Unlike most new cars, the maximum width is carried well out to the ends resulting in a broad, menacing car. The very wide, horizontal grille, spoilers and taillamps accentuate the width, as does a turret-like roof and window treatment, and the haunches over the rear wheels where the roof fairs into the trunk and the character line kicks up. The proportions all seem just right, from the carrier-deck expanse of flat hood larger than most modern pickups, to the foot-high side glass and dark lower body trim, and into the massive rear roof pillars.
From the side, the SRT8 392's 20-inch wheels frame bright red brake calipers and slotted discs, filling large fender openings that are creased along the edges. Hood scoops carry Hemi badges on V8 cars and are functional in that cool air goes in or warm air vents to the atmosphere, but they do not feed cold air straight into the engine; the ducts in the spoiler direct cooling air to the front brakes and small winglets at the front wheel openings better refine airflow. The fixed side rear windows do not allow the full open hardtop of the original with its frameless doors but in a nod to that look Dodge kept the pillars behind the glass so they aren't so obvious. A bright fuel filler cap on R/T and SRT8 392 models finishes off the driver's side. The door handles look retro and stylish, but we found them hard to grab.
The SRT8 392 got the big engine change for 2011, with 470 hp on tap, making the SRT8 392 a potent car. Zero to 60 mph is in the high four-second range, the car can cover the quarter-mile in the high 12s and the manual runs past 170 mph. The torque really makes the SRT8 392 leap forward when pushed, in a way that couldn't be felt in the first SRT8 Challengers. The Challenger SXT drives a lot like the Charger because the Challenger is based on the Charger with four inches taken out between the front and rear wheels. The 3.6-liter V6 is an improvement over the 3.5 in both power and fuel economy. It has enough oomph to keep up with brisk traffic, and pass without too much fuss. Given the Challenger's extra 400 pounds, it doesn't keep up with a V6 Mustang; heck, a performance package V6 Mustang gives a Challenger R/T a fight.
The 2012 Challenger SRT8 392 has a 470-hp 6.4-liter Hemi V8 and a choice of 6-speed manual transmission or 5-speed automatic. Other mechanical upgrades include Brembo brakes, a performance suspension, a limited-slip differential, and P245/45R20 tires on polished aluminum wheels. Standard are leather upholstery, heated front seats and steering wheel, bi-xenon headlamps, trip/data computer with performance pages, and keyless access and starting. The SRT8 rear spoiler is flat black, the front spoiler deeper and ducted for brake cooling, hood scoops are functional, and the fuel filler is polished aluminum. An SRT also includes a day at the track with the SRT Experience; driver instruction well worth the effort to get there. The SRT8 392 also adds a gas-guzzler tax that runs $1000. Options include the 900-watt 18-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, high-performance staggered-size tires, red leather, moonroof, navigation and premium paints.
Challenger R/T features a 375-hp 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 6-speed manual transmission or 5-speed automatic; EPA 16/25. R/T adds automatic headlights, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated outside mirrors, body-colored rear spoiler, metal fuel filler door, dual chromed rectangular exhaust pipes, fog lamps, Bluetooth wireless cell phone link, and a USB port. Mechanical upgrades to accompany the added power include bigger brakes, firmer suspension, and quicker steering.
The center console has a mild lateral slope to the driver, with a small bin ahead of the shifter, two illuminated cupholders behind it, and space under the sliding-top center armrest. The glovebox is typical but the door pockets are split with a larger pocket at the front edge and a smaller pocket near the rear edge. The passenger door armrest has a small bin that might hold an MP3 player or pack of smokes, at least until a hard right turn. A manual tilt/telescope steering column allows plenty of adjustment and a view of the instruments. For 2012, the SRT has a new, smaller heated steering wheel with leather wrapping and metal trim that is more appropriate for a car with the Challenger's sporting intentions. It's smaller, sportier and feels better than the last one. The fingertip button arrangement is easy to use.
To preserve the ensconced feeling, the headliner is a dark material. In fact almost everything is dark. In the SRT8 392 we tested the monotony was broken with chrome highlights on the door handles, control knobs and gauge bezels, light-faced instruments, semi-glossy carbon-fiber-look center panel trim, bright leather seats, a big chrome band around the shifter that bounced sun glare all over and the new SRT steering wheel with aluminum trim. Virtually everything else inside was dark.
The 2012 Dodge Challenger boasts a distinctive look that attracts a lot of attention and positive comments. The V6-powered Challenger SXT comes with a moderate price and an improved engine, while the V8-powered Challenger R/T is a good performance value. The Challenger SRT8 392 is the ultimate performance version. Regardless, the Challenger avoids the compromised rear seat and trunk of most coupes because of its size. It's too big and heavy to be a true sport coupe, but it carries that bulk fairly well when pushed. In Hemi Orange Pearl you won't own the road but it will feel like you do.
Some information for this review was obtained from NewCarTestDrive.com
1700 E Lincoln HighwayLanghorne, PA 19047