Dodge’s 2016 Challenger HEMI Scat Pack Shaker is the poor man’s Hellcat

A trunk spoiler and wide taillights maintain a semi retro look for the Challenger

Dodge’s 2016 Challenger 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker can be dubbed the poor man’s hot Dodge Hellcat. The difference? About $18,240.

Well there’s also the horsepower deficit. The Hellcat 6.2L HEMI V8 puts out a blistering 707-hp and 650 lb/ft of torque while the Scat Pack Shaker’s 6.4L HEMI V8 has a mere but still exciting 485-hp and 475 lb/ft of torque. Both send this brute power through a heavy-duty and lightning quick 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission (a 6-speed manual is also offered) with paddle shifters. For the Scat Pack, EPA bestows upon it mileage estimates of 15 city, 25-highway mpg.

Despite the power differential, the Challenger 392 is still excitingly quick. It has been independently timed in the mid 4-seconds for 0-60. And the full throttle sensation from a standing stop produces goose bumps, especially when using Launch Control. The latter allows the driver to pre-set a launch rpm then upon popping the brake pedal the car just explodes from a standing stop. If the g-force push-you-back-in-the-seat acceleration doesn’t excite you, then the blast from the exhaust tones should.

Although the Challenger hasn’t changed much from the 2015 model, new for ’16 is the Plum Crazy paint job and Shaker hood option. Yes, the latter does work. Goose the throttle or slowly increase rpms at a standstill and the cold air induction scoop moves. The more throttle, the more it moves. Now you may be thinking a cut-out in the hood could bring dirt and water. Well, Dodge has lined the cold air induction shaker scoop with a thick rubber gasket.

Even without the Scat Pack Shaker option, Challenger is offered in SXT, SXT Plus, R/T, R/T Plus and R/T Shaker. In its most basic form, Challenger SXT can be had with a 3.6L, V6 producing a respectable 305-hp and 268 lb/ft of torque with 8-speed automatic-only trans. And carrying EPA’s of 19/30 mpg.

While the Scat Pack is truly a muscle car, it’s also an everyday coupe. There’s seating for four provided the front seats aren’t racked too far rearward. That, and as a coupe, squeezing in back there is tight as it is in a Camaro, Mustang and others.

The heated/ventilated front seats are of perforated leather, Recaro design, meaning excellent lateral support. They also have contrasting orange edge stitching and “Shaker” is embroidered into the headrests.

A canted center console houses the t-handle transmission shifter that is retro-patterned after the one used in the original 1970s Challenger. The center stack is programmable and houses Chrysler’s easy to use and large (8.4-inch) touchscreen display that has a host of apps plus UConnect infotainment system. The screen also serves the rearview camera, nav, audio and of course the Launch Control set up. Overall, the cabin is nicely designed with quality materials.

The trunk too is spacious for a car in this class. It’s rated for 16.2 cubic feet but increases when folding the 60/40 rear seatbacks. However, with a high trunk lip, long items may not make the angle even though their length could fit.

As a relatively heavy coupe (approx. 4,190 pounds), Challengers’ bulk doesn’t allow it to handle like a sports car. It’s meant to go quick and fast in a straight line. In fact, a launch control message says “wheels must be straight to activate Launch Control.” But the ride on Goodyear Eagle 20-inch tires is exceptionally smooth with a planted feel thanks to a sport-tuned suspension and firm underpinnings. Sharp turns taken at speed expose nary any body lean as the car maintains a confident feeling. The car also stops quickly and securely with famed Brembo brakes fore and aft.

With a very long list of standard safety and convenience features, and with added and optional safety features like lane changing warning, adaptive cruise, forward collision warning and more, the base price for the tested Challenger came in at $37,995. Add the Scat Pack Shaker HEMI ($4,800), Sound Group ($845), 8-speed automatic trans ($1,400), UConnect ($795), delivery ($995) and the bottom line reads $46,830. Now this a lot of performance car for the money.

To its credit, Challenger also scored a top 5-stars in government crash testing, 4/5 for frontal crash, 5/5 for side crash and four stars for rollover. As such, Challenger is an all encompassing muscle/family car when nicely equipped.

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