Review: 2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2008 to 2013.
By Larry E. Hall of MSN Autos
Dodge’s 2008 Challenger SRT8 is one serious-looking, all-out, no-holds-barred American muscle car. But don’t let the looks fool you. This is a modern machine that not only has pavement-rippling performance, but serves up a near sedan-like ride quality in day-to-day driving. The new Challenger also contains all of the safety and entertainment features expected in a 21st-century automobile.
Those nabbing keys will find many standard features that were either optional or non-existent in 1970; items such as side-curtain airbags, electronic stability and traction control, anti-lock disc brakes, high-intensity discharge headlights, remote keyless entry, air conditioning, cruise control and a 322-watt, 13-speaker audio system. A Performances Pages instrument panel readout can show 0–60 and quarter-mile times, 60–0 mph braking and g-forces. The only options are a sunroof, a GPS navigation system, and Goodyear F1 Supercar rubber as an upgrade from the standard Eagle RS-A tires.
Functional hood scoops help the 425-horsepower 6.1-liter V8 keep its cool. The ‘HEMI’ twists out 420 lb-ft of torque, and its 69.8 horsepower-per-liter rating exceeds that of even the legendary 1966 “Street HEMI.” Directing the power to the rear wheels is a five-speed automatic with AutoStick, which allows the driver to manually select a higher or lower gear, but is the only transmission available. An aggressive first gear ratio provides outstanding launch performance.
Dodge’s signature four-bomb gauges with black numbers on a white face are highlighted with chrome rings. Changing audio, climate or navigation controls doesn’t require the driver to change seat positions to reach, and materials used throughout the cabin are pleasing to the eye, with respectable-looking plastic finishes. Aggressive side bolsters on the front seats seem to glue occupants in place on the track, yet are marvelously comfortable on long highway runs. The back seat is similarly comfy for two adults — three on short hauls.
On the Road
Traveling on the highway there’s gobs of power still unused at 70 mph cruising. Floor it at this pace and triple-digit speeds arrive quickly. At freeway speeds there is only a slight intrusion of engine and tire sounds and just a whisper of wind noise. A drive along the curve-laden Angeles Crest highway brought forth true grins. The Challenger’s all-independent suspension helps the car stick to the road like chewing gum on a hot August day. Mid-corner bumps are soaked up without a falter, and the stability control system maintains a hands-off policy until unequivocally needed.
The sure handling carries over to a more intense road-course environment. On track the moderately weighted steering lets you know where the front tires are and turn in is quick and precise. Amateur drivers will find the car predictable; seasoned hot shoes will be rewarded.
Horsepower for Your Dollar
Larry E. Hall is editor of Northwest Auto News Service and a freelance automotive journalist based in Olympia,Wash. He has an intense interest in future automotive technology.
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