Dodge Debuts New Challenger at New York International Auto Show

April 18, 2014 Updated: June 26, 2014

The original Dodge Challenger of the late ’60s and early ’70s was a real muscle car—aggressive styling, fat tires, powerful V8 up front (including the legendary 426 hemi,) live axle in back, not much to speak of for braking or handling, but all kinds of exciting when the loud pedal was pressed.

The 2015 Dodge Challenger is real 21st-century muscle car. It looks a lot like the original Challenger; taut and muscular, angular and powerful. The new Challenger still has a range of powerful V8s, including a pair of Hemis.

No more solid rear axle; the Challenger now sports a five-link, coil-spring, independent rear suspension, and tucked inside the giant wheels are modern brakes, and wrapped around those wheels are modern tires. This car is no longer a blunt object useful only for hammering the competition from stoplight to stoplight—it is a modern sport coupe which does everything well—and still goes like a rocket when the loud pedal is pressed.

The Challenger sells well too. The car set an all-time sales record in 2013, doubling sales since its launch in 200, and in 2014, the Challenger and its kindred car the Charger together sold one million units. Buyers have been responding to the retro styling and the modern performance, and the 2015 model, which is the best to date, should keep that trend happening.

The heart of the Challenger is the motor. While the classic Challenger was a V8 car, the new version comes standard with the 3.6-liter, 305-horsepower Pentastar V6. Three hundred horsepower is more than most drivers will need to do whatever they might want with the car—but a muscle car isn’t about what having you need, but having more than you need. And here Dodge provides plenty of gloriously desirable excess.

The base V8 is the 5.7-liter Hemi, pumping out 375 bhp and 410 lbs-ft of torque through either a six-speed manual or an eight-speed Torqueflite automatic transmission—serious power, but it is the torque which is most impressive. The Challenger with the 5.7 hemi will practically leap off the line—once the tires stop spinning.

That’s no exaggeration: with the six-speed manual the 5.7 hemi propels the Challenger to sixty from rest in under six seconds. With the Torqueflite automatic that time drops to the mid-fives.

For the driver who wants it all, Dodge offers a brand-new 6.4-liter Hemi producing 4785 bhp and 475 lbs-ft of torque, also mated to either the six-speed stick or the 8-speed Torqueflite. With this motor the Challenger is capable of mid-4 second 0–60 times, quarter-miles in the low 12s, and a top speed of 182 mph.

Order the Scat-Pack and gain access to 9×20 inch wheels, four-piston Brembo front brakes which will stop the car in 117 feet from 60 mph, and an adjustable electric power steering system with settings for Normal, Comfort, and Sport. Through Dodge Performance Pages, drivers can dial in specific settings for steering feel, stability and traction control, steering feel, and transmission response.

Of course, this is a real car for real people, which means it has to work in real-world driving—comfortable and tractable in traffic. The 2015 Challenger features a sculpted steering wheel which supports the driver’s hands and comfort-contoured seats wrapped in a variety of materials, from Ballistic Cloth to Alcantara suede to Nappa leather—and heated and ventilated front seats are available, too.

As a modern car, naturally the Challenger comes with a Uconnect Access touchscreen, an SD card slot and a USB port. For the driver, there is an old-school analog speedometer and tach flanking a customizable information screen. Buyers can opt for keyless entry, voice-texting, 3d navigation and even a mobile app which allows the driver top lock and unlock the car remotely.

Uconnect Access provides enables direct, one-touch connections with emergency service providers, roadside assistance dispatchers and vehicle information specialists. It also lets owner access four popular Internet streaming music stations: Aha by Harman, iHeartRadio, Pandora and Slacker.

The 2015 Challenger also offers Blind-Spot Monitoring, Forward Collision Warning, Rear Cross-Path Detection and adaptive cruise control—even rain-sensing wipers and automatic high-beam control.

All of these features are important to car buyers, and most of these are offered on the more upscale—and expensive—imported prestige models which Challenger owners will be passing on the road. Because let’s face it—no one buys a Dodge Challenger for the nav system. This car is popular because it delivers the best of the muscle-car era in a modern package.

No disrespect to the classics, but the 2015 Dodge Challenger is simply a much better car than the original—and when the driver presses that right-hand pedal, it is more than a challenge for its modern competition too.