By on December 7, 2016

dodge challenger GT 2017

All-wheel drive is coming to the Challenger.

In the pony car race Mopar has historically trailed behind General Motors and Ford. However, that underdog status also gives it some wiggle room to experiment. Factory all-wheel drive on a Mustang or Camaro is nearly unfathomable, but you almost expect something like this from Dodge.

The addition of a transfer case could help bolster sales of the Challenger in less temperate climes and close the gap between it and the Camaro. However, many would have preferred that FCA somehow made use of the AWD package on the Charger Pursuit V8 reserved for law enforcement. Perhaps it’s saving that as a future ace in the hole, as the LX platform has a long way to go before retirement.

dodge challenger GT 2017

Instead of the V8 Hemi everyone was hoping for, the all-wheel-drive Challenger has the same Pentastar V6 found in the base SXT. The 3.6-liter that’s slotted into the GT is good for 305 horses, matching the 2017 Subaru WRX STI. Still, no one is seriously comparing the Challenger to the rally-inspired STI — despite their closeness in price.

The V6 is is teamed up with the expected ZF eight-speed automatic transmission and transfer case from the preexisting AWD Dodge Charger. With front axle disengagement, it’s essentially the same recipe as the all-wheel variant of the sedan. The only real difference is that the Challenger comes with a little extra horsepower, eight more foot pounds of torque, and two fewer doors.

In normal driving conditions, the front axle disconnects and the GT functions as a real-wheel-drive car. Anytime more traction is needed the front wheels rejoin the party and the Challenger is, once again, an all-wheel-drive vehicle. If that isn’t to your liking, you can adjust the electronic stability control to continuously send all of the power to the rear and make the extra money you spent for AWD utterly pointless.

Other features include the familiar UConnect 8.4-inch touchscreen display, paddle shifters, and Dodge’s Super Trak Pack button. Obviously, the vehicle’s 19-inch aluminum wheels come with all-season tires for handling snowy mountain roads. The interior has nappa leather, heated and ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, metal trimmed pedals, and a 276-watt Alpine stereo. For $995, you can get the GT Interior package that adds performance seats with microsuede and an even nicer stereo system.

The 2017 Challenger GT starts at $34,490. Dodge says production should begin in January, with deliveries starting shortly thereafter. That means customers won’t need to wait another year to get their all-wheel-drive pony car into “the powder.” Of course, there is nothing stopping anyone from buying a similarly powerful Mustang EcoBoost this very second and using the ten grand they saved to convert it into a rear-drive snow rally car. However, that option would lack the plush interior, upgraded sound system, and selectively helpful front axle.

dodge challenger GT 2017

[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]

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46 Comments on “2017 Dodge Challenger GT: Fun in the Snow With a Little Less Go...”


  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    What a pointless car.

    • 0 avatar
      Steve Biro

      I respectfully disagree. I really like this car. But it’s clear that many just don’t “get” it.

      This particular Challenger variant has less to do with the Mustang and Camaro than it does two now-extinct American automobile types: The two-door, full-size coupe/sedan… and the personal luxury coupe. Think two-door Ford Galaxys and Chevy Impalas from the 60’s… a two-door Ford LTD or original Monte Carlo from the 70’s… or even a 90’s Thunderbird. Hell, how about two-door versions of Chrysler’s own Newport and the Plymouth Fury/Satellite? They were all great cars.

      Except this new one has all-weather usability. No, it’s not perfect. But, in an increasingly anodyne automotive world, this car should put a smile on the faces of its owners… while making a great long-distance hauler to boot.

      If I had the money, I’d snap up one of these in a New York minute. FCA has a number of problems and questionable products. But good for them with this one.

      • 0 avatar
        SP

        Good observation. This Challenger is actually about the same length as the MN12 Thunderbird, but a few inches wider and taller, and a few hundred pounds heavier. So it does have a lot more in common with a traditional personal luxury coupe than it does with a traditional pony car.

        Back in about 1989, Ford hired Dana Corporation to make a prototype AWD version of the MN12 Thunderbird. There was a running and driving test car. But Ford never went ahead with production plans.

      • 0 avatar
        seanx37

        Just wait 8 months. The Dodge dealers still in business will be giving them away. Given their current sales plunge, you might have to search hard for dealer still alive.

      • 0 avatar

        1967 Plymouth Fury II. 383 Super Commando V-8 Two door Coupe, full power, frigid AC Six footers could lay down in the back seat and on the front power bench seat. In the malaise era, would stomp the z28s, just don’t try to turn, it was nautical.. Stolen off the street in Boston…I’m sure for the engine. It’s likes shall never be seen again….road hugging weight, 8 mpg with A/C running.

        Got it as an estate sale car, had it a year in college. I still haven’t seen another with that option set up.

        • 0 avatar
          quickson

          My brother’s first car was a 1968 Plymouth Fury III, 4-door, 383 Commando… Police Package. This was in 1994, mind you. Something between a boat and a tank, and yeah, you could fit 8 people comfortably over the two benches. 0-60 was one thing…. 60-100+ was a whole other. Hurtling that thing between Denton and Ft Worth on weekends was a terrifying pleasure. I could never handle , as I drove “compacts” like the Dodge Dart and early Barracuda.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I really really like this. But making the base Hemi available would be so much better.

    • 0 avatar
      MrIcky

      I agree, but I remember reading that the v8 and front diff are just too big for the Challenger. It would be interesting to try out this car though and they have Pentastar supercharger kits already.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Any word on the torque/hp limits of the AWD system?

        That would be my concern with supercharging.

        • 0 avatar
          MrIcky

          I know the Pentastar’s have been safe for jeepers up to 400hp. And ya, the AWD is the same as it was for the hemi chargers so it should be safe at least to 400/400.

      • 0 avatar
        caltemus

        Did they ever offer the V8 and AWD in the sedans?

        • 0 avatar
          PenguinBoy

          Yes, AWD was offered with the 5.7 V8 on the 300 & Charger right up until the last refresh. I seem to remember reading that the V8 + AWD option was discontinued due to low take rate, not problems with the torque capacity of the system.

          The SRT Jeep currently offers AWD with the 6.4 litre V8, so they have a high torque AWD system in their parts bin.

          • 0 avatar
            Hemi

            Owned a 2013 Charger RT AWD with the Hemi. It was a beast in the northeastern snow and never got stuck. Passed many stuck crossovers and CRVs in uphill snowy roads with the factory 19 all seasons. With snow tires that car is a tank from what I’ve seen. I drove a lot through many snow storms with not a single issue. Obviously limitation was the front clearance with unplowed snow. Went on many ski trips and unplowed shit NYC streets with 0 issues.

            When it warmed up outaide the car remained rwd, unless it detected slip or rain/snow. That thing would launch HARD from a dead stop in awd. I loved it and thought I’d never trade it in. I then sat and drove the 2015 6.4 SRT and ended up trading it in. I had almost 40k trouble free miles when I traded in.

            Sadly the Hemi AWD car had a lower take rate and I got similar mileage as most V6 charger owners. As always more people “talk” about buying vs actually buying. The V8 and Awd combo is available, but only in the police configuration obviously not available to general public directly.

             Check out this short video to see the AWD system in action.

             https://youtu.be/cV6aZ9XwhqI

        • 0 avatar
          tinman93

          I had a 2012 AWD Charger with the Hemi. Easily my favorite car. Never had an issue in any type of weather. It was fun, powerful, and comfortable on long road trips. Used to regularly drive to TN and would get in the middle of 20+ mile runs on the interstate with Camaros, Mustangs, BMWs etc. well in excess of the posted speed. Never had a problem hanging with any of them.
          Great car, and despite the reputation I never had a mechanical or quality issue with it. Unfortunately, circumstances changed and I had to trade it away. Replaced it with an Accord coupe. Hated that car with a passion, but that’s another story…

  • avatar
    Speedygreg7

    How does the front axle disconnect in this system? Is the front driveshaft always powered and the disconnect occurs at the front differential or is the disconnect at the transfer case? Is there a center differential or is it a clutch pack that locks up?

  • avatar
    Brumus

    “Obviously, the vehicle’s 19-inch aluminum wheels come with all-season tires for handling snowy mountain roads.”

    Nope.

    So-called all-season tires (read: three-season tires) will not competently handle snow and ice in the mountains or anywhere else with real winters. Winter conditions require winter tires.

    • 0 avatar

      Word.

      Source-two RWD cars with snow tires. Everyone thinks I live dangerously

    • 0 avatar
      Nick_515

      Correct! My quattro doesn’t mean squat with all-seasons in cold temperatures, and I have learned to be careful. Not as much as I’d have needed to be if the audi had true rwd-driving characteristics. That heavy nose does tend to stay upfront, so I still typically am the fastest on snowy roads. As long as there are no sharp curves. All-seasons are not good at all on snow. Michelins OR continentals.

  • avatar
    Rochester

    Regardless of trim model, the truly unfortunate thing about the Dodge Challenger is that the interior looks like a Dodge Challenger.

    • 0 avatar
      Hemi

      You haven’t seen the new generation interiors I take it.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      The 2015+ interior is a pretty nice place to spend time. Lots of soft-touch material all over the cabin and nice surface graining compared to the Charger interior which has an odd, overly aggressive grain on the I/P and door trim panels.

      Yes, the Challenger is no Bentley or Rolls-Royce replete with polished wood panels, organ-stop style HVAC vent pulls and leather-wrapped everything, but it’s also not $200,000 either.

  • avatar
    SP

    Future oddball collectible here.

  • avatar
    legacygt

    It’s pretty amazing what Dodge has been able to do with the Challenger over the years. Comparisons to the Mustang and Camaro are legitimate. The three cars are clearly competing in the same space. And the Challenger has been in 3rd place pretty much throughout. But here’s the thing. Ford and Chevy have invested heavily in the Mustang and Camaro and they are great cars. The Challenger is a little less great but the investment has been minimal. It exists through a combination platform sharing and parts bin raiding. As a result it’s too big and too heavy. Its design is derivative. Yet, it still looks great. And through a combination of marketing and special editions and some exciting powertrain options, this car competes. Again, it will finish 3rd in just about any comparison test but it’s doing so with minimal investment and it’s putting smiles on the faces of a lot of customers. The GT reflects yet another trip back to the parts bin that will result in an offering that Ford and Chevy can’t match. Good for them.

    • 0 avatar
      Hemi

      I still think they have shifted focus, the Camaro and Mustang don’t seem to be muscle cars in the traditional sense anymore. They seem to be moreso European sport cars. They have insane handling, great power and will easily go toe to toe and beat a M4. The Challenger on the other hand has huge space in back seat and trunk. Comfy long distance cruiser and all out crazy V8 power.

      Check the forums or youtube the Charger and Challenger 6.4s are running easy low 4 sec 0 to 60 mph sprints and low 12 sec 1320 times. With just slicks, they are running easy 11s for such heavy ass cars. They can keep up with any M3/4 , SS and Mustang, but noway in handling.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Oh there you go…

    …Perhaps it’s saving that as a future ace in the hole, as the LX platform has a long way to go before retirement…

    And if you play follow the links TTAC has the audacity to suggest the LX cars are based on E-Class technology from 2005. Don’t you know that isn’t true. ;-)

  • avatar
    NeilM

    Wonder how much weight that adds to the front end?

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    Put a hitch on it and use it to pull snowmobile trailers in the winter. What’s it rated to tow? A two place open trailer won’t be over 1500 lbs loaded.

    • 0 avatar
      bryanska

      My AWD 300 is rated for 1000, but I see the frame is drilled and threaded for hitches, and I know many people on a forum who tow more than 3000 lbs. The same transmission has a higher tow rating in other cars, I think. Add a transmission cooler, and a cop radiator (1/2 add’l thickness), and you should be fine. For short distances the 1500lbs should be no issue as-is.

  • avatar
    MeJ

    What does it weigh now? About the same as an F-350?

  • avatar
    bryanska

    Really no big deal here. It’s the same AWD system they’ve been using on the LX since 2009.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    My 2016 Challenger SXT Plus (Plum Crazy!) is a complete throwback to the 1979 Dodger Magnum XE/GT. I could not afford a $9,000 automobile then (my first car was a 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme Holiday Coupe for $725). I can afford to lease a $33,000 Challenger today.
    The AWD is similar to the system on my 2005 Magnum SXT. Great design, wonderful road-hugging response.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      When I was in my late teens, I had a Charger that came out before the Magnum. That’s probably why I have a bit of a soft spot for these things.

      If I was in the market for a large long distance highway car one of these with V8 and 6MT would be on my list.

      I’ve never owned a modern Mopar, so I’ve never been scarred by any of the stuff that came out during the Bob Eaton cost cutting, Daimler decontenting, or Cerberus bankrptcy era. At least my early experiences with my big block Charger and /6 Valiant was pretty positive! Despite FCA’s current reputation, I would be willing to roll the dice on one of these – andecdotally, the folks I’ve known with LX cars and Dodge / RAM trucks have been pretty happy with them, and it’s not like my Japanese cars have been bombproof…

  • avatar
    TTCat

    Add a manual transmission and a turbo option for the Pentastar, and you might have something I’d at least look at…

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    Since there’s already an AWD Charger and 300, this should be brain dead simple. And yes, they need a Hemi version, even if it’s just the base Hemi.

    Going way back in time, Ferguson in England converted a ’70 Plymouth Fury to AWD for the Michigan State Police, and they also converted two (or three, the exact number is still unknown) ’65 Mustangs to AWD:

    https://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2014/07/03/one-of-three-ferguson-all-wheel-drive-mustangs-visits-the-saratoga-automobile-museum/

  • avatar
    cak446

    Sweet, a sporty RWD car with a transfercase and AWD capabilities! I think there is a sizable market for this car in any place that experiences freezing winter conditions. It’s the best of both worlds for someone like me who lives in Canada. This car is a good start, but there is a few shortcomings in my mind:

    – No V8
    – No manual
    – Although you can select RWD, I’m sure it defaults back to AWD, every time you restart the car. This would be annoying for the majority of the months of the year that AWD isn’t needed. Although I guess disabling traction and stability controls with a car like this would be routine you’d do every time you start the car.
    – No option to lock the t-case for 50/50 power distribution. As a owner of a Ram 1500, which has a transfer case that never actually locks up, I know first hand how annoying a rwd based on-demand 4wd system can be in the winter.

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      Don’t get your hopes up. Remember, it’s 2016; they’re not going to allow this to be fun to drive. It will probably be on-demand AWD only, with the same sort of delayed-reaction transfer case design and non-defeatable stability control as your Ram.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Last winter, I took a 2016 Chrysler 300S AWD to compete in a Rally Cross Ice Race. In the non-studded AWD class of 11 cars, I took 5th in a roster that looked like this:

        1. WRX
        2. WRX
        3. WRX
        4. WRX
        5. Chrysler 300
        6. WRX
        7. WRX
        8. WRX
        9. WRX
        10.WRX
        11.WRX

        It is an on demand system, but it responds quickly and the stability control isn’t overly invasive. If you get really gnarly with it for prolonged periods, the ESC will eventually give up.

  • avatar
    Tandoor

    A Mustang as a snow rally car? The back end is so fast it likes to go first around corners.
    As far as the AWD Challenger not having a hemi, the V6 already has 305 HP. You’re going to need a light foot in the snow no matter how many axles are driven.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      A Mustang as a snow rally car?

      Yeah I owned a G-body Cutlass Supreme with V8, rwd, and a posi-trac. It was still stupid easy to break the rear end loose or hit a corner too fast and have oversteer.

      Even with all the modern stafety/stability systems I’d still want snow tires for a RWD daily driver.

  • avatar
    binksman

    People like to knock the Challenger as an also ran to the Mustang and Camaro, but I have to wonder how many have actually had seat time in any.
    For the next few years I’m in a sweet spot of time where my two kids only need booster seats or are short enough that they can fit in the rear seat of pretty much any two door vehicle. Like I said, a short window of life where the vehicle qualities I need (room for a family of four, relative comfort, and cargo capacity) can match up with the vehicle qualities I want (FUN- not autocross handling, but on the other end of the scale from a minivan or CUV). And where we live in central PA there are hills and small municipalities that plow either too often or not enough depending on the tax base. It’s hilly here, and its hilly everywhere we would drive (northeast to CT or SW to TN). Even without snow, we often drive on unfinished roads where AWD is the difference between an uneventful errand or an “adventure” with whiney kids and a nervous spouse.
    A few weeks ago I had the urge to drive a convertible so I headed to the local Chevy dealer and looked at a new Camaro. With the driver’s seat where I need to be, the Camaro doesn’t have room for kids. My three-year-old had his knees up as high as I do I try to climb in his refrigerator box castle. So we went down to the road to the Ford dealer. The demographics in our area mean the Ford dealer has a VERY limited variety of vehicles for sale. There was ONE Mustang inside. Same situation with the seats as the Camaro.
    My take away is that while the Mustang and Camaro are probably excellent drivers cars, I will never know because I always need to be able to haul a passenger in the back seat. A Camaro that is fine for single folks, or a parent who never drives their kids anywhere, or people who think owning their dog is the same experience as me raising my children.
    We went back up the road to the Dodge dealer. Lucky for me and my 3 year old who likes most things I do, the first one we saw was a bright red Challenger Scat Pack. My kid had as much room as in my extended cab truck which we use as often as the Jeep with no complaints. I had so much fun I found myself thinking that I could replace my motorcycle with a Challenger. I never have time to ride the bike because of kids. With the Challenger I could enjoy the drive EVERY DAY. If I had any complaint, it was that I was always concerned I was going to break the tires loose. I hate buying tires.
    By the time I got back to the dealer, I liked the idea of the AWD Challenger GT more and more. I have driven the Pentastar 3.6 in a Charger Ralleye Edition matched to the 8-speed auto, and it’s actually a really good setup. With that much gearing, decent shifting, and near-as-almost-to-that-it-doesn’t-matter 300 hp to play with, it really didn’t feel like I was driving a ONLY a V6. It was more fun than any of the V6 engine vehicles I have rented in the last couple years and it didn’t have the lazy feeling you get from V8 when connected to an automatic.
    I could really enjoy the Pentastar drivetrain in the same way you can enjoy flogging a small displacement motorcycle at its limits, not your limits. And the LX platform AWD system only ever send 35% of its power to the front wheels so it maintains controllable understeer rather than pucker or pant-staining oversteer that almost all AWD and 4WD vehicle have. Throw some snow tires on it for winter weather and I don’t see how you can lose.

    Our Jeep needs replaced regardless. I don’t buy without test driving, but I will be looking for a chance to drive a Challenger GT.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      You could always drive an AWD Charger if you just want to get a general feel of the AWD system. Of course it has a slightly longer wheelbase, so that may affect dynamics somewhat.

      I just bought (late Sept.) a V6 SXT Plus with the “Super Track Pak” (everyone shortens it to STP) option, which includes a shorter axle ratio and makes the vehicle feel a lot snappier than non-STP cars. The extra bonus of bigger brakes, lower ride height, Bilstein shocks, paddle shifters and “performance pages” was all icing on the cake – great content for the $700-ish the STP option costs.

      I’m going to be daily driving my Challenger and I live in SE Michigan. I heard rumors of the AWD model when I bought mine, but the extra weight (up front too), the fuel economy penalty (albeit slight) and the unclear timing for availability made up my mind for me. I decided to go “old school” and buy some police car steelies and proper snow tires. Glad I went the way I did as I’m still money ahead with my snow tires vs. the price of the AWD system. The AWD system plus the other options I wanted would have busted the budget anyway, even if I had wanted AWD.


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