Originally published October 27, 2009 – For this year’s Canada Day weekend, we look back on one of our favourite stories about two of our favourite Canadian-built cars. This Comparison launched Autos.ca’s Made in Canada test-drive series, where we compared pairs of vehicles built in Canada that competed in the same market segment.

Reviews and photos by Paul Williams and Grant Yoxon

Photo Gallery:
2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS and 2009 Dodge Challenger R/T

Welcome to Autos’s new Made in Canada test-drive series, where we compare, where possible, pairs of vehicles that are built in Canada and compete in the same market segment. We’ll drive each of these vehicles for one-month, and generate a detailed description, driving impressions and conclusions concerning the vehicles we test. Paul Williams and Grant Yoxon are the lead writers.

What vehicles?

The Chevrolet Camaro SS and Dodge Challenger R/T.

2010 Chevrolet Camaro SS
2009 Dodge Challenger R/T
Base price
$41,065 (2SS)
$35,395
Price as tested
$44,865
$44,985
Destination charge
$1,400
$1,400
Engine
6.2L V8
5.7L V8
Horsepower
426 @ 5,900 rpm
376 @ 5,150 rpm
Torque
420 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm
410 lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm
Weight
1,746 kg
1,832 kg
Length
4,836 mm
5,021 mm
Height
1,376 mm
1,447 mm
Width
1,918 mm
1,923 mm
Fuel requirement
Premium unleaded
Premium unleaded
Fuel consumption (city/highway)
13.2/8.2 L/100km
13.3/8.1L/100km
Assembly location
Oshawa, Ontario
Brampton, Ontario

2009 Dodge Challenger R/T
By Grant Yoxon

The base price of our Stone White Clearcoat Challenger R/T is $35,295, but our test vehicle is equipped with several options that take the as-tested price to $44,985. Options include 20-inch chromed aluminum wheels ($910), Electronics Convenience Group ($1,190), HID headlamps ($775), sunroof ($1,250), navigation system ($1,550), among others. The Challenger R/T is powered with a 5.7-litre V8 engine mated to a Tremec six-speed manual transmission ($2,000).

One From the Vault: Made In Canada   Camaro vs Challenger reviews motoring memories dodge chevrolet car culture
2009 Dodge Challenger R/T. Click image to enlarge

For this comparison, we could have selected the more powerful Challenger SRT8, whose 6.2-litre V8 engine is closer in specification to the Camaro SS’s. However, the SRT8 with manual transmission is $12,000 more than the base Camaro 1SS which has the same engine as our 2SS. Accordingly, we chose similar pricing as the determining factor for model selection.

Grant’s initial impressions

Judging by the reactions I’ve received in the past week, Chrysler has hit a home run with the Dodge Challenger R/T. Heads turn before you come into view, such is the impact of the 5.7-litre rumbling through a carefully tuned dual exhaust. Then they see the Stone White Challenger with Hemi prominently displayed on the bulging hood and black R/T stripes gracing its flanks and keep on looking. And it’s not just old street cruisers like me who take notice, but kids on bicycles, young men waiting for a bus and even young women crossing at a light. You see the glances and sometimes outright stares. Could it be the driver, I think hopefully? No, it’s the car.

One From the Vault: Made In Canada   Camaro vs Challenger reviews motoring memories dodge chevrolet car culture
2009 Dodge Challenger R/T. Click image to enlarge

As a driver, the first thing you notice is the sound. It sounds gorgeous at any speed. For three days I never turned the radio on, never noticed that the car was equipped with a navigation system. Three thousand rpm was music to my ears, but at 5,500 in second gear the Challenger becomes a guitar hero at full stride.

Wonderful to listen to, yes, but the price of admission can be expensive. Play with this car a little and you can drink a lot of gas; however, the Tremec manual can also help save a lot of loot. With a lazy takeoff, the transmission automatically points your hand in the direction of third. 1/3/5 shifts result in respectable fuel consumption and keep the money in your wallet.

On the highway, the Challenger is king; big and comfortable, it coddles you in soft leather bucket seats, a nice sound system and a fairly quiet ride (that Hemi rumble never goes away completely). Sixth gear is a highway gear, dropping the tach a full 1000 rpm, but the Hemi’s prodigious torque is always available when needed, even in sixth. Just push the power pedal and you move away, quickly.

Inside, it is all black but for the grey leather panels on the seats. Of course, it shares much of its switch gear with its four-door cousins, the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300, on which it is based. But when a pretty girl takes a second look, or a trucker leans out his window with the thumbs up, you know this is no four-door family sedan. It is the Dodge Challenger.




About Paul Williams

Paul Williams is an Ottawa-based freelance automotive writer and senior writer for Autos. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).