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Challenger Story Continues

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Dodge Challenger SE Photo: Rod Hatfield
By Perry Stern
Two new Challengers debut at the New York show.
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Dodge Challenger R/T Photo: Rod Hatfield
Dodge Challenger R/T Photo: Rod Hatfield
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Dodge Challenger SRT8 Photo: Bruce Whitaker
Dodge Challenger SRT8 Photo: Bruce Whitaker
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Dodge Challenger SE Photo: Sean Frego
Dodge Challenger SE Photo: Sean Frego
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Dodge Challenger R/T Photo: Rod Hatfield
Dodge Challenger R/T Photo: Rod Hatfield

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    Hot on the wheels of the Chicago debut of the Challenger SRT8, Dodge is continuing the exciting story of this modern-day muscle car.

     

    With the idea of having a Challenger for everyone, Dodge revealed the SE and R/T versions of the Challenger at the New York International Auto Show. Although buyers may aspire to own the powerful SRT8, it may not be the best solution for financial or other reasons.

     

    But all Challengers share the same eye-catching shape, and aside from wheels, exhaust and a few trim items, SE buyers get a vehicle almost identical in looks to the top-of-the-line SRT8.

     

    “With three models from which to choose, we’re making Dodge Challenger accessible to everyone,” said Mike Accavitti, who is the director of the Dodge brand and SRT global marketing for Chrysler LLC. “From the maximum performance of the Dodge Challenger SRT8 to the cutting-edge technology available on Dodge Challenger SE, the all-new 2009 Dodge Challenger offers a full menu of options for every customer.”

     

    The primary difference between the three trims: what’s under the hood.

     

    The Challenger SE is powered by a 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine that produces 250 lb-ft of torque while achieving an estimated 18 mpg city and 25 mpg on the highway — impressive fuel economy numbers given this is no small car at more than 3,700 pounds. All Challenger SEs are equipped with a 4-speed automatic transmission.

     

    Although the SE is at the base of the Challenger line, it still comes well equipped with such  side-curtain airbags, an AM/FM/CD audio system with MP3 capability, air conditioning and remote keyless entry. Pricing has not been released, but SE is expected to be in the low $20,000 range.

     

    But the Challenger likely to be the volume leader is the R/T. Powering the R/T is a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that gets an increase in horsepower now up to 375 horsepower with a manual transmission as well as improved fuel economy. Transmission choices for the R/T include a 6-speed manual or 5-speed automatic (horsepower is rated at 370 when teamed with the automatic transmission).

     

    The R/T gets a performance suspension, dual exhaust, polished fuel-filler door, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and 18-inch aluminum wheels with the option of going to 20-inchers. Ultimately the R/T carries over much of the styling found in the 425-horsepower SRT8, but will likely be at a more obtainable price.

     

    For those consumers trying to relive the past, Dodge has a Challenger to meet those needs as well. Coming a bit later will be a special edition Challenger Classic R/T. Adorned in B5 Blue with black wide side stripes inspired by the original, the Classic R/T will also feature unique script-style badging reminiscent of the 1970’s models, as well as exclusive 20-inch heritage five-spoke aluminum wheels.

     

    The Challenger SE, R/T and SRT8 will all be available this fall, with the Classic R/T arriving in showrooms late in 2009.

     

     

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