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Dodge Challenger: All-Wheel-Drive GT has power that’s ‘planted’

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As a long-time admirer of the very first Challenger, not to mention the retro reincarnation that exists today, it’s pretty impressive to think back about that 1970 version that inspired today’s modern marvel and see where Dodge has taken the renewed enthusiasm.

Popularity Demands Response

Popularity for the reborn muscle car has been strong since the actual version showed up at a 2007 auto show as a 2008 model. On looks alone they sold thousands, but Dodge has never been just about ‘looks’.

The 2018 Dodge Challenger has the strongest model lineup in its history, ranging from the 305-horsepower V6 SXT model to the 840-horsepower SRT Demon. In between those extremes (18 variations) are the Challenger GT, R/T, R/T Scat Pack, 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker, T/A, SRT 392, SRT Hellcat and SRT Hellcat Widebody models.

Exterior Flair

Though it is taller and longer than the original Challenger, this wide-bodied, third-generation model carries plenty of aggressive Dodge attitude in its archetypal four-headlamp split grille and pronounced and functional power bulge hood.

New for 2018 are F8 Green and IndiGo Blue paint options, while B5 Blue and Plum Crazy will make a galant return. At the corners are 19-inch aluminum wheels with painted pockets wrapped in 235/55R19 all-season performance tires. A rear decklid spoiler, LED halo headlamps, and LED taillamps add flair.

Interior Touch

A 1971-inspired high-sill center console, driver-focused instrument panel and the option to adorn the interior with a wide variety of trim selections, give buyers more personal choices. These choices include premium Nappa leather seating in black, black and ruby, or black and pearl color combinations; heated and ventilated front seats with four-way power driver lumbar adjustment; a Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; and six Alpine speakers with 276-watt amplifier.

All-Wheel-Drive Muscle

The all-wheel-drive GT model, which Dodge refers to as an AWD muscle coupe, certainly beats Camaro and Mustang to a perceived punch. In fact, the AWD traction’s ability to handle slippery roads and winter conditions is a huge attraction to those pony car enthusiasts who avoid driving in the snow.

The technologically advanced drive system uses an active transfer case and front-axle disconnect that delivers an impressive MPG at 18 city, 27 highway and 21combined. Enhanced with Vehicle Dynamic Control, the Challenger GT AWD promises impressive handling, with the VDC delivering confident traction on wet/icy roads.

Enhancing the on-road dynamic performance using precise front-to-rear torque control integrated with the Electronic Stability Control system, VDC maintains the Challenger’s ‘playful-power’ persona intact.

How It Works

According to Dodge, Challenger’s front axle is disengaged and 100 percent of the engine’s torque is directed to the rear wheels to preserve the fun-to-drive performance and handling characteristics inherent to rear-wheel-drive vehicles. When sensors indicate the need for additional traction, the system automatically engages the front axle, instantly transitioning the Challenger GT into all-wheel-drive mode.

Performance

The 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine, mated to a TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission, takes the available 305 horsepower at 6,350 rpm and 268 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,800 rpm and enhances Challenger power and performance.

Steering-wheel mounted, die-cast paddle shifters and a Sport mode makes gear changes fast and furious. For even greater control, you can use the paddle shifters and view gear selection through the full-color Electronic Vehicle Information Center. The suggested price starts at $33,495.

This auto review was researched and written by SteinPro Content Services and provided to the Sun-Times for publication