The 2009 Dodge Challenger is one of those cars that grabs you as you walk by, which is a welcome response given the lack of differentiation these days between a Honda and a Hyundai. That all changes with the reintroduction of the Challenger. Dodge once again is capturing people's attention in the muscle car arena, something that probably hasn't been done since the introduction of the Viper (this was relived with the last redesign of the Viper as well). So we know the 2009 Dodge Challenger has the look, but does it have the guts?
The answer is yes. The present Dodge Challenger is no slouch in the performance department and should make any past Challenger fan proud. The 2008 and newer Dodge Challenger can be optioned in SE, RT, RT Classic and SRT8 trim levels. The SE carries the base V6, not unlike the original base charger model with its straight-6. The RT and RT Classic are available with 5.7-liter HEMI V8 (somewhere along the way Hemi gets changed to all-caps in between 1970 and today). Something that is very different is that the 5-speed, 6-speed and Automatic transmission all put out different horsepower. In order they produce, 375 hp, 376 hp and 372 hp. Then you get the SRT8 which comes with a 425 hp 6.1-liter HEMI V-8.
So how does today’s Dodge Challenger compare to those of the past? Well, I have to say that this time Dodge got it right, at least compared to the last revival in 1978, which was actually a Mitsubishi Galant Lambda coupe re-badged. Yes, the new Dodge Challenger looks the part and as a throw back design is done very well. One of the biggest differences (thanks to modern manufacturing and production) of today’s Challenger is the front clip that is basically one piece instead of having multiple pieces and a bolt on front chrome bumper. Something else you will notice if you do a side-by-side comparison of the old and new is that the present Challenger seems taller and squarer overall. It also has much bigger wheels with 17 in. rims being standard and 18 in. and 20 in. rims optional.
Now for the real comparison—the 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 will run 0-60 in 5.1 seconds and the ¼ mile in 13.2 seconds at 107.5 mph (according to Edmunds.com tests). This compares to the 1970 Challenger 426 Hemi that would do 0-60 in 6.3 seconds and the ¼ mile in 13.1 seconds at 107.1 mph (Car Craft 1969). So in the end, if you are looking for a new car with a warranty and maybe a future collectors item then go get a new Challenger. If you are looking for a collectible and the original then find yourself a 1970 or 1971 Challenger 426 Hemi. Chances are the 2009 is going to be more affordable in the long run.
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