2009 Dodge Challenger R/T Manual - Short Take Road Test
The R/T model trumps its SRT8 big brother in our book.
The most breathless talk about the Dodge Challenger tends to center around the letters S, R, and T, and the number 8. The high-po–est form of Dodge's muscle car was the only choice offered for the initial 2008 run, and while still fun, it made do with a five-speed slushbox. Things have changed for 2009 with the addition of a 5.7-liter Hemi R/T model and a manual-transmission option for both V-8 cars. After testing an R/T model, we'd be happy to sacrifice the S and 8 from the badge, especially since the R/T comes with a price tag that's roughly 11 grand less.
I'm So Happy, I Could Shift
Big news for the Challenger is that it's the first (modern) Hemi-powered Chrysler car with an optional manual transmission. We're already fans of the tried-and-true Tremec TR-6060 six-speed gearbox, which is used in the Viper and many of GM's high performers. The Challenger's pistol-grip shifter is canted toward the driver, and allows for quick shifts via relatively short throws. Clutch-pedal travel, however, is longish, with an engagement point near the top of its movement. We were also annoyed by the 1–4 skip-shift that forces a two-gear upshift under light acceleration at low speed in the name of fuel economy. (Aftermarket kits are thankfully available to bypass this bothersome "feature," but no one's figured out yet how to relocate the foot-operated parking brake.)
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