I’m not a bodybuilder, but I think I may have gained a pound of muscle mass just by driving Dodge’s newest Challenger muscle car last week. Something about sitting behind the wheel of the 2017 Challenger just seems to make you feel stronger.
The Challenger, which returned to production in 2008 after a 25-year hiatus, is a classic American muscle car. And for the past nine years it’s been a great seller for Dodge. The Challenger has a number of trim levels for buyers for buyers to choose from, topped by the insanely powerful 707-horsepower Hellcat edition.
For 2018, Dodge will unleash an even more beastly 840-horsepower SRT Demon version that will go from zero to 60 mph in 2.3 seconds, which is faster than any other production car in the world.
Nostalgia is a word not lost on Dodge, which this year brings back the T/A trim for the 2017 Challenger. The T/A (Trans Am) trim was built only in 1970 as a race car.
Driving in the Texas Auto Writers Association’s Auto Roundup on the Circuit of the Americas race track in Austin, I learned that this year’s Challenger T/A likes the track as well. Then when I got to tool around Baton Rouge streets for a week, I also realized that the Challenger feels just as comfortable on public streets as it does tearing up a racetrack.
Even with the HEMI V8, my test Challenger was rated at 25 miles per gallon on the highway and 15 mpg in the city. The well-bolstered seats were comfortable and the cabin was roomy. The ride is compliant and even my wife – no fan of muscle cars or even coupes – said she could live with the comfortable performance bolstered front seats in the Challenger cabin. She didn’t care about the white-faced gauges, but she did like the heated and ventilated Nappa leather seats in my Challenger T/A 392.
The Challenger has good head and leg room in the front seats, and even has more room in row two than most coupes. It is also outfitted with Dodge’s Uconnect infotainment system, one of the best on the market.
The Challenger has a firm ride that allows it to fare well on a track, but the suspension is not so stiff that it has a harsh ride on public paved roads. And perhaps most significantly, the 2017 Challenger T/A gets a 5-star overall safety rating from the government.
The 2017 Challenger comes in a wide range of trims: SXT, R/T, R/T Scat Pack, SRT 392 and the Hellcat. The T/A trim is a variant of the R/T and the Scat Pack.
The SXT is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that develops 305 horsepower and 268 lb.-ft. of torque. The R/T steps up to a 5.7-liter V8 that delivers 372 horsepower and 400 lb.-ft. of torque. The Scat Pack is next with a bigger V8, this one at 6.4 liters with 485 horsepower and 475 lb.-ft. of torque. The transmission is an 8-speed automatic with a space-saving rotary dial shifter. A 6-speed manual transmission is available.
My test Challenger T/A 392 had the same engine as the Scat Pack, which is to say it was f-a-s-t on the race track in Austin. COTA, a world-class Formula 1 racetrack, has some pretty significant elevation changes and tight corners, and the T/A remained flat and surefooted all the way around.
Plus, this is just a great looking car, especially in the test car’s “Green Go” exterior paint. Unique satin black graphics are cool, and the optional hood pins are something we loved to put on cars “back in the day.”
The T/A is outfitted with either 20 x 9-inch or 20 x 9.5-inch wheels and high-performance Goodyear and Pirelli tires. The car also gets massive high performance Brembo brakes that can bring the Challenger to a stop right now.
2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392
6.4-liter HEMI V8
$37,995 ($55,150 loaded with options & freight)
EPA mileage rating:
15 mpg city/25 mpg highway/18 mpg combined
Estimated highway range: