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Zero to 60: 2009 Dodge Challenger SE
Zero to 60: 2009 Dodge Challenger SE

by J.T. Hills
SGN Contributing Writer

            TOP

  • Sexy retro styling
  • Excellent ride quality
  • Huge trunk

 

            BOTTOM

  • ABS brakes aren’t standard on the SE
  • V-6 engine doesn’t feel as sporty as the car looks
  • Blind spots get getting used to

            Re-introduced in 2008, the Dodge Challenger is a five passenger two-door coupe based on the Charger/Chrysler 300 platform. For 2009, Dodge continues with the Challenger SRT 8, but adds to the line-up with the 5.7 liter Hemi V-8 R/T and the 2.5-liter V-6 SE. After spending a week with the 2009 Dodge Challenger SE, I’ve compiled a brass tacks list of highly technical scientific data based upon observations, experimentation, tabulations, inspections and so forth. Here we go:

            Go Hard or Go Home…
            In a Mustang a 2.5-liter 250 hp V-6 would be a welcome addition, especially at this price point, but the 2009 Dodge Challenger SE is a much larger coupe that is a bit more show than go. It’s a sedate and sane version of the Challenger with its retro throwback to yester year 4-speed automatic transmission and all. Although with fuel prices the way they are, the fact that it gets 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway for a big full-sized coupe isn’t all that bad. Did I mention the Challenger is big… it’s really big… it’s only four inches shorter than the Charger/ Chrysler 300… it dwarfs the Ford Mustang.

            If you like the looks… and really… there’s a lot to like about the looks… but don’t really need the high performance specs of the SRT8 and R/T model, the SE makes for a great road car. Out on the freeway the big coupe makes for an excellent ride. It’s very balanced and has great road manners. One thing that gets a bit getting used to though would be the blind spot created by the rear pillar. It’s short and wide… which makes for great exterior looks, but gets in the way of lane changes. I still would go for form over function here… just get used to using your mirrors. It also makes everyday things like parallel parking… or backing out of a driveway a little more exhilarating.

            The large interior cabin of the Challenger is nicely laid out. I like the looks of the retro-dash. Although it does look a bit stark… some metal finishes would be nice. The test model came with the optional leather-seating package. It’s worth the price… it’s a high grade and really adds to the aesthetics. It also came with the optional entertainment system with DVD navigation… it’s functional and easy to use… although not as intuitive as the Sync system by Ford. What’s nice about the size of the Challenger is that there is functional seating for five… well… 4 and a kid… but you could say that about the family sedan Camry, too. The trunk is spacious… it puts a town car to shame… which is great for those who like to take road trips… and the Challenger SE is definitely road trip friendly.
 
            OK, so for a before tax price of $27,690, what do you get?
            The base Charger SE starts out at $21,320… rental car fleet ready. Popular options add up fast. A quick look at the favorites includes:

            PERFORMANCE

  • 3.5-liter high-output 24-valve V6
  • 4-speed automatic transmission
  • 3.64 axle ratio
  • Touring suspension
  • Rear stabilizer bar
  • Speed sensitive power steering
  • 17” tires and wheels
  • Halogen headlamps

            SAFETY

  • Advanced multistage front airbags
  • Supplemental side curtain front and rear airbags
  • Remote keyless entry
  • Sentry key theft deterrent system
  • Tire pressure monitoring system

            COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE

  • Air-conditioning
  • AM/FM/MP3 4-speaker audio system
  • Power 8-way driver’s seat
  • Power 6-way passenger seat
  • Tilt-telescopic steering wheel
  • 12-volt center console power outlet

OPTIONS

  • Customer preferred package: Sirius Satellite Radio, 18” aluminum wheels and tires, all-speed traction control, anti-lock 4-wheel disc brakes, brake assist, electronic stability program, fog lamps, leather-wrapped steering wheel, sun-visor with illuminated vanity mirrors ($2,795)
  • Sound group: AM/FM stereo with in-dash 6-disc CD/DVD/MP3 player, Boston Acoustics speakers, 276-watt amplifier ($995)
  • Leather interior group: heated front seats, leather-trimmed bucket seats ($855)
  • Sunroof ($950)
  • Compact spare tire ($100)
  • Destination charge ($675)

 

 

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