The Dodge Challenger is one of our favorite muscle cars, and even though it hasn’t seen any major changes over the past few years, it’s still an unqualified blast to drive—at least in V-8 trim. This year, it’s giving us some new reasons to burn rubber all over again.

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This is the first truly major update to the Challenger since it was new for 2008. The changes are obvious from the outside—at least if you’re a Dodge buff. The grille’s been slimmed down, and has LED halo-ring running lights, and there’s a fully functional power bulge on the hood. The overall shape remains the same, thank goodness—with a long nose, flat hood and deck lid. Of all today’s muscle cars, it’s still the most faithful to its past.

That’s great, but modern cars need modern cockpits. The Challenger finally has one. All the hard black plastic is gone—it’s a soft-touch dash now, with a big TFT screen of gauges and a touchscreen for navigation and audio. Aluminum accents are sprinkled around the cabin, and Dodge is bringing back a houndstooth interior trim, just like the ones they offered in the 1970s.

The Challenger’s base engine is still a V-6 teamed with an eight speed-automatic—but the big news this year is that eight-speed is now available on the V-8 cars as well, and it comes with paddle shifters and a sport mode. The V-8s come in two output levels, 375 horsepower and 485 horsepower. With the big kahuna, the Challenger will pound its way to 60 mph in about four and a half seconds. You’ll definitely want the new launch-control function for that.

Suspension tunings now include a Super Track Back and a Scat Pack with Brembo brakes and 20-inch wheels. Electric power steering has three modes: normal, comfort, and sport.

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The Challenger’s still the biggest of the American muscle cars, and it’s stepped up its features to serve and protect all five passengers. A rearview camera’s now available, and so are adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and forward-collision warning systems. Like some other Chryslers, the Challenger can be specked out to your taste from 14 different interiors, nine wheels, and a range of retro paint colors from Sublime Green to B5 Blue.

There’s no pricing on the new Challenger yet, but we’ll be driving one soon to fill in all the details.


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