By on August 21, 2018

The year is 1982. You’re a lover of domestic sports cars, but also suffer from a distinct lack of funding in this era of American Malaise. Three updated, base model, fuel sipping rides are in your purview — all of them with four-cylinder engines.

Which one do you take home?

(Read More…)

By on August 8, 2018

2019 Dodge Challenger

I’ve always admired the Dodge Challenger for being very clear about what kind of car it is.

It is not a crossover pretending to have off-road chops. It is not a wagon pretending to be an SUV. It is not a four-door “coupe” that’s really a hatchback.

It’s simply a large American muscle car that offers a V8, loads of available power, and operates as a throwback to an era that existed before most folks younger than Baby Boomer age were born.

In short, it doesn’t mess around.

(Read More…)

By on August 1, 2018

2018 Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk front quarter

Monday’s QOTD post by Matthew Guy inquiring about some of the seriously overpriced metal on today’s collector car market got me thinking. And what it got me thinking about was the present state of cars, and if there’s going to be much worthy of collecting at a later date.

We’re in some dark times, automotively speaking. Allow me to explain.

(Read More…)

By on July 30, 2018

If you’re the proud owner of a Hemi-powered Dodge Charger, Challenger, or Chrysler 300, you probably love getting that sweet baby up to highway speeds in a hurry. However, you’re also likely fond of having the ability to stop it whenever you wish and not entering into a real-life version of the movie Speed.

We’ve got some unfortunate news. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, you might have to take a couple of extra steps to avoid that being a possibility. Fiat Chrysler has issued a recall on 2014-2016 Chrysler 300s, Dodge Chargers, and Dodge Challengers equipped with the 5.7-liter V8 and Mopar Stage 1 Performance Package powertrain control module. The 2018 Challenger SRT Demon is also affected by the recall.

Apparently, the PCM is sick and could screw with the cruise control system. You’ll definitely want to get this one fixed as soon as possible. FCA claims the defect may not just prohibit cruise control from disengaging — there’s also a possibility it could cause the car to accelerate unpredictably. That’s about the last thing you want an 800-horsepower car to do without you giving it the go-ahead.  (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2018

Image: FCA

If you went to bed last night worried that Dodge doesn’t field enough Challenger variants to satisfy your diverse driving whims, rest easy tonight. The Challenger, which harbors more personas than David Bowie, wants you to go to the dragstrip again.

For 2019, the Challenger R/T Scat Pack gives birth to a new offering that, while borrowing much of the defunct SRT Demon’s launch-assist hardware, rejects its hellish dragster predecessor’s supercharged 6.2-liter in favor of 6.4 liters of naturally aspirated grunt.  (Read More…)

By on July 19, 2018

Image: Tim Healey/TTAC

What’s something that’s really, really old, yet continues to attract a steady flow of buyers year after year? You could say the Colt 1911 and its knock-offs, and you’d be right — in fact, an old American pistol that packs a punch and never really saw the need to improve in a major way seems like an apt comparison to what we’re actually talking about.

When it first appeared on sales charts in May of 2008, the Dodge Challenger was pure throwback. A cherry to place on top of the brash, retro sundae Chrysler had constructed out of its 300 and Charger sedans. In case you missed it, last month was the 10-year anniversary of the reborn Challenger’s first full month of American sales; the TTAC crew deferred its celebrations until July 4th.

Taking a look at the sales performance of its domestic, um, challengers, it seems like the two-door Dodge might outlive us all. Will the last American passenger car on the market ride into the sunset with a supercharged roar and two smoking rear tires? (Read More…)

By on July 9, 2018

2018 Dodge Challenger GT front quarter

The gentleman next to me rotated his arm in the universal “roll-down-your-window” maneuver, even though the actual motion is completely foreign to many drivers in this era of ubiquitous electric window lifts. I did, revealing a grey-haired gentleman wearing a Naval ship hat, sitting behind the wheel of a pristine, domestic full-size half-ton pickup truck.

“I knew it’d be a young man behind the wheel of that car. That’s a young man’s car. That’s the kind of car I’d have if I were young like you.” His eyes must be failing him a bit — how else would he miss the grey in my beard? With 40 inbound like a careening freight train, I appreciate the inference that I’m a young man in his eyes, and thanked him for both his compliments and his service.

Normally, I’d end a conversation like this with a rumble of throttle in appreciation — but I didn’t want to disappoint our sailor with the sounds of a minivan engine. So I motored off in relative silence. While this V6-powered, all-wheel drive Dodge Challenger GT doesn’t have the aural pleasures of its Hemi-powered brethren, it clearly still makes people take notice.

(Read More…)

By on June 2, 2018

2018 Dodge Challenger Shakedown

When the first LX-platform Chryslers appeared in late 2004, buyers who had long grown wary of the automaker’s products took solace in the fact that the new 300 and Dodge Charger/Magnum borrowed so many components from bedmate Mercedes-Benz.

While not a direct carryover, the front and rear suspension, floorpan, and five-speed automatic transmission (among other items) all boasted German heritage. DaimlerChrysler found itself with a hit on its hands. Thirteen years later, after many updates and styling refreshes, LX cars still trundle off Fiat Chrysler’s Brampton, Ontario assembly line and into the waiting arms of North American traditionalists.

It was long expected that, after FCA hit snooze on a planned 2019 platform swap, we’d see new underpinnings for the old rear-drivers by 2021. Hold your horses, says CEO Sergio Marchionne. (Read More…)

By on May 22, 2018

Our Rare Ride today is an excellent condition example of an easily forgotten Malaise coupe from Chrysler Corp.

It is, of course, the second-generation Dodge Challenger, from 1980.

(Read More…)

By on May 2, 2018

Now approaching its fourth birthday, the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is due for a mid-cycle refresh — a pleasant surprise considering the Demon only had one year to live. We weren’t sure how much longer Fiat Chrysler intended to keep the feisty feline around, and considered the possibility that it might already be on borrowed time. But with an updated face coming for the 2019 model year, the odds are good that the Hellcat will remain in production with the rest of the Challenger lineup until 2021.

Visual changes will likely be extremely limited. Dodge understands the Challenger’s look is iconic and doesn’t want to screw up the retro recipe, so it’s once again tapping into the past in a bid to overhaul the vehicle’s current aesthetic. It’s also taking a page out of the Kellogg’s Raisin Bran playbook, as customers stand to gain a Hellcat with two scoops of goodness.  (Read More…)

By on April 24, 2018

Image: Brian Williams/Spiedbilde

What can an automaker do after its limited-run, 840-horsepower performance flagship shuffles off into the afterlife? Move the second-highest rung a little higher.

That appears to be what Dodge is planning for the Challenger. In a world filled with crossovers, electrified powertrains, and looming autonomy, the drag strip-focused 2018 Challenger SRT Demon was just the gas-slurping, go-you-own-way ticket the brand needed to earn a ton of recognition. Now that a brief run of Demons has settled into climate-controlled garages and auction blocks across the land, it’s time for Dodge to turn its attention back to the Hellcat. (Read More…)

By on March 22, 2018

Indiana State Police proudly announced the capture of a speed demon who was ripping down the highway at over twice the legal limit. The diver, 38-year old J. Jesus Duran Sandoval, was allegedly trying to break the sound barrier on the Indiana Toll Road Tuesday evening when he hurtled past an officer at an extremely high rate of speed.

State Trooper Dustin Eggert, who was merging back into traffic after helping a broken down motorist near the 45 mile marker, took chase but found the 707-horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat difficult to keep up with. At one point he found himself driving 150 miles an hour, noting that the vehicle he was pursuing continued to pull away as he radioed for backup.  (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2018

2018 Dodge Challenger Shakedown

Law enforcement officials across the nation will be eager to learn about Dodge’s new Shakedown package for the Challenger and … oh, what’s that, Steph? Not that kind of shakedown? Alright then.

In an effort to inject a bit of interest in a car that was introduced a year before Barack Obama took the Oath of Office for the first time – beyond, y’know, psychotic 707- and 840-horsepower editions – Dodge has tossed a stereo and a bit of wallpaper at its retro two-door.

(Read More…)

By on February 6, 2018

It’s always risky naming a car or ship after a denizen of the dark underworld. You could run afoul of Christian groups, as Chrysler did in the early 1970s with its original Dodge Demon (later renamed Dart Sport), or possibly meet a much grimmer fate, as explorer Sir John Franklin did with his two ships, the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror.

On a happier note, the Dodge division saw mostly positive PR from its decision to turn its already potent 707-horsepower Challenger SRT Hellcat up to “11.” The 2018 Demon and its associated Demon Crate drag kit became instant collector items. And why not? The Demon was a full-size two-door sedan making 808 hp (on premium gas) that you could order with a single seat.

Despite repeated promises that the model would be a one-time-only thing, however, rumors exist about a 2019 run. (Read More…)

By on October 3, 2017

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There’s only one reason for the Dodge Demon to exist, and that’s to go fast in a straight line, preferably at a dragstrip.

Which is why I haven’t fully understood the point of the car, at least up until now. And maybe I still don’t. I mean, how many dedicated drag racers are out there that want to spend a pretty penny ($85K, give or take) on something that’s factory-ready for the strip and easily streetable? Back in the muscle car days, sure, that was a thing, but today’s drag racers are probably either finding a cheap Fox-body Mustang and decking it out, or, if they have the means, going whole hog and buying something from an OEM that isn’t street legal.

That’s just a guess on my part – I’m not as in tune with those who drag race on weekends as I’d like to be. Maybe there’s been a clamor for a car just like the Demon for a long time. Either way, Dodge isn’t going to build many – just 3,000 for the U.S. and 300 for Canada.

I can understand why the Challenger, including the Hellcat version, exists – it looks cool on Woodward, the V8 models sound badass, and it’s the closest thing FCA has to a “pony car” (in my ideal world, Dodge would sell a true pony car alongside the Challenger, but I’m no Sergio). But unlike most sports cars, which can give you at least a taste of their track prowess on the right public road, the Demon’s skillset can’t be safely applied to the street.

That doesn’t mean I think the car should be banned – Automotive News got that wrong – just that, on paper, I didn’t quite get the hype.

Then someone tossed me the red key.

(Read More…)

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