The 2011 model year is proving to be rebirth of sorts for the Chrysler Group, but the Dodge brand seems to be getting most of the attention thanks to cars like the updated Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 and the redesigned Dodge Charger. To celebrate these highly touted cars, Dodge is taking both on the road for a 40-day road trip that will hit 30 different cities across the United States from coast to coast. Dodge kicked off its Hemi Highway Tour on Nov. 15 at the Walter P. Chrysler Museum in Auburn Hills, Mich. and wraps up on Dec. 20 in Corona, Calif. at SMS Supercars, but Autotropolis had the chance to catch up with both cars last week when they made a stop in Jacksonville, Fla.
Dodge is driving the cars from city to city with some of the stops along the tour taking place at tuner shops such as Hennessey Performance and SMS Supercars, but most will take place at area Dodge dealers which was the case with this stop at Jacksonville Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep. At most stops, Dodge is contacting local enthusiast clubs to show off the cars, and the Florida LX Club was on hand at this stop to turn the dealership parking lot into a six-hour car show of Chargers, Challengers, Magnums and 300s. To see where the Hemi Highway Tour has been and where it is going, visit www.redletterdodge.com/hemihighway.
'The Dodge brand DNA is deeply rooted within automotive enthusiast clubs and local car shows where people gather to talk about cars, power and performance - and, nothing else. To bring the new 2011 Dodge Charger and Challenger 392 to these types of events is inherent to the brand's history,'? said Ralph Gilles, President and CEO of Chrysler's Dodge brand.
For 2011, Dodge left the exterior of the Challenger alone and focused on giving it a nicer interior and more power under the hood, but the biggest news is the addition of the 6.4-liter V-8 under the hood of the SRT8 model. This new engine produces 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque, but one important aspect of this new engine is that it offers improved fuel efficiency with the automatic transmission thanks to Chrysler's cylinder deactivation system - this allows for a lower gas guzzler tax compared to the 2010 SRT8. Even the base model gets more power thanks to the 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6. The 5.7-liter HEMI is still used in the Challenger R/T producing up to 376 horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque.
This particular car on display during the Hemi Highway Tour is actually the limited-production Inaugural Edition which will see just 1,100 units produced here in the U.S. and an additional 392 units produced in Canada. Only two colors will be offered on this package, with this particular car on the tour being the Bright White Clear Coat with Viper Blue stripes. Unique badges, wheels and interior trim will also help to set this car apart from standard 2011 Challenger SRT8 models. Aside from the powertrain changes and the new special-edition model, the new Challenger also gets a slightly updated interior with a sportier steering wheel and better seat materials.
While changes to the 2011 Challenger were mostly beneath the skin, the 2011 Dodge Charger was completely redesigned inside and out and given a more modern base engine. Most of the styling is actually based on the 1999 Dodge Charger RT Concept including the flat shoulder line and stylish side body creases. Up front, the new Charger now has a more aggressive face with a pointed grille and narrower headlights. The most significant styling change though was to the rear of the 2011 Charger with the new design featuring full-width taillights similar to the iconic Charger coupe from 1969 through 1970. Like the majority of newly released 2011 Chrysler products, the interior of the new Charger has also been given major updates to include materials, equipment, and, most importantly, design. This new design helps to create more separation between the Charger and the Challenger, and gives the Charger a more upscale look thanks to the redesigned instrument panel, gauge cluster and center stack.
'The Dodge Charger and the Dodge Challenger are true American icons that have earned their place in automotive history and their legacy continues with the introduction of the all-new models for 2011,'? Gilles said.
In addition to the Challenger and Charger, Dodge has also redesigned the Dodge Durango for 2011 and heavily updated the exterior and interior of the Dodge Journey, Dodge Avenger and Dodge Grand Caravan.
Photos by Jeffrey N. Ross