Growing up in the 1960’s and 1970’s I was surrounded by “muscle” cars, with the desire to own or at least drive one. I was fortunate enough to talk my Dad into buying me one for $500 and teaching me how to drive and repair my 1966 hot rod. In later years, my Uncle Tony took me to car shows and hot rod events, introducing me to the one car that always stood out from the crowd; the Dodge Challenger, with its long nose and raised hips. Well, the beast is back and looking sharper than ever!
As of late, the domestics have been drawing on their heritage and brought back some wonderful memories in the form of modern designs and technologies. Dodge took its turn with the launch of the Challenger in 2008. Based off the foundation of its brother, the Dodge Charger, this reincarnated 1970’s performance machine is unmistakably recognizable as a Challenger with all of its design glory, and under-the-hood performance.
The 2010 Dodge Challenger is pretty much a carryover from the 2009 model year with the following exceptions: Uconnect ™ Multimedia packaged with Sound Group I and II (on the SE and RT trims). Steering wheel-mounted audio controls are packaged with Uconnect Multimedia and Uconnect Navigation. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is now standard on the SE trim, and automatic headlamps and LED cup holders are standard and door handle lights are standard on the R/T.
Into the second year of its new life, the 2010 Dodge Challenger is available in three trim levels: SE, RT, and SRT8. The SE is a great choice if you want the hot looks of the Challenger, but with a more economical 3.5-liter HO 250 horsepower V6 that delivers 17 mpg in the City and 25 MPG on the highway. If you need a few more horses under the hood, the RT punches out 372 HP from a 5.7-liter V8 HEMI. True perfection of power is available from the SRT8 that cranks out 425 wild horses out of a tire burning 6.1-liter V8 HEMI engine.
All three engines come standard with a 5-speed automatic transmission. However, if you want to have a little; change that, a lot more fun, the RT and SRT8 both offer an optional 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive. On the RT it’s a $995 option and on the SRT8 is runs $695. Either way, it is worth the money. My weekly test drive vehicle was the RT with manual transmission and it multiplied the fun factor, ten-fold!
When Dodge’s designers began laying lines on paper, their intention was for the new Challenger to have a retro appearance that would tug on the hearts of those who once fell in love with the car. Dodge’s goal was to breathe new life into their icon by delivering a modern profile and high-tech features. The results are the 2010 Challenger with roughly the same posture of its 1970’s brother, yet with softer and cleaner lines. The Challenger offers the big, brawny stance that we connect to the American muscle car.
The Challenger adopted obvious styling cues from the original Challenger; however, with a larger stance than the original model. The Challenger has big, muscular lines that flow into a sea of curves and angles, delivering a sporty profile. One of the advantages it has over its cross town rivals, the Mustang and Camaro, is its larger size providing greater rear passenger space. One negative I have to add, was the visibility out of the rear window. Being quite limited by wide “C” pillars, it is a challenge to see anything out of the sides when exiting a parking spot or other tight area.
The interior of the 2010 Dodge Challenger is living large and comfortable. There is plenty of room for both the front and rear passengers. The dash carries on some touches of the original Challenger; however, but with a current appearance. I feel they could have done a little more to spark up the dash as it was all black. Perhaps a swab of color or two-tone effect would have generated a little flare. The center instrument cluster consisted of two large and two small chrome-ringed gauges with white faces, along with digital information such as outside temperature, direction, and radio station.
The center dash housed controls for the climate control, radio, Uconnect™ Bluetooth, and MP3 connection. The seats were large and comfortable. The center armrest area provided a large storage compartment and two cup holders with ring lights. The pedals on my RT where accented with chrome as were other parts of the interior.
Handling of the RT was surprisingly responsive for a large vehicle. The Challenger is built off of a modified Chrysler LX platform. The overall ride was smooth and confident as the RT rides on a set of 20” 5-spoke aluminum wheels and P245/45R20 BSW all-season performance tires. The performance-tuned suspension was relatively stiff. A bonus to the vehicle coming with the optional manual transmission was that it also came with a limited-slip differential to aid with traction and keep the car stable and in command of the road.
Room for improvement:
- Wide “C” pillars block your side view
- Great exhaust growl
- Cool retro-design
The 2010 Dodge Challenger earned a five-star rating for driver/passenger frontal crash and front and rear side crash test. Standard safety features including energy absorbing crush zones, reinforced safety cage, and front, head curtain, rear curtain, and side airbags.
In Summary – The 2010 Dodge Challenger is a blast from the past. All three trim levels offer power and performance. It offers a distinctive look that turns heads at every corner. The Challengers large size delivers the benefits of a large trunk and uncompromised rear seat capacity. This rear-wheel drive coupe provides a wealth of fun and the ability to take a step back in time.
For more information and a complete list of features and specifications go to www.autofastracks.com.
Specifications: 2010 Dodge Challenger RT
Base price: $30,860 as driven: $41,160 (including destination and optional equipment)
Engine: 5.7-Liter V8 HEMI
Horsepower: 372 @ 5200
Torque: 400 foot pounds @ 4400 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission with overdrive
Drive: Rear Wheel-Drive
Turning circle: 38.9 feet
Cargo space: 16.2 cubic feet
Curb weight: 4,041 pounds
Fuel capacity: 19 gallons
EPA mileage: 24 highway, 15 city
Wheel Base: 116 inches
Warranty: 3 years/36,000 miles
Also consider: Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro