December 07, 2009
Some days I ago I wrote here that I'd takena 1,000-mile road trip to Willows, California, in our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T, but I neglected to follow up with fuel economy totals. That changes today.
Totaltrip mileage was 1,277 miles and the Challenger went through 61.266 gallons for an average of 20.8 mpg against an EPA rating of 16 mpg city, 25 mpg highway. The combination of a big gas tank (19 gallons),the six-speed manual transmission'sconservative top gear (0.50) and the 3.73 final drive (it would be 3.91 if we'd gotten the 20-inch wheels) give the oversized coupe incredible range on the highway.
My longest tank spanned 390.9 miles, after which I put in 17.054 gallons for an average of 22.9 mpg.
I backed off on my usual manic pace for most of the nighttime drive back to Los Angeles. Keeping a 75-mph pacesignificantly reduced consumption, and I averaged 25.8 mpg over 342.3 miles (putting in 13.270 gallons). This is impressive, considering our Dodge weighs two tons and doesn't have cylinder deactivation.Had I been able to wait longer to fuel up, I would easily have seen 450 miles on this tank. (Oddly, no one has ever driven more than 396.8 miles on a single tank inour Challenger R/T.)
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 16,079 miles
June 22, 2009
I read in a magazine a few months back that, "A man likes to drive--alone." While I've always felt this to be true, I had never seen it spelled out so succinctly. It's true. It gives a man time to think, sort things out, prioritize in silence and arrive with a clear head. There's a particular Zen to driving alone: Putting miles behind you with the sound of a V8 burbling in the background, or with music of your choice playing as quietly or loudly as you care. That's why I jumped at the opportunity to drive our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T for an extended weekend drive up to the central coast. Problem was that I started my drive on a Friday afternoon from Orange County.
May 12, 2009
Two weeks ago I mentioned my troubles shifting the Challenger due to the presence of skip shift. I had never experienced it before, at first chalking it up to the slanted pistol grip shifter and my own inabilities. When casually accelerating, I'd jam going into second gear as if smacking into a jumbled mass of bolts. It didn't slide into forth. Instead, I let the revs fall, waited and then rammed the shifter into second gear, tearing away to make up for my lost momentum. This happened about 10 percent of the time.
Then I was reminded of skip shift. Rather than my own explanation, here's one from Engineering Editor Jay Kavanagh: "Basically, gasoline engines are more efficient when the throttle is opened wider due to reduced pumping losses (think of it like breathing through a paper towel tube instead of a drinking straw). These skip-shift systems allow the engine to operate that way -- when you upshift, revs drop and the load on the engine increases. This is better for efficiency and thus fuel economy.
"The skip shift functions by a lockout on the second gear gate. So if you're shifting out of first gear under a very specific set of conditions (throttle, engine, rpm), the lockout is activated by a solenoid, forcing the gearstick to go into fourth gear gate instead of second gear."
Except, the Challenger never gracefully slides into fourth gear as skip shift is described to do. As it is, it feels more like ramming into a wall rather thangracefully changing course upon grazingoff a gentle lateral ramp.
Yet, even if I did successfully get into fourth, there would still be problems as Kavanaugh continues. "This has deleterious effects on driveability. It cuts the legs out from under the engine. Bogs down like it drove into a swamp.
"The real motivation behind skip shift is obviously that they are a dirt-cheap way for the automakers to improve the MPG numbers on the window sticker (perhaps avoiding a gas guzzler tax). They have little real-world improvement in fuel economy since everyone 'drives around' the skip shift."
The most common solution I've heard is to just drive it hard like any good Hemi driver should. That's all well and good, but sometimes you can't do that.Plus,you don't accelerate the same way every time -- sometimes you meet those exact conditions, sometimes you don't. It's the inconsistancy that's the real annoyance.
(A picture of the Pontiac G8 GXP's Skip Shift light)
Senior Automotive Editor Brent Romans commented thatskip shifthasn't bothered him that much in his Corvette since he usually does a 1-3 shift around town. Whenskip shift does show up, he just pauses in neutral for a moment and guns itlike I did in the Challenger.
The other solution is to disable the stupid thing. A quick look around Challenger and Corvette message boards found a few annoyed owners who purchaseda skip shift eliminator for about $25. Apparently, it's only a five-minute install. I'm saying that would be $25 and five minutes well spent on our Challenger.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor
April 24, 2009
When I drive our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T, this is what I feel like I'm driving. It's a Mopar concept from last year's SEMA show (with the red stripes removed), but in my mind's eye (and apparently in yours), this is how our Challenger looks. It says, "Don't even think about it, Tinkerbell."
And do you know what? People take thecar seriously.I can't tell you how many challenges I've received whenI was driving either the Evo GSR or MR, the 370Z, and of course the GT-R, but not in the Challenger.Wrist-steering high-school kids in theirfive-oh'Stangs, spikey-haired community college kids in their Honda-rebadged Integra Type Rs, and even mid-life crisis enduring Corvette drivers with personalized license plates pretend they're not looking/admiring, but I see them.
And here's the ironic part: I drivethe Challengerslower and more gently than I drive just about anything else in the IL garage. I single handedly raised the car's accumulated fuel economy average from 17.4 mpgto 18.5with onedrive home and back.
Intellectually, I know the Challenger R/T isn't thefastest car, itdoesn't pull1.0g on the skidpad, it certainly isn't the most refined car, but it's quick enough, holds a decent line around most corners, andperhaps most importantly,it sounds as subtly bad-ass as it looks.
If it were any other color: Hemi Orange, Torred, Inferno Red, blue, silver, or even white, I don't think I'd like driving it nearly as much as I do. There's something about our Challenger's Brilliant Black Crystal Pearl paint that transcendsall the marketing colors' ability to intimidate without having to try.