2009 Dodge Challenger Long Term Road Test - Interior

2009 Dodge Challenger Long Term Road Test

  • Full Review
  • Pricing & Specs
  • Road Tests (2)
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  • Long-Term

2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Road Trip Notes

May 18, 2010


Just a couple leftover notes from my road trip in the Challenger.

- Best tank of gas yielded 23.9 mpg. Not bad considering I was running 80 mph most of the time.

- The iPod interface works well, but the nav system doesn't let you do much while you're moving. Lame.

- There's no actual dead pedal. There is, however, a big empty space to rest your left foot, so good enough.

- You can fit four full-size golf bags in the trunk should you need to transport a few friends in a pinch. Didn't expect that.

- It still gets looks, even when it's covered in several hundred miles of road grime.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 25,102 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: A Touching Interface

May 03, 2010


When you drive a different car homealmost every day it can be tough to remember exactly how each one works.

"Where's the E-brake release on this thing?"

"How do I get the fuel door open?"

"Why does the seat position change every time I start it?"

Certainly asmall price to pay for such a vast array of driving options,and a side benefit is how this constantexposure to multiple vehiclesallows our staff to quickly discern which systems work best among the various manufacturers' designs. And in the case of LCD screen interfaces, our long-term 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T confirms the obvious:touch screen worksbest.

Sure, there can be some variation in touch screen interfacedesign, and some are better than others. But all of them are better than the ol' "wheel-and-button" control system. Simply put, it's more intuitive to press on a screen with your finger than to try and navigate it via a mechanical middleman.

When I got in the Challenger recently and wanted to change audio settings it was refreshingly easy to tap the screen a few times and be done versus twisting a knob while hitting a button. Anyone who has used those systems knowshow frustrating it can beto keep missing your intended setting because you turned the knob a tad too far or didn't hit the button at the right moment.

No, the world is moving away from mechanicalinterfaces and rushing toward interfaces that work directly with our fingers. If you don't agree, maybe you missed a little technology intro a few weeks ago. It's the one surpasssing all sales expectations and likely to redefine how information is gathered/transmitted.

Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor at Large @ 24,255 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Busted Knob

March 18, 2010


I climbed intoour 2009 Dodge Challenger the other night. It wasn't long before I realized that the driver seat adjustment knob was still busted. This repair clearly fell off our radar and now the cover is missing completely.It did getme thinking, though. If I owned this car would I replace the part?

As the primary driver I would rarely touch the knob and easily forget it wasevenmissing. I wouldprobably just fashion my owncover and forget the OEM part altogether. If it was your Challenger, wouldyou replace it?

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 21,867 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Lights Up More Than Tires

February 18, 2010

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Yes, the amazing Dodge Challenger also manages to fill its hard-to-find door handles with light when you turn off the car. Yeah I know, not a big deal these days. I'm sure our recently departed Honda Fit did the same thing.

But don't forget, the Challenger's doors are quite large, and when it's dark and the whole interior is gray, finding those handles isn't all that easy. Nice to see that Dodge didn't forget the small stuff.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 20,257

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Manly Gauges

February 18, 2010


Dig it. Unlike our Mazdaspeed 3, our Dodge Challenger R/T has an oil temperature gauge, a water temperature gauge and a real oil pressure gauge.

And while I'm not a huge fan ofdigital dials, you've got to give Dodge credit for understanding the importance of complete instrumentation.

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Playing Packing Tetris

February 03, 2010

Dodge Challenger Full Back Seat

This one is from the cutting room floor, as I actually made this trip back at Thanksgiving. But the fact remains that I crammed the Challenger full of stuff, proving you don't need an SUV to haul agolf bag, 3 tons of laundry, a suitcase wrapped as a Christmas gift, aboxed Canon printer, a few suitcases, various groceries, three curling brooms and a partridge in a pear tree. No, all it takes is some creative packing while the Tetris song plays in your head.

All the bulky items went in the back seat,since it was easier to stack them. I still had enough visibility out the back -- well, as good as can be expected in the Challenger at least. This big Dodge's size seemed like a detriment at first, but once again, an extended time withthe Challengerhas revealed its virtues.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 15,562 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: A Real Oil Pressure Gauge...Sorta

January 27, 2010

Frankly, I find it ridiculous, and a little sad, that a V8 muscle car like our 2009 Challenger R/T doesn't have an analog oil pressure gauge. Instead, Dodge has included this digital gauge which can be called up on the information screen with a few jabs at the steering wheel buttons. Better than nothing, but about as interesting and artistic as asheet of plain white paper.

At least it actually works. Watch the video and marvel how the Hemi's oil pressure rises and falls with its rpm. There was a time when manufacturers stopped such function because ignorant owners were bringing their cars into the dealer because it was broken.

"It seems to run fine, but the gauge goes down to 30 psi every time they stop at a red light. Something must be wrong."

Scott Oldham, Inside Line Editor in Chief @ 19,172 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger: The Seats to Beat

January 14, 2010

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Dodge really nailed it when it comes to the seats in the Challenger. They're super comfortable -- not too mushy, just nicely firm. And the black stitched leather looks amazing -- these photos don't even begin to do it justice. Every time I slide behind the wheel, it's as if I'm settling into one of these things...

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Afraid of the Dark

December 15, 2009


I love the Challenger. I really do. There are just a few things that bug me about it -- they're all pretty minor and I'm sure that if I owned and drove the car on a regular basis they wouldn't even be an issue. See the dark picture above? Find the start/stop button. I dare ya'. I triple-dog dare ya'.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Headlights On With Wipers

December 14, 2009


Something rare and strange happened this past weekend in Southern California: It rained...a lot.

Here in California, the law says you must turn on your headlights when you use your windshield wipers. And according to an AAA legal expert I asked, Daytime Running Lamps (DRLs) do no count because: 1) DRLs and are not legally defined as headlights and; 2) headlight use also turns on the taillights and side markers, which is just as crucial if being seen by other cars is the whole point.

California is by no means alone in this. Headlight use is specifically required during periods of rain or when wipers are in use in a grand total of 23 states representing 185 million people out of a possible 304 million, the total population according to the 2008 US census. In other words, 61% of you are required to turn your headlights on when it's raining during daylight hours

Furthermore, an additional 74.7 million of you must use headlights whenever weather reduces visibility to less than a certain specified distance, usually 500 or 1000 feet. The wording of these laws stops short of specifically tying headlight use to wiper use. But I'm not sure how one is supposed to measure visibility while on the move, so headlight use in rain is at least implied. Taking this view, that brings the total up to 259.9 million out of 304 million, some 85%.

So why is it that very few carmakers tie the wipers and headlights together, like our 2009 Dodge Challenger?

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2009 Dodge Challenger: 15,000 Miles En Route to Phoenix

November 27, 2009

Milestone_02.jpg Dodge Challenger at the BOB (aka Chase Field)

Greetings from that mecca of global culture, Goodyear, Ariz. Home to a Target, a Macaroni Grill, the Cleveland Indians and the parents of one James Tiberius Riswick.

In the past twoThanksgiving journeys out here,I've written letters to myself in the future to warn against repeating that year's calamities. Leaving stupidly on Wednesday in the G35 for one, and leaving my wallet behind the other. This year, I'm happy to report that I heeded my own advice and no such letter is warranted. I won't need to reiterate to myself next year that I should just celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving.Outside of an unfortunate accident-caused traffic jamjust outside of Ontario, my Tuesday trip went muck-up-free.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: iPod Facepalm

November 21, 2009

For a while now I've criticized the iPod interface in Dodge products as being acceptable, but lacking in one critical feature: A way to scroll to higher letters without having to navigate through 100 pages of artists.

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Well, turns out Dodge has been ahead of me this whole time. While my attention has been focused on the up/down arrows that scroll four artists at a time, there, between the arrows was a button I wasn't aware of. Hitting that A-Z tab brings up a full keyboard that lets you pick artists, but only by the first letter. Z brings up Zox first, which is one of four "z" artists I have on my iPod, so there is still some scrolling, but this is helpful.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Baby Steps and Leaps

November 09, 2009

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If Goldilocks happens to score the keys to our Challenger, she could be bumming. Sometimeswith theChallenger's navigation system, the "just right" setting on the map scale is elusive. Case in point: although the system offers more than enough increments on the low (zoomed in) end (e.g. you have 150 yds and then250 yds), the midrange adjustment is lacking. It jumps from 1/2 mile to 2 miles.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Steering Wheel Gets a Pass, Barely

November 05, 2009


I have yet to get tired of looking at our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T. Yeah, I get that its stance is too high with the stock suspension, and I'm not a huge fan of the wheels, but look at this rear-quarter panel -- it's luscious. I also have yet to get tired of driving the car. It rides like some kind of personal luxury coupe, yet it makes all kinds of wonderful, noisy sounds when you accelerate hard or execute a heel-and-toe downshift.

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Distance to Empty? Wouldn't You Like to Know...

November 02, 2009


Over the weekend, I ran into the same issue on our long-term 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T that we've had with our Evolution X MR and Evo GSR. The "distance to empty" meter stops counting down the miles once youdrop belowa certain threshold.

In our Challenger R/T, that threshold is 30 miles, and it seems to be timed with the low fuel warning light. That light (off to the left) came on at the 347.5-mile mark in this trip.

On the upside, the lack of DTE functionality isn't such an annoyance in theDodge, which actually has some fuel range, thanks to its 19-gallon tank and respectable 25-mpg highway rating (though of course it rates only 16 in the city).

I ended up with 19.8 mpg on this 365.8-mile tank and I put in 18.468 gallons. I have to think, though, that the 19-gallon "capacity" is a rounded-down estimate. Hard to believe I was really a mere half-gallon from running dryfewer than 20 miles after the low-fuel warning light illuminated. Still, this tank bodes well for my upcoming road trip in the Challenger: Our longesttank so far is 396.8 miles (as driven by Brent Romans), so 400 should be attainable.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 13,007 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: My 2nd Favorite Sound

October 30, 2009


The exhaust note in our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T is pretty special, but after that there's the horn. This video doesn't do it justice (maybe we'll put a real mic to it one of these days), but it's one of the loudest and most satisfying horns I've ever used in anger. It's perfect for a large black coupe. "You will respect my authoritah!" I've been heard to quote...

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Why I Like It Better Than the Camaro

October 28, 2009


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 Missing Buttons

October 27, 2009

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Perhaps it was an overzealous vacuum-wielding car-wash employee. Maybe the seatbelt has been waiting for just the right set of circumstances to pluck-off the cover. Whatever the case, the seat-bottom adjuster cover has gone AWOL. I checked under the seat, in the glove box, in the center console and found Bupkiss. I also noticed the linkage on the 6-speed manual shifter has a bunch more slack and wiggle in it than last time I drove the Challenger.

Chris Walton, Chief Road Test Editor @ 12,695 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger: How Much Room is Back There?

October 08, 2009

Challenger back seat

Last week we were asked how much room was in the back of the Camaro. Last week I answered that question: Not much.

This week I thought you'd be interested to see how the Challenger fares.

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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: Gearshifter Guessing Game

September 21, 2009

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The pistol-grip shifter on our 2009 Dodge Challenger takes some getting used to. Not for the shape of the shifter but because its canted toward the driver so it's difficult to tell exactly which gear I'm in, even when I glance down at it. For instance, guess which gear the Challenger is in in the above picture? (Answer after the jump.)

Of course this is more of an issue when driving around town, when you're shifting a lot and have short-term memory like I do. It's gotten so that I'm afraid to downshift for fear that I'm going to slot it into 3rd instead of 5th. So now I just shift to neutral and apply the brakes. I wish the dash displayed which gear the car was in.

BTW, I'm still trying to figure out what sets off the 1-4 skipshift so that I won't ever activate it. It doesn't happen when I upshift under 2,000 rpm and sometimes doesn't even happen when the dash reads "Shift 1 --> 4." Editor J to the K said that it's a combination of applied throttle, engine and rpm but most times it just seems random to me.

And if you guessed 4th, you're wrong. It's actually 6th gear. Below is 4th. Yes, they look exactly the same.

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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: Official Soundtrack for Pistol-Grip Shifter

September 17, 2009


Last night I found the perfect soundtrack for our manual-shift 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T -- Rage Against the Machine's "Pistol Grip Pump."

As always, I like the feel of the pistol-grip shifter on our Challenger R/T's 6-speed. But it's not like you can shift quickly in this car -- the throws are looong. So you might as well have some appropriate music playing. Note: This is a "clean" clip from this particular Rage song, so those with sensitive ears needn't worry, and you'll have to crank the volume on your computer to hear anything. As always, enjoy the high-quality, shaky-handheld cinematography.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Nails the New School, Fails the Old School

September 15, 2009


It's a funny thing about the audio interface in our navigation-equipped 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T. If you hook up your iPod, it's great. In fact, this is one of the nicestinterfaces I've ever encountered for browsing albums, artists, playlists and podcasts.

But if you want to do something old-school, like say, listen to an LA Dodgers game on AM radio, the touchscreen interface is a pain in the butt. There's no tuning knob, so you have to tap, tap, tap those arrow "keys" until you get the station you want. (You can't use the buttons on the steering wheel for this function, as they only "seek" between presets, rather than tune.)

You've told me before than I need to ditch my CD collection. And you're probably right on that one. But until Sirius starts offering an MLB package, I can't give up AM radio.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 10,793 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Doesn't Skimp on Storage

September 07, 2009


The reborn Dodge Challenger often takes flak for being bigger than it needs to be. On back roads and in tight parking lots, I sometimes wish it wasn't so, um,un-small. But I never wish it had fewer storage slots. Storage space in our long-term Challenger R/T rivalsmost midsize sedans. A quick tour:

1. Center console box (hinged lid tipped back) with USB hookup and ample space for iPod and cord.

2. Oblong open slot provides ample room for key fob (not inserted indash thanks to keyless ignition), assorted house keysand employee ID badge.

3. Dual-depth cupholders. Deeper well houses 800mL stainless steel water bottle so that it doesn't obstruct use of pistol-grip shifter. Shallower well works well for take-out coffee without burying tall (small) double lattes.

4. Random rubberized slot behind shifter holds tin of mints. Or chapstick. Or hand sanitizer. Or plastic caps when adjusting tire pressure.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 10,666 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Don't Touch My Seat

September 03, 2009

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So last night I was the designated driver for a birthday outing in Long Beach. Figured our 2009 Dodge Challenger would be the perfect vehicle in which to transport the birthday girl and our friends. It's got lots of elbow room, sounds bad-ass...plus it's all sinister and black, to poke fun at her sadness about turning 30.

Well, that was fun but the only glitch was that at first we didn't know how to get the girl sitting behind me out of the car. For some reason, unlike the front passenger seat, the driver seat doesn't come with a lever on the seatback to move the seat forward. Just the power buttons. And we all know how long those take.

So she ended up exiting and entering through the passenger side at every stop. A minor annoyance but I wondered why it's that way. Does Dodge really think that people have the patience to work the power button to slowly slide the seat forward? And is it a "No one touches the driver seat" thing? You know, because the driver has it all configured the way he/she likes it, so why inconvenience them? Who knows? The owner's manual makes no mention of a secret driver-side lever. Just that, yes, those are the power buttons on the driver seat and that's the lever on the passenger-side seatback.

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2009 Dodge Challenger: For Those Who Actually Listen to the Radio

August 26, 2009

challenger radio.jpg

I have an issue with the radio controls in our 2009 Dodge Challenger. I know, I know. Who needs a radio when you have a perfectly good V8 to listen to? But for those times when you want to switch it up, wouldn't you want to be able to scroll through the radio stations or satellite channels? For some reason I can't figure out how to do that here. The radio controls only offer a knob for volume and sure there are seek buttons, but on the display you can't tell which channel you're landing on. Aarrrrgh!

The steering wheel controls offer the same seek buttons and at least you get the display with station names on the screen behind the steering wheel but what if your passenger wants to be the dj?

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Most Worthless/Coolest Feature?

August 11, 2009

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This screen is boring, yes? Besides a teeny-weeny map in its place, Dodge lets you change that Ram-encrusted logo with anphoto of your choice. The only other pre-loaded photo is, well, just plain wrong for the Challenger's macho image.

Eeew. That's not right.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Simple Gauges Are Better Gauges

August 03, 2009


A weekend in the Dodge Challenger R/T reminded me that when it comes to gauges, simple is always better. This was never really in dispute as I am never wrong, but occasionally one manufacturer or another tries to get to cute and screws things up, like say, Chevrolet and the Camaro.

Thankfully, the Challenger was spared such fakery. As you can see, the gauges are nothing more than black on white dials that are shared with any number of Chrysler products.

An oversight? Not really. The Challenger's original gauges were similar in style, just harder to read. Had Dodge gone overboard in its quest to revisit the past, the added authenticity would have been negligible while usability would have suffered. In this case, the evil eye of the accounting department actually helped the cause. Don't get used to it.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor, Inside Line @ 8,234 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T

July 21, 2009

shifteropen-950.jpg shifterinhand-950.jpg

I've mentioned in a previous post that the shifter in our Challenger is a little on the spongy side and I still feel that way. But after driving it again last night, I couldn't help but notice how comfortable the shifter itself feels.

There have been a thousand different shift handle designs over the years, everything from chrome balls to T-handles to the ol' pistol grip emulated here, all with their own quirks. But as derivative as this shifter is of the original, it's about natural feeling as a handle gets. Between its shape and the canted position, it's just about perfect. Makes getting the same car with an automatic all that more of a travesty.

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 7,895 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Key Fob Not Detected

July 03, 2009


I climbed into the Dodge Challenger yesterday. Hours parked in triple-digit heat left our black-on-black R/T scorching hot. All thoughts were focused on starting the car and cranking the air conditioning. So I pressed the start button. Key Fob Not Detected.

Four more tries. Each with the same result.I fished through my pockets toconfirm that sure enough, the key fob was right there. I tried the button a few more times. Nothing. With sweat beading on my forehead I located my pocket knife,popped the start button offand jammed the key into the opening. Success.

I'm not saying this issuewas heat related. But I am saying it was friggin hot at the time. And when I snapped the button back into place today it worked just fine. I won'tadmit to agreeing with Josh, but in this case, keyless entry sure wasn't veryconvenient.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 7,200 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Magic Fingers

May 26, 2009

They call it "Keyless Go". And if your 2009 Dodge Challenger has it, like ours does, you'll see a "Start" button on your dash instead of an obvious key slot.

Push it while your foot is on the brake (and the other foot on theclutch, if applicable) and the engine will crank to life. You have to keep your foot off the brake while you push it to get "Accessory" mode; a second push gets you"Run" mode.

Josh already discovered what you need to do if the car won'tacknowledge the presence ofthe "Keyless Go" key:simply pop that "Start"button off the dash to reveal a place to insert the physical key.

And then it got weird.

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Hill Start Assist

May 12, 2009

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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.

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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: Feels Like a Crossover and That's Fine By Me

April 30, 2009


It's often mentioned aroundour office that the seating position in our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T is too high -- that the high-mounted seats force you into a chair-like seating position reminiscent of a crossover.

There's little way Chrysler (er, the company formerly known as Chrysler) could have avoided this without major design changes, of course. The Challenger has the same comically high beltline and short glass area as other LX cars. Mount the front seats any lower and it'd be unsafe to drive.

However, I'm here to tell you that I don't mind this seating position a bit. I'm all legs and no torso, so I jack the seat-bottom cushionall the way up and enjoy the view over the big black hood. It's a fine view, it's relaxing, and yes, it's like sitting in some kind of SUV.This setup isn'tthe least bit true to the original Challengers, I realize, but in nearly all respects, the reborn Challenger is a modern-day homage to the old car, not an authentic, 1:1 copy.

Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 4,165 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger: Shifter Looks Cool, Does Not Always Feel Cool

April 21, 2009


After a weekend in the Challenger, this is what I remember.

1) That cool looking shifter with the retro slant? Yeah, that sucker gets hot in the sun. It's also a little too "damped" for my tastes. It feels good when you're just cruising around, but when you try to rip it, the gates feel too spongy.

2) The tires are a little soft. They make for a comfortable ride, but they feel a little too wobbly when you're on it.

3) A guy walked by the Challenger parked on the street and said the following to his buddy. "Look at the front end of that thing. Now that's tough looking. I bet a guy driving that car would whoop your ass."

Ed Hellwig, Senior Editor @ 3,609 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Here's Where The "Key" Goes

April 15, 2009


So there you have it: A solution to my problem. It's not obvious, and you have to dig back to page 243 of the manual to find it, but thissolves it.Getting the button off requires some kind of prying device and some persistence, but this solution is exactly what I needed.

As for the button itself, well, let's just say it won't be bothering us again. Its novelty was clearly lost on me anyway.

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor @ 3,417 miles

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Where Does the "Key" Go?

April 15, 2009


This is a picture of our Dodge Challenger's key fob. Notice its shape. Looks like it was designed to be inserted somewhere, right? Like into a dashboard to start a car, right? Well, it was. And many Chrysler products still use it that way.

Not the Challenger.At least not our Challenger.

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2009 Dodge Challenger RT: Where's My Handbrake?

April 08, 2009


I just want to know one thing: Where the hell is my handbrake?

Josh Jacquot, Senior road test editor

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2009 Dodge Challenger R/T: Rocking the Baby Seat

April 06, 2009

2009 dodge challenger passenger seat

Besides telling you how cool the cars are, how fast (or slow) they might be, and the like, this blog is also for letting you know what it's really like to live with 'em. So here's me with a few real-world Challenger impressions. (WARNING: If you have a low tolerance for baby seat installation posts, I suggest you skip this one. Bad-ass retro-style dads and moms, follow the jump!)

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