Little has changed for the latest model year of the Challenger SRT and SRT Hellcat. There's good news for nostalgia fans, as the much-loved "Plum Crazy" heritage purple color lives on through the end of the model year.
The Challenger SRT rides on a shortened version of the LX rear-wheel-drive platform used by the first-generation Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300. While ideal for those full-size sedans, the platform is slightly oversized for a two-door and contributes to the Challenger's relatively porky curb weight. However, this architecture does permit a large cabin that can accommodate adults in the rear seats, unlike many cars in the segment.
Draped over the modified sedan underpinnings is perhaps the Challenger's greatest asset - muscular, head-turning retro sheet metal. All of the cues that made the original Challenger a classic - a long, narrow opening for the grille and headlights, coke-bottle hips and rectangular tail lamps - are present and accounted for in the current model.
The retro treatment continues inside with a dashboard loosely inspired by the 1971 Challenger. All models come with a three-spoke steering wheel and a seven-inch configurable display located between the tachometer and the speedometer gauges.
The base Challenger's Uconnect infotainment system is accessed via a standard 8.4-inch touch screen located on the center stack. Generally regarded as one of the more user-friendly infotainment systems on the market, Uconnect Access integrates most of the Challenger's audio, navigation and climate control functions into one unit. The dash-mounted screen is the central component of the system, but redundant buttons and knobs for climate and audio volume and tuning are also included.
Uconnect Access features a voice command system that allows the driver to place phone calls, use the sound system, input navigation destinations and more without taking his or her hands off the wheel. Other notable aspects of the system include the ability to function as a Wi-Fi hotspot over a 3G network - for an additional monthly fee - and downloadable applications such as Bing search.
Under the Hood
The heart of the Challenger SRT is a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 with 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque. The latter figure is 95 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.
Power is sent to the rear wheels via either a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic that can be controlled using shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel. The Challenger returns 23 mpg on the highway regardless of what transmission it's equipped with, but automatic models best their manual counterparts by one mpg with a city rating of 15.
Buyers after more power can opt for the Challenger Hellcat, a new range-topping version of the coupe powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces a massive 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft. of torque, making it more powerful than even the iconic Viper. The Hellcat engine is the most powerful regular-production V8 the Chrysler group has ever built, and it features upgrades like a forged-steel crankshaft, forged-alloy pistons and powder-forged connecting rods in order to handle the massive amount of power.
Like the naturally-aspirated V8, the supercharged Hellcat engine spins the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission or an eight-speed automatic unit. The Hellcat returns 13 mpg in the city and 22 mpg on the highway with equipped with the eight-speed auto. Selecting the six-speed manual drops freeway mileage to 21.
Interestingly, the Hellcat comes standard with a black key fob and a red key fob. The black fob limits the engine's performance, while the red fob allows the driver to unlock the V8's full potential. A valet mode allows the driver to reduce horsepower and torque, limit the engine to 4,000 rpms, turn off the launch control function, disable the shift paddles and lock out access to first gear in cars equipped with an automatic transmission.
Both versions of the Challenger SRT come with a Drive Modes feature that lets the drive adjust the automatic transmission's shift points, the engine's horsepower, the steering response, the suspension firmness and the throttle response by using the aforementioned touch screen. Alternatively, the Drive Modes function offers three pre-programmed settings called sport, track and default, respectively.
Standard and Optional Features
The base Challenger SRT comes standard with power windows with a one-touch up function, illuminated cup holders, keyless entry and start, parking sensors, an 8.4-inch color touch screen, a one-year subscription to SiriusXM radio, seats upholstered in leather and Alcantara, heated and power-adjustable front seats, body-colored mirrors, chromed exhaust tips, and 20-inch alloy wheels.
Stepping up to the SRT model adds a 200-mph speedometer, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high beams, four exhaust pipes, a three-mode active suspension setup, model-specific aluminum trim on the inside and 20-inch forged aluminum alloy wheels.
Highlights from the Challenger SRT's list of options include navigation, full leather upholstery, red seat belts, summer tires, a power sunroof, an engine block heater, racing stripes and special paint colors.
Challenger SRT buyers can also opt for the Technology Group which adds adaptive speed control (only on cars with a manual transmission), automatic high beams, forward collision warning and rain-sensing wipers.
The SRT Hellcat is offered with roughly the same options as the standard SRT but it is not offered with a sunroof or with racing stripes. However, Hellcat buyers can order a satin black hood at an extra cost.
All Charger SRT models come standard with dual front, front side and side-curtain airbags in addition to a driver's knee airbag, a rear-view camera and traction and stability control systems. Models equipped with a manual transmission come with a hill-start assist function.