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New York Auto Show 2008: 2009 Dodge Challenger

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VehicleVoice covered the reveal at last Month’s Chicago Auto Show of the 2008 challenger SRT-8. With 435 hp culled out of its 6.1 liter Hemi V-8, it’s sure to be true to the muscle car image of its sheetmetal. Today, New York is host to the kinder, gentler, 2009 Challenger model line, if that’s possible. In reality, the real focus here is on the volume of these models, the Challenger R/T with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 and the Challenger SE with the Challenger SE with a 3.6-liter V-6.


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The Skit
True to Chrysler form, the press event included a cutesy skit where a young couple dreams of owning a sporty car with room for 5 adults, youthful style and a modest price. Enter Challenger, along with Jim Press, to the rescue. In a clear comparison to Mustang, the Press boasted that three adults could sit comfortably in the rear of the Challenger “with smiles on their faces”. After spending a few seconds in the rear, we’re skeptical about both the comfort and the smile. It looked a bit tight to us, and the thick rear pillars limit the visibility of the rear passengers. We’ll leave our final opinions until we drive the Challenger in a few weeks.
The Cars
The R/T model has the first modern-day, HEMI-powered car offered with a six-speed manual transmission. Zero to 60 mph is reached in less than six seconds. The SE model is powered by a 3.5-liter V-6 with a four-speed automatic transmission producing 250 horsepower and 250 lb.-ft. of torque. Dodge offers customers a full range of techie features that Jethro never dreamed of, including “MyGIG” Chrysler’s multimedia audio and entertainment system, with built-in navigation, UConnect® for hands-free, voice- activated communication with Bluetooth® cellular phones, SIRIUS® Digital Satellite Radio, and Keyless Go to start the vehicle with the simple push of a button. Remote Start is also available.
The Point
Dodge wants consumers to understand that the Challenger is not only about muscle. With seating for five, more modest engine options, and a price in the low $20,000 range, Dodge clearly is looking for volume sales. It will be interesting to see what the Challenger model line will do for Dodge, as they re-enter the Pony Car race against the strong Mustang, and soon to be released, Chevrolet Camaro.

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