2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Longing for Open Road
March 18, 2010
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...
I haven't been in the Challenger for a while, and initial impressions are that it's not aging terribly well. Seat trim pieces have gone missing, and shift feel has become almost brittle. May have to chalk up the gear-lever feel to the urge to power shift (I'm all clutch, all the time). With the way the Hemi V8 has broken in, you couldn't really blame anyone.
Whatever is Chrysler's future, this engine will always be thought of well. The 21,867 miles we've logged have only loosened up the Hemi's broad shoulders, and there is no road long or empty enough to feed the baritone snarl living under the long hood. Tractable and smooth, with an always surprising high-end rush, this is a mill you never get tired of, and a constant reminder of why we'll miss muscle cars one day.
Loafing along in geared-for-the-moon 6th, the Challenger carried me up into the high desert yesterday, showcasing the Dodge's muscle car mile-eating crown. The seats are holding up (and us) well. Too wide for corner carving, they're great for long stretches and will accommodate nearly any girth. The small-screened nav looks archaic but is functional, and the Bluetooth phone interface is one of the best around. If you want muscle and love to travel straighter paths, the Challenger is your pony car.
Paul Seredynski, Executive Editor @ 21,867 miles