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One Week With: 2016 Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker




Purple is not a color that can be worn successfully by just anyone — or just any car. A considerable amount of swag is required, and even then the shade of purple has to be chosen extremely carefully. Fortunately for us, the 2016 Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack has more than enough to pull off the oh-so-on-point Plum Crazy — a shade that commanded attention even on the jaded streets and freeways of Los Angeles.

But there’s more to this Challenger’s style game than just a purple paint job. Curbside presence is significantly increased by the Shaker hood and black side stripes, while the gunmetal 20-inch wheels are the proverbial rug that ties the room together.

Getting the look right requires the checking of several boxes on the option list. First and foremost is the Shaker package, which adds $4,800 to the sticker. It’s a worthwhile investment since it gets you the badass (and functional) hood scoop and numerous other cosmetic treatments that include the flat-black filler cap, glossy black grille, and rear spoiler. Ticking the box also gets you heated and cooled leather sport seats up front and a heated, leather-wrapped, and power-adjusted steering wheel.

You’ll want to follow up by selecting the $1,195 Scat Pack Appearance Group, which adds suede and Nappa leather upholstery, HID headlamps, and removes the oversize Shaker stripe, replacing it with the “Bumblebee” side stripes. Lastly, you’ll need to part with another $1,095 to get the right wheels.

In addition to those options, our tester came with Sound Group II ($795), which adds a 506-watt, nine-speaker stereo system with a subwoofer and navigation ($695). Despite those options and the $1,400 that’s added to the bottom line by going for the automatic, the total price was still below $50,000.

Beyond the look and the price is the not-so-small matter of what’s under that Shaker hood and between the Bumblebee fender badges. That happens to be a naturally aspirated 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 that pumps out a hefty 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque. In addition to coaxing the 4,240-pound Challenger from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and dusting the quarter mile in 12.6 seconds, it treats your ears to a wonderful big-bore growl that tempts you to turn every commute and errand into a windows-down romp.

While we would have certainly preferred the six-speed manual, the eight-speed automatic suits the Challenger’s cruiser personality well. It’s plenty quick to downshift following a hard press of the throttle and doesn’t waste much time hunting for gears. The T-shaped shifter remains clunky and is a far cry from the greatness of the manual’s pistol grip offering, however.

2016 Dodge Challenger electronic gear shifter

2016 Dodge Challenger electronic gear shifter

Our week with this Challenger included a 1,000-mile road trip to Nevada to cover the 2016 Virginia City Hillclimb. Unsurprisingly, it proved to be an excellent long-distance tourer, remaining a comfortable place to be even after a 500-mile day. The large footprint makes for a roomy cabin that doesn’t leave you feeling claustrophobic like those of the Camaro and Mustang, and we found its mildly bolstered seats supportive and comfortable. Given how hot it was during the drive, we were particularly thankful for the seats’ cooling functionality and suede inserts, seeing how suede is much cooler to the touch than leather. The upgraded stereo also proved impressive while cruising up the Eastern Sierras and filled in ably for the exhaust note while we had the windows up.Though we didn’t have all 485 ponies on hand while on the 395 (U.S. Route 395) or in Virginia City due to the mile-high-plus elevation, we were never left wanting for power. Steering is typical of today’s electric power-assisted units — fairly light, linear, and with minimal feedback. Brake feel is on the spongy side, though the stoppers are good enough to bring the Mopar beast to a complete halt from 60 mph in just 108 feet.

Like every other modern Challenger, it doesn’t handle like sports car. While it can turn when pushed to do so, the suspension is clearly more touring-oriented. It’s simply too soft with too much body roll to keep over 2 tons of sheetmetal firmly planted on the tarmac. And given the car’s weight, the brakes are liable to get properly cooked when pushed.

But you’re not buying a 2-plus ton, 16-foot long, purple muscle car for its ability to crush a canyon; there are far better options for that job. You’re here because you want enough swagger and curb appeal to command respect even while sharing a valet line with Lamborghinis, Ferraris, and other exotics. And you made the right choice.

2016 Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker Specifications

Price: $38,990/$48,970 (base/as-tested)
Engine: 6.4L DOHC 32-valve V-8, 485 hp @ 6,000 rpm, 475 lb-ft @ 4,200 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Layout: 2-door, 5-passenger, RWD coupe
EPA Mileage: 15/25 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H: 197.9 x 85.8 x 57.5 in
Wheelbase: 116.2 in
Weight: 4,240 lb
0-60 mph: 4.2 sec
Top Speed: N/A

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November 10, 2016