When it comes to the Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack, the only thing more intimidating than the test car’s black paint and matte black 20-inch wheels is the thunder of 485 horsepower stampeding out of the exhaust.
The Challenger is a throwback to the 1970s when muscle cars were at their zenith, and it follows a time-tested recipe: Stuff a big engine into a midsize car and you end up with a tire-melting monster. The Challenger Hellcat, with 707 horsepower, is even more insane, but those rare birds start at $60,990, if you can find one.
For all practical purposes, the Scat Pack is as much Challenger as anyone needs. Chrysler says it can hit 60 miles per hour in less than four seconds and the top track speed is 182 mph. The 6.4-liter engine has 475 pound-feet of torque, enough to spin the rear wheels if you’re careless with the throttle. The test car had a six-speed manual transmission but an eight-speed automatic is also available. The massive torque of this engine seems better suited to the automatic but gear heads will probably disagree.
It was great fun to be serenaded by the basso profundo exhaust. But unlike muscle cars from the 1970s, the Challenger is more than a stoplight bandit. It stops with authority and handles with alacrity. Credit huge Brembo brakes, a tight suspension and fat 20-inch tires that do a good job of keeping the car anchored in corners.
And speaking of corners, the Challenger doesn’t feel as nimble as a Mustang or Camaro because it’s fairly big. It shares its chassis platform with the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger. The wheelbase is a rather long 116 inches, but that gives the back seat 37.4 inches of headroom and 32.6 inches of legroom. Adults will fit there, but getting in is not easy.
The Challenger’s cabin seems large, and it is. You feel as if you’re in a sedan when you’re seated behind the wheel. The heavily contoured bucket seats deliver good support in all of the critical areas and the red and black upholstery of the test car was the perfect accent to the black exterior.
The updated instrument panel is nicely designed and well crafted. An LCD panel that can display a number of items, including digital speedometer readout, separates the gauge cluster. It’s funny that even though the Challenger has an analog speedometer, the digital readout was easier to use.
The 8.4-inch touch screen in the center of the dash contains one of the most intuitive interfaces of any car brand. It is easy to understand and use, something that few other companies can boast.
The base price of the test car was $37,495. Options included heated and cooled front seats with suede inserts, a heated steering wheel, blind-spot monitor, cross-traffic alert for the backup camera, navigation, satellite radio and Uconnect Bluetooth connectivity. The gas guzzler tax was $1,000. The sticker price was $44,175.
Three years or 36,000 miles with a five-year, 100,000-mile powertrain warranty.
Tom Strongman’s e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org
2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack
Engine: 6.4-liter, 485-horsepower V-8
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Wheelbase: 116 inches
Curb weight: 4,041 pounds
Base price: $37,495
As driven: $44,175
MPG rating: 14 in the city, 23 on the highway