click above for high-res gallery of the 2009 Dodge Challenger SE and R/T

Dodge and its Ram badge has long been associated with power, and the marque is considered to be Chrysler's performance brand. In these days of record high fuel prices, though, being associated with horsepower could also mean an association with the guzzling of gasoline. Believe it or not, Dodge does not want this image, so it may be tweaking its marketing strategy a bit in a bid to change with the times.

"We can't be all about the monster Hemi and smoking tires, and we realize that," says Dodge brand director Mike Accavitti. "Nobody wants to be the gas guzzler brand. There's not a real secure future in that type of marketing strategy." This new, kinder, gentler image could even be adopted by the new Dodge Challenger, which was just recently released with a large and very powerful 6.1 liter Hemi V8 as its lone engine option. Soon, though, Dodge will release lower power models of the iconic pony car, equipped with both a smaller Hemi engine with cylinder deactivation technology and a 3.5 liter V6, though the six cylinder will be paired only with a four speed automatic transmission.

Dodge has managed to eke more mileage from its full-size Ram pickup truck, which is a good first step. The move from a "power" brand to a brand associated with "strength," though, will take much more than one product cycle refresh before consumers forget the line, "That thing got a Hemi?"

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]

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