My good friend and fellow Barrett Jackson announcer Steve Magnante frequently points out that when it comes to horsepower, the good old days are right now.
Case in point is the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT 392. I’m not sure what is more impressive. The fact that the 392 has 485 horsepower, or that it’s not the big dog in the Mopar world. That distinction belongs to the various Chrysler cars which have the 707 horsepower Hellcat engine.
And while it’s easy to lust after that massive grunt, the reality is that not everyone can afford the car or the traffic tickets that will likely follow. Enter the 392. Still more horsepower than anyone truly needs but not quite a beast.
Actually, what the full range of Challenger models is very impressive. You can start with the base SXT which has a V6 delivering 305 horsepower. The R/T is the next step with 375 horses. To get the 485 horsepower 392 you have to choose either the scat pack or the 392 SRT models. And then there’s the holy grail of horsepower, the Hellcat. That is a lot of performance choices, and none of them are bad.
I have to admit that I’m a fan of the challenger. My first look at the 2015 model came late last year with the R/T model. (You can read that review here.) My second taste was even better. As I pointed out I that previous review, the Challenger is simply bigger and beefier than the competition. The Mustang and the Camaro may handle better if you buy the right packages, but the Challenger delivers a great driving experience.
The Challenger got a face lift in 2015. There are plenty of changes, but nothing that is a big departure from previous models. I’m actually curious how long they can keep this body style before it gets stale. Since it’s designed to have a retro feel, how do you move that forward? While I’m enjoying the current style, I’m actually looking forward to the time when the Dodge stylists have to do a major redesign. Although that’s likely a long way off.
The styling improvements are inside the car as well. There is a redesigned dash that has a 70s feel in a good way. My seats were not only comfortable but they looked great in red and black (which was apparently a $95 option and well worth it). While the back seat isn’t huge, it does give three more inches of leg room than the Mustang. Your kids will thank you for that as they get older.
I’ve made it very clear that I’m a big fan of Chrysler’s Uconnect system and display. I think it’s the best on the market today. You can get an 8.4 inch screen that just does everything well. Particularly fun are the performance pages. You can start by choosing what kind of car you want. It’s not just choosing between sport and comfort, the 392 gives you option to choose exactly the combination of performance settings for your mood. You can adjust the suspension and the steering.
And once you have the settings dialed in, the performance pages are ready to help keep track of your speed. They will record your 0-60 times, your quarter miles or lap times (how quickly can you do the Thirstbuster loop?). The only downside is that it will be constantly urging you for more which could rub your local law enforcement the wrong way.
The 392 has big Brembo vented and slotted brakes that look great and give solid stopping power. Thanks to all the adjustments, the Challenger handles fairly well, although it’s definitely not a sports car. Still, when you think back to how that original Challenger handled, it’s come a long, long way.
Base price for the SRT 392 is $44,995. With a handful of options my test car stickered at $51,215. You might think that is getting awfully close to the Hellcat’s $59,995 base price. But by the time you add options and a premium, that 707 horsepower beast will cost a lot more.
I guess I should mention fuel mileage. The 392 is rated for 15 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. The combined rating is 18. I was apparently pretty aggressive during my test week and only averaged 16 mpg.
The great thing about the Challenger is that you can buy the car you want. Pick your price point and figure out how much horsepower you can afford.
Which is exactly why the good old days are right now.