2009 Dodge Challenger Long Term Road Test

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2009 Dodge Challenger RT: Sticky Shift

May 11, 2010

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I noticed this weekend that the tranny in Challenger isn't as happy as it used to be. Pulling the stick between gears -- especially when driving short distances before the fluids are up to temperature -- isn't as easy as it once was. Clutch take-up isn't as smooth as I remember, either.

Remember that we've have the clutch replaced once and that this car's miles are starting to accumulate. And there's this little endeavor, which probably didn't do it any mechanical favors.
We'll see if this amounts to anything.

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Fun in the Wet

April 13, 2010

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It rained a bit here in So Cal the othernight and into the morning, creating many rush hour wrecks, including a horrible multiple-fatality crash on the 5.

Our long-term 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T hadno such problems. Actually, it's a lot of fun in the wet. You can provoke the rear end to come around just a bit when cornering.

And it's easy to catch, with no early intervention from the traction/stability control.

Just another reason why rear-drive is better than every other drivelayout.

Albert Austria, Senior Engineer @ 22,900 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: May I Call You The Beast?

January 22, 2010

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This isa goodweek to drive our long-term 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T. It has rained for six days straight so the roads are damp as they can be. And after almost 19,000 miles, the Challenger'sall-season Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 tiresare finally showing some wear. Itdoesn't take much to break them loose.

Recently, I watched The Beast, the documentary about actor Eric Bana's Falcon GT. It's about a long-term relationship with a '74 Ford Falcon GT. It began when Bana saved up to buy the car in high school after watching Falcons tear around Australia's Bathurst circuit, and itculminates a couple decades later when Bana, the successful actor, overhauls the car to race in the Targa Tasmania Rally.

It's a moving story in the way that stories about long-term relationships with cars usually are. I've been wondering if I should start a long-term relationship with a Challenger R/T. The more I drive this car, the moreI like it. And with a few key upgrades, perhaps I could transform it into a car I'd want to go around corners in...

But first I'd have to deal with the clutch. I've put a lot of miles on our Challenger, and I still cannot stand the clutch takeup. Now I know I've just incriminated myself as the "brother-in-law" who lunched the car's original clutch. I swear that wasn't me. But I do swear about this clutch, all the time, because the vague engagement point, combined with the slightly delayed throttle response, drives me up the wall. I do not abide.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Hemi Power More Refined Than You Think

January 20, 2010

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After driving the Audi S5 all weekend, I thought the Dodge Challenger R/T might be a huge letdown. It wasn't.

Even after almost 19,000 miles, the Challenger still feels tight and well built. The doors slam shut with a solid thud and there aren't any noticeable squeaks and rattles.

The smoothness of its drivetrain is especially impressive. Sure, the big ol' Hemi is a pretty crude engine compared to the Audi's V8, but it doesn't feel that way from behind the wheel. It pulls smoothly from right off idle and doesn't get the least bit harsh at higher rpm. Other than the slightly rubbery shifter, the Challenger feels every bit as enjoyable in the drivetrain department.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 18,822 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: The Chills

January 07, 2010

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Forgive me, but the above picture is of the Tremec TR-6060 as it appears in a Camaro SS, but you get the idea. This post, unfortunately, is about our Challenger's own TR-6060.

I had our Challenger about a week ago, and as much as I didn't want to, I parked it outside.

I don't know how cold it got, our thermometers in Southern California only go down to 55 degrees, but at around 9 am the following morning our Challenger was nearly impossible to shift. Any attempt to shift into second was met with a slow, but equally loud, thunk-thunk-thunk-thunk. Eventually, after about four or five thunks, it would slot into gear only to suffer the same ordeal when attempting to shift into third. After a few of these painfully awkward shifts, I decided to dust off my seldom used double clutch upshift.

Amazingly, ten years after I last used did it, the double clutch shift worked and the gear lever slotted into second without protest. Ditto for third.

The thunking dissipated as the car, and the gearbox, warmed up but was still perceptible and occasionally caused a sloppy and abrupt upshift - but only into second and third gears. The other gears worked without protest, even in the cold morning leading me to come to a few possible conclusions.

1. The synchros might be lunched. These are the gears people want to 'power shift' and since that fast shifting goes completely against the grain of this transmission, enough over-aggression has cause the synchros to wear down and cry uncle. Remember, there are 30+ people of varying abilities who have access to these cars and not everybody is as awesome as I am.

2. The tranny fluid might be ill-suited for cooler temps. I find that hard to believe in that this happened in Southern California which never gets that cold. If that's the case, I can't imagine what this car would be like in North Dakota.

3. The floor mat might be keeping the clutch pedal from being full depressed and thus keeping the clutch from becoming fully disengaged. If that were true, the other gears would be just as recalcitrant as second and third.

So basically, I don't know.

What do you guys think?

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 17,630 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: Why I Like It Better Than the Camaro

October 28, 2009

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Yeah, I didn't think I would. The Camaro has all the right specs on paper and it looks pretty good in person. But I got in the Challenger last night after driving the Camaro for a couple days and it simply suits me better.

You don't feel like you're sitting so low in the car and the controls all work together more naturally. Sure, the Challenger feels huge from behind the wheel, but the Camaro is no Caterham either. I like the power delivery of the Hemi too, comes on stronger out of the hole. I know the Camaro is faster and all, but it doesn't always feel like it.

Strangely enough the Challenger's interior works for me too. There's nothing very retro about it either . It's just simple, not gimmicky, it works.

I'm not saying that the Camaro won't grow on me in the coming months, but for now I'd take the Challenger instead.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 12,761 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Looking Back

October 22, 2009

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Everyone likes to think "the old days" were better. In many ways they were -- common courtesy was actually common, gas was under a bucka gallon andthe musicians whomade the Billboard Top Ten actuallypossessed musical talent.But in others they weren't better; there was civil unrest, more pollution and no internet. But I digress...

Muscle car guys -- and I've been guilty of this too --like to think 1970 was the pinnacle of performance, at least that of the straight-line acceleration kind. Well, it was for a long time, what withthe LS6 Chevelle,455 Stage 1 Gran Sport and 426 Hemi Cudas and Challengers. Long story short, I was curious as to how our modern "small"5.7-liter Hemi Challenger (as opposed to the SRT's 6.1-liter Hemi) stacks up againstits larger-than-life1970 426 Hemi forebear. And yes, I know our long-termerbenefits from four additional decades of tire, suspension and brake technology advancements...

As a bonus, here'sa link to our history lesson on the Challenger (and its Plymouthcousin, the Barracuda).

2009 Challenger R/T Hemi:1970 Challenger R/T Hemi:

0-60 MPH: 5.5 sec 5.8 sec
1/4 Mile: 13.9 sec 14.0 sec
60-0 Braking: 128 ftHuh?

Slalom:64.7 mph What?

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: More Hollywood Than Beverly Hills

October 20, 2009

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In L.A., there a strip of pavement that runs from Hollywood to the beach called Sunset Boulevard. It's a straight four-lane cruising run as it runs through Hollywood, then turns into a serpentine snake as it climbs up and over Beverly Hills. On an evening dinner run on both sections of Sunset, I learned quite a bit about our big black Challenger.

You don't have to drive like a maniac on the twisty parts of Sunset to get a feel for a car. Turn into a bend just a little late to pitch the car a bit more aggressively and you'll have a good idea of how it'll handle. In the curves, the Challenger feels floaty and the steering is way too light, but it's surprisingly obedient, tracking through the left-rights and ups-downs like a much sportier car. Yes, it can take the curves, but no, I don't enjoy the experience.

Then there's the straight sections of Sunset - Hollywood. Cruising past Mel's Diner and the Whisky-a-go-go, I realized, THIS is what the Challenger does best. It's a got a presence about it that few cars have -- something scary, sinister and foreboding. It even turned the head of a Bugatti Veyon driver! If only Hollywood had a drive-in diner...

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 12,465 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Every Time

October 06, 2009

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"I've got the Challenger tonight. It was that or the 2010 Camaro and I'll take this one every time."

I'm in our parking garage with Oldham and I press on, "It's the kind of car I just want to get in, roll the windows down, plug in my iPod and drive north on PCH until the highway stops or time does."

The pistol grip shifter isn't the most accurate, nor does it have the smoothest motion, but there's no shifter that's more fun to manhandle. Each shift is like opening the floodgates on a dam or flipping the switch on Old Sparky; it's mechanical and raw and when you grab it the muscles in your forearm get all veiney. You shift the Camaro as fast as possible to avoid touching that knob for any longer than is absolutely necessary. The Challenger's shifter belongs in a factory, the Camaro's belong in a kitchen stirring soup.

And then there's the Challenger's seat (which I'll get into in another blog later this week), steering wheel (slightly too wide, but still...), legible gauges, and super-smooth ride (18's > 20's).

There is no competition when it comes to engine, though. The 5.7 here pulls hard and sounds good, but the Camaro trounces the Challenger from the V6 to the SS to the hopefully-someday Z28. The 2010 Camaro might need more aggressive gearing, but there's no denying the merit of that mill.

There are two cars in our fleet I feel this way about. Two cars that whenever I see them I want to hop in, pack some clean clothes and just drive until I'm out of road: One of them is the 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T, the other is the 2009 Ford Flex.

What that says about me, I'm not sure.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 11,090 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Meet Your Two-Wheeled Equivalent

September 18, 2009

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Sometimes I play a mental game when I get stuck in traffic. As I migrated down Santa Monica Boulevard at a glacial pace last night, the game was afoot. The question posed from one brain hemisphere to the other (yeah, I've got two hemis!) was, "What is the motorcycle equivalent to the Challenger?"

Previous mental meanderings concluded that a Ford Mustang = Ducati Monster, Nissan GT-R = Honda RC-51, BMW M3 = BMW K1300S. Our Challenger's equivalent came to me fairly quickly and allowed me the rest of my drive home to ponder the reasonings.

Dodge Challenger = Harley-Davidson Vrod

1. Both sound great in stock form. A low burble at idle, a loud, brash burst low in the rev range and a muscular chorus higher up.

2. Every time the light turns green, my impulsive little brain stem turn it into a brief drag race, just to feel the initial hit of torque.

3. Both seem to be made for older, bigger pilots. Their seating positions are nearly identical.

4. Both have soft floaty suspensions and low handling limits. Still, they're fun up to, and just past those limits.

5. Long sweeping curves are better than tight twisties in either vehicle.

6. Other drivers seem to give either a bit more respect. I get cut-off a lot less.

7. Both look and feel pretty long.

8. Hundreds of miles in either seat would be no problem.

9. Both represent something unique to their respective brands. The Challenger is the first real retro-styled model for Dodge. The Vrod is Harley's modern interpretation of its past.

10. Both will go through rear tires and fuel like the State of California goes through cash.

Have you got any auto/moto equivalents?

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 11,117 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: You can't miss reverse

September 17, 2009


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Our long-term 2009 Dodge Challenger R/Tpositionsreverse gear to the upper right, next to fifth.
You can't miss it in thislocation. You also don't have to push down, pull a ring up, or something.
You just move the shifter to the right,ram it up and you're good.

On some vehicles, like our departed cadaver/crayon-smelling M3, reverse is next to first with no lockout. No problem, most of the time. But rush the shift to firstat a red light because you were busy doing something else -- let's just say it gets your attention in a hurry.

I never saw this reverse locationbefore we got our Challenger. But the Ford Shelby GT500 andour long-term Camaro share the same reverse position.

For me, it's the best location -- by far.

Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Evaluation Engineer @ 11, 200 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Skip S^#*%

September 16, 2009

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In case you didn't know, our Dodge Challenger R/T has a great fuel saving feature known as a skip shift. And by great fuel saving feature I mean TOTALLY WORTHLESS, ANNOYING PIECE OF &*^#!

If this were my Challenger, I'd pull the skip shift wire out, piss on it and send it back to Dodge.

Don't get me wrong, I like this car; it's a total rip. It's so much fun that something as stupid and archaic as a skip shift just becomes that much more annoying. Good thing it's easy to 'fix'.

I know that 4th Gen F-Bodies had this 15 year ago. That's 15, one - five, years ago. I would've thought that would be enough time to make a slightly more efficient 5.7 liter V8. Guess not.

I'm sorry, what? The Camaro still has one?

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 11,086 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Big Bruiser, Easy Cruiser

September 14, 2009

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I always knew the new Challenger was big, but the point was really driven home when I parked it the other day in a standard, not "compact car only" street parking box. Look at the picture and you can see the beefy Challenger takes up nearly the whole space. At 197.7 incheslong, it's only about fourinches shorter than a Chevy Tahoe!

I was also struck with what a laid-back cruiser this thing is on the freeway -- with thattall sixth gear, at 75 mph the engineis just loafing along at 1,750 rpm. With such long strides, it's no wonder thismuscleboundmonster earnsan estimated 24 mpg on the highway.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 10,966 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Challenge

September 13, 2009

Now that we have the Chevy Camaro, have you forgotten about the Dodge Challenger?

Have you ever looked at them side by side?

2009 Dodge Challenger
Engine: 5.7-liter V8
Horsepower: 372 hp @ 5200 rpm
Torque: 401 lb-ft @ 4400 rpm

2010 Chevrolet Camaro
Engine: 6.2-liter V8
Horsepower: 426 hp @ 5900 rpm
Torque: 420 lb-ft @ 4600 rpm

You can see from the numbers that the Camaro has the bigger engine.

But which car do you prefer?

Our 2009 Dodge Challenger is car of the week.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Why Do I Like This Car?

September 11, 2009

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For reasons unknown, I've been driving our long-term 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T for the last 5 days. OK, actually, it's because thebig coupegot covered in ashfrom Southern California's Station Fire and I kept neglecting to getit washed.

Yet, I think my laziness might be a window into my growing affinity for the Challenger R/T. I can't quite figure it out. This is not a sporty car. Suspension is soft, steering feel is not really there, and I'd never takethe Dodgeon a back road for the sheer fun of it. And with its 5.9-second 0-60 (5.5 with 1 foot of rollout) and 14.1-second quarter-mile, it's hardly the quickest car out there.

But somehow, every freeway drive I take in our Challenger R/T feels a little bit special.Mostly, I think it's the nicely executed exhaust(see video link below)for the 5.7-liter V8 (376 hp, 410 lb-ft) and the pistol-grip shifter. I've never driven a late-'60s/early-'70s muscle car, but with these two things, I can imagine it and feel a little of what it might be like.The oversize, un-nimble feel of the car and the broad, flat seats add realistic elementsto the experience -- or at least in my imagination they do.

And when I get tired of this (not that I ever really do), I can fall back on the Challenger R/T's very compliant highway ride and powerful air-conditioner.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 10,727 miles

SL Video: Camaro/Challenger/Mustang: Which One Sounds the Best From the Factory?

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: To R/T or SRT? That is the question

July 28, 2009

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The great hotrodder Hamlet once said, "To R/T or SRT? That is the question."
He then went on a vengeful killing spree, but that's not relevant here.

What is relevant for me is the first question, as I am considering getting a Challenger in a couple of years. Perhaps.

But which one shall I pull? -- as there are two Challengers from which to choose, and both are bad mothers.

Well, I was fortunate to drive both of them in the last few days, and I think I've made up my mind.

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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 R/T: OK, Sometimes It Does Embarrass Me

May 14, 2009

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Last night I took our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T out for burgers (at The Counter in Santa Monica). Going out for burgers is pretty much the perfect thing to do with a Challenger. I've now done it twice and hope to do it many more times before the year is up.

But last night I was reminded of the very specific set of circumstances in which driving the Challenger embarrasses me: when parallel-parking. I think it's a combination of the sluggish throttle response at tip-in, the vagueish clutch takeup and the near total lack of rear visibility (combined with no backup sensors), but I have now stalled this car more times than I'm comfortable telling you.

And, darn it, it only happens when I'm reversing, while I'm trying to be careful and squeeeze on the throttle to ease the two-ton coupe into a spot without tapping a 3 Series behind me. And when you're too ginger with the throttle, you're liable to stall a six-speed Challenger R/T. Or maybe only I am. Either way, it's attention I don't want. Burger was good, though.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

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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: Info about Skip Shift

May 12, 2009

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Two weeks ago I mentioned my troubles shifting the Challenger due to the presence of skip shift. I had never experienced it before, at first chalking it up to the slanted pistol grip shifter and my own inabilities. When casually accelerating, I'd jam going into second gear as if smacking into a jumbled mass of bolts. It didn't slide into forth. Instead, I let the revs fall, waited and then rammed the shifter into second gear, tearing away to make up for my lost momentum. This happened about 10 percent of the time.

Then I was reminded of skip shift. Rather than my own explanation, here's one from Engineering Editor Jay Kavanagh: "Basically, gasoline engines are more efficient when the throttle is opened wider due to reduced pumping losses (think of it like breathing through a paper towel tube instead of a drinking straw). These skip-shift systems allow the engine to operate that way -- when you upshift, revs drop and the load on the engine increases. This is better for efficiency and thus fuel economy.

"The skip shift functions by a lockout on the second gear gate. So if you're shifting out of first gear under a very specific set of conditions (throttle, engine, rpm), the lockout is activated by a solenoid, forcing the gearstick to go into fourth gear gate instead of second gear."

Except, the Challenger never gracefully slides into fourth gear as skip shift is described to do. As it is, it feels more like ramming into a wall rather thangracefully changing course upon grazingoff a gentle lateral ramp.

Yet, even if I did successfully get into fourth, there would still be problems as Kavanaugh continues. "This has deleterious effects on driveability. It cuts the legs out from under the engine. Bogs down like it drove into a swamp.

"The real motivation behind skip shift is obviously that they are a dirt-cheap way for the automakers to improve the MPG numbers on the window sticker (perhaps avoiding a gas guzzler tax). They have little real-world improvement in fuel economy since everyone 'drives around' the skip shift."

The most common solution I've heard is to just drive it hard like any good Hemi driver should. That's all well and good, but sometimes you can't do that.Plus,you don't accelerate the same way every time -- sometimes you meet those exact conditions, sometimes you don't. It's the inconsistancy that's the real annoyance.

Senior Automotive Editor Brent Romans commented thatskip shifthasn't bothered him that much in his Corvette since he usually does a 1-3 shift around town. Whenskip shift does show up, he just pauses in neutral for a moment and guns itlike I did in the Challenger.

The other solution is to disable the stupid thing. A quick look around Challenger and Corvette message boards found a few annoyed owners who purchaseda skip shift eliminator for about $25. Apparently, it's only a five-minute install. I'm saying that would be $25 and five minutes well spent on our Challenger.

James Riswick, Automotive 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: Big Overdrive

May 04, 2009

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Yesterday, after a pleasant 9 innings at Goodwin Field watching Cal State Fullerton generally clobber UC Santa Barbara, our long-term 2009 Dodge Challenger and I found ourselves on wide open freeway. The first time I stepped out to pass in our Challenger, I realized I'd never before driven the car in light traffic.

I realized this, because I made a beginner's mistake: I left the Tremec TR-6060 six-speed manual gearbox in 6th gear -- and then had no torque with which to complete the pass. A blip of throttle and a hasty downshift to 5th ensued.

This gearbox has two overdrive gears -- a 0.74 5th and a 0.50 6th -- along with a 3.73 final drive. In practice, the engine is turning at all of 1,500 rpm at 65 mph when you're in 6th gear. Had I bothered to look at the tach first, of course,I never would have thought I could leave it in 6th. If you remember from our Challenger's trip to the dyno,the 5.7-liter V8doesn't get into the meat of its torque band until you're past 2,000 rpm, but then it has plenty -- 350 pound-feet at the wheels.

It's not a big deal once you acclimmate (ask any Corvette owner, I'd imagine). But that first (and only) time you come up short for a pass, you feel like any weakling four-cylinder econobox driver. The difference is, in the Dodge, you can do something about it.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 4,424 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Initial Reactions

May 01, 2009

Dodge Challenger at an Edmunds.com softball game -- Photo by James Riswick

"What is that? It looks like a cartoon car. Do people actually drive that?"

"It looks like it should have an eagle on it and a guy leaning against it picking up girls at a high school."

Well, those weremy girlfriend'sinitial reactions after she pulled into the garage last night. I don't disagree -- the Dodge Challenger is inherently ridiculous. The styling is a 12-year-old's fantasy ... a 12-year-old born in 1960. The size is absurd. The handling doesn't really exist, per se, and the steering lends little confidence when zipping through traffic. The e-brake is a pedal, which doesn't seem like a big deal, but it strangely screws you up. Oh, and the power is crazy.

But ridiculous can be good. The TV show Chuck is ridiculous and I like that. All that stuff adds character to a car that is ostensibly a big touring coupe with whopping power. I love the comfy sofa seats and the driving position is excellent. The six-speed manual's clutch is surprisingly light in action and easy to modulate, witha perfectly placed pedal (at least for me). Although I hadrepeated trouble getting intosecondgear from first (thanks to the 1-4 skip-shift feature that I'll go over next week), the pistol-grip gearboxhas reasonable throws and is pretty direct. I also dig the stereo's sound quality, although its interface needs to be chucked into a Dumpster.

My very first reaction to the Challenger was that it was ridiculous in a bad way and wanted no part of it. Now I think it's ridiculous in a good way and can't wait to get the keys again. We'll see how it goes over at high schools.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 4,132 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Zeitgeist

April 24, 2009

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When I drive our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T, this is what I feel like I'm driving. It's a Mopar concept from last year's SEMA show (with the red stripes removed), but in my mind's eye (and apparently in yours), this is how our Challenger looks. It says, "Don't even think about it, Tinkerbell."

And do you know what? People take thecar seriously.I can't tell you how many challenges I've received whenI was driving either the Evo GSR or MR, the 370Z, and of course the GT-R, but not in the Challenger.Wrist-steering high-school kids in theirfive-oh'Stangs, spikey-haired community college kids in their Honda-rebadged Integra Type Rs, and even mid-life crisis enduring Corvette drivers with personalized license plates pretend they're not looking/admiring, but I see them.

And here's the ironic part: I drivethe Challengerslower and more gently than I drive just about anything else in the IL garage. I single handedly raised the car's accumulated fuel economy average from 17.4 mpgto 18.5with onedrive home and back.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Speed Test

March 26, 2009

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The Autobahn is too far away. In order to conduct the test I had in mind, then, I would have tosummon all ofmy skills as a professional driver and wait for a break in traffic on a public road.

I wheeled our jet black2009 Dodge Challenger R/T out ontothe 405 freewayand bided my time, waiting for the opportune moment.

Then the traffic parted. I dabbed the throttle, grabbed a gear andwas off to see what this5.7-liter Hemi V8could do...

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

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

$149 per month*
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