2009 Dodge Challenger Review

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Pros & Cons

  • Nostalgic exterior styling, ripping performance with R/T and SRT8, agile handling for such a big car, SRT8's strong braking, comfortable ride, generous cargo capacity.
  • Narcolepsy-inducing interior styling, poor rearward visibility, V6's frumpy four-speed automatic transmission.
List Price Range
$16,995 - $27,950

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Comfortable, stylish and impressively capable in terms of performance, the 2009 Dodge Challenger is exactly what a modern version of an old muscle-car icon should be.

Vehicle overview

Thanks to the massive press coverage of last year's Dodge Challenger rebirth, you probably know as much about it as we do. But in case you missed all those headline road tests featuring the burnt-orange car, here's the skinny. Borrowing heavily from the styling of the original 1970-'74 Challenger, the reborn version sports similar lines and proportions. But you needn't worry about the 2009 Dodge Challenger merely being a poser's visual link to the past -- it can be had with Hemi V8 power, rear-wheel drive and the right sound burbling from its rectangular exhausts.

The Challenger is based on Chrysler's LX platform, which is also used for the 300 and Charger sedans. Its wheelbase is 4 inches shorter than the Charger's, though with a 2-ton curb weight, the newer model is frighteningly similar to its forebear in terms of sheer bulk. Of course, the 2009 Challenger has features that previous Mopar designers could hardly have dreamed about, such as stability control, side curtain airbags and an available hard-drive-based navigation system that can also store music and video files. The new Challenger also differs by being fairly athletic and able to go around corners without scraping the Goodyear lettering off the tires.

Last year, Dodge offered just one model -- the top-level SRT8. For 2009, Dodge expands the Challenger family with a couple of less intimidating alternatives that make this retro-styled sport coupe more accessible to the masses. Starting things off is the new base Challenger, fitted with a V6 engine and four-speed automatic, a pairing as ill-suited as Charlize Theron and Gilbert Gottfried. You'll get 250 hp and a 25-mpg highway rating from this powertrain, but considering that you're stuck with four speeds, it's hardly set up for optimal efficiency. Sitting between the base car and the SRT8 is the best pick of the bunch: the new R/T, with its 370-hp V8. This year also brings back another Mopar icon, a pistol-grip-shifted manual gearbox. Available on the V8 cars, this tranny features six speeds.

Considering that the resurrected Camaro is set to debut next year, Dodge's preemptive strike with this full family of Challengers couldn't have come at a better time. And considering the cost of gasoline nowadays, we imagine the V6 model will be fairly popular. Overall, we like how the 2009 Dodge Challenger impressively combines the visceral and visual excitement of the past with modern engineering, safety and convenience features. Yes, there is competition in the form of the upcoming Camaro and the Ford Mustang. But for a modern take on the old muscle car, the Challenger certainly gets almost all of it right.

2009 Dodge Challenger models

The 2009 Dodge Challenger is a large five-passenger sport coupe available in three trim levels -- base SE, R/T and SRT8.

Standard features on the SE include 17-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry, full power features, an eight-way power driver seat, air-conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat and a CD/MP3 player. The R/T gains a V8 engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, a sport-tuned suspension and steering, minor exterior enhancements and a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob.

The top-dog SRT8 ups the ante with even more power, black hood stripes, 20-inch alloy wheels, a sportier suspension and steering than the R/T, a limited-slip rear differential, Brembo brakes, xenon headlights, heated side mirrors, leather and faux suede upholstery, heated front sport seats, cruise control, keyless ignition, Bluetooth, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a 13-speaker premium audio system (with six-CD changer, satellite radio, an auxiliary audio jack and steering-wheel-mounted audio controls). Many of the upgraded features can be added on lower trims as options.

Other optional features, depending on the trim level, include a sunroof, ultra-performance summer tires, a 13-speaker premium audio system and the MyGIG combination navigation and music-server system. For the R/T, one may order the Trak Pak, which features a six-speed manual gearbox (in place of the automatic), a limited-slip differential, Hill Start Assist (prevents rolling back on hills with the manual), a recalibrated performance steering system and bright pedal accents. There are numerous Mopar accessories available, including a retro T-grip metallic automatic shifter.

2009 Highlights

Dodge fills out the Challenger lineup for 2009 with the introduction of a base V6 model and midlevel R/T. Joining the pavement-searing SRT8 trim, the V6 trim sports a 250-horsepower V6, while the R/T boasts a 370-hp 5.7-liter V8. Also new this year is the availability of a manual transmission for the R/T and SRT8.

Performance & mpg

The Challenger SE is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 with 250 hp and 250 pound-feet of torque. The only transmission for the SE is a four-speed automatic. The R/T sports a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that makes 370 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. It comes mated to a five-speed automatic, with a six-speed manual available -- with the latter gearbox, the 5.7 makes 5 more hp. The SRT8 comes with a 6.1-liter V8 packing 425 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque, with transmission choices mirroring those of the R/T.

Dodge claims the R/T will rocket to 60 mph in less than 6 seconds. We've timed an SRT8 with the automatic at 5.1 seconds to 60 and 13.2 seconds in the quarter-mile. Fuel mileage estimates range from 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway for the SE down to 13 city/18 highway for the SRT8.

Safety

Antilock disc brakes (with brake assist) and stability control are standard on R/T and SRT8 models and optional on the SE, while side curtain airbags are standard across the board.

Driving

Break out the bell bottoms and peace signs -- it's 1970 all over again. With the V8 versions, performance is thrilling, as one would expect. Provided there's sufficient grip, the 2009 Dodge Challenger lunges off the corners and swallows the straights, its sustained thrust complemented by long riffs of resonant mechanical music. However, we'd appreciate a rev-matching feature for the automatic transmission to make downshifts smoother when running along a curvy road.

For such a big car, the Challenger handles itself well, with minimal body roll and a surprisingly comfortable ride. Braking is up to the task as well. Large Brembos in the SRT8 (about 14 inches front and rear) are fitted with four-piston calipers and provide abundant stopping power. The brakes also automatically keep their pads closer to the rotors when driving in the wet, lightly wiping the discs off for improved braking in these conditions.

Read our 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T Long-Term 20,000-Mile Test

Interior

While the exterior is enthusiastically nostalgic, the Challenger's interior is rather bland. There's a faint echo of the original Challenger present in the 2009 version, but in total, the cabin is somber and dull, with only a few metallic trim pieces to spruce things up. There was certainly no effort to answer the Mustang or upcoming Camaro's retro interiors, but the Challenger at least provides good-quality materials. The well-bolstered sport seats in the SRT8 are covered in leather and faux suede, while the rear seats in all models features a fold-down armrest and a split-folding back. At 16.2 cubic feet, the Challenger's trunk boasts impressive cargo capacity for this segment.


Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 2009 Dodge Challenger.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Blue Nostalgia
quickjack,09/01/2012
SRT8 2dr Coupe (6.1L 8cyl 5A)
I bought my B5 blue SRT8 in October, 2010 with a 6-speed manual. I have loved putting each and every mile on it since. The transmission shifts are crisp, the engine pulls like a freight train, and what a glorious sound track. The interior is comfortable and practical but no styling frills here. The well bolstered buckets are comfortable on the longest of trips, and even heated for those cold mornings. The back seat is for children or small adults, but nonetheless comfortable. The trunk offers ample space, with a 60/40 rear seat split. If you buy this car, prepare for attention. Even still, I get people craning their necks to have a look. After 2 years, I still wouldn't trade it for anything.
Buy it!
Cody,04/03/2017
SRT8 2dr Coupe (6.1L 8cyl 5A)
I've had this car for 2 years and the only issues I've had were bad brake pads from the factory (also change the factory brembo brake pads for hawk performance brake pads, the brembos make too much brake dust and have a tendency to squeal) and a low whining sound from the rear end from 25-32 mph (apparently normally experienced by other owners as well). Other than that, she has been amazing, no issues, great power, even the automatics have excellent transmission shift times. Test drove Camaro SS's (poor visibility, worse sound system, virtually no rear leg room, very cramped in the front, way smaller trunk space) and the Mustang GT (horrible sound system, atrocious rear leg/head/every other part of your body room), and they didn't come close. The SRT8 has far superior electronics and interface, ride stability is rock solid, engine power is immediate with an unbelievably satisfying roar at full throttle, amazing amounts of front and rear leg/head room (sitting in the drivers seat can almost feel like being in a truck), visibility is great, sound system is mind-shatteringly good, Sat Nav is great, and despite being 4080 lbs,, she handles much more nimbly than you'd expect (compared to other muscle cars obviously, not as nimble as European sports cars). I do wish she was a bit louder at idle and lower rpms, and definitely switch to hawk performance brake pads, but besides that, they are phenomenal. It's definitely worth buying, if you don't, you're missing out.
Challenger SRT 8
Tom Langston,07/26/2009
SRT8 2dr Coupe (6.1L 8cyl 5A)
I previously was forced to sell my 1971 'Cuda. When I saw the Challenger SRT concept car, I thought that my car was reborn! Since I have owned this car, it has not disappointed me. It accelerates, handles, and brakes like no other car that I have owned. Its retro shape and Hemi-orange color turn heads every where I go.
SRT8 Black Beauty
Joey,09/12/2015
SRT8 2dr Coupe (6.1L 8cyl 5A)
Just bought this 2009 SRT8 Black Beauty. It is best car I've ever owned, and I've had 2 Mercedes, Porche 911, and 2 corvettes. The Challenger beats them all hands down for quality, power, comfort, and performance. You can drive this car daily as it is extremely livable or save it for weekend jaunts. I am thrilled every time I get in the car and turn it on. I get so many compliments on it from total strangers. This car has a style that will never go out of style. I'm keeping this car forever and a day. If you have the cash, I highly recommend you pick one up if at all possible. It has true collector car value in my opinion.

Safety

NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    Rollover4 / 5
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated

More about the 2009 Dodge Challenger

Used 2009 Dodge Challenger Overview

The Used 2009 Dodge Challenger is offered in the following submodels: Challenger Coupe, Challenger SRT8. Available styles include SRT8 2dr Coupe (6.1L 8cyl 5A), R/T 2dr Coupe (5.7L 8cyl 5A), and SE 2dr Coupe (3.5L 6cyl 5A). Pre-owned Dodge Challenger models are available with a 6.1 L-liter gas engine or a 5.7 L-liter gas engine or a 3.5 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 425 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 2009 Dodge Challenger comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed shiftable automatic, 5-speed automatic. The Used 2009 Dodge Challenger comes with a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. basic warranty, a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. roadside warranty, and a 3 yr./ 36000 mi. powertrain warranty.

What's a good price on a Used 2009 Dodge Challenger?

Price comparisons for Used 2009 Dodge Challenger trim styles:

  • The Used 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T is priced between $16,995 and$27,950 with odometer readings between 23343 and131092 miles.

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 2009 Dodge Challengers are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 2009 Dodge Challenger for sale near. There are currently 6 used and CPO 2009 Challengers listed for sale in your area, with list prices as low as $16,995 and mileage as low as 23343 miles. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 2009 Dodge Challenger.

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Find a used Dodge Challenger for sale - 10 great deals out of 14 listings starting at $13,434.

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Should I lease or buy a 2009 Dodge Challenger?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

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