Test Drive: 2017 Dodge Challenger R/T

Specs

Vehicle Type:

front engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passengers, 2-door coupe

Engine Type:

5,7L V8 HEMI

Transmission:

8-speed automatic with manual shifting mode

Engine

5,7L V8
HEMI

Transmission

8-speed automatic
with manual shifting

Fuel Economy

16 / 25 mpg
14,7 / 9,4 L/100km

Horsepower

375 hp @ 5200 rpm
280 kW @ 5200 rpm

Torque

400 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm
542 NM @4,400 rpm

Curb Weight

4,190 lbs
1,900 kgs

The Dodge Challenger is one sexy beast on four wheels. This was the first time I got to drive it. I rented that car and was explicitly asking for the Dodge Challenger R/T. I picked it up at the San Francisco Airport Rental Car Center and the car set right outside the doors in the upgrade row.

The Challenger just looks great, I like the lines and how it sits there and “looks” at you. However, I was very disappointed once I opened the driver door. Avis didn’t spend a dime on extras. It had the small touchscreen display for the infotainment onboard. Just regular seats instead of leather. No backup camera or sensors. The only real thing the opted in for was the 5.7L HEMI engine which every regular R/T-model has.

This is not the fault of Dodge, it’s solely the one of Avis. Seems like Avis prefers other brands more, for example Ford. The only feature that car had was the keyless entry and go. This means you can leave the key in your pocket or handbag at all times and you will unlock the door by just reaching under the handle and lock it with the little button on top of the handle.

Same goes for starting the engine. No need anymore to search for the ignition. Just take a seat and hit the start/stop engine button.

Here you could already hear the 5.7L HEMI roar. What an amazing sound for an untuned car and straight out of the factory. Neither the Mustang or Camaro come close to the sound of the Challenger if you compare the factory defaults without any modifications to the cars.

5.7L HEMI V8

Even tho the seats were not leather, I like the way, Dodge holds your seat belt forward to reach it easier. You just set it in the guide on top of the seat and it sits in there. The seat belt only comes out if you want to. The Ford Mustang has something similar to get the seatbelt closer to you for easier buckle up. Their loop which holds the seatbelt is held by a magnet which comes off easy if you pull too quick or a little bit in the wrong direction. The Challenger has also a quick access to the rear seat. just pull on the handle at the top of the seat and the seat folds and slides forward quickly and in one motion. It takes a few seconds to get the seat all the way forward. I am also surprised how much legroom you have in this car compared to others. To get the seat back in driving position, just pull the top part of the seat back and it slides back in its old position. The electric seat adjustment doesn’t get used at all if you want to have someone get in the back. Compared to like the Ford Mustang where you have to fold first the seat forward by pulling the lever at the bottom of the seat and then sliding it forward with the electric seat adjustment. To get it back to the original position you have to readjust it. This is true for driver and passenger seat in the Mustang but not in the Challenger. Compared to other sports cars like the Mustang or Camaro the Challenger (basically a muscle car) has the biggest trunk in comparison with the other once. This makes the Challenger also ideal for a daily commuter and it will earn you some looks when you show up with this car on any street corner. The ride quality is softer and more comfortable than both the Mustang and Camaro. The Challenger is more of a fun cruiser or for drag racing not so much for tight corners. Here is the Mustang and Camaro definitely more fun to throw them in corners. The steering on the Challenger is too light for throwing it into corners compared to the Mustang and Camaro. However, it is still fun and for me, the Challenger R/T is one of the best muscle cars/pony cars out there.

Now here we can start and endless conversation about what counts towards Pony Car or Muscle Car. For me, both are more or less the same now…especially if you get the real pony cars like the Camaro and Mustang with the V8 engines. But I am more than open for discussions about that topic. Just put it in the comments.

The Challenger has its side mirrors not mounted all the way forward at the doors. They are closer to the driver and mounted on the side of the door instead of the front edge of the door. Another feature like most other pony cars are the frameless windows. You will find them as well on the Mustang and Camaro.

Unfortunately, Avis didn’t spend any money on the infotainment system nor anything else if it comes to extras. My car didn’t even have paddle shifters on the steering wheel. The 8-gear automatic transmission can only be shifted manually with the drive gear shifter. I have to give Dodge a big minus for the steering wheel controls of the infotainment system. On the right and left back side of the steering wheel is a rocker switch with a center button. While the right side makes sense to use the rocker switch for volume control it doesn’t make sense to use the left rocker switch to seek the next radio station. Yes, you tell the radio to either seek positive for the next available station or negative and switch between your favorites by pressing the center button. Because there is only one center button you can browse through your favorites only forwards. This should be backward and the rocker switch should be used to browse through your favorites and the center button to start seeking (positive) for the next station. I am pretty sure most of you guys have saved their favorite radio stations and want to switch between them rather than seeking for the next available station on the frequency band.

5″ Standard Touchscreen. Go with the big Infotainment system, not with the one shown here. You will thank me later.

Another downside is the speedometer. It’s a bit harder to read than in other cars and hard to see sometimes how fast you are going. Especially trying to go between an even speed like 60 is hard to guess. A good thing is you can have a digital speedometer displayed in the center display which also shows you a lot of useful information about your car status and trip details. There is also a 0-60 timer and a brake timer to see how hard you can brake. This is more for performance freaks.

Driving the Challenger is absolutely fun. The sound is amazing and if you hit sport mode it sounds even better and the car is more responsive if it comes to acceleration. Dodge did a great job trimming the transmission in normal and sport mode. It shifts nice and keeps the rpm high but not too high in sport mode.

The only downside is the AC system. It is undersized or the controls need a better adjustment. If it’s 65°f outside and you set your AC to 68°F it has a hard time to cool the car down. It’s not terribly hot but warmer than you actually want it. The AC system definitely needs an improvement in future models.

The fuel economy was right on with the reference values and even tho driving it in sport mode and chasing it down the streets gave me about 17mpg. I expected it to be way less than that.

Conclusion

I want to make sure to let you guys know that all this is based on the car I rented from Avis. If you look on the website there are so many nice extras available. Pretty much everything you can think of. For some reason, Avis doesn’t like to spend any money on this car. Compared to the 2017 Ford Mustang GT I recently rented from Avis, the Challenger R/T was pretty much the base model except for the engine.

Even tho there were no extras, which is a big downside for me as tech-freak. The sound of the engine let me forget a lot of these missing extras.

Photo Gallery

This is my own opinion about the reviewed car. Many cars come in different trim levels from engine size to color and extras. I am not a car sales person nor will I alter my opinions for sponsored test drives.
The rating below is based on the driven car. As you know every car can have different options and extras, depending on how much you want to spend. I can’t tell you how nice or bad a feature is which is not equipped in the car during my test drive.

Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed by CC 3.0 BY

MSRP: $35,090
8.8

Interior

9.0/10

Exterior

10.0/10

Comfort & Quality

9.0/10

FEATURES

7.5/10

Performance

9.0/10

Fuel Economy

8.0/10

Pros

  • Huge Trunk compared to other cars in the same class
  • Pure American Muscle
  • Great Engine sound from the Factory
  • Easy Access of back seat
  • Performance Dashboard for 0-60 and braking

Cons

  • Fuel Economy
  • The driven car had almost no extras
  • AC Underpowered
  • Keyless Unlock sometimes unresponsive
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