In 2008, 34 years after production of the original Challenger ceased, Dodge introduced the Challenger STR8 to the streets. Sitting on a powerful Dodge Charger chassis, the SRT8 boasted a 6.1-liter SRT HEMI V8 engine, 425-horsepower, and 420 lb-ft of torque. In 2009, the Challenger SRT8 is back again, but this time with two friends in tow; the Challenger SE and the Challenger R/T.
Starting with a MSRP of $21,995, the Dodge Challenger SE is a watered down, more attainable version of the SRT8. Although it still growls with a 3.5-liter V6 engine and four speed automatic transmission, the SE’s 250 horses lag noticeably behind the STR8’s 425. Even though the SE’s EPA estimate of 18 mpg city/23 mpg hwy is a hell of a lot more forgiving then the SRT8’s 13/18; it’s a small consolation for the power you’re sacrificing. Essentially, the Challenger SE is the muscle car to buy if you don’t necessarily care about beating the guy next to you at the light wearing the silk ascot in the two-seater import, just so long as you can brag about owning a Challenger.
The Challenger R/T is where Dodge attempts to strike middle ground. Unlike the SE, the R/T’s $29,995 consumer-friendly price tag does not immediately translate to “lackluster performance”. With a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 under the hood, the R/T boasts 370-horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque. The R/T also comes optionally equipped with Dodge’s multi-displacement technology (MDS), which supposedly increases fuel economy by up to 20% (which will leave you looking at 16 mpg city/23 hwy, not too bad – all things considered). Additionally, like the STR8, the R/T features Dodge’s patented AutoStick technology, making the shift from automatic to manual operation smooth and effortless. Unlike the SE, the R/T pulls off the performance-on-a-budget idea without embarrassing you on the streets.
Despite the SE’s affordability and the R/T’s fuel savvy, the heavyweight champion is still the SRT8. 0-60 in the time it takes to check for police cruisers, with 425-horsepower, and enough torque to drag a house down (providing you bought the towing package), the 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is a true muscle car. Although the EPA suggested MPG rating of 13 mpg city/18 mpg hwy might prove to be murder on your wallet, with the SRT8, you’ll be going broke with some serious style.