2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 Road Test Review

Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Chrysler has decreed SRT a brand unto itself, complete with a chief executive officer in the person of Canadian Ralph Gilles (pronounced Jeels). To mark the introduction of the brand, Gilles let a raft of all-new white-hot models off the chain to scald the streets. Invigorated with outstanding performance-thanks to a new 6.4-litre Hemi V8 engine, methodically crafted suspension systems, and a suite of purpose-specified comfort, convenience, and infotainment systems-the SRT models elevate Chrysler's performance cars to a whole new plane.

The first vehicle to benefit from this treatment was the Dodge Challenger SRT8 392. Absolutely brilliant, the fast and agile car was an instant add to performance junkies' wish lists everywhere. For 2013, the Challenger SRT8 392 has gained more high-tech performance features in an effort to solidify its place among the trio of modern American rear-wheel-drive muscle coupes (in other words, to keep pace with Camaro and Mustang).

Even before you ignite the engine, one look at the 392 tells you what's waiting when you do. All the pieces of kit you see are functional - nothing is added for show. The large front splitter, chin spoiler, integrated front fender spats, and the rear decklid spoiler use the airflow over the car to provide stability and balance at high speeds. With this much power in hand, one does well to invoke the assistance of fluid dynamics.

Also, so poseurs know what they are sitting beside at the signal before they do something stupid, like challenge you to an impromptu drag race, "392 HEMI" badges flank both fenders touting the high protein V8's potential. Should they be too dumb to heed the warnings (rendered in red – no less), the last thing they'll see (and hear) of you - once the tire smoke clears - are four-inch rectangular exhaust tips delivering the 392's bone chilling exhaust note; as the handsomely chiseled muscle car recedes into the distance.

The 6.4 dispenses 470 horsepower and 470 ft-lbs of torque. In testing, the 392 hit 100km/h in four seconds, ran the quarter in just over 12 seconds, and touched 269 km/h (in our automatic transmission equipped 392) before we ran out of room. The Challenger was still pulling strong, giving us every reason to trust Chrysler's top speed claim of 293 with the standard six-speed manual and 281 with the optional five-speed automatic. EnerGuide rates the 392 at 15.0 L/100km in the city and a surprising 8.7 on the highway with the automatic and 15.1 city, 8.8 highway with the manual.

The 392 squats a half-inch lower on its suspension than standard Challengers, plus it has Chrysler's adaptive damping suspension system, which was improved for the 2013 model year. Enabling you to dial in the amount of firmness desired for the degree of mayhem you anticipate, the suspension system does a remarkable job of managing the rather large body the Challenger brings to the party. Engaging the 392's sport button keeps the suspension firmed up to its most aggressive setting, while also holding the automatic transmission in each gear longer to extract the maximum amount of performance from the Hemi. Another improvement for the 2013 model year is the addition of launch control as a standard feature.

All of this enables the big Dodge to perform feats of acceleration and road holding fully capable of leaving you slack-jawed. The big Brembo brake system with its vented rotors and four-piston calipers haul the 392 down from speed both hard and repeatedly with no evidence of fade whatsoever. In short, this SRT8 392 goes fast, stops short, and corners sharply.

Overall though, when compared to its chief rivals, the extreme iterations of Camaro and Mustang, Challenger 392 is a contender, not a winner. Yes, the Dodge pushes the right buttons in the sound and fury department, but it feels positively huge compared to the Chevy and the Ford, which themselves feel big compared to their imported rivals. Plus, both offer considerably more horsepower for the same money. Further, the Challenger 392 is in sore need of an interior update. There is just too much bland plastic and too many broad, featureless surfaces.

Still, if you're looking for that American muscle car feel, the Challenger 392 gets closer than the Camaro's arguably more sophisticated ways. And, while the Mustang has the benefit of a creamy high winding V8, the Challenger, on the move, feels a bit more polished and refined.

Ultimately though, as always, the decision is yours-and yours alone.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sports Coupe, Dodge, 2013, Challenger SRT8 392, $40,000 - $49,999,

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page