Dodge rolled out the 2008 Challenger SRT8 in Chicago, but saved the complete 2009 Challenger line for the New York Auto Show. R/T models feature the new generation 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with 370 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque while SE models utilize a 3.5-liter V-6 that produces 250 hp and 250 lb-ft. Dodge expects the R/T model to be the volume seller.
Buyers who opt for the six-speed manual transmission will get a slight upgrade in power: the 5.7-liter Hemi is tuned for 375 hp and 404 lb-ft when mated to a manual transmission. This is the first application of a manual transmission in an LX car, but we're hoping it won't be the last. The slight bump in power means owners will be asked to burn premium fuel, but the addition of variable valve timing and dual ignition net the 5.7-liter V-8 an estimated five percent increase in fuel economy.
Dodge adds hill start assist for manual Challengers, so drivers in hilly areas will have an easier time taking off from a stop. A new limited-slip differential helps keep drive wheels hooked up during hard acceleration. Thankfully, SRT8 buyers will be offered a six-speed manual option for 2009.
An impressive collection of Mopar accessories are available to enhance your Challenger right at the time of purchase. Upgrades range from basic air intake systems all the way up to revised camshafts, cylinder heads, and forged crankshafts. A coil-over suspension kit drops the ride height by 1.625-inches and should improve ride quality. Most of the performance parts are for the Hemi engines, but the interior and exterior upgrades can be fitted to any Challenger model.
The Challenger R/T and SE retain the SRT8's lines, but will offer a slightly softer suspension and less aggressive tires. With correspondingly lower prices, the less-powerful Challengers will make this pony car more accessible to the masses.
Check out the full gallery of 2009 Dodge Challenger photos below.