Despite its age, the sales of the Dodge Challenger are great. It frequently outsells its main competitors, the Mustang and Camaro. Combine those sales with the even higher sales of its sedan cousin, the Dodge Charger, and we’re talking about a lot of cars. Contributing to the Challenger’s popularity is the availability of an all-wheel-drive system – it’s the only muscle car such available.
I drove the AWD Challenger several times. First at a snow-covered karting track when it launched, and later on snow-covered streets. Each time I was impressed with its traction and winter handling, despite being shod with all-season tires. Still there was one thing lacking on this muscle car; actual muscle.
The AWD Challenger and Charger (excluding the V8 Charger cop car) are only available with a V6 engine and an eight speed automatic transmission. The Pentastar V6, with its 305 horsepower, is no slouch, but it’s no V8 either. And, damn it, call me old fashion, but I do believe that a proper muscle car must have a damn V8 under its hood.
And now, the V8 all-wheel-drive Challenger may be a thing…
While on his ski vacation in Breckenridge, the Official Hooniverse Spy Photographer™ pulled up to a traffic light behind this white Challenger. At first, there was nothing intriguing about, just a white Challenger with a Bumble Bee logo, indicating the presence of a 6.4-liter V8 engine. But then he noticed an odd yellow sticker on the top left side of the back window. Then he noticed the Michigan manufacturer license plate. And then he noticed a very unfinished dual exhaust system.
And then the light turned green.
And the Challenger took off, making a left turn with a dab of oversteer. The sound of the big V8 was present, as was the oomph, too. But during the whole mini-drift process, the Challenger remained composed. Too composed, despite the slippery roads. It grabbed the road and just went as if… as if it was all wheel drive.
Everyone who ever drove the all-wheel-drive Challenger GT, as Dodge calls it, said it needs a V8. I asked a Chrysler powertrain engineer about it too. His answer was that no V8 could be mated to the eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive system. To which I mentioned the Dodge Durango and the Jeep Grand Cherokee (the cop car Charger has the 5.7-liter V8 mated to a very old five-speed transmission). But then I was told that the package wouldn’t fit into the Charger/Challenger chassis configuration. At that point I stopped asking questions.
Breckenridge in March is a nice place and a great location to finish up the testing of an existing car designed for winter driving. We don’t know what kind of tires this test vehicle was on but I would bet it’s high performance all-seasons. When I first test drove the Challenger GT on the snow-covered track I asked a Dodge rep why didn’t they equip the cars with winter tires. His response was that they’re not trying to sell tires to people, they’re selling cars. Fair point.
It would be a huge mistake for Dodge not to offer the V8 AWD versions of the Challenger and the Charger. They have the hardware, it’s a matter of just making it fit. And that hardware is beefy enough to support the 707-horsepower Hellcat engine in the Grand Cherokee Trackhawk, so why the hell not? Heck, while there give the Hellcat the AWD system, too!
All images copyright Kamil Kaluski/Hooniverse 2018.