NEW FOR 2009:

– Challenger becomes full-line model
– Exterior colours: Brilliant Black, Bright Silver, TorRed, Deep Water Blue, Dark Titanium, Stone White and Inferno Red Crystal added; Hemi Orange now on R/T only

Having been introduced as an all-new model late in the 2008 model year, and only as an SRT8 in limited numbers, the Challenger becomes a full line for 2009, offered as the SE, SXT, R/T and SRT8.

Based on the LX platform that it shares with the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger, the Challenger is available with a choice of three engines. The SE and SXT use a 3.5-litre V6 with four-speed automatic; the R/T uses a 5.7-litre Hemi V8 with five-speed automatic or optional six-speed manual transmission; and the SRT8 uses a 6.1-litre Hemi V8 with five-speed automatic or optional six-speed manual. The five-speed automatic also includes a manual shift mode. The 5.7-litre is Chrysler’s new Eagle engine, which has the same displacement as the previous 5.7-litre, but with variable valve timing, more horsepower and improved fuel economy. It also features the company’s Multi-Displacement System (MDS), which shuts off half the cylinders under light load for improved fuel economy, but only when ordered with the automatic transmission; when mated to the six-speed manual, the engine runs on all cylinders all the time. The six-speed also includes Track Pak with pistol-grip shifter, hill start assist, anti-spin rear axle, bright pedal covers, performance steering, and electronic stability control shutoff switch.

Features on the SE include 17-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, four-wheel disc brakes, power locks with keyless entry, floor mats, power mirrors, cloth seats, eight-way power driver’s adjustment, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, cruise control, CD/MP3 stereo, tilt and telescopic wheel, touring suspension, tire pressure monitor warning lamp, auto-down front windows, and variable intermittent wipers.

The SXT adds 18-inch alloy wheels, anti-lock brakes, electronic stability program, luxury floor mats, fog lamps, leather-wrapped wheel, and illuminated vanity mirrors.

The R/T adds performance brakes, polished aluminum fuel filler door, automatic headlamps, pushbutton start, heated mirrors, rear spoiler, heated leather-faced seats, Boston Acoustics speakers, Sirius satellite radio, performance steering, and performance suspension. Automatic-equipped models include a remote starter.

The SRT8 adds 20-inch forged alloy wheels, high-performance brakes, electronic vehicle information centre, severe-duty engine cooling, automatic Xenon headlamps, garage door opener, illuminated cupholders, auto-dimming rearview mirror, security alarm, premium leather-faced heated seats, UConnect hands-free connectivity, performance-tuned steering, wheel-mounted audio controls, high-performance suspension, outside temperature display, and tire pressure monitoring display.

Available options, depending on the model, include MyGIG stereo, navigation system, and power sunroof.

Based on the styling of the iconic 1970 Challenger, the 2009 version offers a variety of powertrain choices, including a manual transmission that should resonate with purists. Big and comfortable, it contains most of the creature comforts of its four-door cousins, although the lack of ABS and ESP on the base model will probably move most buyers up to the slightly more expensive SXT. Subtle styling cues separate the V6 from the V8 models, but those who opt for the lower-priced versions will still draw attention on the street.

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