2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 review: Top dog of the Dodge brand

2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392

2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392

Looking at our test 2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 in Plum Crazy, an intensely purple paint job, our friend Bud asked, “Where’s the girl you took that from.”

We answered, “One who can kick your ass.”

And smiled.

Because kicking ass, putting crudely but appropriately, is what one can do when one drives a Challenger SRT8 392. Not that its own derriere is unpuntable. It has “only” 470 horsepower, after all, and with the manual transmission like our test car, only gets to 60 mph from a standing start in the high four second range, and only turns the quarter-mile in the mid-twelves. There are quicker cars. But not very many.

2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 engine

The 2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 is powered by a 470 horsepower 392 cubic inch V-8. (click to enlarge)

And not many faster than the Challenger SRT8 392’s top end of 182 mph (with the six-speed manual transmission, the automatic a smidge slower).

The 2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392is the alpha male of the production Dodge brand—now that Viper has decamped to the SRT brand—handsome and muscled a notch ahead of more ordinary Challengers. The front splitter that wraps up into “spats” on the leading edge of the front wheel openings are genuine aerodynamic  aids, as are the scoops in the splitter, directing cooling air towards the front brakes.  The spoiler on the rear deck is functional as well, helping keep the Challenger planted at high speed.

The Plum Crazy Pearl Coat finish is functional, too. Its function is making people make silly remarks. But if purple isn’t your thing, HEMI Orange is also available, along with five more conservative colors.

2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 interior

The 2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 seats are trimmed in Nappa leather with suede inserts. (click to enlarge)

Dodge always spells the name of its V-8 engine in all caps, as in “HEMI®,” complete with the little trademark symbol. We’ve just used “Hemi.” But for the 392 cubic inch—to use the classic American measurements—V-8, all capital letters might just be fitting. The pushrod engine has an “advanced active intake manifold” and a high-lift cam with cam phasing (the camshaft advanced or retarded per current needs) to make its 470 horses and 470 lb-ft of torque.  The latter peaks at a relatively high 4200 rpm, but torque is plenty thick lower in the rev range too.

Our test 2014 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 was equipped with a six-speed manual transmission with a classic pistol grip shift knob. Well, it’s not a knob. You grasp it like a baseball bat…or like the grip of a pistol. Though without the trigger. The manual transmission is a Tremec TR-6060, first offered in the Viper so definitely up to the task with the SRT-8 392.

A five-speed automatic is also available and it’s equipped with paddle-shifters. Both transmissions come with a Getrag limited-slip rear differential.

New for 2013 is a launch control system. Tired of not being able to perform a perfect drag strip start at every traffic light? Try this with the manual transmission: With the Challenger SRT8 392 stopped, press the ESC (electronic stability control) button twice, push in the clutch with the transmission in first gear, and the quickly put the throttle petal into the carpet. The launch control system holds the engine at a selected rpm until the clutch is released, and when it is, controls wheelspin via the engine torque management system.

2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 instrument panel

The 2013 Dodge Challenger SRT8 392 instrument panel is hard to read and partially blocked by the steering wheel. (click to enlarge)

The driver isn’t completely out of the mix on controlling launches, however. Using the Electronic Vehicle Information Center screen, the launch rpm can be set between 2500 to 4000 rpm in 250 rpm increments. The automatic transmission also has a similar launch control system, using the brake pedal as the trigger.

The Challenger SRT8 392 received an improved adaptive damping system for the 2013 model year. The system has three settings, Auto, Sport and Track. Auto, of course, sets the suspension tuning based on a variety of driver and road inputs, including speed, steering angle, how fast the steering wheel is being turned, throttle position, lateral/longitudinal/vertical g-forces and more.

Sport firms up the shock absorbers in compression and rebound, while Track adds performance shifting to the automatic transmission action.