Rear wheel drive cars are one of my favorite things in life. Most people think that a rear wheel drive car is terrible in the snow, but with the proper set of tires they can be as good if not better than FWD. Dodge decided to give us the best of everything when they put their AWD system into their Challenger to create the Challenger GT.
The Challenger is based on the Charger sedan which has been available with all-wheel-drive for years. meaning Dodge has had the tech to make this happen since the 2 doors introduction in 2008
Tim Kuniskis, the head of Dodge and all of FCA’s passenger car brands, says the automaker had for too long bought into the idea that a muscle car had to be rear-wheel-drive. Then he looked at the numbers and found that many of the people shopping for Chargers were also looking at the Challenger, but decided to go with the sedan simply because it offered all-weather traction. In the 17 states identified as “snow states,” he says all-wheel-drive Chargers make up a majority of sales, so adding it to the Challenger seemed like a no-brainer.
The Challenger GT is only available with a V6 engine meaning those dreaming of a Hemi powered 4 wheel drive burnout will have to wait. Dodge had made a Hemi-powered AWD Charger in the past but sales just weren’t there. Odds are the Challenger would sell better than the Hemi Charger but it’s a pricey risk.
Just because the platforms are similar does not mean this swap was perfectly simple. The Challenger sits on a 4.2-inch shorter wheelbase than the Charger, the resulting engineering challenge was to optimize the shorter drive line angles and to package all the extra hardware needed to provide power to the front wheels. The AWD system operates in rear-wheel-drive most of the time, disconnecting the front axle until it’s needed in an effort to save fuel. Very thoughtful when the payoff is a 27 mpg highway rating. Try to rip a smoky burnout and that front axle will kick into action scrabbling for traction to make sure you move forward and any theatrics are minimized.
The Challenger GT is heading to showrooms right now at a starting price of $34,490. What do you think? Lust or Bust?