By on October 21, 2010

The Challenge is on to stay competitive with a V6, which have become the V8s or yore. Anything less than 300 hp just won’t do, and the new 2011 Challenger does, just barely, with 305. The new Pentastar V6 has found its way into Dodge’s porky pony, and Chrysler is mighty proud of it. (See full press release here). Its lighter, cheaper to build, more efficient and powerful; what’s not to like? It still leaves the Challenger at the back of the pack.

Weight is the enemy. Packing four hundred pounds more than the 305 hp Mustang V6, but with less torque, the Challenger V6 is doomed to keep eating its dust. The Camaro will likely be duking it out with the Challenger for also-ran status, although it packs a few extra horses (312). Undoubtedly, the new Challenger V6 will be a huge improvement over its long-in-tooth predecessor. Giddiup.

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53 Comments on “V6 Pony Wars Heat Up With New Pentastar Challenger...”

  • avatar

    Life is good with a large V6 these days – but you are right – With vehicle weights creeping up towards the 4,000 lb mark – sportiness is starting resemble the big Chevelles, GTO s and Torinos.

  • avatar

    The Challenger may be the slowest and not the best handling…but it’s still number one for a big reason…styling.
    The Mustang looks like warmed over bread…it’s looks are neutered and not aggressive at all.  The Camaro, while still a great looking car, needs to be tweaked.  The windows need to grow, and the pillars need to shrink.
    For all intents and purposes…the Challenger is the whole package….and my first choice of the three above followed by the Camaro…the Mustang comes somewhere between a segway and walking…just too “limp-wristed” for me.

    • 0 avatar

      Would a P71 Crown Vic be more to your liking?

    • 0 avatar

      How is a car that is “slowest and not the best handling” somehow “the whole package”?

    • 0 avatar

      Would a P71 Crown Vic be more to your liking?
      As much as I like RWD and a V8…I would say no. The 4.6 has been utter garbage for years…and the whole platform would need an update.  That being said…I would take one over the awkward looking, FailWD, V6 jellybean that is the Taurus.  Nothing about the Taurus is appealing.
      How is a car that is “slowest and not the best handling” somehow “the whole package”?
      Because the styling was nailed (biggest factor) and despite being slower than the Camaro and Rustang…it’s still a quick car.  But a Muscle car is about flash…something that the Rustang hasen’t an ounce of and the Camaro, while close, needs more of.

    • 0 avatar

      So, the car with the best performance and is the only one that’s available as a convertable isn’t the “flashiest”.

      To me the Camaro is the worst looking of the bunch. the front end doesn’t flow smoothly to the back end. While I like the Challanger’s looks the best, it doesn’t come in a convertable. If I’m buying a pony car, I want the total experience.

    • 0 avatar

      The Challenger is the best looking but that’s about it.  I never knew that the best muscle car was defined by looks and not performance.  Using that new standard then I guess the Challenger is the best.  However, if we go by the old standard – where performance was king – the Challenger is still a dud and the “Rustang” (My god, that is so witty) will still keep the Challenger where it belongs: all the way in the back.

  • avatar

    Funny… all I see in that pic is one real ponycar, and two grossly overweight, half-baked posers.

    Kudos for the helpful color-coding of same.

    • 0 avatar

      Challenger was never intended to be a “real pony car”, it is built off a full sized car platform. It was never a pony car in 1970 either as it was heavier than a Stang or Camaro then also, but as today it could carry an average adult in the back seat …even one that had legs.
      Not every buyer plans on taking these cars to the track, and I’m betting most v6 buyers couldn’t care less about beating the “competition”, only about how the car meets other needs and desires.

    • 0 avatar

      “Not every buyer plans on taking these cars to the track, and I’m betting most v6 buyers couldn’t care less about beating the “competition”, only about how the car meets other needs and desires.”
      Is logic and mature thinking allowed here?
      I am Obbop, a Disgruntled Old Coot, and I approve LXbuilder’s post.

    • 0 avatar

      “…and I’m betting most v6 buyers couldn’t care less about beating the “competition”, only about how the car meets other needs and desires.”

      So why then, oh wise ones, don’t Gov’t Motors and Fiasler install low-rent 4-bangers in these cars, if the target buyers only care about looks and convenience features?

      Face the facts: both the Challenger and Camaro are built off antiquated, overweight, discarded platforms that are not in any way optimized for the role of a true performance car. (For that matter, so is the ‘Stang… but at least it weighs significantly less.)

      Posers. Nothing but.

  • avatar

    Incremental updates, even if not to the point of being class leading, should be encouraged.  We should not criticize them for not saving up for the next big grand slam (i.e. a 350 HP V6 or similar), as they might wait too long…
    If they don’t cut-and-paste the recent raft of Dodge interior changes into the Challenger though I’d hold off.  It’s coming, and probably soon if not for ’11.

  • avatar

    Mechnanically I’d go for the ‘Stang, but I’m still not convinced by the 2010 styling update. The front end looks better, but something still doesn’t sit right with the whole design. I know the Challenger is heavier and sitting inside it gives you ‘bunker vision’, but overall the looks are spot on.

  • avatar

    It would be interesting to know at what point car companys will stop increasing HP numbers and start focusing on other areas to improve performance.  I know that HP sells but I think that at some point the brakes, suspension, and tires necessary to keep the car from becoming a death trap at 400+ HP becomes prohibitivaly expensive for the average consumer to afford.  Think about, it just 10 years ago 400+ HP used to be the exclusive territory of super cars.  Now you buy a car with that kind of power for about $30,000.  I just don’t see the $20,000 brake packages available on todays super cars becoming anywhere near affordable to the average consumer in the next 10 years.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree that they should focus on other things…but it mainly comes down to weight. The supercars of yore didn’t weigh 4000lbs. The tires, suspensions and to large extent are probably fine for the cars “sports cars” of today, decent limits with forgiving warning signs.

      The brakes may not be sized for repeated track use, but they’re hardly “deathtraps”. Have you read the 60-0 on any of these cars???

  • avatar

    The V8 is an integral part of this car’s character.  I don’t care how many horses the V6 has, it’s just wrong.  Like a Porsche SUV or an automatic Miata.

    Just like those wrongs, this will probably sell better than the real thing.

    • 0 avatar

      No, I think you need to learn to like smaller engines with greater power.
      Like VW has done forever, take a small engine and get the best from it.
      I am not a racer, just a goofball that won’t grow up, but I do notice when the engine is smaller I get a better feel of the car when driving the mountains.
      (I WISH my wife will let me get another stick!)
      To me it is only a matter of time when Ford starts putting the 3.5 ecoboost into the Mustang.
      I’m not sure exactly how the engine is designed or even the tech involved with making the engine work with RWD.
      Is there a difference and can it be done?

    • 0 avatar

      I’m with TrailerTrash on this. The pony cars were always available with 6 cyl. engines, and in the Camaro’s case, a 4 cyl!

      I have preferred looks over brute power – power costs money and in my opinion, is wasteful for the sake of a cheap thrill, but that’s just me.

    • 0 avatar

      You seem to have forgotten the 2.3 lt Mustangs

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t misunderstand me.
      I crave power! Never enough power….
      I just think it can be gotten in smaller engines.
      In fact it is going to have to be more and more

    • 0 avatar

      I’ll have to chalk one for the V8, if for nothing else, the aural pleasure. When you hear anything from a old 5.0, Mod motor or LSX engine with a decent exhaust lift off or heel toe downshift…

      I had the pleasure of hearing a new 911 Turbo go down the striaght at the local track followed by a V8 Vantage. One sounded like a blow dryer, the other was pure sex!

  • avatar

    Is the Pentastar Challenger going to have dual exhaust outlets and offer a manual transmission?
    Although I’m not a manual-transmission snob, the Mustang 3.7 and Camaro LS/LT are considerably crummier in their automatic versions.  The Mustang especially.  It is practically an entire different car with the stick.  I’d expect the Challenger SE to be the same way.

  • avatar

    Where’s the Genesis Coupe, which has the same HP and price?

    • 0 avatar

      I’m fairly confident that the Camaro,Mustang and Challenger crowd don’t consider a Genesis as a viable alternative.

    • 0 avatar

      @mikey: You may be right, but Motor Trend picked the GC over the other three back in April –

  • avatar

    When the Camaro gets it’s eventual redesign expect to see it longer, lower and wider with steeper raked windshield, narrower windows and a lower seating position. Gotta keep pursuing sportiness until any remnant of ergonomics and visibility are excised out of the design.

    • 0 avatar

      I think they’ve pretty much reached that point already.  And the Challenger and Mustang aren’t far off, either.

    • 0 avatar

      I test drove a new Camaro, and compared it the 4th gen Camaros, Great visibility if you are looking straight ahead or to the left. I had lots of major blind spots thanks to the low roof, a long torso on a 6’2″ frame and a rear view mirror that I could not move out of the way enough to see who’s about to pull out of an intersection.

  • avatar

    Back in 1970, a couple of 10ths difference between these cars might have been a decisive factor in the purchase decision. Back then the likely purchaser was 20 something and competitive performance really mattered. Today’s purchaser, a fiftyish, balding guy with a paunch is not likely concerned too much.
     The styling and features will sell the car (or not) as long as performance is roughly comparable. I don’t see many of any of these cars, in any version driven by people much under 40. I am sure at least 50 percent of the Mustang convertibles, for instance, were sold as rental cars in Hawaii.
     Low ET is not very important to the demographic these cars sell to.

  • avatar

    I agree with tiredoldmechanic. We all either remember or have heard stories how people in high school or thier early 20’s all had the original muscle cars. Stories like “I had a Road Runner and my buddy had a GTO” etc etc. Why were these cars in the hands of this demographic then, but only seem to be afforded by middle aged guys with money these days. What happened? No young person can afford these cars today, at least not in the V8 version, which would be the equivelent of what poeple were referring to what they had back then. It was always the big block version. Maybe not Hemis or LS6s, but 383, 440 and 396s for sure.

    • 0 avatar

      I think I can shed some light on this. In my case, I’m a couple of years younger than the young guys who wanted these cars when new. Got my license just before the gas crisis and was stucjk driving the dumb VW beetle automatic that, had I had the chance, would have dissuaded my father from buying. Once I got my own cars, they were somewhat clapped-out muscle cars. That’s why I can say that I owned a ’69 Mach I with a 351 and a four speed and a ’71 Challenger with a 440 and a four speed. They were incredibly cheap. The Mustang lost a timing gear and I traded it straight up for the Challenger. The Challenger came with a broken  transmission tailshaft housing and I ended up trading it (again straight up) for a ’70 Triumph GT-6+.

      No one wanted used muscle cars in the mid-to-late ’70s and the prices reflected that. I bought the Mach I in ’77 for $400. It was Highland Green with a red driver’s-side door and a red passenger-side front fender. It had a hole in the muffler and it was missing the front valance, bumper and turn signals. It also had some rust in the bottom of the rear quarters. But I drove that car every day (enjoying it all the while) until it broke. Being broke at the time, I couldn’t afford to fix it.

      But to answer the question, if the Challenger is available with a stick, I’d give it serious consideration as my next car. I really like the way the car looks.

    • 0 avatar

      Many young people did buy these cars, or, in the case of one teenager I knew who was a year younger than I was at the time (1968), he was driving around town in a new ’69 Chevelle SS 396 convertible with daddy’s dollar help. Me? A rusted-out ’52 Chevy I bought for $75! Then a rusted-out, rod-knocking ’61 Bel Air.

      Another thing: A young person could get a good paying job right out of high school if he avoided the draft (I couldn’t – so I joined up), especially in the early 1970’s after the lottery took effect.

  • avatar

    Can I have one with “Jessie’s Girl” written on it?
    or how about the “Depreciator”?

  • avatar

    The “gotta have a v8” crowd will never be happy with a v6. That’s why the 8 is still offered as an option.  For most of us a 300 horse V6 is more than adequate- considering the new sixes have more horsepower and torque than most of the stock small block V8’s of muscle car vintage.  With a 6-speed manual transmission/V6 combo, you also get the added bonus of great highway fuel economy.  What’s not to like about any of the new ponies (OK – poor RWD winter traction).
    What’s so great about 8 cylinders anyway?  Why not 12 ?

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Yawn, who cares if the car gets from 0-60 in 6.5 or 7.5 seconds?

  • avatar

    Darn, the Challenger is almost an SUV !!

    When I pull up next to one in an older car, the trunk of the Challenger is taller than my roof.  
    So wonder it’s so heavy!  

    Do we really need a trunk that holds 2.5 golf club sets and half of Home Depot to be a viable 2010 musclecar?   


    • 0 avatar

      That’s because it’s shortened from the Charger/300 platform. (They did the best they could with not enough money.) Seeing one beside an original Challenger reminds me of the way truck manufacturers would use a pickup cab for a one-ton truck, but it had extra grille bars and bigger fenders grafted on.

    • 0 avatar

      The Challenger is all wrong.  Too tall and too narrow.  The original Challenger was low, wide, and sleek.  This version, not so much.
      It’s like a bad facsimile, where the designers missed the essence of the original Challenger.  The same thing can be said for the new Camaro (but it has a different set of styling problems).

  • avatar

    The Pentastar will be easier to Turbo than the GDI marvels of the other 2.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    No young person can afford these cars today, at least not in the V8 version, which would be the equivelent of what poeple were referring to what they had back then.
    But also back then there was no smaller competition.  I imagine if there had been a Civic Si, things may have been different.
    Whilst I love the new pony car array, frankly their boat has sailed except for the older demographic.  I was window shopping this past Sunday, and while the Challenger is a decent package, it is HUGE.  The Camaro a little cartoonish (if they totally redo the interior to something more modern, thumbs up…quite a competent chassis), and the Mustang an overall tight package.  It took awhile for the ’10 restyle to grow on me, but I’ve grown to like it.
    Nothing like the burble of an American stroked V-8….but I love wringing out a Honda DOHC 4.
    It’s not how fast you go….it’s how you go fast.

  • avatar

    People want a V8 for the *TORQUE*….Not the HP numbers.
    Please, try to understand the relationship of HP and Torque.

    Large bore and long stroke = Effortless Launch.

    Effortless acceleration is the desire…With wonderful deep sound as secondary.

    • 0 avatar

      Right! my ’77 Chevelle has a pretty gutless stock 305, and it’s power numbers are similar to the output of my pushrod 4.0 V6 Explorer, less HP than the Six, but slightly more torque. Even coupled with it’s limp-wristed axle ratio the Chevelle is faster than the Explorer thanks to a torque peak of 250ftlbs at 2400 rpm vs 225 at around 3200 rpm. It also does it while getting slightly better mileage as well, since I don’t have to crack the throttle as much.
      It also shows up in passing ability, as the V6 works hard to accelerate the 4100 pound Explorer with a 3.73 axle, where the V8 in a 3800 pound sedan and a 2.56 axle ratio and similar sized tires as the Explorer just shoves you on up to speed, without the thrash of the six.

    • 0 avatar

      The relationship between torque and HP is simply a math equation.
      It’s not that hard to understand.

  • avatar

    I like all three. They each bring unique design and driving dynamics to the table.

  • avatar

    The Challenger’s dilemma is that it looks like a ’70’s Challenger but it is sized like the old Charger and some will probably say that the Charger should have been the Challenger due to its two door configuration.

    All of these types of cars (except maybe the Genesis), and most models in general today, weigh too much thanks to the Fed’s intrusive “I’ll save you from yourself” mentality. The Challenger is even more so in size due to its LX platform sharing (Chevrolet seems to have found a better way to tailor the Zeta platform to more than one model/size car). But there in may be one saving factor for the Challenger. Since it is aimed more at the “north of 45” crowd, it is easier to get in and out of and roomier once you are there. Agreed that 0-60 times don’t matter as much, especially with the SE’s target market. You can always buy either the R/T or SRT if hot-rodding is your goal.

  • avatar
    Eric Ethier

    To say I am a huge Challenger fan would be an understatement. I LOVE them. My dad has a Black SRT8 w/ 6-Spd.

    This line of cars had it all; best looking vehicle out there IMO, Interior was acceptable (seats are incredible!), good choice of V8s, and enough charisma overall to take over a late night show.

    However, seeing a base Challenger on the road brought tears to my eyes. Awful looking rims that are miniscule on those big doors and hips. Uninspiring engine noise and awful performance. 

    But now, the long awaited Pentastar V6 has made its way into the new vehicles. What a great day. Now is the time to get a V6 Challenger :) 

  • avatar

    My wife and I are having a running argument, she loves the Camaro, I love the Challenger. I’m more of a GM fan but I’ve owned several Mustangs and Mopars too, so I get the whole heritage thing. Plus, I’m in the target demographic for age, not income (thank you Great Recession) any more.
    I want to love the Mustang, but this generation leaves me cold for some reason; maybe if the next revision recalls the Fox bodied ones, I could get on board. The Camaro rings a lot of my bells, but not all, the Challenger looks the most like what it is supposed to look like, IMO.
    I would agree with the poster who said the Challenger is the easiest to get in and out of. A guy I know has a SRT Challenger (what fun!), and it seems like the ergonomics are good, although they should be on a vehicle that large. It’s not like you’re trying to squeeze yourself into a Fiat X-1/9…
    If the V6 Challenger is as interesting as the V6 Mustang has been reported to be, that could be a good alternative.

  • avatar

    The challenger is the only one to seat 5

    If you believe VW this is important

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