9 Life Lessons I Learned From Driving A 485-HP Dodge Challenger For A Week


For starters, absolutely no complaints.

I tried. I really did. I asked for a Challenger Hellcat but so did all other car writers in this horsepower-mad world we live in. Damnit. "But we can offer you a Challenger Scat Pack instead," wrote the very kind Fiat-Chrysler PR lady. "Will that work for you?" Sometimes you've gotta settle for less, but I quickly realized, upon delivery of my 485-hp hulk of a coupe drive for the next week, that less, in this case, would be more than good enough.

Thus began my week-long joy cruise with a heavily optioned, $47,670, 2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack. Its 6.4-liter Hemi V8 was an absolute delight, needless to say. It came with the new eight-speed automatic that, while still not perfect, notably during downshifts, is really quite good overall. The Suede/Nappa leather seats are more comfortable than most peoples' sofas and the Uconnect infotainment/navigation system should be a model for other automakers. I was spending a week visiting family in Ohio, in a town where local police are exceptionally good at giving tickets. I commend them for their work, but I really wanted to avoid a forced contribution to that slush fund.

So I (mostly) behaved while driving, but the sound of 485 ponies coming from the cop-magnet red Challenger doesn't go unnoticed. In fact, other drivers messed with me. For real. I got the impression that many assumed I felt I was better than them because of my car. Well, I was (except for the guy driving a Hellcat). After careful study of the situation, here are nine things I learned from their obvious jealousy and then some: 1. Illegal street racing becomes a strong possibility. A couple of teenagers in a Miata challenged me at a stoplight one night. They were kidding themselves. Oh, be sure to have the car home before curfew, children.

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2. You regularly get cut off by drivers of all ages, even in light traffic. I blame the car for being totally awesome. 3. You become the immediate new best friend of Baby Boomer-aged men who are considering buying one to relive their youths. Can't blame them. 4. You become the immediate new best friend of old friends you haven't seen since high school who've never left town. Knew there was a reason why I skipped out on my ten-year reunion. 5. There are limits to your driving abilities. The car wanted nothing more than to fishtail after I made a hard right out of a parking lot just after it stopped raining.

6. You sound like a badass even when going slow because of that engine-exhaust combo. See number 1. 7. Visibility is dreadful, especially out back. I adored this. It was literally a man cave. 8. You're going faster than you think. Always. 9. Engaging launch control should only be done where there's a very low-to-zero chance you won't leave a slab of roadkill behind. Note to self on that one.

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