Photos courtesy of Dodge
There are very few cars that would make my "dream car" list, particularly if you're considering vehicles that fall under six figures. But after driving the Inaugural Edition of the 2011 Challenger SRT8 392, I've added this amazing muscle car to my short list.
Ever since Dodge reintroduced the Challenger in 2008 as part of the American pony car revival, the vehicle has earned significant praise for the bold styling that evoked the original version from the early '70s. It's a beautiful coupe and Dodge is sticking with this third-generation design for the 2011 model with some minor tweaks. A total of 1,492 Inaugural Edition Challengers are being built featuring the blue-on-white or white-on-blue racing stripes that you see in the photos, but if you haven't reserved your vehicle, you can get the 2011 Challenger SRT8 392 in all the other available colors. The retro design is lean and powerful and the car is definitely a head-turner.
While I've been a big fan of the new design, I didn't truly appreciate the new Challenger until I was invited to drive the SRT8 392 in San Francisco. The car is simply amazing. I drove the automatic version and it was a joy to drive – I didn't miss the manual at all. No matter what speed you are traveling at, the car does exactly what you want it to do whenever you touch the gas pedal and it responds with a muscular roar. The car is a torque monster – the 392 Hemi is rated at 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. The entry level version of the Challenger has received an upgrade as well, replacing the 250-horsepower V-6 for Chrysler's new Pentastar V-6 with 305 horsepower.
The handling was also very impressive considering this Challenger is the largest and heaviest of the classic American rear-wheel-drive sport coupes. I drove the vehicle through the winding roads of Highway 1 outside of San Francisco along with some straightway stretches and some city driving, and I had a smile on my face the entire time. I love the power and the feel of the car – it's everything you would hope for in a muscle car. Reports suggest the 2011 version offers a significant upgrade over previous models, which I didn't drive.
Dodge has also placed a new emphasis on interior design, which helped to cap off the tremendous driving experience. The interior is sporty and lean but also very comfortable. The Inaugural Edition I drove was particularly beautiful with the dual color seats. The Challenger is also the roomiest of the pony cars so most guys should have no trouble being comfortable in the driver's seat.
I didn't pay attention to the list prices for the vehicle before enjoying the drive, so this ended up being the last big surprise of the experience. The list prices range from $25,305 for the entry level vehicle to the mid-to-high forties for the SRT8 392. That's a steal for this car!The 2011 Challenger is the ultimate American muscle car. If you have any inclination to reward yourself, you have to give this car a test drive. It's a no-brainer for muscle car fans, and if you're partial to exotic foreign cars, you still owe it to yourself to test this one out. Any car enthusiast will fall in love with this 2011 Challenger.
Click the thumbnails below to see full versions of each photo.