When it comes to having fun in the snow, the all-wheel-drive system works exactly how anyone familiar with rear-wheel drive would want it to work. Dodge adds Vehicle Dynamic Control Programming that uses signals from the ESC to help the AWD system do its job. VDC monitors the steering angle, yaw sensors, vehicle speed, and wheel speed sensors to determine if it should send power to the front or rear. The basic upshot? If you are on a slick surface and you add steering angle, it will send power to the rear. That allows the Challenger GT to act like a rear-drive car on snow until you straighten out the steering wheel. At that point, power goes to the front and you can drive out of a turn. It makes for great fun on a snowy autocross.
That’s just what Dodge offered at its drive program for the GT. Growing up in Wisconsin with several rear-drive cars in my early years, I found the Challenger GT easy to handle in the snow, even with the traction control completely off (actually, that was when it proved to be the most fun). Charge toward a turn, brake to get the speed under control, turn in to start the momentum in the right direction, goose the throttle, wait for the rear end the swing around, catch it by straightening the wheel, then drive out of the turn and head for the next one. Simple sliding fun.
Cop shocks, cop suspension
The AWD system wasn’t the only change Dodge made to create the Challenger GT. For the suspension, Dodge engineers looked to the AWD version of the Charger Police Pursuit. That’s a rather robust, heavy duty suspension, but it’s different than the performance suspension in the SRT and Hellcat models because the upper and lower control arms have a different geometry to work with the AWD system. Using those components, Dodge dialed back the firmness a bit by using slightly thinner sway bars and slightly softer spring rates and damper settings. The steering calibration was then changed to work best with this setup.
We’ve always found one of the Challenger’s greatest strengths to be its ride quality, but this cop suspension begins to challenge that notion. On the sometimes broken Maine roads of our test drive, the Challenger GT’s ride quality proved busy and jiggly, and the suspension pounded over the worst of the ruts.
We’ve tried the cop suspension in the Charger and it didn’t seem as rough. Perhaps the shorter wheelbase of the Challenger just makes the ride busier. All things considered, that’s an odd choice given the fact that the AWD system means the Challenger GT will see more rough roads.
On the flip side, the firmer suspension helps to limit some of the quite notable body lean that plagues other Challengers, especially V-6 models. It also makes the steering feel more direct, though it isn’t all that quick and it is still rather light.