With a massive Hemi motor, a performance-tuned suspension and vintage-inspired good looks, the Challenger SRT8 392 is the range-topping model in Dodge's Challenger muscle car lineup. Though not quite as nimble as some rivals, it's still quite enjoyable to exercise on backroads while also being a comfortable long-distance cruiser.
For the latest model year, the Challenger SRT8 lineup gains a new entry-level Core model with less content and a lower starting price.
The heart of the Challenger SRT8 is a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 with 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. The latter figure is 90 lb-ft better than the model's previous engine, adding a welcome kick in the pants to the straight line acceleration department. In fact, the coupe can scoot from a dead stop to 60 miles per hour in well under five seconds.
If quarter mile races are more your thing, know that this coupe can run the quarter in mid 12's with the automatic transmission, or high 12's equipped with the row-it-yourself gearbox. The Challenger SRT8 features a launch-control system that spins the engine to optimal launch rpms, then manages wheelspin once underway for the quickest acceleration possible. Top speed is an impressive 182 in the manual and 175 with the automatic.
With all that power and displacement fuel economy is obviously not the primary concern of the vehicle's engineers, but it wasn't forgotten either. Both transmissions will return 14 city mpg, while the manual bests the automatic by one mpg for a highway rating of 23.
Speaking of transmissions, it should be known that the manual found is no five-speed, but a six-speed TR-6060 Tremec unit with a dial-disc high performance clutch - the same one tested to the limits in the 2008 Dodge Viper SRT10. For those who prefer their performance cars with only two pedals, the automatic comes in five-speed flavor that includes both "Normal" and "Sport" modes. Sport mode will keep the transmission in the gear a bit longer, maximizing power at the cost of efficiency.
Dodge recently upgraded the Challenger SRT8's suspension, adding an improved version of the active damping system that includes three different settings that either optimize on-road comfort or handling responses.
Keeping the SRT8 where it should be are either 20x9 forged aluminum in a seven-spoke design or 20x9 forged aluminum wheels with satin black painted pockets, either wrapped in Goodyear RSA all-season tires as standard. Optional are Goodyear F1 Supercar three-season tires that kick the performance up a notch at the expense of longevity and wet handling. Behind those wheels are 14.2-inch front and 13.8-inch rear vented and slotted rotors being grabbed by Brembo four-piston fixed calipers finished in red, of course.
Other model-specific exterior styling cues include '392 HEMI' badges, quad exhaust outlets, a new front spoiler and a body-painted rear decklid spoiler.
Despite a recent update, the cabin is slightly behind the times in terms of material quality and technology. There are plenty of hard plastic surfaces to be found, and the Uconnect infotainment system is a generation behind the slick unit found in newer Chrysler products. Still, there's a surprising amount of space inside - including enough room for adults to lounge in the rear seats - and the pistol-grip manual shifter adds an appealing retro touch.
Standard and Optional Features
Standard features include leather upholstery, heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, a 276-watt Boston Acoustics sound system, a Uconnect CD/HDD/DVD entertainment system with a 6.5-inch touchscreen display, automatic climate control, Bluetooth smartphone connectivity and more.
Notable options include a navigation system, an 18-speaker Harmon/Kardon sound system and a sunroof.
A new SRT8 Core model caters to budget-minded Mopar performance fans by delivering all of the standard coupe's performance but deleting some content (or substituting less expensive bits) to achieve a lower price.
The SRT8 Core features a unique blacked-out appearance, including a black grille, rear spoiler and"392" logos on the front fenders. Twenty-inch cast-aluminum wheels with black painted pockets and black Brembo brake calipers are also part of the package.
To help bring the price down, the Challenger SRT8 Core trades the leather upholstery of up-level SRT models for "Ballistic" cloth seating surfaces with dark slate gray bolsters and door panel inserts. There are also no fog lights, the HID headlights have been replaced with halogen units, and the adjustable suspension and been swapped out in favor of a single-mode Bilstein setup.
Additionally, the standard model's Boston Acoustics sound system is replaced with a less-powerful setup, though it can be spec'd for an extra cost.
All Charger SRT8 models come standard with dual front, front side and side-curtain airbags in addition to a driver's knee airbag and traction and stability control systems.
As the range-topping model in the Challenger lineup, the SRT8 392 competes against powerful rivals like the 650-horsepower Ford Shelby GT500 and the 580-horsepower Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.