HD Track Drive Review – 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Is Powerful But Huge And Floaty



HD Track Drive Review – 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T

Updated 12.3.14 With Additional Photos

We were slightly embarrassed to come back from Chicago the other month with zero in-focus photos of the Challenger R/T we took for hot track laps. Luckily, another chance presented itself. Certainly a cool machine in the flesh — but the R/T is a luxury car without the sharp handling of the latest Mustangs and Camaro’s. It takes a few ticks toward the Hellcat for the Challenger to add suspension composure to this menacing muscle-coupe style.

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We were thrilled to get in the new Challenger for some hot laps around Autobahn Country Club — and extra happy it was a V8!

But despite being near the top of the range of many Challengers for 2015, this R/T automatic was greatly outclassed by serious sports cars. The R/T felt fast, but also enormously floaty and very heavy around all corners. There was an odd sense of height in the car at all times – like it was riding too high and had a lofty center of gravity as well.

In corners, there is a big sense of ponderous body lurch as the big Challenger slowly heaves over onto its outside tires. The Challenger’s heavy and slow handling was slightly alarming versus the Mustang GT and Camaro Z/28, not to mention the Jaguar F-Type or the Nissan GT-R.

On the plus side, the cabin felt fantastic with its new dash and steering wheel designs exuding premium materials, while the latest infotainment is a huge upgrade with performance pages available in addition to navigation, audio and climate settings.  Some of the fonts seem too large in the uConnect system’s default settings, but this can likely be changed via the display menus.

The tradeoffs for this luxury-car feel would be worth it in the real world, where the Challenger has a new level of comfort and quietness at all road speeds.

Overall, however, at the track the R/T felt very wayward in corners and was most at home in a straight-line dragrace.

Look to the SRT and 6.4-liter 392 Challengers for a harder and more-concentrated suspension feel in corners.

 

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The biggest news for the 2015 Challenger is thew engine/powertrain advancement in all trim levels — not least the 707-horsepower SRT Hellcat supercharged.

But there are huge, huge benefits inside the cabin to close deals with shoppers. While the exterior is barely-altered in the sheetmetal shapes of the body – the cabin is completely fresh in every way.

Big upgrades to drive-ability come with the latest eight-speed ZF automatic up and down the range, which will help with the sometimes-lungy downshift style of the existing model.

Perhaps even more notable than the Shaker, 392 and SRT is how great the base V6 trim level looks and will handle for 2015. A Super Track Pak – deliberate misspelling of the Pak – brings huge wheels and a good road stance to the previously malnourished appearance of the Challenger at the bottom of the range.

The blue car in the photos below is the V6 — but you would be hard-pressed to know it based on its great appearance.

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DODGE DEBUTS NEW 2015 CHALLENGER AT 2014 NEW YORK AUTO SHOW

New Challenger Now Offers an Estimated 485 Best-in-class Horsepower, Track-ready All-new 6.4-liter Scat Pack Model, 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker, All-new Interior and Segment-first Standard TorqueFlite Eight-speed Automatic Transmission
  • New for 2015 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack 6.4-liter HEMI® V-8 punches out an estimated 485 best-in-class horsepower and 475 lb.-ft. of torque via a six-speed manual or new TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission, Brembo brakes and 20-by-9-inch aluminum wheels
  • New 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker combines the ultimate combination of power and heritage cues with a functional Shaker hood
  • 1971-inspired design, both inside and out, features refined exterior styling updates and heritage muscle-car appearance with new split grille, more pronounced and functional power bulge hood, LED halo headlamps and LED tail lamps
  • All-new interior includes 1971-inspired high-sill center console and driver-focused instrument panel, aluminum bezels and 14 interior color and trim options, including throwback Houndstooth premium cloth, Radar Red, or Pearl and Alcantara suede and leather high-performance seats
  • Segment-first eight-speed automatic transmission delivers world-class precision and fuel efficiency, along with Sport mode and paddle-shifting capabilities for enhanced performance and an improvement in fuel economy
  • Significant new technology upgrades feature all-new class-exclusive 8.4-inch touchscreen media center with Uconnect Access system, new class-exclusive 7-inch thin-film transistor (TFT) customizable cluster display, electronic shifter and Keyless Enter ‘n Go with push-button start across all models
  • More than 70 safety and security features, including new for 2015 class-exclusive Forward Collision Warning, adaptive cruise control, Blind-spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection
  • Enthusiast-desired rear-wheel-drive (RWD) architecture with advanced technological solutions:
    • New electric power steering (EPS) now provides three driver-selectable steering modes: Normal, Comfort and Sport
    • All-new cast-aluminum axle housing reduces weight
    • Updated suspension – Super Track Pak now available on all models
    • Standard Sport mode adjusts throttle, transmission and steering performance
    • All-new Dodge Performance Pages provide configurable drive modes
    • New launch control improves offline acceleration performance
    • Available Brembo four-piston high-performance brakes reduce stopping distance
    • Electronic shifter functions, such as a linkage shifter, provides visual and physical feedback of gear position

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April 17, 2014 , Auburn Hills, Mich. – The horsepower wars are alive and thriving, and the Dodge brand shook the foundation of the Jacob Javits Center in New York with the roaring exhaust note of its new 2015 Dodge Challenger 392 HEMI® Scat Pack Shaker model during the auto show reveal of its newest evolution of an iconic American Muscle car.

“For 2015, we’re going deep with the remake of the Dodge Challenger,” said Tim Kuniskis, President and CEO – Dodge Brand, Chrysler Group LLC. “The iconic 1971 Challenger inspired the design of this modern day muscle car, but the recreation of this classic styling extends well beneath the surface of the sheet metal. We have completely re-engineered the Challenger with a new best-in-class 485 horsepower 392 HEMI and TorqueFlite eight-speed transmission powertrain, an upgraded suspension, new class-exclusive technologies and a completely new interior.”

The 2015 Challenger is available in eight trim levels: SXT, SXT Plus, R/T, R/T Plus, R/T Shaker, R/T Plus Shaker, 6.4-liter Scat Pack and 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker (late availability for Shaker). It will be built at the Brampton (Ont.) Assembly plant. Production is scheduled to begin in the third quarter of 2014.

Building on record-setting sales success as the segment is set to grow by almost 50 percent in the next five years  
Dodge is building on tremendous sales momentum as it introduces the new 2015 Challenger. In March of 2014, the Dodge brand reached a significant milestone, with Challenger and Charger sales combining to sell a total of more than 1 million units in the United States.The previous generation Challenger scored five solid years of continuous sales growth. In fact, in its fifth year in the market, when most cars are on their natural decline curve, the Dodge Challenger set an all-time sales record in 2013, doubling sales since its launch in 2009.

Looking to the future, the standard specialty segment in which the Challenger competes is projected to grow substantially in the United States. With nearly 430,000 units sold last year, the segment is up 10 percent since 2009 and is projected to grow more than 42 percent in the next five years, giving Dodge, and Challenger, a huge opportunity to grow with it.

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New feature highlights on the 2015 Dodge Challenger include:

Improved performance

  • New class-exclusive standard TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission provides improved performance and fuel economy
  • 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 delivers 305 horsepower
  • 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 with up to 375 horsepower and 410 lb.-ft. torque (six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic)
  • New 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 with an estimated 485 horsepower with 475 lb.-ft. torque (six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic)
  • 0-60 mph in the mid-4 second range with new TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission
  • Quarter mile in low-12 second range
  • Top speed of 182 miles per hour (mph)
  • World-class stopping power with new available four-piston Brembo® brakes
  • New launch control and three-mode electronic stability control (ESC) with “full off” mode

All-new heritage inspired interior with unmatched customization

  • Fourteen all-new interiors with new retro colors, including Houndstooth, Tungsten Torque, Ballistic II premium cloth, and Pearl White or Ruby Red leather sport seats
  • New heated and ventilated performance seats available in Nappa leather and Alcantara suede
  • New Dodge race-inspired heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with available paddle shifters

Iconic exterior styling

  • New heritage-inspired split grille surround
  • New projector headlamps with halo light-emitting diode (LED) surrounds
  • New projector fog lamps
  • New heritage-inspired split LED tail lamps with Gloss Black surround
  • Retro and high-impact exterior colors ranging from Sublime Green and B5 Blue to TorRedNine wheel options, including new 20-by-9-inch lightweight forged aluminum wheels in Hyper Black II finish

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About The Author

Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly expanding automotive news magazine.He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.