2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker Review: Introduction
Nostalgia is another word for remembering the past as we would prefer it to be rather than how it actually was, which makes it the perfect lens from which to examine the 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker. Here is a modern muscle car that’s not particular fast and not all that engaging to drive, and yet it still holds a massive appeal to legions of Boomers whose only suggested improvement to the coupe’s formula would be to add the option of an 8-track so they could dust off those Creedence tapes and cruise like it’s 1970 all over again.
You see, the 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker both looks and sounds the business, and this special model – like the VW New Beetle before it – is perhaps the ultimate expression of what tapping into that vein of shared memory can do for an automaker’s bottom line. The Challenger Shaker doesn’t have to be great, it just has to play a role in the fantasies of its owners, which it manages to do in a way that the current Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro (despite their superior specs) haven’t quite been able to master. I spent a week behind the wheel of the Dodge reveling in my own, entirely-manufactured retro bubble and came away with an understanding, if not an outright appreciation, for the Challenger Shaker formula.
2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker Review: Models and Prices
In order to snag a Shaker edition of the 2014 Dodge Challenger, you must first step up to the V-8-powered R/T model. The base 2014 Dodge Challenger R/T (MSRP $30,495) features power windows and door locks, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, cloth seats, fog lights, Bluetooth connectivity, a CD player, 18-inch rims, automatic climate control, and parking assistance. From there it's a $7,000 jump to the Dodge Challenger Shaker (MSRP $37,485), which includes the unique hood and air intake, three-stage stability control, available Goodyear Eagle F1 performance tires, the contents of the Super Track Pak (better brakes, stiffer suspension, quicker steering), 20-inch rims, leather seats, and a flat-bottom steering wheel. My tester also came with an upgraded Uconnect entertainment system featuring navigation, no-cost Goodyear RSA all-season tires, and a sunroof, bringing the total sticker price to $39,785.
2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker Review: Design
- The 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker adds a functional hood cut-out and scoop to the standard Challenger's looks.
The 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker make a crucial change to the beefy splendor that is the big-bodied coupe: it sticks dome-shaped air intake on top of the car’s V-8 engine and then cuts a hole in the hood so that it can stick out for all of the world to see. This has the effect of adding an even more compelling layer of authenticity to what was already the most true-to-its-roots design of the three retro-inspired performance cars to come out of Detroit since the mid-2000’s. Simply put, the Challenger Shaker is badass. It’s so badass that there wasn’t enough room in the engine bay to contain all of its bad-assery, so they had to vent it to the sky. It really doesn’t get much more in-you-face than an air intake that visibly twists (but doesn’t so much shake) under acceleration, evoking the rough-idling big-block engines that kicked off the muscle car craze. This is a hefty car with hefty attitude, and the searing Header Orange paint job on my test vehicle (one of six special colors offered with the Shaker) did an excellent job of drawing attention to its many handsome attributes.
You can forget all of that once you open the Challenger Shaker’s long driver’s door and sit in its front left seat. You are now looking at pure parts-bin Dodge, as the Challenger’s interior is lifted almost entirely from the full-size Charger sedan on which it is based. All of the imagination that went into to perfecting the Challenger’s sheet metal was used up well before it was time to style its cabin, leaving us with a sea of black plastics and basic switchgear accented by rippled leather door inserts and a numbered Shaker plaque on the dash. You also get ‘Shaker’ emblazoned across the top of each of the front buckets and a flat-bottom steering wheel, and it’s worth noting that the coupe’s large B-pillars conceal a significant blind spot that can be a pain to deal with when changing lanes or parking. Chrysler promises us that the Challenger will get the interior it deserves when it’s redesigned for 2015.
2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker Review: Comfort and Cargo
- The 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker does not introduce any new comfort or cargo features for the current model year.
The 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker’s Charger-related roots do it a good turn when it comes to passenger space. With such a massive platform to build on – the coupe shares its chassis with the four-door sedan – there’s far more room to stretch out inside the Challenger Shaker as compared to any other two-door model in its class. This includes a back seat that I could actually ride comfortably in for more than a mile or two, a direct contrast to the torture chamber that are the secondary accommodations in the Ford Mustang. Add in the Challenger’s ludicrously large trunk (in which more than one grown man could comfortably lie down while slipping past a highway checkpoint), and you have perhaps the most practical muscle car money can buy.
2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker Review: Features and Controls
- The 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker doesn’t not introduce any new features or controls for the current model year.
While the 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker’s styling is often referred to as ‘classic,’ its feature set is unfortunately better described as ‘dated.’ From the multi-line, green-hued LCD display tucked like an after-thought under the gauge cluster to the last-generation Uconnect touchscreen interface used to interact with the coupe’s entertainment and communications features, it’s clear that the Challenger is behind the curve. The gear provided is functional, to be sure, but it’s quite basic and not at the level of gee-whiz interiors from Chevrolet (MyLink) and Ford (MyFord Touch, SYNC). You do get a 0-60-mph timer that’s fun to play around with, but that’s the extent of the special features found inside the coupe’s cabin. Chrysler’s most recent version of its Uconnect interface is the industry standard in my opinion, and I can’t wait until it’s available next year in the Challenger Shaker.
2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker Review: Safety and Ratings
- The 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker does not introduce any new safety equipment for the current model year.
The 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker comes standard with dual forward airbags, side impact airbags, and side curtain airbags that deploy front and rear in the event of a collision. There’s also a three-stage electronic stability control system and a traction control feature, but no advanced safety gear is to be found with the full-size coupe.
2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker Crash Test Ratings: The Challenger Shaker receives a five-star crash test safety rating from the NHTSA, but has not been tested by the IIHS.
2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker Review: Engines and Fuel Economy
- The 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker does not make any changes to the standard Challenger R/T drivetrain options.
Most people are surprised to find out that the 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker’s prominent air intake doesn’t have any impact on the power put down by its standard 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine. The fact that the Shaker is rated at the same 375 horses and 410 lb-ft of torque offered by the $7,000-cheaper Challenger R/T is disappointing, especially given that the hood scoop feeds air to a Mopar intake that’s also scooping oxygen from under the car. Maybe it makes a difference during a track session in keeping engine output steadier and less prone to heat-soak? My own tests were inconclusive in this matter.
A six-speed manual transmission comes standard with the Challenger Shaker, and that’s what was outfitted to my test vehicle (you can get a five-speed automatic as an option). Fuel mileage for the big coupe is listed at 16-mpg around town and 25-mpg during highway cruising.
2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker Review: Driving Impressions
I started off this review by mentioning that the 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker wasn’t really a performance car, even by the lax, fast-in-a-straight-line standards of the muscle community. The easiest way to verify the Challenger Shaker’s lack of moxie is to take it to a drag strip, which is exactly what I did. There I discovered that the car’s 4,075 lbs of curb weight and 375 over-taxed horsepower were simply incapable of impressing at the end of the quarter mile. I probably would have had better success if my tester had been outfitted with original equipment Goodyear Eagle Supercar tires rather than the no-cost option RSA 20-inch all-seasons, as traction was at a premium when launching the coupe. My best ET of the night was a cringe-worthy 13.99 seconds, with a 5.5 second sprint to 60-mph.
However, thanks to the reality distortion field that is nostalgia, the Dodge Challenger Shaker manages to Jedi-mind-trick you and everyone around you into thinking you’re the king of the 1,320. Car after car refused to line up next to me at the strip, convinced by the authoritative orange coloring and menacing hood scoop of the Shaker that their own rides couldn’t possibly stand a chance of eking out any glory against it. This persisted despite an hour of slow passes that could have easily been bested by a well-driven Mustang GT from any model year since 1987.
It’s for these reasons that the 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker is best enjoyed in its natural element – the street – rather than attempting to warp physics and have fun with it at the track. It’s here that the Shaker’s extra performance gear (the contents of the Super Track Pak, including beefed up steering, brake lines, and more aggressive suspension tuning) can be better put to work cruising slowly past the crowd at your local drive-in diner or suburban mall parking lot. It might not corner all that well, nor leap off the line with the practiced poise of a world class contender, but the Challenger Shaker’s got ‘cruising with menace’ down pat, and it makes you feel like the king of your block when you rumble into your driveway.
2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker Review: Final Thoughts
The 2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker is a fun car to drive if you’re willing to accept it for what it is and abandon lusty thoughts of drag strip domination (or risk genuine stoplight-to-stoplight humiliation). I’ll confess to having spent more than a little bit of time admiring its curves every time I parked it for the evening, despite being underwhelmed by its mechanical attributes. This car is like television's ‘The Wonder Years’ writ into sheet metal, a painstakingly-narrated rite of passage that’s been romanticized to the point where its mere presence and appearance are enough to trigger Pavlovian respect from anyone who has ever been a muscle car fan. In this sense, it’s a major success for Dodge as the Challenger Shaker rises above the sum of its parts to become something greater in the minds of everyone in its immediate vicinity.
2014 Dodge Challenger Shaker Review: Pros and Cons
- Looks like it could beat you up without breaking a sweat
- Shaker hood and scoop impart incredible attitude
- Very roomy inside
- The most faithful modern muscle car to its retro roots
- Fun to cruise around in
- Really not that fast
- Consumes fuel at a prodigious rate
- Doesn’t like to corner quickly
- Large size and big blind spots make it difficult to park
- Easily embarrassed at the track by Mustangs and Camaros.
Chrysler Canada supplied the vehicle for this review
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