2015 Challenger muscles up; interior revamped but retains retro look

Designers were tasked “not to screw up” the 2015 Challenger's retro look. Photo credit: BLOOMBERG

The 2015 Dodge Challenger has more power, an available eight-speed transmission and few changes to its retro exterior.

Engineers coaxed 15 more hp from the top-end 6.4-liter, Hemi V-8 engine, boosting its performance to 485 hp and 475 pounds-feet of torque in a new Challenger Scat Pack model.

All versions of the 2015 Challenger, including those powered by the 3.6-liter V-6 or the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, are available with an eight-speed automatic transmission, increasing fuel efficiency.

A six-speed manual also is available, and a “shaker” hood — a large, working air intake sticking through an opening in the hood — is optional on more high-end models.

On the exterior, designers were tasked “not to screw up” the Challenger’s retro look, Dodge brand head Tim Kuniskis said. So changes to the front and rear fascias are subtle, highlighted by new LEDs and a rear nameplate.

Reintroduced in 2008, the rear-wheel-drive coupe has received just minor touches to its interior since then. Meanwhile, Chrysler Group has overhauled the interiors of almost all its other products.

That left the Challenger’s cabin looking dated, with some hard-touch plastics and antiquated electronics.

The redesign combines features inspired by the 1971 Challenger with contemporary touches. For example, a redesigned instrument cluster includes a 7-inch configurable information screen between a retro-styled analog tachometer and speedometer.

The edge of the center console toward the passenger seat is raised, creating a minibarrier between driver and passenger.

A new electrical system allows designers to use Chrysler’s latest Uconnect infotainment system in the Challenger, including new performance-tracking screens that enable drivers to track lap times.

U.S. sales of the Challenger through March were down 24 percent. Chrysler says the 2015 Challenger will be available in dealerships in the third quarter of this year.

You can reach Larry P. Vellequette at lvellequette@crain.com -- Follow Larry P. on Twitter: @LarryVellequett

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