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Autoweek Hates on the R/T

Old 12-22-2009, 02:41 PM
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Thumbs down Autoweek- Not a Big Fan of the R/T

Autoweek found a lot of faults in the R/T. Here is what it said:

"EDITORIAL ASSISTANT JONATHAN WONG: Let's get the obvious out of the way. The Challenger is not something you would take to rip around a road course or to a local autocross (unless you want to mow over a bunch of cones). It's the modern interpretation of the old-school muscle car, and because of that, I understand it falling over onto its side when you take a fast corner and the steering that feels on the numb side. What's it good at? Sitting at a stop light, looking at the guy in the next lane, giving a nod and then hitting it when the lights go green.

When you rocket away from a stop and grab the pistol-grip shifter to row through the gears, combined with the roar of the Hemi V8, it just feels right. Standing still and rolling down the road, the Challenger still turns heads, and it's something you enjoy being seen in.

The interior is put together with good-quality materials that put the cheap plastics in the Chevrolet Camaro to shame. Seat comfort is good for rolling around town, but there is little side bolster to keep you in place as you turn this big barge around a corner.

Speaking of big, yeah, this car is big. I mean it seems like it takes a long time to walk around it. The hood line is long and the trunk is big enough to hold a couple weeks' worth of groceries.

If you're looking for sports-car dynamics, then you best move on and find something else. I'll suggest the Ford Mustang if you are looking for an American pony car that can handle. However, if you want nostalgia in styling, performance and fuel economy (I averaged 12 mpg), the Challenger is your car.

SENIOR EDITOR FOR NEWS BOB GRITZINGER: Yep, it's big, bold, brash and beautiful--especially to this kid raised on these cars and their kind the first time around. It'd be nice if the Charger/Challenger models were lighter, smaller, sleeker and lower to the ground, but given what's transpired in safety regulations and vehicle development since say, 1970, this is about as good as it gets.

In a straight line, this car is lots of fun, and as long as you don't overstay your welcome, it's a reasonable runner in the corners--especially compared with its predecessors. It may seem big and heavy, but it goes, stops and corners significantly better than any Challenger from the past. We don't know how good we have it.

I particularly appreciate Dodge's attention to throwback details, like the view out over the long hood, the tightly clipped rear quarter, and on this car, the bold black striping and R/T graphics. This car looks dynamite.

MOTORSPORTS EDITOR MAC MORRISON: Good Lord, Wong, 12 mpg? Ha, goes to show you that everyone, me included, drove this car hard. Which is entirely predictable given its muscle-car personality. It really is not particularly good at anything other than lighting up the rear rubber and blasting in a straight line.

Yet it is strangely fun to drive, forcing it to take corners at high speed and managing all that bloated weight. Even though this is not the SRT version, this engine makes some good sounds and has a meaty power band.

The steering is a little too light and overboosted, and the suspension is setup very odd, if you ask me. Why in the world do I want “nostalgic body roll?” After all, there's a reason it's “nostalgic”: because such dynamics are old and out of date.

The muscle-car era Gritzinger recalls so fondly was before my time, but am I crazy to think that the guys engineering those old cars would have killed for access to today's suspension parts and modern design tools? I doubt they sat around and said, “You know, we could make car X handle a lot better, but forget it, let's keep it setup like a big piece of garbage.” So I find it a little ironic that the people setting up this car really did seem to say, “Let's give this car some of the traits no one wanted 30 years ago, because it's retro.” Of course, they would not have said it that way, but isn't that what it basically amounts to?

Really, the suspension is all that is really “wrong” with the Challenger. It looks sweet, sounds great, lights the tires--everything you would want. I just want better handling to match. And since I'm demanding things, can I get some repositioned pedals? This is not an easy car to heel-and-toe downshift in. Then again, why do I get the feeling that I might be just about the only person driving a Challenger around town and rev-matching on downshifts?

2009 Dodge Challenger R/T

Base Price: $30,945

As-Tested Price: $40,245

Drivetrain: 5.7-liter V8; RWD, six-speed manual

Output: 376 hp @ 5,150 rpm, 410 lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm

Curb Weight: 4,041 lb

Fuel Economy (EPA/AW): 19/14.6 mpg

Options: Customer preferred package 27M including premium sound, uConnect studios with satellite radio, 20-inch aluminum wheels, all-season tires, automatic headlights, body-color exterior mirrors, body-side stripe, functional hood scoop, heated front seats, leather-trimmed bucket seats, luxury floor mats, power heated/fold-away mirrors ($3,460); uConnect navigation ($1,390); electronics convenience group including illuminated cupholders, LED-illuminated interior door handles, instrument cluster with display screen, keyless go, auto-dimming rearview mirror, security alarm, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, temperature and compass gauge, mini trip computer, uConnect phone, iPod interface, universal garage-door opener ($1,260); six-speed manual transmission including track pack, 3.73 axle ratio, antispin rear differential, bright pedals, hill start assist ($995); power sunroof ($950); HID headlights ($695); blue pearl coat paint ($225); sound group II including 368-watt amplifier, seven speakers ($185); compact spare tire ($100); engine block heater ($40)."

Last edited by Cuda340; 12-22-2009 at 03:30 PM.
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Old 12-24-2009, 09:09 AM
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3 Wongs dont make it write!
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Old 12-28-2009, 02:18 PM
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I don't see why this is listed with the "thumbsdown" logo. Seems like a fairly realistic portrayal of the R/T. They acknowledge strengths aplenty, and wish the handling was tighter. Even the much maligned interior is compared favorably to a Camaro.

I think this quote sums up the verdict from AW:
"It looks sweet, sounds great, lights the tires--everything you would want. I just want better handling to match."

Which seems pretty much par for the course compared to most reviews of the R/T. They didn't get completely carried away singing it's praises, but part of their job is to point out both strengths and weaknesses.
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Old 12-29-2009, 11:14 AM
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I like what is said... with that I would say that i have not been to a track other than a drag strip. Why would anyone get an R/T and take it to a road course. Get the SRT-8. I have put eibachs or however its spelled on the car to lower it and I did it for the look. it does handle better and the look is much lower and road hugging. These reviews do seemed a little bias toward Ford, but that is their oppinion. Most of the folks who drive Muscle cars will be doing just what they say the Challenger R/T does best... looking good at the stop light and ripping through the gears. I love this car and can't go anywhere without a lot of attention. I say get one and have some fun.
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Old 01-06-2010, 02:50 PM
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I'll just be repeating the stuff everyone else says, but oh well, it's been a while.

Dodge needs a new interior, lower price, lower weight and it wouldn't hurt to put the 6.4 in just to blow them out of the water. Other than that, the car is muscle perfected.
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Old 01-08-2010, 11:32 AM
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Lear, seeing your mention of the Eibach springs reminded me of another handling related point. The R/T comes stock with all season tires, and not very super all season tires (Goodyear and Michelin are big names, but the actual tires they provide are old designs that are no better than average). The hotter models of mustang and camaro come with pirelli P-Zeros, which are bada** summer-only performance tires, hotter than even the Goodyears that come on the SRT-8 Challenger.

For what a difference they make, see p46 of the February Car and Driver talking about the difference they make on the Mustang:

"Once the P Zeros arrived, though, we would have believed that the entire suspension had been overhauled. There was noticeably more grip everywhere, leading to lap times that were worlds-more than five seconds-quicker [around VIR]."
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