2015 Dodge Challenger SRT 392
Driving Through Texan History Books In The Second-Banana Challenger
Power485 HP / 475 LB-FT
0-60 Time4.5 Seconds (est)
Top Speed182 MPH
Curb Weight4,251 LBS
MPG15 City / 25 HWY
As Tested Price$49,675
Having completed my duties with the Bimmers, I borrowed the spangled 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 you see above, to squire me around the Texas capitol for a weekend, and as a lift out to the Hill Country homestead of our 36th President.
Johnson City isn't exactly a road trip mecca, but there's a pretty good brewery, a museum, the reconstructed LBJ house to take snapshots of, and it's a nice drive to get out there if you've got a 485-horsepower muscle car at your disposal.
- With the heroic Hellcat, this 392 and the R/T Scat Pack (that Brandon Turkus reviewed recently), there are more SRT-treated Challengers to choose from than ever before. There are 707 obvious reasons that the Hellkitty is the top dog (as it were), but there are important difference between this 392 and the Scat Pack, too. Both cars make use of the 6.4-liter Hemi V8 putting out 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque, but the 392 also gets an adaptive suspension, six-piston Brembo brake calipers (instead of four-piston), wider tires, leather and Alcantara seats, a heated steering wheel, a louder stereo and HID headlights.
- When LBJ was campaigning for his seat in the House of Representatives, he would've loved to have something as potent as this monster of a V8 under the hood of his canvassing car. The 6.4L snorts with authority before it sends the big coupe forward to just about any speed I'd ask of it, and with a quickness. Johnson was known for haranguing drivers to step on it, when all that stood between himself and a few more votes was the ability to fit one more stump speech into the day. The 392 feels as though it could cover a quarter of the state of Texas in a morning if you throttle down deep enough (faster even than the Johnson City Windmill, I'd guess).
- Though there's a six-speed manual available, I'm actually quite fond of the eight-speed automatic in the 392. The two-pedal setup better suits the fast-cruiser attitude of the car, and it never served up any poorly conceived shift logic when I left it in D.
- Of course, the roads are better now than they were in the 1930s and 40s, too. Even on rather remote Farm to Market roads, the Challenger will grip and go around meandering corners, and turn in harder than you'd expect. This iteration of the Dodge doesn't feel any more light on its feet than the others I've driven, but it's capable of fast point-to-point driving once you start to trust the rubber and brakes (which are excellent), and get over the wideness of the track.
- Big guys like LBJ and myself have always fit well in the Challenger, and nothing about that changes with the 392. The seats are thick and well bolstered, with more than enough adjustment for me to find a comfortable position with good visibility. I even had four adults in the car for a few shorter drives around Austin, and only my extreme tallness would stop that from being a good idea for longer journeys.
- I haven't spent as much time on the roadways of the Lone Star State as some of the other Autoblog editors have, but I think I can appreciate that this Dodge is a capable all-around sports car for country like this, if not a knife sharp one. What the Challenger lacks in things like steering response and feedback, it makes up for somewhat in ride quality and refinement. The 392 is even pretty quiet while at speed... unless you poke the thunder with a toe-tap of throttle.
Being honest, everything I like about the Challenger is present in every V8-powered version of the car (and a lot of it even in the base V6). But the 392 does add in enough specialness, enough potential for instant and thrilling drama, and a deep well of power to make it one of the best flavors SRT offers. And, at some $15k cheaper than the SRT Hellcat, it almost feels like a super-muscle car value. At $45,995 to start, it's in the realm of affordability for a variant that you aren't going to see in every other supermarket parking lot.
It may not be exactly Presidential in the total picture, but I think it's a car that the fast-talking-Texan side of ol' Landslide Lyndon would have truly appreciated. And it unquestionably makes for a great ride out to see his birthplace.
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