2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Review
Meat and brawn, physical dexterity, the chops to take you down in one swift move. No, we’re not talking about Vin Diesel from the Fast and Furious movies. The 2011 Dodge Challenger is out for serious blood against similar muscle cars from Detroit like the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro.
Driving an all-white V8 model for a week, we found a few perks that impressed us beyond what even the Mustang 302 and Camaro SS offer (we’ve tested both souped-up versions of those cars in the past six months, including closed-track tests). The Challenger’s styling is arguably more of a throwback to the days when Starsky and Hutch were household names, but still sports fun digital perks, like in-car options for measuring braking distance calculator and a 0-to-60 timer.
That said, the Challenger has some tough competition that’s priced a hair lower. The 470-horsepower V8 Hemi model we tested costs $44,000, but even the base version with a V6 costs $24,895. Meanwhile, the base model Ford Mustang, which still has a 305-horsepower V6 engine, costs $22,310. The 2012 Camaro Coupe costs $23,200. Dodge, you have your work cut out for you convincing us.
One early point of victory for the Challenger: we definitely prefer the starting block punch. In testing the Challenger V8 against the 302 and SS, the Dodge has some immediate urgency. There’s a real thrill in punching the sport mode button, squealing the tires, and gobbling up open roadway. In our tests, we achieved a best time of 4.6 seconds using the paddle shifters in sport mode with the traction control disabled. In the quarter mile, we hit 13.28 seconds at the flag, and ran the eighth-mile in 8.80 seconds. Those times are a bit under the rated specs that are just milliseconds lower. (Times are often dependent on the tires you use, the road you’re on, and the person doing the driving.)
The reason the Challenger felt more muscular off the block is that it has a 470-horsepower engine that delivers 470 lb-ft of torque, compared to the Camaro SS (420 lb-ft) and the Boss 302 (380 lb-ft). The Challenger has a lurching, burly drive – you feel every piston. This is not a German racing machine, so the gears shifts are more pronounced and even a bit jarring. Cornering on the Challenger is meant to be boxy and road-heavy in a good way, not at all like a Corvette that glides around curves.