Daring Dodge Challenger can surprise with all-wheel drive

  • David Mikesell
12:00 a.m. Friday, March 2, 2018 Cars
The 2018 Challenger GT is a two-door American muscle car with all-wheel drive, providing muscle car enthusiasts all-weather driving confidence exclusive to Dodge, featuring an active transfer case and front-axle disconnect. Dodge photo

A sheep in wolf’s clothing. That’s the Dodge Challenger GT.

The 2018 GT is the conservative version of throwback muscle cars of the 1970s that include the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. And by the conservative version, we are speaking in relative terms about a lineup that includes an 840-horsepower (!!!) trim. The Challenger GT still has the iconic shape and plenty enough pop with the base 305-horsepower engine to satisfy the thrill seekers, but the keynote is that it is all-wheel drive, which makes it viable for those wanting a bit more stability with their speed.

Challengers cannot be all things to all people. Certainly the image falls to those models that have Hemi or supercharged engines. Speaking of which, the new addition to the fold is the SRT Demon, which has the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that starts at 808 horsepower and can be optioned up to 840 hp with a 0-60 mph time of 2.3 seconds.

Consider me sufficiently excited to try out the standard 3.6-liter V6 that can still go from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds. An 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, 19-inch wheels on the ground and a beefy (and heated) steering wheel in your hands will give you a delightful sense of control. Because the Challenger is nearly two tons, though, don’t expect the supreme handling of smaller, nimbler coupes.

One advantage of the Challenger is that it can be utilized for cargo with a trunk that is an applaudable 16.2 cubic feet. This amount of space, which compares to many sedans, does take away from the rear seat that technically seats three, although those folks will have little headroom and less legroom.

The GT starts at $33,495, which is the same price as a year ago and not a stretch past the entry-level SXT sticker of $26,995. In addition to all-wheel drive, the GT enjoys more interior creature comforts like leather upholstery with heated and ventilated front seats, upgraded sound system and UConnect infotainment system with an 8.4-inch screen replacing the standard 7-inch monitor.

For those interested in more punch from their Challenger, the 707-hp Hellcat pricing begins at $63,795 and the SRT Demon at $83,295.

For those of us who spend more time living in the practical world, the Challenger GT proves that Dodge is taking multiple consumer groups into account. Even though we are on the back end of another Midwest winter, the baddest all-wheel drive vehicle on the block is worth all-season consideration.