Last year, when the all-wheel-drive Dodge Challenger was first launched, the good folks at FCA invited me to snow-covered race track to hoon that thing. And the damn thing proved to be shockingly good in snow, even with stock all-season tires on. It went, it stopped, and it turned while wagging its huge butt around course.
But outside of the track, there was no snow that day. It was January’s warm spell that lasted exactly for the week that Dodge was showing its first AWD pony car to the press. And, to be honest, I am always a bit skeptical about how a vehicle I have never driven before behaves on a track that was purposely set up for me to drive on. I’ve seen cute ‘utes do the three-wheel motion on big dirt mound only to be sliding all over the place in a trace of snow.
But now, I year later, I get to drive this big all-wheel-drive boat on a snowy day…
…and it drives as good as it did on that frozen track. Yea, there is some wheel slippage, of course, but in street driving it’s completely fine and confident. It goes off line with gusto, never noticing that the surface is imperfect. It stops well, not as good as it would with snow tires but relatively very good, better than many so-called SUVs. Put it into sport mode and go sideways with a smile – on a closed course, of course.
Overall, the Challenger feels old, because it is. But I see it as a good thing, it’s got personality. Years from now we will yearn for a car like this. It might be the last large American coupe made. It’s unfortunate that a proper V8 engine cannot be had with the AWD system, as that would be a blast. And it’s not like FCA doesn’t have the hardware, they do, but they just don’t think people will but it. The 305 horse-power 3.6-liter V6 does the job but it’s nothing to write home about.
So, if you’re looking for a large, fun to drive, all-season coupe, the Challenger is worth checking out. It’s not the newest thing, it is far from perfect, but it’s one of the few remaining such cars. Damn, I wish it had a V8!
Disclaimer: FCA provided the vehicle for the purpose of this article. All images copyright Kamil Kaluski/Hooniverse 2018]