It’s rare that a 40 year old vehicle design can still continue to grab attention and convey such an aggressive and muscular presence, but the 2013 Dodge Challenger still echoes the spirit of the “feel good decade” and stands out in the modern pony car trio. The heart of the wild Mopar vehicles from the 60′s and 70′s can still be found beating strong in the modern Challenger. The stunning Header Orange paint job and Classic trim-line of this Challenger R/T pay homage to the lustrous history of the Dodge brand. In 2008, in the thick of a failing economy and rising gas prices, Dodge unveiled the new Challenger, silencing the group who criticized the modern Charger as a retro car that would contend with the Mustang and coming 2009 Camaro. Five years later the Challenger continues to offer a different option for those in the market for Modern Muscle. We took the 5.7l HEMI out on the night streets to see if the spirit was still alive or if the Challenger has overstayed its welcome.
The performance of this modern Hemi is fantastic. The noise this car makes drew my foot to floorboard like a dog to the sound of Pavlov’s dinner bell. Even though the Challenger is somewhat of a land-yacht when compared to the other smaller cars in the segment, like the Mustang, the Dodge still pushes you back into the leather seats and is not short on the histrionics when it comes to getting the tires moving. The handling is certainly affected by the car’s weight. While it would never be mistaken for nimble, you can still have some fun on the twisty mountain roads in the R/T model and the SRT8 Challenger is quite the runner with its sportier suspension setup and brake package.
The interior of this 2013 Dodge Challenger featured amenities like bolstered black leather heated seats, navigation, touch screen media player, and vehicle telemetry on the gauges showing things like the 0-60mph and 1/4 mile timer. While the interior was acceptable when the car was first released, it has grown long in the tooth. The materials, gauges, and media/navigation center are now seemingly decades behind the current offerings in Mopar vehicles like the Dodge Dart and new Dodge Charger. The 2011+ models do add the companies updated steering wheel which is a huge plus, but an entire refresh is badly needed. The biggest positive aspect of the Challenger interior is the fact that it is the only car in the Camaro, Stang’, and Challenger trio to offer a real backseat that can seat 3 adults rather comfortably.
Ultimately the Challenger is still a blast to drive and drive fast just like its distant kin from the 70′s. The Mopar pony car will get a much needed update in the 2014-2015 model year and the car will be moving to an all new “LA” platform which should use some of the Fiat corporate RWD architecture and make room for the new 8-Speed transmission and modern interior components. The car is rumored to shrink in size to that of the current Camaro but will remain the largest of the group. Both the Mustang and Camaro are scheduled to shrink further around the same time the new Challenger hits the streets. With additional rumors stating that the legendary Hemi Cuda wil return on the new “LA” platform under the SRT brand, the future looks bright for the Mopar family and almost makes you forget that gasoline is $4.50/gallon in California…and Nixon is no longer President.
Stunning photos by Jim Donnelly Photo