Him: "Dang, it's tight." Hmm.

At this point, I should mention that this conversation took place roadside in front of the Astro Motel, a photo location I selected for the name and retro ambiance. Any place with "Astro" in the name is OK my book. This motel just happens to be 100 yards off the interstate and is in what I'll kindly call a financially challenged (pun!) part of town. I'll also mention that the guy had some rather interesting tattoos.

He also had a friend (presumably) who was actually the driver of the Suburban. I kept eyeing him, but he wasn't getting out to see the Challenger. Other than moving around in the driver seat, I couldn't tell what he was doing.

Meanwhile, my bystander was eyeing the interior. Me: "What are you guys up to today?" Him: "We ran out of [expletive] gas, man." Now, these guys were both inside the Suburban when I pulled up. How long had they been there? But, you know, I'm helpful. Me: "You know, there's a gas station just a couple blocks up the road." Him: "Yeah..."

At this point, I decided that having our just-washed, fully-gassed Challenger in this location wasn't the best idea. So I told the guy good luck on getting fuel and hopped in. I'd like to say that my U-turn and full-throttle V8 Hemi blast past the Suburban was for show, but it was also some "Let's get the hell out of here!" too.

Our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T certainly attracts a lot of attention. Sometimes, it's not exactly the kind of attention you want.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 6,242 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Mum's The Word For Premium Fuel

June 11, 2009

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The 5.7-liter V8 for the 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T is a little different depending on whether the car is equipped with thefive-speed automatic transmission or six-speed manual. With the automatic, the V8 is rated for 372 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque on regular-octane fuel. It also comes with cylinder deactivation technology fora slight fuel efficiency bump.With the manual transmission (such as our car), Chrysler drops cylinder deactivation and retunes the V8 to take advantage of premium fuel (91 octane or higher). That raises output to 376 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque.

The owner's manual details the fuel requirements. But the chromed fuel-filler door, with its fueling-up-for dummies script, actually doesn't have any premium fuel requirement information on it anywhere. Do you smell the irony along with the gas fumes?

If you're the sole owner of a six-speed Challenger and read your car's owner's manual, it'd be no big deal. But I wouldn't be surprised if our Challenger has gotten a tank or two or regular since we've had itgiven the lack of fuel info and how our staff is in and out of different cars so frequently.

I've addressed the situation (in a very tasteless way) by writing the 91 octane requirement on some masking tape with a Sharpie pen and applying it to the backside of the filler door.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Can We Have More Tire, Sir?

June 08, 2009

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I enjoy looking at our 2009 Challenger from some angles, but the view from directly behind isn't one of them. It's not the sheet metal that's distracting, it's the tires. Seriously, who secretly fitted our car with skinny tires off a rental Taurus? This is not the way a muscle car is supposed to look.

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2009 Dodge Challenger: More on the Great Pipe Debate

May 27, 2009

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Leave it to a true muscle car to have a properly finished exhaust system. You know, one where the tailpipe is actually attached to something.

From this angle it's not particularly elegant. In fact, it looks like a simple straight pipe would look even better, but compared to the nonsense uncovered on our Audi R8, not to mention the Lexus IS-F and Ferrari California, I was glad to see Dodge get this simple detail done right.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 5,364 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Putting Miles Behind Us

May 20, 2009

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5,000 miles on the Challenger and counting.

What have we done with those miles? Let's take a little retrospective of our time with the 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Natural Habitat

May 15, 2009

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What two things go together like a burger and fries?

American muscle and Bob's Big Boy.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor @ 4,941 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Score

May 15, 2009

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The clip board was good to me today. Somehow I scored the car of the week.

And this is how it makes me feel:

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Duh, What Goes Here?

May 15, 2009

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Duh, what goes here? Looks likeme could pourliquids in heres.

Oh wait, there be words here.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Brings me back to my coupe roots

May 13, 2009

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"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

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Open Thread

May 12, 2009

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What do you want to know about the 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T? Post your questions and we'll try to get back to you as soon as possible.

It sounds like a few of you are Challenger owners already. Write your own review in the comments section. And let us know how you optioned your vehicle.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Challenger or Camaro?

May 11, 2009

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I sawthis black Camaroduringmy commute home in the Challenger the other night. First customer car I've seen on the road.I paced him for a bit inbumper-to-bumper traffic. Onlookersslowed to check itout and voice theirapproval. All eyes were on the Chevy.

SoI was surprised whenI pulled alongside it to findthe driver's gaze lockedonme. His interestin theChallenger could've beendiagnosed as early-stage buyers remorse. He smiled and gave a thumbs up.

Challenger, Camaro, Mustang - - we've already shared our favorite.Which would you choose?

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 4,600 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Back in Black

May 10, 2009

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By now you've heard that we've added the all-new 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T to our long-term test fleet.

I'm glad we opted for Brilliant Darth Vader Black. It goes well with the dramatic line of the car. Although, I do wish Dodge would offer the car in Plum Crazy.

We know you're all eager to hear about it, so we're featuring the new Challenger R/T as car of the week.

What color would you get?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: The Textcast

May 05, 2009

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Magrath: My brain feels like mush today. I can barely type. It's kind of awesome.
Magrath: Up for lunch ramen?
Sadlier: Eh, I gotta get some cam-seal-swapping supplies at an auto parts store somewhere
Magrath: They rarely have good ramen.
Sadlier: What, auto parts stores? You'd be surprised
Sadlier: Kragen on Lincoln is a dark-horse candidate for best miso ramen in LA
Magrath: Exiting Kragen on Lincoln was the first time I fully unloaded the potential of a 335i. I headed south from that parking lot in a blaze of confused glory. I had no idea what that car was capable of.
Sadlier: Speaking of confused glory, we should do those SEMA mods to our Challenger that Chris mentioned
Magrath: All the grey stuff?
Sadlier: That's right. Or keep it black. Murder it out, dude
Magrath: Walton's point was that he feels like he's driving something super-cool when he's behind the wheel even though it's bone-stock. I feel completely ridiculous in that car all the time. Like I'm driving a clown car.
Sadlier: I'm somewhere in between. I feel super-cool when I'm on the throttle at least, not so much the rest of the time. But I'm definitely with Chris on digging the SEMA concept
Magrath: I like the SEMA concept because it lacks color. I'm over colors. I still think the car is ridiculous.
Magrath: And getting on the throttle in that car is a huge disappointment. It's a cool noise but where's the forward momentum?
Sadlier: I dunno, it's pretty fast
Sadlier: I think you've been driving the GT-R too much again
Magrath: It's not fast.
Sadlier: Hm, 5.9 to 60. Alright, not that fast
Magrath: Yep. 0.8 seconds ago the 135 was at 60.
Sadlier: But the Challenger sounds bitchin'. And you know, I'm alright with 5.9 to 60. I can live with that
Magrath: I can't. The 135 smokes it, and it doesn't have the aura of a chubby dude working at Home Depot who loves to talk about the glory days of high school football
Sadlier: Well, that's where the SEMA mods come in
Magrath: Then you look even MORE desperate.
Magrath: The only thing that could reduce the desperation oozing from that car is a crusher.

Sadlier: Note that the 5.9 to 60 is with two shifts
Magrath: Great so they didn't get the gearing right either.
Sadlier: Well, the 5,500 rpm redline or whatever isn't helping
Magrath: I really like the shifter actually. It fits my arm and hand perfectly.
Sadlier: I could do without the weird angle, but it's surprisingly decent, yes
Magrath: Thing is, I like driving the Challenger. It rides well. Nice and comfy. Quiet. Good sightlines, good driving position...it's just that the outside is so pathetic.
Magrath: It's the automotive equivalent of a class ring: people wearing them don't want to accept the present, constantly grasping at the past.
Sadlier : So it's a refined GT with an image problem. SEMA mods to the rescue!
Magrath : You know the guys you see on Sunset Blvd at night? 40+, wearing clothes that were trendy in 1999, trying to be hip, trying to figure out why they aren't cool anymore. Those are Challenger people.
Sadlier : Yeah but the SEMA Challenger is badass. Adrien Brody might drive one
Magrath : Adrien Brody drives a Z06, what does he know?
Sadlier : Exactly!

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T:I'm Feeling Italian...

May 05, 2009

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With bankruptcy and an Italian marriage that may end up as contentious as a typical Hollywood divorce, Chrysler's future is yet to be decided. In the ongoing Face-Off series on Edmunds Daily, we pitted the Challenger against Fiat's 500 (Cinquecento). An unusual pairing for sure, but perhaps it will give us a peek at what's down the road. Take a look here, and let us know your thoughts.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: I've Got Hood Ducts, How 'Bout You?

April 30, 2009

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(satire intended)

Alternate Title: Who Is the Most Mean? (grammatical flaws intended)

2nd Alternate Title: Man, that Evo is white-hot! (effusive praise intended)

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 4,165 miles (mediocre blog entry intended)

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Me Likey

April 28, 2009

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I've never driven an original Challenger. My sister had one in sky blue when I was a kid, but I was too little.

Last night, was my first chance behind the wheel of any Challenger. It was not what I expected. It looks big and heavy but it drives light. And it's not as loud as I thought it would be. It looks loud. When I turned the key I expected it to roar rowdily to life like our previous Ford Mustang long-termer. It has a nice note but it's subtle. I kinda wish it were more obnoxious, actually.

Visibility is good as long as you're looking forward. Backing out of my driveway this morning I couldn't see much, except my neighbor drooling over the car.

I like the pistol-grip shifter. I haven't experienced any hand-searing moments like Ed described after parking in the sun. With the shape and slant of the shifter, I kept expecting to have to push a button on top. It reminded me of a joystick and brought back memories of late night X-Wing sessions. You know, back when we used to play games on computers instead of consoles.

Lots of envious looks from South Bay boys this morning. The Challenger is our fleet's new "it" car.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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If Dodge Disappeared Would Anyone Notice?

April 07, 2009

I really like our Challenger. Much more than I thought I would. It's a size too big which I like. It's not a "g-machine" either and that's fine. It has presence on the road. There's nothing else like it.

Yet as I read one bailout story after another, it's becoming pretty clear that Dodge could be gone forever very soon. I don't think it's going to happen, but it's sad to even imagine that 5 or 10 years from now there would be no new Challengers, no Ram trucks, no Vipers (yeah, that's not even going to take 5 years).

Sure, the market will move on and most people will forget Dodge as quick as they did Plymouth and Oldsmobile. Still, for company that put so many iconic vehicles on the road to just disappear is pretty sad. I certainly hope this Challenger isn't the last new Dodge I ever drive.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 2,954 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Some Details are Better Than Others

April 02, 2009

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Nice to see that Dodge hasn't forgotten what made classic muscle cars cool. You don't see much in the way of hood adornments anymore. Probably some federal regulation on it these days, but our Challenger does have these nice big "Hemi" badges on each side. A nice little detail that could have easily been nixed by the bean counters.

Then again, those hood scoops aren't exactly the real deal. They don't look bad, but there are no actual holes in them. Strangely enough, there are holes in the bottom of the hood just below the intakes. Not that it would really make a difference if there were openings. The engine sucks in its air through a snorkel in the left front corner, so the idea of any real ram air effect is pretty much toast.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 2,947 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: The Fourth Annual Spring Festival of LXs

March 31, 2009

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Part of the fun of owning an enthusiast car like our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T is taking it to events where you actually participate in the car world. And this weekend I did just that. I took our black R/T to the Fourth Annual Spring Festival of LX's in Irvine, California about 60 miles south of our Santa Monica office.

Fun event. More than 600Chrysler 300s, Dodge Chargers, Magnums and Challengers were displayed, including more that 100 Challengers, some modified, some stock. There were also vender displays byMoparand other companies that make up the aftermarket supply for these machines. Even a couple of Chrysler execs showed to unveil the Challenger Rallye Package, both Joe Dehner, the VP of Design and the LX Cheif Engineer Tony Elias flew in from Detroit for the event.

Basically it was an all daygathering of a couple thousand fanatics devotedto Chrysler Corps. latest rear wheel drive rides and I enjoyed being a part of it. But after looking at all those well modified Challengers I'm not so sure our stocker is as exciting as it once was.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Who's Your Daddy?

March 29, 2009

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Driving home Friday night in our still new 2009 Dodge Challenger R/TI spotted this 1971 Challenger parked on the street near our Santa Monica office and could not resist the photo op. The car is not an R/T,but it is in awesome unrestored condition and appears to still be somebody's daily ride. The vinyl top, rallye wheels and hood pins are cool bits, and I swear that's the original paint.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Rubbing Shoulders at Beach Burgers

March 27, 2009

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All photos by Brent Romans

On Saturday, our long-term 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T willattend the 4th annual Spring Festival of LXs, a national gathering of owners of all modern-dayLX-platform cars (Challenger,Charger, 300 and Magnum)in Irvine, California.Our Challenger R/T and Igot a head start on the partying last night, as the SoCal LX Owners Club hosted the out-of-towners at Beach Burgers in Huntington Beach, CA.

The Beach Burgers lotis small, so even though we arrived a half-hour early,the two-ton lugs were already shoulder to shoulder. Notably, one of the Challengers in attendance was a version of the Speedfactory Vortech Supercharged SRT8 we tested in January.

Finally, we settled for a space in the back lot next to a white Challenger R/T (with black hood decaling) with Idaho plates. Its owner, Robert, had just driven it in from Texas, and it was still warm. Like our Challenger, it had the six-speed manual gearbox. Unlike our Challenger, which sits like a crossover on its 18-inch alloys, Robert's R/T had apretty nice (read: lower) stance.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Chance Encounter

March 24, 2009

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Last weekend I was cruising down Pacific Coast Highway in the Challenger R/T with one thing on my mind.Take a picture for the blog. And by chance I find this guy parked in a lotbeside the road.

I jumpedout to take a picture of the white R/Tjust as theownerwas climbing into it.He re-emerged witha camera of his own. While wesnapped some shotshe started making Challenger smalltalk.

"You going to the showat the end of this month?"

"What show?"

"The Spring Festival of LXs. Its down in Irvine. You should check it out."

"Yeah, maybe I will."

That's about all there was to say. Sowith a cordialhead nod weboth went back the way we came. Does anybody out there have plans to attendthe LX event this weekend? We just might see you there.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 2,400 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Is it in you?

March 23, 2009

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The 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T is one mean mother -- the baddest prisoner in D-block.

It's easy to imagine it being driven by Lee Marvin or Samuel L. Jackson.
Or perhaps Charlie Bronson.

So you're considering getting one? In today's economy, it's best to be prepared before spending your hard-earned money.

In light of that, for my marketing class I've readied a Challenger screening pop quiz.
Let's see if the Challenger "is in you":

My favorite recording artist is:

a. Enrique Iglesias
b. John Mayer
c. Maroon 5
d. Jonas Brothers

The last good movie I saw was:

a. Sex in the City
b. Something with Reese Witherspoon
c. Jonas Brothers - Live!
d. Twilight (6 times: woot-woot!!)

I love to spend my Saturdays:

a. Shopping at Ikea (ref. "Fight Club")
b. Shopping at Crate & Barrel
c. Shopping at Pottery Barn
d. Shopping at Ambercrombie

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Good Guys Wear Black

March 19, 2009

I took our Challenger out on an assignment and boy was I happy I did. It might not be your cup of tea, but the simple pleasure of a muscle car snarl is pretty freakin' cool to me.

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Not only did I think this car was special, tons of people were gawking. Old guys walking down the street smiled and gave me the thumbs up. One guy even exclaimed: "Yeah! It's back!" while pumping his fist in the air. A truckload of Marines whooped and cheered as I downshifted and mashed the throttle past them. Even a car-full of beautiful women on spring break drove up next to me at a red light and took pictures of it on their cell phones while asking me about my "Charger".

The nature of my job puts me into new cars all the time, but it's pretty rare that so many people have such a visceral reaction to a car. Cars like this aren't only supposed to look and sound cool, but they're supposed to make you feel cool too.

I felt pretty damn cool yesterday.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

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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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