While most muscle cars are sitting all winter, there’s one performance car that won’t be covered up in the garage. If you live in a colder climate, you may have been held back from looking at a performance-oriented car because they are often rear-wheel drive.
Now there’s the new 2017 Dodge Challenger GT, for cold weather areas. It’s the first two-door American muscle car to offer all-wheel drive, and we had a chance to test it this weekend.
What’s New For 2017?
Dodge now offers the Challenger GT for 2017 and it comes with all-wheel drive for the first time. This model features a V6 engine and an active transfer case with front axle disconnect for improved fuel mileage.
Features & Options
The 2017 Dodge Challenger GT ($33,395) comes standard with loads of features. It comes equipped with Dodge Performance Pages, Super Track Pak settings, launch control, projector fog lights, a rear spoiler, ParkSense rear park assist, and a rear camera. Inside, it gets Nappa leather seating, heated and ventilated front seats with four-way power driver lumbar adjustment, a heated steering wheel with power tilt and telescoping column, a universal garage door opener, Hectic Mesh aluminum bezels, and bright pedals.
Uconnect features include Apple CarPlay/Android Auto compatibility and a six-speaker Alpine audio system with a 276-watt amplifier.
Options on this tester included a GT Interior package ($995), featuring a leather performance steering wheel, and a nine-speaker, 506-watt Alpine audio system. The Technology package ($1,195) offers automatic headlights, rain-sensing wipers, adaptive speed control, and forward collision warning. The Driver convenience group ($1,095) comes with HID headlights, blind spot and rear cross path detection, and a remote start. The Navigation package ($795) gets a Uconnect system featuring a 8.4-inch touchscreen.
Total MSRP including destination: $38,965.
Our Challenger came with Go Mango exterior paint that is both bright and law-enforcement attracting. The exterior of the Challenger GT features a small “GT” badge that sets this model apart from its rear-drive stablemates. Hyper Black alloy wheels are wrapped in 235/55R19 all-seasons tires. The exterior also gets fog lamps and a rear deck-lid spoiler.
The cabin of the Challenger GT comes equipped for cold weather with comfortable, Nappa leather performance seats, that are heated and ventilated with 4-way power driver lumbar adjustment. The heated steering wheel kept us warm during an early spring cold snap that hit the Denver area. The outside mirrors also come heated to help clear snow and ice.
The Challenger has a lot of front leg and shoulder room and tall adults will feel comfortable up front. The rear seat isn’t quite made for taller adults, but it offers up more room than most of the competition with three seats versus two. Rear seat access is tight but better than other sporty coupes.
We thought the Uconnect 8.4-inch touchscreen display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is one of the most user-friendly interfaces in the industry. It offers crisp graphics, quick responses, and simple, easy-to-use menus.
Visibility is average with significant blind spots over the shoulder while the large hood limits forward sight lines. It can be difficult to judge the front corners when pulling into a parking space. The large-display rearview camera helps considerably when backing out, and the rear-cross path alert helped us when we couldn’t see an approaching vehicle.
Engine & Fuel Mileage Specs
The 2017 Challenger GT is powered by a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, which produces 305 horsepower and 268 lb-ft. of torque. It comes mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and a Sport mode that holds gears longer to keep revs higher.
The large performance coupe gets an EPA-estimated 18/27 city/highway and 21 combined mpg.
Unfortunately, the Challenger GT isn’t offered with a Hemi V8.
We had a chance to drive the new AWD Challenger in snowy conditions with the early spring cold snap that hit the Denver area recently. The Challenger GT had no issues accelerating or braking in the snow, but we thought the V6 felt hindered and slow to accelerate when trying to pass traffic going up I-70 at altitude. We wished it came with the Hemi V8 engine, but it has all-weather capabilities that no other American muscle car offers.
The all-wheel drive system is adapted from the Dodge Charger, a stablemate of the Challenger. It features an active transfer case that can send extra torque to the front wheels when needed. It also has a front-axle disconnect feature to reduce drag and improve fuel mileage when front traction isn’t needed.
In normal driving, the Challenger GT feels like a rear-drive car, and switches to all-wheel drive in low traction situations, wide-open throttle when passing, in Sport mode, and manual shifting via the steering wheel paddle-shifters. The Challenger GT is a big, heavy sports coupe and body roll was pronounced in the tight mountain corners. It still offers plenty of grip, however, to have an enjoyable time commuting or when taking a trip to the local car show.
For those needing an all-wheel drive muscle car, the 2017 Dodge Challenger GT is the only choice – if it were offered with the Hemi V8, it would be an ideal high performance option. Overall, the 2017 Dodge Challenger GT is an acceptable, if not enjoyable, daily commuter.
Denis Flierl has invested over 25 years in the automotive industry in a variety of roles. Follow his work on Twitter: @CarReviewGuy