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Based on a shorter version of the platform underneath the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans, the Dodge Challenger had the distinction of being one of the few coupes with five seatbelts and room for adult rear passengers. Or car seats, if the Challenger is your idea of a family car.
Introduced for 2008, the new Challenger was initially available as the Challenger SRT8, with a 425-horsepower, 6.1-liter V8 mated to a five-speed automatic transmission. Aimed at speculative buyers and muscle car enthusiasts, the Challenger SRT got meaty Brembo brakes, 20-inch wheels, leather upholstery, heated front seats and a load of nostalgic styling cues.
For 2009, more Challenger models became available. The base Challenger SE is powered by a 3.5-liter V6 with 250 horsepower, but it's paired with an antiquated four-speed automatic transmission. The Challenger R/T has a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with a far more stout 370 horsepower, as well as the choice of either a five-speed automatic or six-speed manual. Last year's SRT8 continued, with a larger color palette.
The Challenger V6 was upgraded in 2010 with a five-speed automatic. A Super Track pack was added with more aggressive suspension components and some heritage appearance features on the R/T model.
Big news arrived in 2011 with the old 3.5-liter V6 being replaced by a 3.6-liter unit with 305 horsepower, resulting in markedly improved performance. The SRT8 was also upgraded with a 6.4-liter V8 now scooting out 470 horsepower. Subtle revisions to the suspension were also made on all models.
For 2012, the base SE trim was renamed the SXT, but not much else changed in 2013 and 2014.
In 2015, the Challenger received a comprehensive refresh. Styling was modified inside and out, with performance adjusted upwards as well. An eight-speed automatic transmission was added across the board, improving fuel economy and performance. The Challenger SRT's 6.4-liter V8 was boosted to 485 horsepower, but also available on the new R/T Scat Pack version. New interiors brought a large Uconnect touch-screen infotainment system to most versions, as well as significantly upgraded materials. Other features such as forward collision warning and adaptive cruise control were also made available. And an optional Blacktop package adds blackened accents to the R/T.
Finally, a new range-topping Challenger SRT Hellcat was introduced for 2015, which features a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 707 horsepower.
Changes for 2016 include the Blacktop package becoming optional on SXT models and the introduction of the historic Plum Crazy color for a limited run.