Introduced last year, the Dodge Challenger GT made a mark for itself as the first two-door all-wheel drive American muscle car. Utilizing the same front-axle-disconnecting setup from the AWD Charger, I had my doubts about this somewhat Frankenstein of a vehicle. But I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.
“Dodge is shifting the muscle car paradigm with the new 2017 Dodge Challenger GT,” said Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger cars FCA North America, in a news release. “The Challenger has always been the most wide-ranging and functional muscle coupe, and now, with the new 305-horsepower all-wheel-drive Challenger GT, we are stretching the functional and geographic boundaries even further.”
Paired to the manufacturer’s 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 mill, the coupe doesn’t exactly move or sound like the HEMI-equipped models, but if you put your foot down hard enough some engine noise can be heard. I’ve piloted the V8 R/T Scat Pack trim in the past and I have to admit I found the sure-footedness and slightly lesser output of the GT to be easier to operate on rainy Vancouver roads.
As I mentioned above, thanks to front-axle disconnect technology, during cruising speeds in pleasant conditions 100 per cent of the torque is directed to the rear wheels for sharper handling and better fuel economy (personally, around 13.6 L/100 km in mixed city and highway driving). When the onboard sensors detect any loss of traction, the front axles are automatically engaged activating AWD mode. Even hammering the throttle coming out of a parking lot on a slick road, there was virtually no slipping or sliding.
Although there’s no bulging black intake visible from the driver’s seat as on the higher grades, the GT is still quite aggressive looking, so much so that an auto enthusiast friend of mine was surprised to learn of its V6 DNA. Featuring dual hood scoops, a contrasting front bumper splitter, twin exhaust pipes and available bright pull-me-over red coat of paint, no one will mistake the car for a grocery getter.
To increase the fun level further, there are paddle shifters and a Sport mode forcing quicker shifts and longer gear holding for more spirited motoring. Occupants may notice a “Super Track Pak” button located on the centre stack — pushing it brings up the Dodge Performance Pages and launch control functionality on the 8.4-inch display. I personally didn’t play around with any of the lap time or G-force readouts, but even just navigating the intuitive menus is a breeze on the Uconnect infotainment system.
A few notes on practicality: the Challenger has a humongous trunk, so put away any normal worries of not being able to fit things into a coupe. The doors are equally huge, and heavy, and can make getting in and out of the vehicle in tight city parking spots a “challenge” (sorry).
The 2018 Dodge Challenger GT AWD starts at $39,245.