2010 Dodge Challenger SEPosted on May 14th, 2010
Sports coupe with retro styling and a fuel-efficient V-6
By Nina Russin
Back in the day, there was no sheetmetal greater than that born in Detroit. The 2010 Dodge Challenger pays homage to the classic Mopar with retro styling, and the high-performance R/T and SRT8 models.
The SE is a more affordable version for buyers who don’t want the hemi V-8 engines. Priced from $22,735, the Challenger SE gets power from a 3.5-liter V-6, and five-speed automatic transmission with manual gear selection. Average fuel economy is 20 miles-per-gallon, according to EPA estimates.
A Rallye package adds dual hood and rear decklid stripes, a chrome fuel filler cap, eighteen-inch wheels and a rear spoiler.
Other options on the test car include a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, audio upgrade, satellite radio, power sunroof, navigation and Bluetooth interface, bringing the total price to $31,175.
Its wide, blacked-out grille and bullet profile set the Challenger apart from a sea of competitive products. It’s a face only a mother could love, assuming that the mother is Linda Vaughn.
I like the dark interior as well: its bat cave styling seems apropos for a street car with a rumbling exhaust. While the optional moonroof makes the inside brighter, it sort of ruins the ambiance.
The eighteen-inch wheels not only add pizzazz to the exterior, they also enhance the car’s high-speed performance. Considering the car’s size and weight, on-center response is remarkably good.
What is not impressive is the engine. Perhaps if I had not yet driven the SRT8 and R/T models, the V-6 would have been less of a disappointment: it has no guts. Acceleration, especially in the critical 20-to-50 mile-per-hour range, is soft.
Peak torque is 250 foot-pounds: about two-thirds that of the 5.7-liter hemi. With the six-speed automatic transmission, fuel economy for the hemi engine is the same as the V-6 with the five-speed automatic. The V-6 is one mile-per-gallon better in the city: not a big sacrifice considering the difference in performance.
Visibility is good to the front and sides of the car, but poor to the back. The side mirrors don’t adequately compensate for blind spots created by the car’s thick C pillars. Over-the-shoulder visibility is adequate to the right, but poor on the left side for the same reason.
The larger wheels not only improve stability but steering feedback as well. The power rack-and-pinion steering system offers plenty of assist at low speeds without feeling loose on the highway. When I had to swerve around a piece of tire tread, I had no problems maintaining control of the car.
A four-wheel independent suspension provides a compliant ride. Challengers with the manual transmission or optional track pack get monotube, self-leveling shocks for a firmer ride.
The standard set-up should be fine for buyers who aren’t planning to take their cars racing. I took the car on a rural road outside of Phoenix to see how it would perform on some off-camber turns and pitchy hills. The suspension worked well under both conditions, keeping the chassis flat and maintaining good contact patches with the ground.
Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel antilock braking stop the car in a firm, linear fashion.
Designers did a nice job of integrating nostalgic cues from the muscle car era with modern amenities. The large steering wheel is reminiscent of classic Mopars: redundant audio, information, cruise and Bluetooth controls minimize driver distraction.
A screen in the center stack displays audio settings, maps for the optional navigation system and the image for the rearview camera. Controls on the center stack are easy to reach from either front seating position and intuitive to operate. A 12-volt power point at the base of the center stack recharges portable electronic devices.
While I’m not a huge fan of audio upgrades, the sound package in the Challenger seems completely in character with the car, and adds a lot of fun for the driver. It includes a 276-watt amplifier and six Boston Acoustics speakers ($645).
Satellite radio with real-time traffic updates is part of an option that also adds navigation, iPod and Bluetooth interface ($1775). It’s an expensive package, but could be a good investment for people who take frequent road trips.
While the Challenger is classified as a five-passenger car, it is best for two adults. The rear seats are difficult to climb in and out of due to the large wheel arches. There isn’t an abundance of head or legroom, and unless the sunroof is open, the back of the car is rather claustrophobic.
The rear seats fold flat to create a pass-through from the trunk. The Challenger’s spacious trunk will hold camping gear, luggage and groceries. With the seats folded flat, skis and snowboards shouldn’t be a problem. Cyclists would be better served with Chrysler’s sport-utility or crossover vehicles.
The Dodge Challenger SE comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction and electronic stability control. Chrysler’s three-year/36,000-mile warranty includes 24-hour towing assistance.
Chrysler builds the Challenger at its Brampton, Ontario Canada assembly plant.
Likes: An affordable sports coupe with retro exterior styling and a high level of standard safety features.
Dislikes: Lack of engine power. Second-row seats are difficult to climb in and out of, lack head and legroom.
Model: Challenger SE
Base price: $22,735*
As tested: $31,175
Horsepower: 250 Hp @ 6400 rpm
Torque: 250 lbs.-ft. @ 3800 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 17/25 mpg city/highway
Comments: Base price does not include a $725 destination charge.
16 responses to “2010 Dodge Challenger SE”
Satellite Radio did not gain so much popularity as expected, maybe because of the reason that it is expensive.;.*
The one American automobile I’m sure for confident includes a 6-speed can be described as Corvette. I am sure there are a few pickups, and it’s possible that automobiles as well, but most manuals are 4 or five tempo. Ford is producing some 6-speed automatics.
Actually, a lot of the cars that come with manuals have six-speed gearboxes these days because of the fuel economy. The extra tall overdrive gear makes a big difference on the highway. Thanks for writing in.
satellite radios are quite popular these days because you can receive the signal just about everywhere.**
i think that satellite radio would also become popular in the years to come because of its great coverage area *””
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