2009 Dodge Challenger Consumer Review: 39 years later it was my turn

2009 Dodge Challenger - Consumer Review

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39 years later it was my turn
By smart_shopper on


2009 Dodge Challenger R/T 2dr Coupe (5.7L 8cyl 5A)


As a child in 1969 I went with my dad when he picked up a new 1970 Dodge Charger. I sat in an orange car that I later learned was a Challenger.

I've owned a lot of cars over the years, including a new 1997 Trans AM WS-6, which is a beautiful car until you have to do any engine work. I can say the Challenger is arguably the best new car I've ever owned.

It is huge, it's larger and weighs as much as my truck, a 1st gen 5.9L Durango, yet it gets almost 24 MPG on the Interstate. It has many bells & whistles never thought of in 1970, and it's the best looking retro muscle car in my opinion. Due to size and weight, it's not as fast as the smaller Camaro, but to each their own.

Best Features

The styling and Hemi Orange paint did it for me. The 6 speed manual transmission was icing on the cake. The entire engine is accessible. One of my gripes in working on cars is the people that design them never have to work on them. The Challenger has a huge engine bay, and routine maintenance is fairly easy- just pull off the plastic cover underneath and you can access the oil filter and pan. I've added HD cooling to mine- the SRT2 radiator, a lower temp thermostat and fan control, and an oil cooler w/ thermostat from a Mazda RX-7. The car runs a lot cooler here in the South.

Worst Features

Do away with the skip-shift feature that locks out gears 2-3 under certain conditions, so people like me don't have to bypass it. I realize the skip-shift is more federal intrusiveness into how our cars are made, but maybe someday we can again build great cars in this country that people want to buy and drive (contrary to the Revolutionary War ad, the Challenger is made in Canada). The nav feature could be a little more user-friendly when trying to find a named business. I'm not a fan of wagon (huge diameter) wheels. The 18" wheels were plenty large, and my car came with 20" wheels. Rear visibility takes some getting use to. I added a camera over the license plate.
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By smart_shopper
on 07/28/13 01:40 AM (PDT)

As an update not even 2 years later, this car has turned into a huge disappointment. As I type this, my Hemi orange Challenger is at the dealer for the third time in three months. It began with an electrical problem that I thought would be fixed due to a battery & ground cable recall. Before that could be done, I noticed two rust bubbles on one of the wheel openings (this ended up being my second dealer trip). My car sits in the garage and is driven around 4K miles/year. It doesn't see bad weather. Fortunately, the corrosion warranty covered the repair. My reliable old Durango that does get driven in bad weather along with a 1991 Dodge Daytona I own have not rusted like this. Back to the electrical problem, the dealer replaced the battery and apparently installed a new ground cable. All was well for a couple of weeks and I was set to take a trip on a Thursday. Wednesday evening I input the destination into the navigation system so I would not have to do it early on Thursday. Since I had not run the car in a couple of weeks, I cranked it up to be sure it would start. No problem. About 8 hours later when I was set to leave, it was dead- totally. No power whatsoever. I was able to hook up a small charger under hood so I could get the key out (dumb design #1, #2 is that there is no way to open the trunk with the key to get to the battery if the battery is dead), and then jumped it with my Durango, only to find the radio completely inoperative. All fuses were good, and the car restarted on its own. I couldn't make the trip w/o navigation so it was canceled. After pulling the negative cable for 30 minutes, all was operational again. The car went back to the dealer and I learned they cannot duplicate the problem, so I'll pick it up again next week. I bought this car new and now regret doing so. I thought I'd own it for the rest of my life, but I'm now planning to sell it. It's apparent Dodge does not make vehicles like the good old Durango anymore.

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