You'd think that Texas in December would be a better place to stage the very first drive of the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 than in Chrysler's home state of Michigan, right?
Yeah, we thought so, too.
But when we arrived at Texas Motorsport Ranch near Fort Worth, the track was shiny wet and the humidity was so high that fish could breathe it. Worse, the low cloud cover suggested the situation wasn't going to improve.
Perfect conditions for the 425-horsepower 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8, you think?
Slick Handling It lends another dimension of meaning to this car's name when you find yourself attempting to pilot a 425-hp, rear-drive coupe around a wet track you've only seen before in a video. Adding to the drama is the fact that TMR's full-length 3.1-mile track links new pavement with a well-polished racing surface that when wet has a coefficient of friction somewhere between that of frog slime and raw egg whites.
"Don't even think about switching off the ESP," advises Challenger Chief Engineer Herb Helbig as we change into our racing gear and helmet. Hey, we don't even know where the stability control switch is, and there certainly isn't time to look around much when you're desperately trying to remember where you should swap from a traditional racing line on the grippy new surface to a wet-style driving line for the slick stuff.
Besides, with 420 pound-feet of torque available from the 6.1-liter Hemi V8 that powers this 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8, the ESP proved invaluable. Even squeezing the throttle as gently as possible off the turns would snap the Challenger's tail out before the electronic gremlins could chop the power delivery and start applying the brakes. But since the new pavement section turned out to be in pretty good shape, this bold new coupe could strut its stuff to much better effect on that half of the circuit.
Good Power, Needs More Transmission Once there was some traction available, you could appreciate the V8's broad plateau of torque, the immediate and emphatic throttle response and the swelling rumble of an engine breathing through big-bore plumbing. Where there's grip, the Challenger lunges off the corners and swallows the straights, its sustained thrust complemented by long riffs of resonant mechanical music.
We would brake as delicately into corners as we could on the glistening surface, forced to use the same polished line on corner entry as everyone that had ever lapped the track, and then we'd tap the shifter for a downshift when it seemed safe to do so. Unfortunately we were rewarded by the scraping sound of rear wheels rotating a lot slower on the pavement than the fronts as the tranny dropped a lower ratio on them.
In dry conditions, there'd be no problem, but we'd still like to hear a throttle blip at every manually triggered downshift, both to quicken the shift itself and also to keep the rear wheels from dragging. It's not nice when the rear tires try to lead (rather than follow) you through a corner.
Shared Systems Based as it is on the LX platform of the Dodge Charger, the Challenger's dynamic performance isn't altogether unexpected. As in the high-powered SRT8 version of the Charger, the Challenger benefits from the big Hemi, the W5A580 five-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick manual override and the same suspension system. So it's a good and strong package, and we expect acceleration times similar to the Charger SRT8.
Think zero to 60 mph in the low 5-second range and a standing quarter in the mid-13s. A better measure of performance, according to chief engineer Helbig, is the 0-100-0-mph test, in which he predicts the Challenger SRT8 will run high 16s. Not bad for a 4,200-pound car.
While the suspension bushings are essentially carried over from the Charger, the specific tuning of the Challenger's chassis is softer. This is partly to accommodate the Challenger's 112-inch wheelbase, which is 4 inches shorter than the Charger. But it also has to do with the fact that Chrysler's product planners feel this car is likely to be bought by nostalgic baby boomers whose days of jowl-jiggling hot-rod rides are over.
Softer the ride may be, but uncontrolled it is not. There are monotube Bilstein shocks all around, and the antiroll bars have enough meat on them to quell any incipient floundering from the body. Actually, the slightly softer ride proves better for the wet driving conditions we experienced, giving you a pretty good idea of how much grip is available at the contact patches of these beefy 45-series Goodyear Eagle RS-A all-season tires on 20-inch wheels.
Braking News The Brembo brake setup also is familiar from the Dodge Charger, but all Chrysler's Brembo systems have now been improved by utilizing an ABS-controlled wet-weather function that keeps the pads close to the rotor surfaces whenever the car corners at greater than 0.60g. Prior to this latest fix, all SRT8 models using similar brake components suffered from pad knock-back during hard cornering, resulting in long pedal travel just when you wanted it the least.
With the track surface as wet and slick as it is, good brake pedal feel and more than adequate braking power is all we can honestly report, but we fully expect that the Challenger's 14.2-inch front rotors and 13.9-inch rear rotors with four-piston calipers all around can get the job done, no questions asked. Though the Challenger has a retro look, its stopping and steering capabilities are right up to the minute.
Retro Looks, Modern Execution So, in a way, is the look of the car. While its silhouette might hark back to the fondly remembered 1970-'74 Challenger, the execution is completely up to date. The body panels show a subtle fluency that stamping mills of the past couldn't manage. The incorporation of this car's bumpers into the body surface, suggesting competition practice from the SCCA Trans-Am in the bad old days of 1970, brings a postmodern tidiness to the look. You can also expect modern standards of structural stiffness from this reborn muscle car.
You can also expect contemporary aerodynamics. The Challenger wears a deftly tweaked front splitter and a tail-wing assembly designed to provide real aero effects. Check out the dive planes on the front fenders, designed to generate vortices down the side of the car that aid air extraction through the wheels, reducing flow separation and turbulence. It's evidence that the Dodge engineers spend a lot of time in the wind tunnel, and that the SRT guys also like to perform 150-mph lane-change tests. The result is a nostalgic design with leading-edge aero additions.
Muscle (Car) Memory The 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 resonates on many familiar neural pathways. Its shape and proportions are right on the money. The big driver door offers easy ingress (unless, like us, you're driving a development mule with a full roll cage). The seat height is at a respectable altitude, precluding that sideways limbo you have to use to get into many modern coupes; and the high beltline and cowl shared by all the LX-platform cars is entirely appropriate to the era being celebrated here.
Then there's the baritone grumble of the big V8 as it lights off. This sound speaks directly to those of us with the Y chromosome. There must be some genetic component that is passed unaltered from father to son that explains the identical emotional response in all of us to the inimitable sound of an awakening Hemi.
So Worth the Money Dodge dealers have been taking orders for the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 since December, asking $37,995 per copy. There will be 6,400 made before the car is joined by other models in the Challenger range a year later. These will probably include variants all the way down to a 2.7-liter V6 version, with maybe even an all-wheel-drive model.
It is a complete reversal of procedure for Dodge to release the SRT version of the Challenger before friendlier versions that have a wider appeal, but for this skillful interpretation of an automotive icon, we can happily set protocol aside.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.
2008 Dodge Challenger Overview
The 2008 Dodge Challenger is offered in the following submodels: Coupe. Available styles include and SRT8 2dr Coupe (6.1L 8cyl 5A). Challenger models are available with a 6.1 l-liter gas engine, with output up to 425 hp, depending on engine type. The 2008 Challenger comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed shiftable automatic. The 2008 Challenger comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. powertrain warranty.
What's a good price on a used 2008 Dodge Challenger?
Price comparisons for used 2008 Dodge Challenger trim styles:
The 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is priced around $27028 with average odometer reading of 17481 miles.
Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, Virginia. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.
Is the 2008 Dodge Challenger a good car? Edmunds experts have compiled a robust series of ratings and reviews for the 2008 Dodge Challenger and all model years in our database. Our rich content includes expert reviews and recommendations for the 2008 Challenger featuring deep dives into trim levels and features, performance, mpg, safety, interior, and driving. Edmunds also offers expert ratings, road test and performance data, long-term road tests, first-drive reviews, video reviews and more.
Our Review Process All of our reviews are written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.
How do people like the 2008 Dodge Challenger? Consumer ratings and reviews are also available for the 2008 Dodge Challenger and all its trim types. Overall, Edmunds users rate the 2008 Challenger 4.6 on a scale of 1 to 5 stars. Edmunds consumer reviews allow users to sift through aggregated consumer reviews to understand what other drivers are saying about any vehicle in our database. Detailed rating breakdowns (including performance, comfort, value, interior, exterior design, build quality, and reliability) are available as well to provide shoppers with a comprehensive understanding of why customers like the 2008 Challenger.
Review I've been a Mustang guy all my life. So this is a walk on the wild side for me. But have been very pleased so far. Great road car. Took it on a 1,400 mile road trip the 2nd weekend it had it. Got 22 mpg and it rides great on the slab. Got lots of looks. Mine is Hemi Orange. So it kind of stands out. I usually drive manual muscle cars too. But the 5-speed Autostick is impressive. I manually shift it more than half the time. With an open air element, headers, and a cat-back system she really sings out over 4,000 RPM.
How can Edmunds help? Edmunds has deep data on over 6 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles, including rich, trim-level features and specs information like: MSRP, average price paid, warranty information (basic, drivetrain, and maintenance), features (upholstery, bluetooth, navigation, heated seating, cooled seating, cruise control, parking assistance, keyless ignition, satellite radio, folding rears seats ,run flat tires, wheel type, tire size, wheel tire, sunroof, etc.), vehicle specifications (engine cylinder count, drivetrain, engine power, engine torque, engine displacement, transmission), fuel economy (city, highway, combined, fuel capacity, range), vehicle dimensions (length, width, seating capacity, cargo space), car safety, true cost to own. Edmunds also provides tools to allow shopper to compare vehicles to similar models of their choosing by warranty, interior features, exterior features, specifications, fuel economy, vehicle dimensions, consumer rating, edmunds rating, and color
Exterior Colors: Pitch Black Clear Coat, Granite Crystal Metallic Clear Coat, Bright White Clear Coat, White Knuckle Clear Coat, Billet Clear Coat, Destroyer Grey Clear Coat, Go Mango, Black Clear Coat, Billet Silver Metallic Clear Coat, Torred Clear Coat, Granite Pearl Coat, Yellow Jacket Clear Coat, Octane Red Pearl Coat, Black Clearcoat, Brilliant Black Crystal Pearlcoat, Jazz Blue Pearl Coat, Redline Red Tri-Coat Pearl, Maximum Steel Metallic Clear Coat, Sublime Pearl Coat, Bright Silver Metallic Clearcoat, Bright White Clearcoat, Phantom Black Tri-Coat Pearl, TorRed, B5 Blue Pearl Coat, Hemi Orange Pearlcoat, Plum Crazy Pearl Coat, Blackberry Pearlcoat, Ivory White Tri-Coat Pearl, Torred, Inferno Red Crystal Pearlcoat, Toxic Orange Pearlcoat, Tungsten Metallic Clearcoat, Deep Water Blue Pearlcoat, Green Go Clear Coat, Blue Streak Pearlcoat, High Octane Red Pearl Coat, Contusion Blue Pearl Coat, Header Orange Clearcoat, Phantom Black Tri-Coat Pearl Coat, Plum Crazy Pearlcoat, Redline 3 Pearl Coat, Redline 3 Pearlcoat, Stinger Yellow Clearcoat, Stone White Clearcoat, Green with Envy, Header Orange Clearl Coat, B5 Blue Pearlcoat, Billet Metallic Clearcoat, Dark Titanium Metallic Clearcoat, Furious Fuchsia Pearlcoat, HEMI Orange Pearl Coat
Interior Colors: Black cloth, Black leather/suede, Black leather, Dark Slate Gray cloth, Dark Slate Gray premium leather, Dark Slate Gray leather, Black premium leather, Black/Tungsten premium cloth, Black/Ruby Red leather, Black/Ruby Red premium leather, Black/Sepia premium leather, Black/Ruby Red leather/suede, Dark Slate Gray/Radar Red leather, Dark Slate Gray/Radar Red premium leather, Black/Pearl leather, Dark Slate Gray/Molten Red leather, Black/Demonic Red premium leather, Dark Slate Gray premium cloth, Dark Slate Gray/Foundry Black leather
Popular Features: Aux Audio Inputs, Fold Flat Rear Seats, Power Driver Seat, Rear Bench Seats, Tire Pressure Warning, Stability Control, Trip Computer, Audio and cruise controls on steering wheel, Bluetooth, Auto Climate Control, Post-collision safety system, USB Inputs, Automatic Emergency Braking, Alarm, Multi-Zone Climate Control, Parking sensors, Keyless Entry/Start, Back-up camera, Heated seats, Navigation, Leather Seats, Upgraded Headlights, Sunroof/Moonroof, Mobile Internet, Remote Start, Apple Carplay/Android Auto, Cooled Seats, Blind Spot Monitoring, Upgraded Stereo, Upgraded Engine, Electronic Folding Mirrors, Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-collision safety system, Lane Departure Warning, AWD/4WD