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CAR REVIEW: 2017 Dodge Challenger R/T 392 Scat Pack

There are cars, and then there are Cars. Cars, with the capital “C” are the ones that not only get noticed but are fondly remembered by countless enthusiasts and car lovers alike. In most cases, these Cars also represent essentially everything that is “wrong” with the automobile today as they are closer to being obnoxious and the farthest thing to being “green”.

This group could be considered as the final bastion, end chapter, of what are the old ways of making cars. In this gang, I include the likes of the Toyota 4RUNNER, the Chevrolet Corvette and almost every vehicle that FCA sells in North America. FCA’s managed to pull this off for a while but it won’t be long until they begin to disappear one by one.

Out of them all, the Challenger is my favorite. There are those who would consider it crude and plain dumb but then their love for cars is defined solely by its brand and how they look behind the wheel. These individuals have probably never heard the saying that the clothes do not make the man…

Disclaimer: The 2017 Challenger in this review and at the time of making the videos (if you’ve watched them, thank you and sorry…) was thought to be a different trim. I’ve since learned that it was not an actual T/A, but a T/A packaged R/T. Pricing information is correct however and there were no anomalies with the car itself.

Styling inside/out

Where to begin? The Challenger has changed very little over the last 10 model years. It is inspired by arguably the best-looking Challenger of all, the 1971. What keeps it fresh are the numerous versions and trims that are added almost every model year.

What truly makes the Challenger charming is its “what you see is what you get” presence. You either like it or you don’t but it is nearly impossible not to find something engaging about its design. I for one love everything about it. There’s not one physical element I would change on the outside. Well, I would never get a boring dull boring shade like Granite Crystal Metallic (it’s not Destroyer Grey) when there are colours like Yellow Jacket, TorRed, Go Mango and Green Go available! Oh, but mine would have to be a Scat Pack Shaker!

On board, there’s little more to say than everything is where it should be. The separated screen and redundant controls is as aesthetic as it is functional. One of my favorite old-school cues is the trunk’s cut-out which probably resembles that of the ’71… I’ve never checked but somehow it looks the part.

Comfort/space

The cabin smells good. That’s right. The wife and I think FCA uses some sort of addictive glue and/or plastics that create physical dependence through the fumes. It’s like a drug… Every time we got in, we’d inhale deeply through our noses. Is this the marijuana of interiors?

In all seriousness, as cozy and snug as it seems, there’s room for four and I even managed to get my son’s rear-facing baby seat behind the passenger seat, which was occupied by the spouse. The trunk is actually huge, capable of swallowing the Costco run and few bags for the weekend cottage trip.

Now, about the lack of leather… If this was a true T/A, the snug highly bolstered seats would be covered in hide. As this is an early 2017 car, it sports the T/A package so that explains the cloth.

Oh, and if you’re looking for a quiet environment to travel in, the Challenger can but I’d then suggest you purchase a V6 version. Otherwise, it’s windows down and V8 up!

Value/equipment

The value question here is kind of odd. Nobody, except the wife and I, needs a $60k+ V8-powered 6-speed manual 2-door coupe that could wake the dead. Having said that, few cars will ever give you as many smiles per mile with a fixed roof for $40k. A base R/T with the 6-speed is just under $42k and I bet you’ll never get bored.

And then, by moving up the power grid, few cars will be as much fun to drive, look as good and sport a snarling near 500-horsepower V8 for roughly $50k. The value is in the integrated go-fast kit that includes a sportier suspension, some big wheels and wider rubber, bigger brakes, a limited slip diff and much more. On top of that, FCA’s Uconnect, a 7” colour customizable in-cluster display, Bluetooth, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-path detection and HID headlamps are all included.

Trouble is that I’d still pay $60k for manual windows, seats and no A/C if only for the styling, 392cc V8 and 6-speed gearbox…

Powertrain/handling

If you like, check out my Instagram account (matt_st_pierre) and scroll down to the Challenger video (it’s an ass shot of the car). Tap it, turn up the sound and yeah, there you go.

But beyond the glorious V8 noises, the Challenger is not about going fast, although you can. The 392’s (6.4 litres) 485 horsepower and 475 lb.-ft. of torque are always at your disposal but when I’m driving, I don’t much call upon them. If I do, it’ll be for a 2nd or 3rd gear throttle punch and then I’ll allow them to return to their idle slumber. That’s what the Challenger is about; it’s for chillin’ and cruisin’. And when you want to nail it, you just do and off you go.

The $1,000 option that is the Tremec 6-speed manual transmission is that dose of backfire in the exhaust’s burble –  it just gets me more excited than is reasonably acceptable for an adult. The throws are heavy but precise and the clutch packs just enough weight behind it to remind you of the power beneath the bonnet, just in case you were driving with the windows up and the radio on…

Once under way, the Challenger’s chassis and suspension tuning are equal parts comfort (cruising, remember?) and handling. Never is the ride harsh or out of control, it just obeys the driver. It may lack the refinement Mustang lovers have come to expect but the Dodge channels a true throwback driving experience, in the 21st Century.

There are drive modes but if you’re getting that I’m never rushed when I drive the car, I may have accidentally hit the Sport button only once. On a few occasions, I was forced to mash the middle pedal and it too never let me down. Oh, if this was a “true” T/A, red calipers would be seen behind the matte black 20” wheels. The T/A borrows them from the Hellcat.

As a final note, I hate the steering wheel. The spokes are far too large for any normal-sized hands to properly grasp. I hope FCA changes this sooner rather than later. I actually feel it’s a safety issue. Sure, the car’s got stability control but the challenging part is switching everything off and going for it. I’ve never done this with a Challenger (or Charger) during a road test for fear of not managing to hold onto the wheel properly.

As tested, the R/T Scat Pack 392 with the T/A retailed for just under $62k. The spouse and I’s perfect 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker would be just under $57k. If you love the Challenger but are broke like me, a $32,595 SXT will get the styling but not the snarl…

There are cars, and then there are Cars. Cars, with the capital “C” are the ones that not only get noticed but are fondly remembered by countless enthusiasts and car lovers alike. In most cases, these Cars also represent essentially everything that is “wrong” with the automobile today as they are closer to being obnoxious …

Review Overview

Performance - 90%
Driving Experience - 95%
Comfort - 90%
Security - 90%
Interior Design - 90%
Prestige - 80%

89%

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