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SRT8 392: Not So Challenging To Love

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On: Thu, May 5, 2011 at 2:00PM | By: Lou Ruggieri

SRT8 392:  Not So Challenging To Love

If we are being honest, when the Dodge Challenger first bowed onto the scene, it didn't really live up to the legend and lore of its namesake. Sure it looked good, but it was heavy, a bit underpowered unless you opted to drop down 40 grand for the SRT variant, and seemed to just be another cookie-cutter wannabe amidst a lineup of mediocre models.  

It seems Dodge may have realized this somewhere along the way, and actually did what a lot of American car companies refused to do in the past:  They fixed their mistake, at least in terms of the SRT model. The new Challenger SRT 392 is nothing short of a beast. Taking a page out of other performance car's books, Dodge execs realized that car guys (and gals) are nostalgic in their taste for fast iron. They enjoy heritage, and want to feel a link to the past when gas was cheap and changing a cam in your car took a weekend and a few beers. So for those not in the know, the 392 harks back to those days gone by.

In 1957-58, the big boys of Chrysler used a 392 cubic inch engine in their NASCAR and drag racers. 'Big Daddy' Don Garlits used a 392 is his first Swamp Rat dragster that helped propel him to become one of the faces on the Mount Rushmore of NHRA racing (if they ever decide to make one). The 392 was essentially the predecessor to the big, bad 426 Hemi that helped make the 1960s the Golden Age of street racing. So, what does the new 392 have to offer?… A lot.

The 392 actually comes out to be 6.4 liters, which is up from the outgoing model's 6.1 liter unit. The output is where all the fun happens. The Challenger SRT8 392 puts down a matching set of 470s. It makes 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque which is an increase of 45 and 50 respectively, over last year's SRT model; round numbers have never been so much fun! But it's not just about peak numbers either; Dodge engineers have been hard at work battling physics. Anyone that has seen the Challenger in person can attest to its massive girth, and it’s probably no surprise that it's harder to move a heavier car than a lighter one. It seems the smart guys at Dodge knew this too, so they made the new motor deliver 90 lb-ft more at 2,900 rpm so you can move out a lot quicker. Thankfully, the Challenger didn't put on any more appreciable weight to its two-ton frame so performance numbers will be much better than last year's SRT model by almost a full half second. 0-60 mph will come up in the 4.3 second range while the quarter mile will shoot by in roughly 12.5 seconds @ 112 mph or so.

Obviously Dodge is not unaware that gas prices are getting to the point where it would be easier to run cars on plutonium, so new for the SRT8 392 will be a cylinder deactivation system that reduces the number of cylinders used to four when the engine is under light load (this option is available only for those that choose the five-speed auto, for now). This... helps... fuel economy in the big beast come out to a respectable 22 mpg on the highway (up 15% from last year), which is actually pretty amazing considering its near-500 horsepower 4000-pound status. City fuel economy is not much improved and hovers around the 14 mpg range.

To make a bit buzz, Dodge is making an "Inaugural Edition" of the Challenger in one of two color combos. Harking back to the Viper days, you can get blue with white stripes, or conversely white with blue stripes. Make no mistake, although there will be many more SRT8 392s to come; this is a legitimate limited edition. There will be only 1,100 examples made for the United States and 392 for Canada. Dodge claims there is no significance to their build numbers, but it seems a strange coincidence that they are just happening to send 392 copies of the 392 to Canada, and beyond that, that when combined the number 1492 appears, which coincidently links to Dodge's new marketing campaign of American history... Hmm. Hmm indeed, Dodge.

Base price for one of these, ahem, historical models is $42,555 which is just a tick higher than the outgoing model. But if you're still not sure this is the car for you, head down to your local SRT authorized dealer and take it for a test drive. You might just find out that this new SRT8 392 is a lot less of a challenge to enjoy.

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desteele66 | 9:07PM (Tue, Dec 6, 2011)

Yaaaaaa!!!!!! Chrysler,You finally get it,your excecs are a little slow but they finally figured out
what we want.Unlike the wanna be Charger,which missed the mark with its 4 doors,and weak
attempt at its beautiful predesessor.But I'm sure they will figure it out eventually.The Challenger
is exactly what it should be.Keep raising the bar on performance,RELIABILITY,Quality,and you
will be rewarded.GOOD JOB.

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