After two years of waiting, the modern version of the Dodge Challenger is finally here. Chrysler launched the Challenger concept car at the 2006 Detroit auto show, but this year it waited until the Chicago auto show for the reveal of the road-ready version.
The Challenger lands at dealerships in April and, for the 2008 model year, only the SRT8 model will be offered. This is the first time Chrysler offers the SRT version first. Usually these hot versions come later in the model cycle. All 6400 cars for the USA will have a numbered plaque mounted inside the car (another 800 cars will go to Canada and Mexico). The base price including gas-guzzler tax is $40,095. You may want to get down to your local Dodge dealership soon because the Challenger isn't going to sit on dealer lots for long.
Powering the SRT8 is Chrysler's familiar 6.1-liter pushrod "Hemi" V-8. The beastly engine puts out 425 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque and sounds fantastic. Those wishing for a manual transmission will have to wait until late summer and the 2009 model year, as the initial cars are only available with a five-speed automatic. Look for less-powerful (and less expensive) versions of the Challenger to also be launched for 2009.
For now, buyers can choose a Dodge Challenger sprayed in Hemi orange, silver, or black. If we can give you a bit of advice, go with the orange. It looks fantastic with all the black detailing on this rear-wheel-drive coupe.
Inside the Dodge Challenger SRT8, the only real retro touches are a canted center console and a basic dash design that harks back to the original Challenger introduced for 1970. We're a bit disappointed that Dodge didn't step up their game on the interior but at least there's a decent amount of room for four adults and the trunk is quite large. Buyers can add an optional sunroof as well as a navigation and media storage system if they choose.
Dodge handed us the keys to a couple of near-production-ready development cars just before Christmas in Texas and you can read all about that drive as well as the rest of the story on the Challenger SRT8 in our April issue. The new Dodge muscle car is on the cover - you won't miss it.
Click the link below for high-resolution Challenger SRT8 images.