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#5

in 2011 Affordable Sports Cars

Avg. Price Paid: $18,280 - $23,613
Original MSRP: $24,895 - $29,895
MPG: 17 City / 25 Hwy
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2011 Dodge Challenger Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

Though it doesn’t look too different from previous year’s model, the 2011 Dodge Challenger is packing some substantial changes under the hood. Revisions have been made to the steering, suspension and brakes, and SE models now gain 55 horsepower from a new base engine. The changes were needed, and now base model Challengers offer power and handling that’s more competitive with muscle car competition coming from Ford and Chevy.

Reworked suspension components make the Challenger more capable of keeping up with cars like the Mustang on a curvy road, but it’s still not the nimblest of the bunch. The Challenger’s steering had too much power-assist for one reviewer, who would’ve preferred a sportier feel.

  • "Telling your friends you bought a V6-powered 2011 Dodge Challenger is no longer something to be embarrassed about, as an all-new, more powerful and more efficient base V6 engine debuts. " -- Edmunds 
  • "Unlike the V6 in the Chevrolet Camaro, the Pentastar engine delivers its punch without the same harshness or vibration of its Bowtie rival, delivering its reps in a smooth, dangerously encouraging wave." -- Autoblog 

Acceleration and Power

A new base 3.6-liter engine for 2011 helps the Dodge Challenger do a better job of living up to its muscle car name. The base SE generates 305 horsepower, up 55 from the previous year. Meanwhile, R/T trimmed Challengers put 372 horsepower to the rear wheels courtesy of a 5.7-liter V8 engine. Reviewers are impressed, particularly with the base engine which now makes the Challenger competitive with V6-powered Mustangs and Camaros.

In addition to more power, V6 Challenger models also get slightly improved fuel economy. The EPA says that the V6-powered Challenger gets 18 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway. V8 models get 16/25 and 15/24 mpg city/highway fuel economy with automatic and manual transmissions, respectively. Still, slightly better fuel economy can be seen in similarly equipped Mustang and Camaro models. The V6-powered Mustang offers the more impressive numbers in the class – 19/31 mpg city/highway – when equipped with an automatic transmission.

  • "R/T with the manual transmission is quite potent, though it doesn't feel quite as fast as its 376-horsepower rating would suggest. The manual transmission has positive, mechanical shift action and a smooth clutch." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "First of all, the base V6 model is no longer a source of automotive shame. The new "Pentastar" 3.6-liter V6 presents a significant improvement in both power (up 55 horsepower to 305 hp) and fuel economy, and is now competitive with its rivals' base engines." -- Edmunds 
  • "We can say with some authority that the new six-pot is an amazing addition to the Challenger line." -- Autoblog 

Handling and Braking

The automotive press says that the Challenger handles well for a large car, and for 2011it gets suspension, brake and steering updates. The changes were needed, and reviewers now report that the Challenger is much more capable in the corners than last year’s model. Still, it’s not the most agile choice out there, and one reviewer notes that the steering has too much power assist, which detracts from the Challenger’s otherwise sporty feel. If you’re looking for a muscle car that’s more capable in the corners, don’t overlook the Ford Mustang. Some reviewers say that the Mustang handles better in the turns.

  • "Accurate steering is marred by excessive power assist." -- Consumer Guide 
  • "Benefiting from extensive changes made to its suspension, brakes and steering, the 2011 Dodge Challenger is more capable of keeping up with its rivals when the road takes a turn or two." -- Edmunds

Next Steps: 2011 Dodge Challenger

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