I'm never shy or dishonest about what we do or what we like. The 2017 Jeep Grand Cherokee was one vehicle we absolutely hated for a lot of reasons, and many of the people who watched our episode of TestDrive Spotlight conveyed their hate towards us, as they weren't thrilled with our opinion about that car. I've always felt that the domestic US manufacturers have die-hard enthusiasts who will always seek out anything negative about their beloved brand and defend it.
So I hope those same Mopar enthusiasts have a chance to watch our episode on this 2018 Dodge Challenger GT AWD, because we really liked this car, and a lot of the problems we had with the Jeep's tech have been fixed in this new Challenger. That's not to say that everyone will still be happy with our review, there are plenty of people out there who aren't fans of these cars to begin with, and those same Mopar enthusiasts might ignore this one completely due to it's 3.6L Pentastar V6 engine, but there's quite a lot to like about this model year from FCA.
First off, the design of the Challenger has always been great. It can't get the original look of the 70's muscle car exact due to government regulations and safety requirements, but I think Chrysler did a fantastic job with this heritage vehicle. Again, the design might not capture the hearts of everyone, and I know most of our original viewers will prefer something German, but you definitely have to give Chrysler credit for making a strikingly masculine car that stands out from the crowd.
Our 2018 Dodge Challenger GT AWD came with a few options to bump it's MSRP up to $43,730.00 which includes the $325 paint strip along the side, the upgraded 8.4" Uconnect infotainment centre with navigation, SiriusXM Radio, and the phenomenal 18-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system. We also had the driver's assistance package which added forward collision warning/prevention, active cruise control, and blind spot monitoring. The GT also has a backup camera and rear parking sensors which come in handy a lot considering how large this car ultimately is.
I personally like this facelift of the Challenger, it refines the design to bring more of the heritage elements to the vehicle while updating the technology at the same time. The HID Xenon headlamps were nice along with those amber DRLs which give this vehicle a devilish look. It's funny, but the first generation Dodge Challenger (not the Silver Challenger) was produced for 5 model years, whereas this new version has been around for twice as long now. I'm sure we'd all like to forget what happened with this nameplate in 1978, but 30 years on we got a true successor to that 70's glory.
The interior is where we found the most improvement over the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Obviously these are two completely different vehicles, but they use the same part and tech on the inside. Uconnect 4.0 has been dramatically improved over what we used before. First off Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are added into the mix and work very well. Rather than occupy the entire 8.4" screen the mirroring takes place within a window, allowing users to still access their favourite buttons for the HVAC, heated/ventilated seats, and radio sources. I think this is one of the best ways to provide AA/AC in the car, allowing it to run without taking up the entire screen.
The built-in navigation software also worked incredibly well. We still prefer Kia's infotainment in the consumer market, but this system was very impressive. We were truly blown away by the level of detail included when using turn-by-turn navigation. Either someone painstakingly added every exit off the highway to the map data, or an algorithm has been developed to take Google Streetview images and generate images from it, but when you're coming up to an exit off the highway it shows you a computer-rendered version of what you're looking for. Not only were the signs identical to what was actually used in the real-world, but the style of off-ramp, how many lanes existed in your field of view, and even building and trees in the background were accurate. Scary accurate actually. We tried to capture this on video and you can see it in the full episode below.
The rest of Uconnect was also significantly improved. Moving between the different apps like climate or music was quick, and the issue we had with changing song tracks was also improved and consistent with other infotainment systems on the market today. Dodge brought their Super Track Pak button and Performance Apps over from the SRT models. These features allow you to control what Sport settings you want to enable, along with real-time performance information such as power, torque, g-forces, and which gear you're in. Launch control also allows you to set what RPM the car will launch at. We kept things at 1,000 rpm but you should be able to set it higher if your heart desires.
Seating was comfortable throughout, and our 4 year old had enough space in the back seat. We did notice the passenger seat would always return to it's further back position when getting in/out of the car, so our daughter consistently had to bend her knees when we put the seat back before being able to pull it up a few notches.
Performance is certainly one of the most important elements of this car, considering a car needs to go as fast as it looks. It's not as quick as the V8, but we did note that the current Pentastar V6 produces more power than the 70s Challengers ever did, especially when you use regular SAE measuring guidelines and not the pre-72 made up data manufacturers were using. You aren't going to be winning any races with the V6, but that doesn't mean it isn't enjoyable. If you like the look of the car, and also prefer keeping your tickets to a minimum, then the V6 is a great option. Let's not forget Ford offered an inline 4 for the Mustang in the 90s, and again globally for the 6th generation.
We found the V6 engine to be plenty powerful for day-to-day driving and commuting. You honestly do not need more power if you're going back and forth to work with a car like this, or if you plan on daily driving it throughout the winter. We feel the V6 AWD version is ideal for people who want to buy one car they can use year-round in climates like ours, where the winters get rough but the summers can be unpredictable. With the AWD we had no issues during the snow storms we got, giving us complete confidence on the backroads and highways. Furthermore we were pleasantly surprised to find the Sport mode's loosened traction control profile allowed us to get the car sideways when we wanted it to, so you can have your cake and eat it too.
Overall we were quite impressed with the Challenger GT and had minor issues with it, the only one we really discussed in our episode was the forward radar sensor for the pre-colission system. We found it would activate the alert if passing a long-haul truck with bright side running lights. We're not sure if one of the cameras/sensors picked it up as a brake light, but there was nothing in front of us during the times we had a false brake alert. Luckily the car did not attempt to apply the brakes, rather used the alert system until we passed the object it was getting stuck on.
You can watch our full episode on the 2018 Dodge Challenger GT AWD below: