The previous day was miserable. An icy rain fell over Portland, Maine, coating the pavement and making even walking a chore. Driving a muscle car like the Dodge Challenger seems ill-advised. But this is exactly the weather Dodge hoped for, because we're here to test the new all-wheel-drive 2017 Challenger GT. The morning of our test drive dawns sunny and cold. The remnants of a late January nor'easter now past, we nonetheless steel ourselves for a day of unruly roads. Stepping into an inch of slush, we open the huge door, climb inside, and nestle into the heavily bolstered driver's seat. Immediately comfortable, we know the Challenger well. It's an old friend. Late in life, it's finally finding stability. Heading onto the Maine turnpike, we're struck by the Challenger's poise. All-wheel drive civilizes the coupe's brutish nature. We confidently navigate the first on-ramp – still wet from the storm – and merge onto the highway. A rear-wheel-drive car would come unsettled here, yet this Challenger's 19-inch wheels wrapped in all-season Michelin rubber are not disturbed. At the very least, the specter of tire spin would have made us overcautious. All-wheel drive doesn't morph the Challenger into a Subaru Outback, but it does make the Mopar a realistic year-round option for buyers north of the Mason-Dixon line. Dodge arrived at this conclusion after some introspection. The Challenger and its sibling the Charger sedan are usually cross-shopped with each other, and design is often the deciding factor. With Charger AWD sales remaining strong (in 17 Northern states at least 50 percent of Chargers are sold with the system), not offering an all-wheel Challenger leaves money on the table. Ben Lyon, Challenger brand manager, says the common refrain was, "I would have bought a Challenger, or I would have bought a two-door muscle coupe, if it was available with all-wheel drive." %Slideshow-476400% Naturally, the Dodges share an AWD system, which has an active transfer case and the ability to disengage the front axle, making the Challenger a rear-wheel-drive car in certain conditions to help save fuel. Ambient temperature, wheel slip, Sport mode, passing situations, and the driver's behavior can trigger the all-wheel capability. Power can also be distributed to the front wheels exclusively if circumstances dictate, with 38 percent of the engine's torque available to go forward. With still-slick roads and temperatures in the 30s, our Challenger GT remains all-wheel all the time. That's fine as we blithely blast through the small towns and past the snow-covered farmland of the Northeast. The cemeteries have headstones from the 19th century and before. We notice a monument celebrating locals who fought in the Revolutionary War. In New Hampshire, a town called Freedom greets us. This is Yankeedom, we muse, an appropriate setting for this car. Though built in Canada (a chunk of which is actually south of us at the moment), it's an undeniable symbol of American muscle. In the case of the GT, that muscle is a strong Pentastar V6 rated at 305 horsepower …
Hide Full Review
Smart Buy Price
|MPG||19 City / 30 Hwy|
|Power||305 @ 6350 rpm|
Savings without having to haggle for it.
Switch to State Farm and save an average of $536* on your car insurance.