I don’t typically offer advice/commentary on specific new vehicle models, partially because everyone (and I mean everyone) does this, and partially because most new cars are sort of interchangeable to me. That’s not to say that I don’t have preferences or favorites (I do), but when viewed thru the lens of helping consumers maximize their vehicle’s value and ownership experience, the choice of vehicle model is less important than the choice of vehicle type.
But for the 2015 Challenger, I’ll make an exception. I love this car. The combination of style, power, and value have made me actually consider owning a Fiat-Chrysler product, something that makes me a bit queasy in any other context due to the brand’s poor history of reliability and quality.
Speaking as a person who isn’t really a Dodge fan, this is a great car. Here’s what you need to know if you’re going to buy one.
Don’t Buy A V6
Do not – under any circumstances – buy a V6 Challenger. At least not a brand new one. It’s a decent car, but it’s going to crater in terms of resale value the minute it leaves the lot. If you compare the base price of an SXT Challenger, the R/T (which gets you a V8) is only 16% more. That’s not a trivial amount, but it will make a world of difference when it’s time to sell or trade-in your car.
|Fuel Economy||19 MPG City/30 MPG Highway||19 MPG City/30 MPG Highway||15 MPG City/24 MPG Highway|
|Engine||3.6-Liter V6 24-Valve VVT||3.6-Liter V6 24-Valve VVT||5.7-Liter V8 HEMI® VVT|
|Transmission||TorqueFlite® Eight-Speed Automatic||TorqueFlite® Eight-Speed Automatic||6-Speed Manual TREMEC|
|Buying Advice||Only 16% more up-front, but MUCH more valuable at trade-in time|
Does the V8 cost more to drive every day in terms of fuel expense? Yes. Does the V8 cost more to insure? You bet. But if you’re concerned about fuel expenses or insurance costs, you probably shouldn’t be buying a new Challenger.
What V8 Version is Best?
In my opinion, the R/T is probably the way to fly. While the R/T Plus, Scat Pack, 392 and Hellcat are all great, there are a handful of reasons I’d select the R/T:
- There are a few things you can do to “wake up” the R/T’s 5.7L V8. It’s not going to be as fast as a 6.4L, but you can get surprisingly close with a new rear axle ratio, a programmer, and some upgrades to exhaust and intake. Of course, a supercharger works too, and they’re not as expensive as you might think ($6,000 + install to add 100hp or so).
- The upgraded packages include a bunch of luxury features that – in my opinion – detract from the experience. If you’re buying a Dodge Challenger, you probably shouldn’t be concerned about things like heated seats or “infotainment centers” – you should be worrying about cruising.
- The torque of the 5.7L is pretty good, and that’s really what determines “fun factor.” Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to have a 700hp Hellcat. But the truth is that a 5.7 powered Challenger with 410 lb-ft of torque is going to be a riot to drive. The Scat Pack and 392 versions jump up to 485 lb-ft, which is awesome but hard to notice on the street.
Must Have Options?
None. The “Super Track Pack” is interesting to perfomance enthusiasts (I’d buy it), but some people might not like the compromised ride quality and finicky tires. The “Driver Convenience Group” is only mildly valuable (HID headlights are sort of a negative in my view, as they’re more expensive to replace when they inevitably burn out), and I see no reason to spend good money on parking assist. Same goes for the “Cold Weather Group”, as a car like this is supposed to be parked in the winter time.
At about $32k, a base model 2015 R/T Challenger is a 375 horsepower, 410 lb-ft of torque street beast with a decent warranty, the latest safety features, and handsome style. What’s more, odds are good Dodge will be offering big rebates on this car by the time the summer rolls around, so you might be able to buy one of these cars for $27k. That’s a pretty damn good deal all things considered.
While I’d advise anyone thinking about buying a new 2015 Challenger to wait 18 months and buy a used one for half the price, I will say that Dodge has a winner here. It’s a good-looking car with respectable power in the R/T trim, and there’s a long list of after-market parts available for the R/T’s 5.7L V8 that will give enthusiasts plenty of options for increasing power.
As time goes by, I hope Dodge remains committed to building and selling powerful cars with big V8s at reasonable prices. We could use more affordable performance vehicles.