The Challenger remains offered in three different primary trims--SE, R/T, and SRT8--that correspond to different engines, while a number of packages can help give the Challenger quite a range of possible styles and driving characteristics. The base SE model comes with a 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6 engine and 4-speed automatic transmission. For those who must have a V8, the Challenger R/T is the entry model, offering a 372-hp, 5.7-liter 'Hemi' V8 and 5-speed automatic transmission. And at the top of the range is the SRT8, featuring a 425-hp, 6.1-liter version of the Hemi. All three Challenger variants are rear-wheel drive, and automatic transmissions feature Chrysler's AutoStick manual control. On V8 models, a 6-speed manual gearbox is optional.
Base SE models have the same retro muscle-car silhouette as the others, but they're a little bit more sensible, with a low base price and 25-mpg fuel economy on the highway, while still providing satisfying enough acceleration for most everyday driving. The V8 models however have a different attitude, with a rumbling exhaust sound, tremendous torque just off idle, and a true muscle-car feel. Thanks to Chrysler's multi-displacement system, which shuts down some of the cylinders during coasting or cruising to save fuel, the 5.7-liter engine also is capable of 25 mpg on the highway. The R/T can get to 60 mph in less than six seconds according to Dodge, while the SRT8 can do it in less than five.
You sit rather low in the 2010 Challenger, and the car's tall shoulders lend a protective feeling. Front seats have plenty of space for the largest folks, and although technically the Challenger is a 5-person coupe its back seat can be quite tight, and entry and exit from the back seats can be a challenge. The trunk however is huge and easily accessed; Dodge says it's as big as that of the Charger sedan.
The high-performance SRT8 model that's at the top of the Challenger model range is truly where the muscle-car cues all come together. The SRT8 includes hood stripes, a rear spoiler, a functional hood scoop, a satin chrome grille and special SRT-design 20-inch alloy wheels, and the appearance extras make the most of the blunt, aggressive shape and low, wide stance. Hues like Hemi Orange pearl coat paint reach back to the original muscle cars.
Standard features across the Challenger model line include electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, side airbags and side-curtain bags. The bargain-priced SE isn't luxurious but it includes nearly all the features that are expected at its price level, including keyless entry, cruise control, air conditioning, power foldaway mirrors and a CD/MP3 sound system with auxiliary input. In addition to the V8, suspension, steering, and wheel upgrades, the R/T adds fog lamps, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and shift knob and extra interior illumination,
The SRT8 adds a host of extras in addition to the performance improvements, including HID headlamps, power heated mirrors, a remote start system, heated leather seats, UConnect (Bluetooth) hands-free, steering-wheel audio controls and a media center with hard-drive system and Boston Acoustics sound. Kicker upgraded speakers with a subwoofer are optional.
The Challenger carries into its second year with only a few minor feature and option changes. Electronic stability control is newly standard across the entire Challenger model line. R/T models get a few more standard features: automatic headlamps, an LED-lit cupholder and door-handle lights. UConnect Multimedia and UConnect Navigation now include steering-wheel audio controls and UConnect Multimedia features have been combined with the Sound Group.
The most significant new option for 2010 is the Super Track Pack, which brings a host of track-ready hardware and upgrades.