Buyer's Guide: 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T Classic

By John Beltz Snyder

December 08, 2009

Driving Impressions:

The Challenger’s styling is some good stuff. While it may be little much for some folks, muscle car enthusiasts will appreciate the throwback looks. The R/T Classic is a particular beauty inside and out, and catches the gaze of other drivers and evokes cheers from youngsters on bicycles. Just like with the new Chevrolet Camaro, and some of the finer Ford Mustangs, be prepared to answer questions from strangers at the pump. Something about these cars brings out the chatterbox in a lot of people.
The 5.7-liter V-8 of the R/T is toned down a notch from the terror that is the SRT8. Purists will prefer the larger, grunting 6.1-liter mill, but the 5.7 in the R/T will offer more than enough muscle for most people’s tastes. Where some might call it “dialed-down,” others might see it as safer and smoother in its delivery of power. Plus, a price premium ranging between $8240 and $11,700 (thanks Gas Guzzler tax) for 0.4 additional liters of displacement may be hard for some buyers to swallow.
Shifting the Challenger’s six-speed manual transmission was one of the best about this vehicle. There’s something about that pistol grip shifter that is very satisfying. Combined with a smooth clutch uptake, it’s not difficult to get power to the ground without a fuss. It makes swapping gears a rewarding endeavor, and we prefer it to the five-speed automatic.
The Challenger is heavy, and it can be felt when cutting to either side. Combined with a light steering feel, it’s safe to say that the Challenger prefers to go fast in a straight line than to blast through tight curves. Over 4000 pounds for V-8 models, the suspension takes its time shifting the weight from side to side. At the same time, it offers a comfortable ride on irregular road surfaces. While feedback may be dulled, passengers won’t be jostled about. Also, for it’s weight, the brakes do a fine job of bringing the challenger to a halt. The traction control keeps the car from swinging too wide on a slow corner or spinning tires at a stop, but it can be switched off for some heavy-footed fun.
A final item of note was the roominess of the Challenger. Passengers will appreciate the space, and the cavernous trunk makes the Challenger suitable for long-distance travelling. Perhaps it’s time we took one for a little grand touring.
Basic Specifications:
·      3.5-liter V-6 (SE)
·      5.7-liter V-8 Hemi (R/T)
·      6.1-liter V-8 SRT Hemi (SRT8)
·      197.7”
·      57.3” (SE, R/T)
·      57.1” (SRT8)
·      75.7”
·      116.0”
Capabilities and Capacities
·      250 hp/250 lb-ft (SE)
·      372 hp/400 lb-ft (R/T 5AT)
·      375 hp/400 lb-ft (R/T 6MT)
·      425 hp/420 lb-ft (SRT8)
Cargo Volume
·      48.5 cu ft
Passenger Volume
·      104.0 cu ft
Fuel Economy (mpg)
·      17 city/25 hwy (SE)
·      16 city/25 hwy (R/T)
·      13 city/19 hwy (SRT8 5AT)
·      14 city/22 hwy (SRT8 6MT)
Pricing (MSRP)
·      $22,945 (SE)
·      $30,945 (R/T)
·      $34,405 (R/T Classic)
·      $42,645 (SRT8)