• Review 2019 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack 392

Review: 2019 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack 392

I am what I am

Lee Bailie By: Lee Bailie October 28, 2019
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THE PROS & CONS

    • What’s Good: Big and brawny V8, timeless retro styling, tons of bad-ass attitude
    • What’s Bad: Thirsty V8, dated interior, poor outward visibility

 

The Dodge Challenger is not the car for your rational mind. Nope, it doesn’t care about making sense or possessing a healthy degree of practicality.

The Challenger wasn’t built to scratch that itch, at least not intentionally. Yes, there’s a back seat and a decent sized trunk, but c’mon – no one’s buying a Challenger for those reasons. Those things aren’t must-haves. It’s more like, ‘Oh look, a trunk. Nice. How much horsepower does this thing have, again?’

No, a Challenger buyer (often a middle-aged male) wants a cool-looking and sounding car to cruise around in that carries with it a vague sense of defiance that will also make others take notice of said protest. If you want to turn heads at the drive-thru or in the mall parking lot, this is your car. People will stare.

Review 2019 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack 392

And why shouldn’t they? They probably wish they could ditch their car-based SUVs for your supersized pack of horsepower. But you’re the one going for a rip. Or two. Or ten. And you will be satisfied because this car drives like it looks. It’s big and fast and it sounds so, so good when you stand on the gas.

It could have been called the Dodge Dopamine for the non-stop pleasure centre home runs it hits. Rare is the car that delivers exactly what you expect it to, and the Challenger does so with metronomic precision. You get what you’ve paid for every time.

The Basics

All Challengers are built at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Brampton, Ontario assembly plant on a modified Chrysler LX rear-wheel drive platform that’s shared with the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger sedans.

The Scat Pack 392 is an upper-level model that’s powered by a naturally aspirated 6.4-litre (392 cubic-inch) HEMI V8 that produces 485 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 475 lb-ft. of torque at 4,100 rpm. It can be had with two transmissions, but the standard gearbox is a ZF-sourced 8-speed automatic. A 6-speed Tremec manual available as a $1,000 option.

Review 2019 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack 392

New-for-2019 changes include an available Widebody kit, new power-bulge aluminum hood with dual air extractors (borrowed from the Challenger SRT Hellcat), illuminated Air Catcher headlights, and available 20-inch aluminum ‘Devil’s Rim’ wheels and Pirelli summer tires.

My Tester

For the purposes of this review, FCA Canada loaned me a Plum Crazy Pearl Scat Pack 392 tester loaded with almost $14,000 worth of extras. Notable among these is Customer Preferred Package 23N ($8,000) with includes Brembo front brakes with 6-piston calipers, front and rear Widebody fender flares, Widebody competition suspension, adaptive damping suspension, 20-inch Devil’s Rim aluminum wheels and Pirelli P Zero summer tires (P305/35ZR20).

Review 2019 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack 392

Review 2019 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack 392

Other options include a 6-speed manual, SRT Barracuda spoiler ($875), Alpine stereo system ($495) and Driver Convenience Group ($995) that comes with body-colour, heated manual folding mirrors, high intensity discharge headlights and blind-spot monitoring with cross-path detection.

IMPRESSIONS

Soaked in nostalgia

I can’t think of a 2019 car that is as unapologetically retro as the Challenger. Even its Charger sibling looks like a modern car, albeit an aggressive one. And the Challenger’s muscle car contemporaries? Forget it – Ford and GM long ago quit the nostalgia game with the Mustang and Camaro. Those cars hint at their pony car heritage, but in much less overt ways.

The Challenger is the exact opposite. Nostalgia oozes out its every nook and cranny. It’s like it entered 2019 through an open rift in the space-time continuum. From its massive hood scoop and air extractors, to its small, circular headlights to its notchback design, small side mirrors and rectangular taillights, the modern Challenger feels like it’s from another time. It’s a love letter to Dodge’s muscle car glory days of the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Review 2019 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack 392

Some might view the Challenger’s look to be a bit retrograde in 2019, but in a sea of samey SUVs and pick-ups, its design makes a lot of sense. The Challenger won’t be mistaken for anything else, even from distance, and given how fragmented the auto industry has become it’s important for niche cars to stand out. Given the Challenger sold in excess of 66,000 units in the U.S. in 2018, consumers seem to approve.

On the road

In search of a suitable place to take a few photos, I drove out to rural areas north of Bowmanville, Ontario and it was on those two-lane roads that the Challenger proves to be the most fun.

These are the places where you put the windows down, turn the radio off and just listen to the 392 HEMI churn in the mid-2,000 rpm range and enjoy the day. Sure, the Challenger’s bulk is noticeable during cornering, its steering feels somewhat numb and its handling is a bit ungainly, but it’s all fine.

Review 2019 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack 392

Review 2019 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack 392

Review 2019 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack 392

Why?

Because standing on the accelerator, engaging the heavy clutch and rowing through the gears to get up to speed from a stop sign is still piles of fun. The 392’s massive 485 lb-ft. of torque launches this heavy car (1,921 kg. / 4,230 lb.) with such impressive haste you won’t care that it doesn’t handle like a 911 or even a Mustang GT. The Scat Pack 392 is so good at going fast in a straight line (0-60 mph or 97 km/h in just over four seconds), most owners aren’t likely to care that it’s not really built for track use. It should do just fine at the drag strip, however.

Final thoughts

The Dodge Challenger provides good evidence that cars are indeed emotional purchases. While it may not look particularly sophisticated, everything about the Scat Pack 392 is designed with purpose, right down to its Super Bee badging. Yeah, they’re shout outs to early 1970s Dodge muscle car glory.

Credit Dodge designers and engineers for knowing their target buyer and for being able to hit the pleasure centre’s in that buyer’s brain with such remarkable accuracy. The Challenger’s look has just the right amount of menace, it’s fast, and the 392 engine makes great guttural sounds at all speeds, even at start up.

Review 2019 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack 392

So, what’s not to like?

Well, I think the interior could use a rethink. The plasticky dashboard is vast and the seats are lacking in support despite their thick and chunky appearance. Outward visibility isn’t great either, but that’s a common issue with muscle cars. Oh, and there will be frequent gas station visits, but that’s to be expected for a car with a massive V8 engine.

There’s no question the Dodge Challenger is an anachronism in 2019. Most V8-powered, rear-wheel drive platforms were abandoned years ago and for good reason. There are many reasons cars like the Challenger shouldn’t exist. And while it probably won’t remain in its current form for much longer, it represents an oasis in a sea of conformity. And there’s virtue in that.

2019 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack 392

BODY STYLE: two-door notchback coupe
DRIVE METHOD: Front-engine, Rear-wheel drive
ENGINE: 6.4L HEMI V8 Power: 485 hp @6100 rpm; Torque: 475 lb-ft. @4100 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 6-speed manual
CARGO CAPACITY: 459 L
FUEL ECONOMY: (regular 87) 13.9 / 16.7 / 10.4 L / 100 km city / highway / combined
OBSERVED FUEL ECONOMY: 15.3 L / 100 km
PRICE: $51,195 (base), as tested $65,025
WEBSITE: Challenger

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