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SE Review

Old 02-27-2010, 09:53 AM
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Here is an honest (and favorable) article that appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times about the Challenger SE. This is the type of press than the SE must get if it is going to be sold in the numbers projected.

Sporty car can meet the needs of real families

February 26, 2010

BY REX ROY- SearchChicago-Autos Correspondent

Enthusiasts like to talk smack. When it comes to talking cars, itís all about horsepower, 0-60 mph times, top speed and max lat figures (thatís maximum lateral acceleration for non-car geeks). Thereís something ironic about this.

To uncover the irony, ask any car geek you know about his or her everyday conveyance. More often than not, even hard-core enthusiasts drive practical vehicles that meet their everyday needs.

When it comes time to lay down hard-earned cash for a new vehicle, enthusiasts tend to act like normal people. And normal people know price, utility, economy, reliability and value win out over performance almost every time (midlife crisis and post-lotto-winning purchases being the big exceptions).

This brings us to our subject vehicle, the 2010 Dodge Challenger SE. As far as earning kudos from enthusiasts, the SE wonít get many. Regardless, the Dodge stands out as one of the most practical pony cars around. With a base price starting at less than $23,000, it offers a whole lot of car for the money, which makes it a vehicle real people ought to consider.

Baby boomers recognize the new Challenger as a re-creation of the car they knew back in 1970. Younger drivers have likely never seen a first-generation Challenger because most rusted out of Americaís fleet decades ago. Regardless of whether the look is familiar, the design is unquestionably handsome. Eyes that werenít born when the original Challenger first appeared love the brooding grille and the powerful profile.

The current Challenger is always compared to the new Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro. In this writerís eyes, itís a styling dead heat between the Dodge and Ford, with the Chevy trailing because itís more forward-looking design not only lacks harmony but appears as a cartoonish rendering of what a modern pony car could be.

In case you didnít know, this class of vehicle is referred to as pony cars, thanks to the lead role the Mustang played in the classí creation. Of the three, the Challenger is significantly larger; weíll call it pony plus. Nine and 7 inches longer than the Mustang and Camaro, the Challenger puts its extra size to good use inside.

For example, the Dodge has five seatbelts while the Ford and Chevy have only four. Plus, the Challenger provides considerably more passenger room than its closest competitors, especially in the rear.

So what does this mean, practically speaking? It means that the Challenger can actually function as a real car that meets the needs of a real family.

The utility of the Challenger is aided by an enormous 16.2-cubic-foot trunk that is separated by folding rear seat backs. If necessary, the Challenger can even make a lumber run and carry 2-by-4s.

The style of the interior closely matches the exterior, although itís not quite as retro. For those who intimately knew the Challengerís first generation, the designers who created this latest interior missed some great cues such as the hooded center console and the Chrysler ďTuff Ē steering wheel. Despite these misses, the interior is comfortable and well equipped. An eight-way power driverís seat is standard, as is a 130-watt audio system thatís MP3 compatible.

Regarding safety, the Challengerís size helps it crash well, as confirmed by the carís five-star crash performance in government tests.

Under the Challenger SEís formidable hood is not the rompiní, stompiní Hemi V-8 so many enthusiasts love to love. A mildmannered 3.5-liter V-6 with a five-speed automatic transmission powers the SE. This makes practical sense. The V-6 Challenger is relatively easy on gas, achieving Environmental Protection Agency mileage ratings of 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

With just 250 horsepower, however, this V-6 wonít win many drag races, especially against V-6 Camaros (with 304 horsepower) and the new 2011 Mustang V-6 (305 horsepower). Lest we slip into the enthusiastís trap of valuing power over efficiency, we must also note that the newer competitive models deliver better mileage, too. This reality is a function of the Chevy and Ford having more modern V-6 engines available. For the foreseeable future, the Dodge will be stuck with this disadvantage.

However, drivers who want the Challengerís style and practicality may not care. The V-6 SE accelerates briskly and has plenty of power to spare. While itís not V-8 fast, itís certainly not slow or underpowered.

I think the twin racing stripes that were on our test Challenger actually made the Dodge feel two seconds faster 0-60 than it actually was (in the high seven-second range). Those stripes are part of the $750 Rallye Group (yes, Rallye, a Chrysler spelling from decades past). It includes the aforementioned stripes, fantastic-looking 18-inch aluminum wheels, rear spoiler and the iconic chromed fuel-filler cap.

As far as handling, the biggish Challenger doesnít feel as nimble as the smaller Mustang. However, the ride-and-handing balance of this Dodge is just about perfect for the average Midwest driver. The chassis soaks up bad roads like a comfy mattress, but without any float. And while there is noticeable body roll in long sweeping corners, the Challenger always feels securely planted. Ham-fisted drivers will likely be saved by the carís standard electronic stability control system.

Drivers who fear winter driving can dramatically improve the Challengerís on-snow performance by acquiring a set of dedicated winter tires. Thusly equipped, the sporty Dodge should be set to handle driving duties through all but the deepest snowfalls.

Over the course of a week that included plenty of snow and other forms of winter precipitation, we put nearly 500 miles on the 2010 Challenger SE. Like the 2009 Challenger R/T we evaluated last fall, this car was solid. No squeaks. No rattles. Exceptionally quiet. Along with the new Dodge Ram pickup trucks, this is easily the best vehicle Chrysler builds. Its quality appears to be on par with the leaders and I never once experienced a sticky accelerator pedal.

While the 2010 Challenger SE does not have the power Ė and smack-talking bragging rights Ė of the Challenger R/T (375 horsepower) or SRT-8 (425 horsepower), the entry-level pony car from Dodge makes good sense when considered as a total package Ė what most Americans are looking at, anyway.

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Old 02-28-2010, 01:22 PM
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This article sums up what I end up telling people when they ask about my car with a hint of disdain in their voice. It's my practical daily driver. Good post.
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Old 01-02-2019, 08:29 AM
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I am a fast car lover, This cat I have now is very fast,bit has had work done to the engine, and is running a tune, one of the fastest cars, With all that horsepower, the old muscle cars, seemed almost as fast.
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