RICK KRANZ

What's wrong with the Challenger?

Automotive News | June 11, 2011 - 12:01 am EST

Rick Kranz is product editor for Automotive News
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How much life is left in the Dodge Challenger?

Chrysler poured significant dollars into the 2011 model. The front and rear suspensions were re-engineered to improve handling and ride. An effort went into improving the NVH levels. And, the new standard 3.6-liter V-6 produces a 55 horsepower boost over the much criticized 3.5-liter V-6.

A winning combination, right?

Not so. I expected sales to catch fire this year. They haven't. Sales are up only 15 percent over the dismal year-ago period. But May sales dropped 11 percent.

Dodge's 21st Century pony car is averaging just 3,355 cars per month, hardly a sales momentum that can justify a future redesign. During the January through May period, Dodge sold 16,777 Challengers.

As for the two other pony cars on the market, Chevrolet sold 40,275 Camaros in the same period, and Ford tallied 30,206 Mustangs.

Granted, both Camaro and Mustangs offer a convertible. Challenger doesn't. The Camaro ragtop has been a hot commodity since sales began earlier this spring.

What does Dodge need to do to jump start sales? Add a convertible? Redesign the interior? Restyle the sheet metal? Redesign the car, creating shorter overall dimensions?

What do you think?

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