One of the strangest phenomena of the revived retro muscle car wars is the renewed emphasis on V6 performance. Once derided as “Secretary Specials,” the V6 versions of the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro now make upwards of 300 horsepower, while earning EPA highway ratings that surpass the 30 MPG mark. But if these latter-day pony cars herald a new era of performance and practicality, the V6-powered Dodge Challenger is as retro as its 1970-again styling.
For a moment, turn away from the uncertain prospects of Chrysler’s Fiat-directed future and consider the subject of this review as nothing other than one entry in the popular five-door hatchback segment of the North American compact car market.
That’s what I had to do, anyway, in order to rationalize driving and writing about a vehicle that a lot of folks would justifiably consider to be a loser car from a loser car company. The question is, is it really?
Puerto Vallarta is a lovely vacation spot for fans of beauty and tranquility mixed with unique Pistonhead sightseeing opportunities. Take the Chrysler K-car: a stateside rarity, but not an uncommon vehicle in a country known for taking our tired, neglected automobiles, giving them a new lease on life. But I never saw a Dodge Caliber or Neon on the roads of Puerto Vallarta. Ever. While Iacocca’s turnaround machine never died in Mexico, the rest of Chrysler’s small car lineup drifted away. For good reason? Cue the Dodge Boyz’ rebadged Hyundai Accent: the Dodge Attitude.
Read More >
Welcome to the most recent addition to our team: Roman Mica. Mr. Mica is a veteran journalist with pistonhead proclivities. He’s fully committed to telling the truth about cars; so enjoy his contributions while he can still get press cars. I joke. A bit. Anyway, with our limited editorial budget, we’ll be linking to Mr. M’s website tflcar.com. Every damn time. Both here in the text, and in the linkage area. So get used to it, and the most excellent videography provided by Roman’s twelve-year-old son. BTW, why would the Challenger be pissed-off that it has a 425HP engine? Just sayin’ . . . Hey, how about we send Baruth over to give Roman a little driving lesson?
Smart consumers know there are plenty of ways to save money on one’s chosen hobby while preserving enjoyment and/or utility. A Gibson Les Paul Studio is very nearly as good a guitar as a Les Paul Standard, and it costs half as much. The Allen-Edmonds MacNeil uses the same Horween shell cordovan as the Alden Long Wing and can often be had for up to a hundred dollars less. The Omega Speedmaster does everything a Rolex Daytona does except create the false impression that one has won an iconic American race. With that said, here’s eight thousand dollars that you would be a fool to “save”: the price gap between the Dodge Challenger R/T Classic and the Challenger SRT-8.
Review: 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T Track Pack “Classic” Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 3/5 Stars
TTAC’s Best and Brightest don’t need proof that Chrysler dealers are in a world of hurt. Still, seeing their misery displayed on a LED sign by the side of the road rubs salt into the wound. 76% off 2009 Dodge Ram Trucks! And this was before Chrysler filed for Chapter 11, from a dealer that dodge the ChryCo dealer cull bullet. Fine print? Lots. Slime-filled sales tactics aside, it’s only a matter of time before the real liquidation sales arrive. If so, is Dodge’s most basic of workhorses worth a look?
Review: 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 ST Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 2/5 Stars
Let us drive then, you and I, while the morning is spread out against the sky like a crash victim autopsied upon a table. Let us drive, up winding rain-slicked streets, the chattering traction control and sideways exits in too-narrow lanes . . . All apologies to T.S. Eliot, but what you are about to read can only be characterized as The Love Song of A Supercharged Viper. I was a fan of the 500-horsepower new-generation SRT-10 when it arrived in 2003, fell in love with the variable-cam 600-horsepower variant in 2008, and was utterly smitten by the final Viper ACR when I drove it at Chrysler’s proving grounds last year. With this 750-horsepower, ACR-inspired droptop, however, PRI has created the fastest rental car available in the United States, and that means it is interesting.
Review: 2006 Dodge Viper, Paxton Novi Supercharged Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 5/5 Stars
The hand held radio crackled, “Pace car, flag’s on the white RX-7. Get in front of him.” I was at the first ever 24 Hours of LeMons race to be held in Kershaw, South Carolina. I was behind the wheel of a Vitamin C Dodge Challenger SRT8 with a 6.1-liter Hemi good for 425 hp. We were using it to pace the race. My job was to get in front of a 1981 Mazda RX-7 running under yellow. No problem. 370 cubic inches of American muscle against a wretched 26-year-old rotary? I was about to be the Godzilla to his Japan. Hell, I’d even light it up a bit– give the crowd something to cheer about. Yeah right. I could barely get in front of the Mazda, let alone woo the teeming masses.
My remedy for advanced bailout fatigue (and looming cold December): two weeks in Hawaii. I decided to leave the choice of rental cars in the hands of the island gods. And they spoke, with more wisdom and prescience than I might have imagined. Turns out that escape from the bitter truth about The Big 2.8′s death rattles is impossible, even on the most remote islands on the globe. How else could I be comparing a Dodge Charger with a fifteen-year old Toyota Camry?
With waning interest in full-size pickups, all the major players have hit the market with a resounding thud. While the dee-luxe apartment in the sky is safe and clear for GM and Ford’s power players, the squeeze play can take the pie away from lesser-known trucks: those that do less, but cost more than expected. That said, now’s not a good time to be the mid-size Dodge Dakota.
Review: 2009 Dodge Dakota Crew Cab ST 4×4 Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 1/5 Stars
In 1976, Volkswagen introduced the world to the Rabbit GTi. The German pocket rocket defined a whole new class for entry-level lead foots. The DNA was simple; a lightweight, nimble chassis coupled with a high-revving fuel efficient motor, a couple of doors and a lift-gate at the back. The hot-hatch was born. Since then, grace has been replaced by grunt. Two hundred horsepower is the starting line. The Mazdaspeed 3, new GTi, and MINI Cooper S lead the way from across the ponds. Stateside, the Dodge Caliber SRT-4 and Chevrolet HHR SS bring more mass and muscle to the party. They may be a two-door stretch to the original definition, but hot and hatched they are. So are either of the latter two worth your money?
March of 1996. I was a college kid desperate for a Florida spring break, with nothing other than my 34-year-old Thunderbird for wheels. The Ford was un-restored, and I was far from the capable wrench-turner I am today. But it didn’t matter. I was going to Florida. In my car. With no fear. Well, not at first, anyway. Before long, I-75 became increasingly rural, and all vestiges of metro-Atlanta quickly faded away. As the sun sank low, my mind began amplifying each squeak, rattle, and groan. I suddenly realized that if my old T-Bird was going to put me down, I’d rather it happen while I was still relatively close to home. With all the discretion and restraint 21-year-olds are famous for, I decided to floor it and see what happened.
Review: 2009 Dodge Ram 1500 SLT Quad Cab Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
Many film buffs consider Richard Sarafian’s Vanishing Point an existentialist masterpiece. Kowalski had no real reason for going balls-out to San Francisco– other than the drive itself. Pistonheads argue that Kowalski’s ride, an arctic white 1970 Dodge Challenger, was reason enough. Yes, well, Mopar’s E-body entry to the late sixties ponycar parade was short-lived. Dodge only moved 165k units before ‘The End” flashed-up on the factory floor. With today’s Pentastar losing market share faster than a celebutante shedding clothes at a pool party, the recreated Challenger is carrying a lot more weight these days. So, is there any there there?
2009 Dodge Challenger SXT (V6) Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
There was a time when a muscle car’s only traction control was in your right foot; when the human utricle and saccule were the world’s finest yaw sensors. Sadly, those days are gone forever. Yes, but… Let's get one thing straight. The original Challenger was no muscle car. And when Dodge’s pony car performance met (and lost to) emissions controls and fuel economy, the little demon turned into a compact luxury coupe of questionable Mitsubishi heritage. Fast forward to the frenzied pace of the Barrett-Jackson Pimp-O-Rama and the next logical iteration was obvious: the Challenger is now a true Muscle Car.
2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars
I drink Espolon tequila. It's not a matter of taste, smoothness or snobbery. Veteran drinkers– like car buyers– know it's always better to buy top shelf hooch to minimize the inevitable after-effects. Get drunk on the cheap and you pay the price (the old "I have to get better so I can die" routine). By the same token, buy a Dodge Durango and it will burn all the way down to the pit of your automotive soul, leaving you with a hangover that will last years. Where's the fun in that?
2008 Dodge Durango Limited Review Car Review Rating
Overall Rating: 2/5 Stars