by Patrick Rall
The introduction of the 2012 Dodge Challenger should come in the next few months and with two new engines for the 2011 model year, what can we expect for 2012? Dodge hasn’t had much to say about the new model year Challenger and while sales have been fairly consistent for the brawny American muscle car, things could certainly be better with respect to the numbers of Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang units sold each month.
The 2012 Dodge Challenger will almost certainly offer the same engines
as the 2011 models with the 3.6L Pentastar V6 starting things off in the
Challenger SE and Rallye, followed by the 5.7L Hemi V8 in the
Challenger R/T and the 6.4L Hemi in the Challenger SRT8. The R/T and
SRT8 Challengers in 2012 will likely come with the stand 6-speed manual
transmissions that are currently offered, but with an 8-speed automatic
transmission on the horizon, perhaps Dodge will offer something better
than the antiquated 5-speed automatic currently being used. It would
also be great to see the paddle shifters coming to the 2012 Charger SRT8
show up on the steering wheel of the Challenger in 2012, even if it is
only on the SRT8 models.
Over the past few years, Chevrolet has gradually increased the power
output of their V6 engines, so perhaps Dodge will get on that boat and up
the power on their Pentastar V6. Also, a proper manual transmission
would allow the 2012 Challenger to take away from some of the entry
level muscle car sales lost to Ford and Chevrolet – both of which offer a
manual transmission with their V6. The Challenger SE and Rallye would
benefit from a manual transmission as well as a revised automatic with
at least 6 speeds in 2012.
The 2012 Dodge Challenger R/T, R/T Plus and R/T Classic could also make
use of a revised automatic transmission (with either 6 or 8 speeds) and
with the R/T models falling into a gap between the entry level
Camaro/Mustang and the Mustang GT/Camaro SS, these 5.7L models could use
a kick in power to make them more competitive in performance, as they
are already competitive in price.
Next, the 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 offers an amazing 475 horsepower,
but with a price that begins around $44,000 – it costs almost as much as
the 550 horsepower Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang. The premium Challenger
SRT8 could use a tad more power to keep up with the likes of the GT500
and the upcoming ZL1 and more importantly, some handling gadgets like
the adaptive suspension setup from the upcoming 2012 Charger SRT8 would
help the Challenger to keep up with the competition on tracks with
turns. The addition of paddle shifters would also offer extra incentive
to those considering the Challenger SRT8 for racing purposes, as the
paddles keep the driver’s hands on the wheel under hard cornering.
Overall, the 2012 Dodge Challenger SRT8 could benefit a great deal from
the goodies of the upcoming SRT Charger, and with the SRT Group being
separated into their own brand – CEO Ralph Gilles might have something
really exciting for the performance crowd in the next year.
Anything else you’d like to see in the 2012 Challenger? Voice your opinion here!