Review: 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Take Two

Jonny Lieberman
by Jonny Lieberman
review 2008 dodge challenger srt8 take two

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.

Grossly obese and saddled with perhaps the worst automatic transmission in recent memory, the piggish SRT8 struggled to get in front of a $500 beater. Sadly (for the Dodge) the road wasn’t perfectly straight and the acceleration featured more bog than a swamp. Forget about smoking the tires; I could barely keep the beast from sailing off into the mud. I was stunned; horrified, too. Really? This is the car everyone was making such a fuss over? Long story short, the emperor was quite naked. And fat.

Look at the numbers for a moment. You have the aforementioned 425 horses along with 420 lb-ft of twist. Huge power, on paper. Yet a 0 – 60 time of just 5.4 seconds. And a price tag of $41,045. Compare this to the Ford Bullitt, which stickers for $10k less, produces “only” 315 hp/325 torques yet can hit 60 mph in 5 seconds flat. I know (trust me, I know) that there’s more to a car than it’s zero times. But these are straight up muscle cars. There’s not really much more! I just told you what happened when you turn the wheel (numbest steering ever). One more number to chew: 4,170 pounds. No, really — that’s what this blob weighs.

I won’t even mention the Chrysler-grade interior. Instead, let’s talk exterior. Or rather, the part of the Challenger that causes so many people to be so forgiving of the car’s multiple weak (and fat) spots. Not me. I’m just not into fraud, and the Challenger — even gussied up in SRT8 trim — is a phony. A fake. It looks like the car Kowalski ran flat out from Denver to (almost) San Francisco. But it isn’t, by any stretch.

First of all, unlike the real Challenger which was smaller than the Charger, this imposter is just as big as its stable mates. Making the appeal akin to those who bought PT Cruisers because they looked like old hot rods. Ridiculous, by all accounts. There’s been some grumbling that the new for 2009 six-speed manual redeems the SRT8. I guess I’ll have to see for myself, but I’m neither holding my breath or, frankly, even thinking about it. For the record, two stars.

Join the conversation
2 of 73 comments
  • JohnDodge JohnDodge on Aug 13, 2009

    My goodness! This Challenger is much too big and powerful. It seems to have really frightened the person that started this thread. This car also seems to be very threatening to some that have posted their comments. Yes, a Mazda is a much more sensible automobile. Even better, a Mini Cooper, or a Prius! Putting a Green Peace and PETA sticker on the Challenger may help make it more politically correct. However, you still may raise eyebrows at the natural foods store, while getting your tofu and alfalfa sprouts. One final concern - the Challenger must leave a very large carbon footprint. Al Gore would not approve. He's going to save the planet you know!

  • Killerdecks Killerdecks on Aug 14, 2009

    Gas mileage on the 2009 challenger srt8. I have put 23,000 miles on my challenger since I bought it in December, about the 18th, 22mpg going more than 70 down the freeway 18.3 in the city, 17 with my foot in the pedal, tires smoking. Gas mileage in my ford f250, 12 on the freeway, 10 in the city. Gas mileage in my 4 cylinder ranger, 16/14 Gas mileage in my e350 van 12/10 Gas mileage with my 64 malibu ss 283 high performance 4 speed 12 Gas mileage with 1974 formula 350 firebird 12/10 I was really worried when i bought the challenger but now i'm so happy I want another. Killerdecks

  • Cprescott Union workers are only concerned about themselves. They don't care who else gets hurt when they throw a tantrum, er, strike.
  • SCE to AUX Not sure where that photo came from, but it wasn't Canada.
  • Arthur Dailey Very few probably share my view, but I believe that the T-roof option is well worth that price.Bring back T-Tops!!!!!!!!
  • Arthur Dailey Referred to in the day as a 'mini-Corvette'.
  • MaintenanceCosts The 3rd gen acquired an unshakable reputation as a mullet-mobile, but the truth is it was one of the best car designs of the '80s, full stop. It's a beautiful car, especially in late-'80s IROC guise, which gave it the best-looking body kit bits in body color. These late RSs look heavy and all the scoops look silly.