2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Hill Start Assist
May 12, 2009
I found myself nodding in silent agreement as I read Josh's recent post about the lack of a handbrake in our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T. I like handbrakes. Always have. But that's probably because a lot of my early cars were small econoboxes with manual transmissions -- and handbrakes. Uber-difficult San Francisco hill starts (and my parents' steep driveway) were no sweat with this setup.
Exactly none of that was going through my head last night as the light turned green at the steep uphillintersection I was waiting at in the Challenger. It's not uncommon for there to be ateensy bit of roll-back in these situations, especially when you're wiped out after a long day and a long drive home.
Not this time. There was none, zip, zilch, nada. I tried it again on another hill, being deliberately lazy when transitioning from the brake to the throttle and being intentionally late with the clutch. Again, nothing.
That's because the 6-speed manual Challenger R/T has Hill Start Assist (HSA), a neat trick they play with the ABS hardware and a few lines of code.
Here's what it looks like in my driveway. OK, my driveway isn't exactly a hill, but it is steeper than 7%, the trigger threshholdof the system.
Watch the brake lights; the car doesn't roll back right away when they go off. Youhave two or three seconds to add throttle and let the clutch out. After that, the systemwill disengage and let the car roll backbecause there are plenty ofsituations where youwant that to happen.
And the system has a sort of grade logic. It works in first gear when you're pointing uphill and reverse when you'rebacking uphill.
Oh sure, I still like a good handbrake. But with a system like this I don't really need one for steep-hill starts in the Challenger.AndI don't see myself needing to do rally-style handbrake turns in this thing.
Dan Edmunds, Director of VehicleTesting @4,720 miles