I don’t know that I’ll miss it much. I will miss the motor...
I did autocross it, the two videos I got are uploading (I forgot to hit the record button on my other two runs...)
Here’s my final thoughts after 46 hours and nearly 500 miles of driving:
- What a motor. It was a Scat Pack with it’s 6.4L V8. The sounds coming out of that tailpipe should be the American National Anthem. At low RPM it rumbles deeply, as you open it up it goes from a loud roar to a booming wail. Underpasses are intoxicating as you hear the sounds reverberate back to your ears. Every freeway entrance is an eargasm, every downshift a cry of american pride. I miss it already
- It’s just a shame they put it in this. The Challenger is enormous. Calling it a boat doesn’t quite capture it, it’s more of an aircraft carrier on wheels. Everything about it is big. It’s really long, really wide, shockingly tall, and extremely heavy. The power from that motor is great, but the 245 wide all season tires are not nearly big enough to actually use it. If you put your foot down from a stop you just spin tires. At first it’s fun, then it gets annoying. If you do manage to get grip the acceleration is good but the car is so big that it doesn’t feel as fast as it is.
- It’s not just big on the outside, it’s enormous on the inside. There’s good and bad things about that. On the good side it’s spacious and comfortable and generally a nice place to be. However I am not exactly a tall person. Okay, I’m downright short for a guy. 5’ 8” tall. My doctor said I would have another growth spurt about 10 years ago and unfortunately it never came, so I don’t really work with a Challenger. If I put the seat where I like it the car doesn’t work. I can’t hold the steering wheel and rest my elbow on the armrest, it doesn’t reach. If I use my left hand I barely reach the belt line and then my hand starts to go numb because of the awkward angle. So while I’m sitting comfortably cruising down the highway I have to keep moving my arms to find a comfortable spot.
- The ‘bigness’ of the car doesn’t stop at the exterior or interior space. Everything is big. All the buttons are huge, but that’s okay. Where it’s a problem are the pedals and the steering wheel. The pedals are BIG. The clutch and brake pedal pads are as big as standard bike pedal. Not only are they big, but they’re fairly far apart. I’m short, but I wear size 11 or 12 shoes and even for my feet heel toeing was a bit difficult. The steering wheel is awful. I hated it. The big buttons on the face of the wheel for radio and display controls made the spokes super tall. I was basically palming the 9-3 position. If I moved from 9-3 the thickness of the wheel was awkwardly large as well, and the 10-2 bumps were big. The buttons themselves were fine but I don’t understand why they are so big. It’s like this car was designed for a guy with bratwursts for fingers.
- As if the steering wheel was bad enough, it’s operation is horrid. If you want to hate electric steering drive a Challenger. I usually defend electric power steering because I think my Sonic has great steering feel. The Challenger has no steering feel. None. There’s three steering modes: comfort, normal, and sport. Comfort is soft and floaty and sport is so tight it makes your arms sore. Neither one makes the steering wheel feel like it’s connected to the front wheels in any way.
- In all honesty the handling is better than I expected, but considering I expected it to have the turning prowess of an SR-71 Blackbird (which took about 3 states to make a 90 degree turn) that’s not saying much. The car seems to respond decently to steering inputs but I wouldn’t know as I couldn’t feel anything through the wheel. Joking aside it’s really not bad. It’s just heavy. You can feel the weight, and the skinny shitty tires make it even worse as any aggressive driving is met with squeal and sliding.
- Overall it’s a flawed car, and I would never buy one for myself. If Dodge would put that motor in Viper/Corvette-esque sports car it could be great, but in the Challenger it’s the tootsie roll in a tootsie roll pop: you don’t eat it for the pop, you just want the tootsie roll.
My final thoughts? I need a V8 in my life, but I want it inside of a Corvette. Or maybe a 2016 Camaro. I rode in an SS 1LE at autocross and it was so much better than the Challenger. After being in the Challenger all weekend it felt downright small, and out on course it felt like a sports car should. The two SS 1LE’s at autocross today were a few seconds faster than I was in the Challenger and I’m a decently good autocross driver if I do say so myself.
Before I let you go, one last picture to think about
Yeah, that’s a Focus ST. Available for rent at Budget in Wichita...
I’m uploading my autocross videos now, I’ll share them later.