By Chris Haak
Not content to let the Camaro and Mustang receive all of the glory (and retail sales), Dodge is slated to introduce some substantial upgrades to its retro-styled muscle car, the Challenger, according to a source cited by Mopar fan site Allpar. This will mark the car’s first mid-cycle enhancement.
Allpar says that the 2011 Challenger will receive “major interior upgrades” (hopefully improving the style as much as the materials; the current car’s sedate interior styling is disconnected from the reality of its aggressive and flashy exterior) as well as a new Garmin-sourced navigation system.
The exterior of the Challenger, at least for the SRT8 model, will receive some tweaks to the front fascia, but behind that fascia is the big news (literally). In late 2011, the Challenger SRT8 is expected to receive the new 6.4 liter Hemi, which Allpar predicts will produce 480 horsepower and 460 lb-ft of torque. If these predictions come true, the Challenger SRT8 will out-power every Mustang and Camaro variant except for the Shelby GT500 (550 horsepower) and perhaps the rumored LSA-powered supercharged Camaro Z28 (also roughly 550 horsepower).
The Challenger is expected at some point to ditch the Mercedes-sourced five-speed automatic in favor of a ZF eight-speed unit built in the joint venture between ZF and Chrysler. More pedestrian Challengers are likely to receive a seven-speed unit, which would help both fuel economy and performance. The SRT8′s abysmal gas mileage (as if anyone’s counting) should get a boost from the extra gear ratios plus the addition of cylinder de-activation technology.
The Challenger SE, the V6-powered base car, gets the other big news for this model. Chrysler is ditching the unloved 250-horsepower 3.5 liter V6 and replacing it with a new 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 that should produce between 280 and 300 horsepower, depending upon packaging and whether it gets direct injection. In the 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee, this engine makes 290 horsepower without DI. Because the Challenger is larger and heavier than the Camaro and Mustang, it will need the extra power to compete with the powerful 304-horsepower (Camaro) and 305-horsepower (Mustang) V6s standard in those cars.
We at Autosavant are big fans of the Challenger, particularly in SRT8 trim, so we can’t wait to get our mitts on the hairy-chested beast with another 50 horsepower. It’s going to be a fun car to cruise around in.