2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Limited Edition Review – Just Keep Livin'

Dodge Expert Reviews

2009 Dodge Challenger SRT-8

By Danny Chang


  • Bad-a$s looks
  • Bad-a$s power
  • Uncontrollable urge to drive fast


  • Bad MPG
  • Failure to impress young ladies
  • Uncontrollable urge to drive fast

“That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I get older and they stay the same age.” – David Wooderson in Dazed and Confused. That’s who I felt like while driving around town in this twenty-first century reincarnation of the 70s muscle car. Oh wait, that’s not the right quote, I meant to use this one: “Let me tell you what Melba Toast is packin’ right here, all right. We got 4:11 Positrac outback, 750 double pumper, Edelbrock intake, bored over 30, 11 to 1 pop-up pistons, turbo-jet 390 horsepower. We’re talkin’ some f***in’ muscle.” Although Matthew McConaughey’s character drove a 1970 Chevy Chevelle Super Sport, the ’09 Dodge Challenger SRT8 is the truest in form to the 70s muscle cars compared to the recently-updated Ford Mustang and the Transformers star-struck Chevy Camaro. And just like McConaughey in the movie, I was all smiles ear-to-ear every time I stepped out of the Challenger SRT8.

2009 Dodge Challenger SRT-8

Driving Impressions
Here are some details on this bad boy – It’s a top-of-the-line 2009 Dodge Challenger SRT8 Limited Edition with a 425-HP/420 lb-ft torque 6.1 liter HEMI V8 putting power down via 20″ 245/45ZR20 front and 255/45ZR20 rear 3-season performance Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, 3.92 Axle ratio instead of the standard 3.06 and a six-speed manual transmission – all these add up to a scary amount of power and torque and basically you almost always are the first one off the line at the stop lights. The SRT8 wore a beautiful Bright Silver Metallic clear coat with carbon fiber hood striping on the outside, and sports a very impressive Dark Slate Gray interior with premium leather trim bucket seats with an SRT accent stripe across the top. It was trimmed to the T with the “Customer Preferred Package 21X” which includes the SRT Option Group II. What does that mean, you say? Well, it’s quite a tongue-twister: 6-disc CD/DVD/MP3 player/integrated multimedia navigation uConnect GPS with Sirius Traffic, 13 Kicker SRT High-Performance speakers, 200W subwoofer and a 322W amp, etc.

Driving the Challenger SRT8 is like trying to ride a wild beast at the Coliseum during the days of the Roman Empire. All eyes are on you, with half the people cheering you on and the other half waiting to see you crash and burn (especially among the many Prius drivers here in the Bay Area). The HEMI V8 grunts like a wild beast and howls when you step on the accelerator. The car feels really big probably because it is really, really big. I could almost see Oregon just over the air scoops on the hood as I drove it up north to the Muir Woods National Monument north of San Francisco. It has so much power and the 6-speed wants you to keep accelerating forever. It was hard to see out the side of the car because of the giant C pillar so I stopped trying after a while. I figured people would just get out of the way.

2009 Dodge Challenger SRT-8

Solid. The doors shut with a low thud similar to the latest offerings from Europe. The leather-trimmed wheel felt really good and the immense car felt really solid. Even on hard corners the car did not squeak or squeal, and felt like a much smaller car. The seats are solid and felt snug providing plenty of support. I’ve read lots of reviews where people knock the interior of the Challenger, how there’s not much difference between this and other Chrysler models. This is true but I didn’t care. There’s too much driving to be done. The only rattle came after day two and was located somewhere in the dash left of the steering wheel. It was kind of annoying but only took place between 1000 and 2000 RPM so I didn’t hear it much. The panels fit together pretty well and the whole car felt just very solid. Chrysler has come a long way. If you were the grease-monkey type, there’s plenty of room in the engine bay, even with the monstrous HEMI V8 inside. Though if you spent this much money and it’s not your primary driver, you’re probably not one to own a wrench.

Interior Comfort and Ergonomics
The steering wheel felt big to me, but it was in proportion to the vast interior space, which has enough room for John and Kate +8. The controls were fairly well thought-out, no major complaints. Everything is where it’s expected. The coolest thing about the instrument is the Performance Highlights portion hidden behind a few clicks of the steering wheel buttons. There’s a 0-60 timer, 1/8 and ¼ mile timers, a braking distance tracker, and a G-force monitor that shows you both real-time measurements and session highs. “Awesome!” was the word that I kept murmuring to myself. Like I mentioned before, the seats were comfy and support was good.

Dodge Challenger SRT-8 Interior 6-speed manual transmission with pistol grip shifter High performance instrumentaion

The integrated nav/radio/CD/DVD/MP3 system was very clean and worked fairly well. Entering addresses was painfully slow, however, and usually you’re halfway to your destination before you finish punching in all the letters. The pistol-grip 6-speed shifted really smoothly, and it felt like a short-throw shifter even though it’s not. Ergonomics-wise the only main drawback is the outside door handle. I know it looks like the original and is a standard part, but the door is heavy and I felt that a grip bar design, like those on the Dodge Caravan, would work better.

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