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.
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.
[Images: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles]