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The Challenger is one big bruiser, with heft better suited to cruising or drag-racing at the strip than turning laps on a racetrack. Powertrains include the standard 305-hp 3.6-liter V-6 and an eight-speed automatic; one 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 makes 375 hp with the standard six-speed manual, and one (with fuel-saving tech) makes 372 hp with the optional eight-speed auto. The Scat Pack option features a 485-hp 6.4-liter Hemi V-8; a six-speed manual is standard and an eight-speed auto is optional.
Our test car featured the latter mated to the Challenger’s optional $1500 eight-speed automatic, which erases the six-speed-manual 392’s $1000 gas-guzzler tax, effectively making the automatic transmission a $500 option.
Dodge opened up the new T/A engine’s breathing with a standard, variable performance exhaust system and a less restrictive air filter fed by both the hood scoop and a pair of Air-Catcher intakes within the two inboard headlights (accented by LED-illuminated T/A logos). Neither engine’s output changes, but the 392’s raucous bellow is too intoxicating to ignore. The Challenger’s trip-wire throttle and stubborn lack of traction make it tricky to leave the line without spinning the rear tires, but the Hemi’s mellifluous rap makes it even more difficult to lift off once the fun starts.