2011 Dodge Challenger Review and Prices
The 2011 Dodge Challenger is the best car for you if you want to saddle up the draft horse of pony cars.
The 2011 Dodge Challenger gets more powerful engines and suspension revisions to keep it running with the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. Base models of the 2011 Challenger exchange a 250-horsepower V-6 for Chrysler’s new corporate Pentastar V-6. With 305 horsepower, it’s the hottest version of the Pentastar – so far. At the top of the lineup, the high-performance model gets a larger-displacement Hemi V-8 with 475 horsepower -- a 50-horse increase – and a longer name: the 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392. In the middle, the 2011 Challenger R/T’s “regular” Hemi gains a nominal 7 horsepower. Unchanged is the 2011 Challenger’s role as the largest and heaviest mount among these classic American rear-wheel-drive sport coupes -- a standing that makes it the roomiest pony car, but also the least agile.
Should you buy the 2011 Dodge Challenger or wait for the 2012 Dodge Challenger? Buy the revised 2011 Challenger. The 2012 Challenger isn’t likely to get additional features worth holding off for. And the 2011 Challenger has all the key upgrades that’ll see this car through to its next possible redesign, which wouldn’t come before model-year 2014.
2011 Dodge Challenger Changes back to top
Styling: The 2011 Dodge Challenger’s styling isn’t altered, staying true to the model-year 2008 revival of this MoPar muscle car. The long-hood, short-deck shape, wide grille flanked by round headlamps, graceful roofline, and full-width tail lamps continue to honor the 1970 Challenger two-door coupe.
The 2011 Dodge Challenger’s interior is updated, but not as extensively or as elegantly as that of several other 2011 Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep models. Revisions to the 2011 Challenger’s cabin are highlighted by a new steering wheel with more ergonomically integrated controls for the audio and cruise control systems and other functions. The dashboard instrumentation gets new faces, and assorted trim is regrained or softer to the touch.
The 2011 Dodge Challenger continues as essentially a two-door coupe adaptation of the Dodge Charger full-size four-door sedan. The Challenger’s 116-inch wheelbase is 4 inches shorter than the Charger’s. Wheelbase is the distance between the front and rear axles and a determinate of passenger space, so the Challenger has less rear-seat legroom than the Charger. Challenger’s body length is some 3 inches shorter than the Charger’s, too, though the coupe is actually wider and just as heavy.
Note that the 2011 Dodge Charger and the closely related 2011 Chrysler 300 sedan are restyled and re-engineered for model-year 2011, though the basic understructure they share with the Challenger is carried over. Note also that the 2011 Charger continues available with both rear-wheel drive and all-season-traction-enhancing all-wheel drive. The 2011 Challenger remains purely rear-wheel drive, which is the preferred formula for performance driving because it better distributes the weight of the drivetrain front-to-rear and doesn’t require the front tires to both steer the car and provide propulsion.
The 2011 Challenger’s roots in a full-size sedan mean it’s again a somewhat paunchy pony that’s significantly larger than the Mustang and Camaro. The payoff is the roomiest rear seat in the class. In fact, Challenger is the only one of the three that has seating positions for five passengers instead of four. The 2011 Challenger, however, is also the only one to offer just a coupe body style; both the 2011 Camaro and 2011 Mustang are available as convertibles. On the upside, Challenger and Camaro have four-wheel independent suspensions; the Mustang uses a less-sophisticated sold-rear-axle suspension.
The Challenger continues in three trim levels: the 2011 Dodge Challenger SE V-6-powered base model, the 2011 Challenger R/T V-8 model, and the maximum-performance 2011 Challenger SRT8 392.
Mechanical: The horsepower war is alive and well in Detroit, with all three domestic-brand pony cars getting more of it for model-year 2011. The 2011 Mustang leads the charge with an all-new engine lineup, but the 2011 Dodge Challenger isn’t far behind.
The 2011 Dodge Challenger SE now packs Chrysler’s new 3.6-liter V-6 dubbed the “Pentastar” in honor of the company’s five-pointed logo. Debuting in the all-new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee and spreading to a total of 13 Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep models, the Pentastar is an advanced dual-overhead cam design with variable valve timing. In most other applications it rates around 280 horsepower, but in the 2011 Challenger SE it puts out 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque. That’s 55 horsepower and 18 pound-feet better than the 3.5-liter V-6 used in the previous Challenger SE.
The 2011 Challenger badly needed the Pentastar to remain competitive with the 2011 Mustang, which has a new 3.7-liter V-6 with 305 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque, and the 2011 Camaro’s V-6, newly fortified to 312 horsepower and 278 pound-feet. Unlike Mustang and Camaro, however, which offer manual transmissions with their V-6 engines, the 2011 Challenger SE is available only with a five-speed automatic transmission. Challenger’s automatic is a good one, with an easily accessed floor-lever gate that provides manual-type gear control. But whether the V-6 Challenger’s automatic-only edict is based on marketing, engineering, or cost efficiency hardly matters. It dims the SE’s luster a bit in an automotive segment in which more than a token number of buyers demand availability of a manual transmission.
No such worries with the other members of the 2011 Challenger lineup. The 2011 Dodge Challenger R/T retains its 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, which remains at 376 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque when mated with the six-speed manual transmission and 372 horsepower and 400 pound-feet when hooked to the five-speed automatic. The Hemi is named for combustion-chamber ceilings that are hemispherical rather than flat or angled. The shift lever on Challenger’s manual transmission is topped with a 1970s-style pistol-grip handle. As the power numbers would indicate, Challenger R/Ts are fast cars, though, frankly, only with the manual transmission does this two-ton coupe feel like a bona fide muscle machine.
The 2011 Challenger SRT8 392 also is available with both the six-speed manual and five-speed automatic and it’s a beast with either. In fact, it’s more of a beast for model-year 2011 thanks to a revised Hemi V-8 of 6.4-liters versus 6.1. The 6.4-liter displacement translates to 392 cubic inches and triggers the addition of the “392” suffix to what had been simply the SRT8. The 392-cubic-inch size holds an historic place in MoPar history, being the displacement of the 1957 Hemi V-8 that went on to great success on road and track.
The 2011 Challenger SRT8 392’s displacement increase and other updates result in a stout 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque. That’s 45 additional horsepower and 50 more pound-feet of torque than the SRT8’s 6.1-liter V-8. To complement its new muscle, the 2011 Challenger SRT 392 also gets stiffer shock absorbers, recalibrated suspension geometry, and quicker steering ratios; Dodge claims improvements in the car’s balance, corning agility, and steering responsiveness.
The 470-horsepower punch of the bigger Hemi gives the 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 bragging rights over some competitors. The 2011 Chevrolet Camaro SS has a 6.2-liter V-8 that rates 426 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque with manual transmission and 400/410 with the six-speed automatic transmission. The 2011 Ford Mustang GT’s 5.0-liter V-8 has 412 horsepower and 390 pound-feet of torque. However, with base prices in the $31,000-$35,000 range, the Camaro SS and Mustang GT coupes are perhaps more properly competitors for the Challenger R/T, which starts at $30,495.
Still, the 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT 392’s base price of $44,380 is some $6,000 shy of the $49,495 2011 Mustang Shelby GT500 coupe, which has a supercharged 5.4 V-8 of 550 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. And the bow-tie brigade is loading up to unleash the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro Z28 coupe. It’ll likely use a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 with at least 556 horsepower and 551 pound-feet of torque and have base price around $49,500.
Note that when used with the automatic transmission, both the 5.7- and 6.4-liter Hemi V-8s employ a multi-displacement system that saves gas by automatically shutting down four cylinders in low-power-demand situations, then nearly instantly resorting all eight when necessary. This feature is new for model-year 2011 on the SRT8’s engine.
Features: The 2011 Dodge Challenger continues with an admirable range of features that can tailor one to your budget-watching needs or create a rather luxurious grand-touring coupe.
Every 2011 Challenger again has four-wheel disc brakes with antilock management for better control in emergency stops, traction control to limit tire slip during takeoffs, and antiskid stability control to mitigate sideways slides. Head-protecting curtain side airbags for both seating rows are also standard, as are a manual tilt/telescope steering wheel, power driver’s seat, and a split rear seatback that folds to create a cargo-passage from the trunk.
All 2011 Challengers again come with alloy wheels; sizes are unchanged, with 17s standard on the SE, 18s standard on the R/T and optional on the SE, and 20s standard on the SRT8 392 and optional on the R/T.
Returning 2011 Challenger options, depending on the trim level, include a power sunroof, remote engine start for automatic-transmission models, leather upholstery, heated front seats and mirrors, and xenon headlamps. Also available again will be a voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic information and Chrysler’s Uconnect multimedia system that includes USB iPod interface and steering-wheel audio controls.
The 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 comes with xenon headlamps, functional hood scoops, leather upholstery, special sport bucket front seats, and dashboard readouts that track 0-60-mph acceleration times, lateral G-forces, and other lead-foot data. Dodge also is offering the 2011 SRT8 392 Inaugural Edition, a special model whose production is limited to 1,492 cars. The Inaugural Edition rides on exclusive 20-inch wheels and tires and gives buyers a choice of a white exterior with blue stripes running the length of the car or a blue exterior with white stripes. The seats are finished in white leather with blue stripes and stitching.
2011 Dodge Challenger Prices back to top
Prices for the 2011 Dodge Challenger don’t increase significantly over those of the 2010 Challenger, despite the additional horsepower. Base-price range for the 2011 Challenger is
$25,495-$44,875. (Base prices in this review include the manufacturer’s destination fee; Dodge’s fee for the 2011 Challenger is $825.)
The 2011 Dodge Challenger SE starts at $25,495 not including options. The 2011 Challenger SE with the Rallye package is priced at $27,495. The Rallye package includes 18-inch wheels, a trunk-lid spoiler, a leather-wrapped gearshift knob, and assorted chromed trim add-ons.
The 2011 Dodge Challenger R/T’s base price is $30,495. The 2011 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 has a base price of $44,380. The five-speed automatic adds $995 to the R/T and SRT8 392.
The 2010 R/T model is again available with an assortment of options packages that include such items as the 20-inch wheels, functional hood scoop, upgraded audio systems, heated front seats, and various 1970s-style cosmetic touches, such as retro striping and Challenger script. For example, the 2011 Challenger R/T Classic starts at $33,795; it includes the retro trim, plus heated front seats, upgraded audio, and the Super Track Pak Group that adds a quicker steering, upgraded brakes, and 20-inch performance-tread tires.
Also available is the limited-edition 2011 Challenger R/T Green With Envy model. It wears special exterior paint reminiscent of 1970s Dodge colors such as “Sublime” and “Green Go.” Priced at $35,785, the 2011 R/T Green With Envy includes special body stripes, Dark Slate Nappa leather upholstery, and five-spoke alloys patterned after classic Halibrand wheels of the 1960s.
The 2011 Challenger SRT8 392 is also available as a Green With Envy model priced at $44,875.
Among key options for the 2011 Dodge Challenger, all but the base SE model are available with a choice of two navigation-system options, both with a 6.5-inch dashboard touchscreen. The main differences is that the $1,045 unit does not include voice recognition and the $1775 unit does.
2011 Dodge Challenger Fuel Economy back to top
Fuel-economy ratings for the 2011 Dodge Challenger show slight improvements over the 2010 model’s ratings, but given the 2011 version’s extra power and performance, slight improvements represent very good news.
The 2011 Challenger SE with its Pentastar V-6 is rated 18/27 mpg city/highway. That beats the far-less powerful 2010 SE’s fuel-economy ratings of 17/25.
The 2011 Dodge Challenger R/T and its 5.7-liter V-8 is rated at 15/24 with the six-speed manual transmission and 16/25 with the automatic. That mirrors ratings for the less-powerful 2010 R/T, which were 16/25 mpg with either the manual or automatic transmission.
Packing its bad-ass 6.4-liter Hemi, the 2011 Challenger SRT8 392 rates 14/23 mpg with manual transmission and 14/22 with automatic. That actually bests the weaker 2010 Challenger SRT8 and its 6.1-liter Hemi, which rated 14/22 mpg with manual transmission and 13/19 with automatic.
2011 Dodge Challenger Release Date back to top
The 2011 Dodge Challenger should be in showrooms by late November or early December 2010.
What's next for the 2011 Dodge Challenger back to top
Though it received two new engine choices, visually the 2011 Dodge Challenger is virtually indistinguishable from the 2010 model and, except for perhaps additional cosmetic trim options, it’s not likely to change any time soon. Sources indicate the Challenger will remain in its current form until at least model-year 2014.
Go retro and you grab the nostalgia crowd, but what do you do for an encore? How does an automaker advance a design that depends on heritage styling?
One way is to follow the Mustang example. Ford went retro with the 2005 Mustang, which used the 1969-1970 Mustang as a styling blueprint. When Ford updated the look of the 2010 Mustang, it applied a logical evolution that preserved the car’s heritage feel. Dodge would almost certainly be compelled to do the same assume the Challenger continues for another generation. It must be sensitive to the basic premise that this is a modern take on a 1970s classic.
Interestingly, Chevy took a different approach when it revived the Camaro for model-year 2010. It used the 1969 Camaro as inspiration for numerous styling details but not as a styling template. The result is a thoroughly up-to-date look less anchored to the past than the Challenger.
Depending on how sales of the updated 2011 Dodge Challenger shake out, the automaker’s corporate overseers, Italy’s Fiat Group, could well decide to let the vehicle fade away at the end of its current run and perhaps replace its slot in the lineup with a more modern-looking sports coupe in the same price range. A reincarnated Dodge Viper is reportedly coming for model-year 2012. It’s said to be based on the Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione, an exotic-class European coupe. A future Challenger replacement could likewise be based on an existing model in the Alfa or Fiat global portfolio.
2011 Dodge Challenger Competition back to top
2011 Chevrolet Camaro: Chevy’s reincarnated 2010 Camaro was faithful to the spirit but not the letter of its 1960s ancestors. For driver and passengers, this is the least accommodating of the three domestic pony cars. It has a closed-in cockpit feel, some unfriendly ergonomics, and a tiny trunk. But handling is first-rate and the Camaro SS model’s 6.2-liter V-8 generates Space Shuttle thrust. The 3.6-liter V-6 is no slouch, but it’s borrowed from Cadillac and does its best work at high rpm – not ideal for muscle-car response. Fuel economy peaks at 18/29 mpg with the V-6 and at 16/25 with the V-8. Prices begin at $23,530 for a V-6 LS model and reach a base price of $35,145 for the V-8 2SS version. Camaro’s next headlines will come for model-year 2012 with the addition of a convertible body style as well as the ZL1 coupe with a 550-horsepower supercharged V-8.
2011 Ford Mustang: A revised 2011 Mustang delivers added overall sophistication and sweeping changes beneath the hood. Mustang’s V-6 has 90 more horsepower and 40 additional pound-feet of torque than the outgoing one, with EPA-estimated fuel economy at 19/31 mpg. The new V-8 beats the old by a whopping 97 horsepower and 75 pound-feet and is rated at 18/25. It revives the 5.0-liter displacement made famous by 1980s Mustangs. Both engines trade five-speed manual and automatic transmissions for more efficient six-speed units. What’s more a revised Shelby GT500 model packs a 550 horsepower V-8 that comes mated only to a six-speed manual transmission, though it’s rated at a mere 15/23. Base prices start at $22,995 with the V-6, $30,495 with the V-8, and $49,495 for the Shelby.
2011 Hyundai Genesis Coupe: Challenger, Camaro, and Mustang have an appeal defined in large measure by big-cube power hooked to good-old rear-wheel drive. Coupe versions of the Nissan Altima and even the Honda Accord are arguably more rational purchases, but they’re front-wheel drive and don’t offer V-8s. For an affordable rear-drive alternative, we’ll site this stylish little two-door from South Korea. No retro styling here. And powertrains are a turbocharged four-cylinder that’s quick only with manual transmission and a V-6 whose 306 horses easily propel this car’s 3,400 pounds. Smaller inside and out than the domestic pony cars, the Genesis Coupe is agile but can be hard-riding. Four cylinder models start at $23,050 and are rated at 21/30 mpg, V-6 versions are base priced from $27,550 and top out at 17/27. The Genesis Coupe was introduced for model-year 2010 and won’t change significantly for several years.