The 2017 Dodge Challenger GT could finally end that ongoing fiery debate between you and that special someone in your life. You know, the mature voice that’s always pressuring you to buy something sensible, practical, and affordable. Basically, the complete antithesis of just about any muscle car, including the Challenger GT.
But add in an all-wheel drive and pony up for some extra safety features, and you’ll have yourself the makings of a 305-horsepower performance car that’s shockingly sensible.
We know that die-hard fans are going to complain about the V6 engine and 8-speed automatic transmission. (No, you can’t get a Hemi. And no, you can’t get a manual gearbox.) For most car buyers, however, those aren’t deal breakers. In fact, the grip and torque, as well as the relatively modest sticker price and decent fuel mileage on the Challenger GT make it the best choice for a wide spectrum of shoppers.
1. Say hello to all-wheel drive
Combine a Jeep and a Dodge Challenger, and what you have is a Challenger GT. OK, maybe the Dodge isn’t quite ready to tackle the rock-crawling Rubicon Trail in Sierra, Nevada. But having experienced its capabilities firsthand, and in some seriously slick conditions, we can vouch that the all-wheel drive system in the Challenger GT makes it usable in weather that would otherwise have forced you to park your muscle car. When the weather is fine and traction isn’t a problem, the Challenger GT sends all its power to the rear wheels.
2. Economy that won’t scare you
According to Dodge, the EPA mileage estimates peg the highway fuel economy for the V6-powered Challenger GT at 27 miles per gallon. That’s hardly anywhere near the Toyota Prius hybrid’s territory. Still, it’s not bad considering you have more than 300 horsepower on tap in a performance coupe that weighs 4,100 pounds. Plus, it’s only several miles per gallon worse than the standard rear-wheel drive Challenger’s average. We suspect that many people won’t mind the sacrifice for the security of an all-wheel drive.
3. The horsepower is nothing to sneeze at
The world is good when the base engine in a muscle car puts out this much power (305 to be exact). There was a dark time when pony cars were lucky to break 200 horsepower, even the top end performance variants. The Pentastar V6 engine in the Challenger GT doesn’t feel overtaxed or out of its depth. Accelerating from 0 to 60 miles per hour should only take about 6.0 seconds flat.
4. Plenty of room
The rear seats in any sports coupe are going to be lousy. But the ones in the Challenger GT aren’t too bad, at least considering how claustrophobic the competition can be. Up front, there is plenty of space to stretch, while the wide and flat dashboard doesn’t feel overwrought or too in-your-face. This really does feel like you’re driving a modern classic car, albeit with extra room for a comfortable experience.
5. You can pack heavy, too
Going on vacation or planning some heavy-duty shopping? You’ll be overjoyed to know then that the Dodge Challenger has plenty of room for your luggage! The 16-cubic foot trunk is much better than you’d expect, given that performance machines don’t put a premium on load-lugging capability. Though the lift-over height is high, the simple fact that the trunk doesn’t resemble an Altoids tin is another score for the Challenger GT as being a practical muscle car.
6. That tail still likes to slide
Don’t be fooled into thinking the Dodge Challenger GT is going to lull you to sleep. Sure, it’s more poised and infinitely more capable of driving over slick or snow-covered surfaces than its rear-wheel drive equivalent. But since less than 40 percent of torque is ever transferred to the front wheels during all-wheel drive mode, this Dodge can still slide tail first around a corner. It’s predictable, easily controlled, and incredibly fun, too.
7. It’s a bargain
With a starting price of $34,685 (including the destination fee), the Challenger GT comes nicely loaded with features like heated leather seats, a leather steering wheel, dual-zone climate control, and 19-inch Hyper Black alloy wheels. The Technology Group ($1,195) and the Driver Convenience Group ($1,095) add to its appeal, with items such as blind spot monitors, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, rear cross-traffic alerts, a forward collision warning, and automatic windshield wipers. Fully loaded with the four available main option packages, the Challenger GT still sits comfortably under $40,000.
8. Infotainment for dummies
The 8.4-inch screen for the Uconnect infotainment system could have been developed for kindergartners. It’s so simple to use, it almost makes you wonder if Dodge thinks you’re not quite the sharpest tool in the shed. Big, bold, and easy-to-find graphics make this one of the better systems out there.
9. Old-school cool
The Dodge Challenger has been around for eight years now, though it still looks fantastic. A slight restyling of the car’s design split the rear tail lamps back in 2015, but that’s about the only visual difference that separates the new and old era Challengers from one another. Call us crazy, but despite being the most retro-themed of the current muscle car triumvirate (including the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro), the Dodge might be aging the best. Let the controversy — and hate mail — begin!
10. Show your true dodge colors
It wouldn’t be a true Mopar muscle machine if you couldn’t order some crazy colors to go along with its power. Wild hues are there for the taking, including Go Mango (orange), TorRed (red), Green Go (lime green), and Yellow Jacket (bright yellow). We’ll see if Furious Fuchsia or Plum Crazy are added at some point — you just know they will be. A relatively subtle side stripe is also optional.