If you love retro-style muscle cars but with all the modern safety features and creature comforts, there are three exceptional choices on the market; the Ford Mustang, Chevy Camaro, and Dodge Challenger. This week, I am driving the 2013 Dodge Challenger R/T.
The R/T comes equipped with a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 that is putting out 375-horses and has a strong 410 pound-feet of torque to get this big beast moving off the line. My tester has a 6-speed manual transmission, but you can also get the rather antiquated 5-speed automatic if you wish.
The exterior of the Challenger R/T is a real head-turner from every angle. It has Challenger fender badges in classic script, a heritage “R/T” grille badge, functional hood scoops with HEMI badging and high-intensity discharge (HID) headlamps. The package striping sets it off, as does the 20” painted aluminum wheels. Challenger even has an old school fuel door that pops open and is painted in glossy black.
As you open the door to enter the cabin, you are at first struck by the fact that the cloth seats look cheap, but all of a sudden you realize that the seating is all part of the whole retro thing the car has going on. The instrument panel is retro as well, and the four Bomb Gauge cluster includes a 160-MPH speedometer. It has a really cool leather-wrapped shifter. It is the little details that make this car much like the muscle cars of the ‘70s. Be aware the back seat is really tight and like most coupes, it’s difficult to get into the back seat.
The R/T has a high level of standard equipment including a power seat for the driver, traction and stability control, power driver lumbar adjustment, keyless entry, pushbutton start, front and rear spoilers, fog lights, automatic headlights, and a lot more.
This Challenger has four packages that are all optional and at an additional charge. For $1995, you can get the Blacktop package which gives you the 20” wheels, stripes, sport suspension, performance tires, and a 3.92 rear axle ratio.
The Electronics Convenience group is $750 and gets you the gauges previously discussed, universal garage door opener, security alarm, and power heated mirrors. Sound Group II is $1745 and for that you get a 40 GB hard drive, a 6.5-inch touch screen display that is super easy to operate, 7 Boston Acoustic speakers with a subwoofer and 368-watt amplifier.
The last group is the Uconnect group, and for $595 you get DVD/MP3/CD/Satellite radio and an in-dash Garmin Navigation system. For a year, you get Sirius Travel Link, which gives you real-time sports scores, weather, movie listings, and more.
The Challenger R/T hasn’t changed much since 2011, and there is no real reason to change this great car. It drives fantastic and acceleration is extremely strong. Handling is superb. The Challenger makes you feel like a kid again. Horsepower comes up short of the 5.0 Mustang and 6.2-liter, both of which have over 420-horses, but the Hemi feels like it has more power than it does. I think part of that is due to the dual exhaust which sounds amazing.
This is a great weekend car or could be a daily driver if you don’t need a sedan. This car is priced right, especially with some strong rebates right now.
What I liked most: The exterior looks, handling, and power of the Hemi.
What I would change: Right side blind spot is a little unnerving, I would like to see blind spot monitoring become standard equipment on all coupes.
MSRP: Base price is $29,995. As equipped, $36,075.
Fuel Economy: 15 City/23 Highway, 18 overall, the automatic gets 25 highway.
2013 Dodge Challenger R/T in a few words: A comfortable, powerful car with attitude.
Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles bumper-to-bumper, and 5 year/100,000 mile powertrain coverage.
Car Pro Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars.
Dealers: If you want to purchase a new Challenger, we have great dealer affiliates in Dallas, Houston, Austin, Lubbock, San Antonio, Sacramento, Phoenix, and Los Angeles.
Manufacturer’s website: http://www.dodge.com/en/2013/challenger/