2012 Dodge Challenger
Classic muscle-car appearance; modern tech and entertainment features; smooth ride; responsive handling; cargo space
The Challenger remains offered in four different trims-SXT, SXT Plus, R/T, R/T Plus and SRT8-that correspond to different engines, while a number of packages can help give the Challenger quite a range of possible styles and driving characteristics. The base model comes with a 305-horsepower 3.6L V6 engine and 5-speed automatic transmission. For the V8 it comes on the Challenger R/T, which offers a 379-hp, 5.7L 'Hemi' V8 and either a 5-speed automatic or 6-speed manual transmission. At the top of the range is the SRT8, featuring a 475-hp, 6.4L version of the Hemi.
Base Challenger models have the same retro muscle-car silhouette as the others, but they're a little bit more sensible, with a low base price and reasonable fuel economy on the highway, while still providing satisfying enough acceleration for most everyday driving. The V8 models however have a different attitude, with a rumbling exhaust sound, tremendous torque just off idle and a true muscle-car feel. Thanks to Dodge's multi-displacement system, which shuts down some of the cylinders during coasting or cruising to save fuel, either the 5.7L or 6.4L Hemi engine has the power to lay rubber, but can behave itself when cruising.
Seating rests rather low in the Challenger, and the car's tall shoulders lend a protective feeling. Front seats have plenty of space for the largest folks, and although technically the Challenger is a 5-person coupe its back seat can be quite tight, and entry and exit from the back seats can be a challenge. The trunk however is huge and easily accessed-- Dodge says it's as big as that of the Charger sedan.
The high-performance SRT8 model that's at the top of the Challenger model range is truly where the muscle-car cues all come together. The SRT8 includes hood stripes, a rear spoiler, a functional hood scoop, a satin chrome grille and special SRT-design 20-inch alloy wheels, and the appearance extras make the most of the blunt, aggressive shape and low, wide stance.
Standard features across the Challenger model line include electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, side airbags and side-curtain bags. The bargain-priced base Challenger isn't luxurious but it includes nearly all the features that are expected at its price level, including keyless entry, cruise control, air conditioning, power foldaway mirrors and a CD/MP3 sound system with auxiliary input. In addition to the V8, suspension, steering, and wheel upgrades, the R/T adds fog lamps, satellite radio, Bluetooth and a spoiler.
The SRT8 adds a host of extras in addition to the performance improvements, including HID headlamps, power heated mirrors, a remote start system, heated leather seats, a media center with hard-drive system and Boston Acoustics sound.
Dodge has revised their trim names again and a new SXT entry-level trim was added. It comes with the 3.6L V6 engine and includes anti-lock brakes, 18-inch aluminum wheels, a power seat and keyless entry. Last year's base trim is now the uplevel SXT Plus.
An R/T Plus trim is also new. It builds on the base R/T trim, and adds both heated mirrors and heated leather seats.
The 2012 Dodge Challenger is instantly recognizable and one of the most distinctive new cars at any price. With thoroughly modern underpinnings, the Challenger manages to maintain legitimate V8 muscle-car credibility while meeting modern expectations for ride comfort, handling and safety. New tech continues inside too-Dodge offers a completely modern hard-drive-based music jukebox system. Among coupes, the Challenger is surprisingly practical; Dodge says that it has best-in-class rear headroom and legroom; it's also best in class in trunk space.
* EPA mileage estimates and EPA fuel economy methods based on models beginning with
the indicated model year. Use for comparison purposes only. Do not compare to models
before the indicated model year. Your actual mileage will vary depending on how
you drive and maintain your vehicle.