Classic muscle cars weren't known for being easy, approachable vehicles to drive. With lots of power running to the rear wheels, the middle of winter wasn't the best time to pull out your pony car. It's a very different story in 2016, with the advent of traction control turning big, powerful muscle cars into pussycats. Now Dodge is making life easier again, adding all-wheel drive to the Challenger.
This all-weather muscle car has been a long time coming. Rumors of a Challenger with all-wheel drive have been circling for the past 12 months, and Dodge fanned the fire by releasing the Challenger GT AWD Concept in Las Vegas last month. With a sexy contrast paint finish, lowered suspension and – here's the crucial bit – a Hemi V8 under the hood, it was every bit the all-weather muscle car the automotive world was hoping for.
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Unfortunately, the production reality doesn't really match the drool-worthy concept, as the real Challenger GT will only be available with a 305 hp (227 kW) V6. That's right, no all-wheel drive Hellcat this time around. Maybe the extra differentials and driveshafts wouldn't fit with a bigger engine under the hood, or maybe Dodge wants to maintain the Hellcat's status as a mobile smoke machine, but we are a bit disappointed the most powerful muscle car ever isn't getting a grippy makeover.
The all-wheel drive system comes from the Charger AWD, and uses an active transfer case to shuffle torque between the front and rear axles. One hundred percent of engine torque is sent to the rear wheels in normal driving, but when the system detects slip it will instantly bring the front wheels into play. Not only will this save fuel, it should help maintain the rear-drive handling balance of the car when conditions are dry.
"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," says Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Cars for FCA North America.
Inside, the Challenger GT is largely unchanged compared to rear-drive models. Leather and suede seats are available for the first time on a V6 Challenger, and a nine-speaker stereo is also available as an option. The central 8.4-inch touchscreen carries over from the rest of the range, meaning owners will be able to store info about their best launches and laptimes to share with bored colleagues later on.
Pricing for the Challenger GT AWD starts at US$33,395. It'll be available in the first quarter of 2017.
Source: Fiat Chrysler AutomobilesView gallery - 7 images