If you put the entire 2015 Dodge Challenger lineup together in the same place, the new 707-horsepower SRT Hellcat sucks the air out of the room—figuratively and literally through the 8-liter air box and 92mm throttle body that serve the supercharger atop its snarling 6.2-liter Hemi V8. However, separated from the Hellcat—which we described in detail a few days ago—the rest of the Challenger line shows itself to be improved in a number of ways. It’s broader, too, with a new Scat Pack model and a trio of Shaker versions for V8-powered cars.
Where the 2008-14 Challengers modeled themselves on the looks of the original Challenger of 1970, the 2015s reinterpret some of the styling touches of the 1971 Challenger. The grille is newly overlaid by twin horizontal “venturis” in satin chrome, gloss black, or “Black Vapor Chrome,” depending on the model. (The Hellcat does without this grille detailing, however.) In back are twin horizontal taillight lenses set into a recessed fascia panel. Otherwise, in profile, the new Challenger is essentially the same car that Dodge boasts doubled in sales between 2009 and 2013—apparently, familiarity breeds content. Inside, circular tachometer and speedometer dials have large-diameter hubs, radial numbering, and concave faces that recall the appearance of early ’70s instruments.
Newly available for all models is an 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission, differently calibrated to meet the torque loads of the various engines in the Challenger lineup. It replaces a 5-speed automatic and is credited by Dodge for improved fuel economy throughout the lineup. Other shared technical advances include electric power steering (again except for the Hellcat), an across-the-board upgrade to the latest version of the Uconnect infotainment system, and a 7-inch thin-film transistor vehicle-information display between the tach and speedometer. New features available either standard or as an option for any Challenger include selectable drive modes that adjust steering effort, engine/transmission response, and electronic stability control settings; Dodge Performance Pages to adjust and monitor vehicle performance factors; blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-path detection; and emergency 9-1-1/roadside-assistance-call capability.
The roster of 2015 Challengers below the Hellcat (with base prices, excluding $995 delivery charge) is put together this way:
• SXT ($26,995) comes standard with a 305-horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and the 8-speed automatic. It rides on 18-inch Satin Carbon-finish alloy wheels, and sports dual bright exhaust tips and a hood with twin functional intakes. Inside is Uconnect with a 5-inch screen and AM/FM/Bluetooth-enabled audio, but an 8.4-inch screen, additional audio choices, navigation, and 9-1-1-call access are available. Also featured are a new-design leather-wrapped 3-spoke steering wheel on a tilt and telescoping column, cloth upholstery, and 60/40 split-folding rear seats. EPA fuel-mileage ratings for the V6 are 19 mpg city and 30 highway.
• SXT Plus ($29,995) adds 20-inch polished-aluminum wheels, upgraded suspension and brakes, projector fog lamps, a decklid spoiler, and a back-up camera. Interior features include Nappa-leather seats (heated and ventilated in front), a heated steering wheel with power tilt and telescope, 8.4-inch Uconnect screen, satellite radio, and Alpine audio with a 276-watt amplifier. We had a brief street and highway drive in an SXT Plus at the 2015 Challenger media preview and thought it delivered nice performance for a V6 model, with an exhaust note that was almost truly sporty.
• R/T ($31,495) introduces Hemi V8 power to the Challenger line in the form of a 5.7-liter mill that generates 375 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. Paired with the standard Tremec 6-speed manual transmission, its EPA mileage figures are 15/23, but automatic-transmission models are rated at 16/25 because they incorporate cylinder deactivation that allows the engine to run on just 4 cylinders in low-load situations. A limited-slip differential and low-restriction exhaust are included, and help the R/T to what Dodge claims are mid-5-second 0-60-mph times. Twenty-inch alloy wheels, fog lamps, and the 5-inch Uconnect system are also standard.
• R/T Plus ($34,495) brings the SXT Plus’s comfort and convenience features to the R/T, plus 3-season performance tires.
• R/T Scat Pack ($38,495, including $1000 Gas-Guzzler tax with manual transmission; $38,895 with automatic) delivers the 6.4-liter SRT engine in a cheaper package. With 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque, the 6.4 is rated at 14 mpg city/23 mpg highway with the manual, and 15/25 with the automatic. Other standard features include cloth upholstery, a manual tilt/telescoping steering column, 180-mph speedometer, Brembo 4-piston high-performance brakes, 20×9 polished-aluminum wheels and 3-season performance tires, active stainless-steel exhaust system, and 8.4-inch Uconnect.
• SRT 392 ($45,995, including $1000 Gas-Guzzler tax with manual transmission; $46,395 with automatic) has the same choice of powerteams as the R/T Scat Pack. Utilizing the standard Launch Control feature, we registered a 13.1-second quarter-mile and a 4.9-second 0-60 run on a drag strip at the preview, but Dodge reports that low-12 quarters and mid-4 runs to 60 are possible with the 6.4-liter cars. The SRT’s distinctions include wider black-finish wheels on 275/40ZR20 Pirelli tires, adaptive-dampening sport suspension, a front air splitter, an aluminum hood with a central air intake, a flat-bottom steering wheel and power tilt/telescoping column, leather seats with Alcantara-suede inserts, 18-speaker Harmon-Kardon audio system, and 8.4-inch Uconnect.
The 2015 Challenger will go on sale in the 3rd quarter of 2014. Shaker versions of the R/T, R/T Plus, and Scat Pack are listed as “late-availability” models by the manufacturer. They will feature a nostalgic engine-mounted “shaker” air intake rising through the hood in place of the standard integral scoops. Leather upholstery with “Shaker” logos will also be included with the R/T Plus and Scat Pack Shakers.