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As many of you know, I have started searching for my next car and have narrowed it down to the Camaro SS, Challenger SRT-8 or R/T, and Mustang GT. The wife does not care what I get but requested it be an auto, so she can drive it once and a while. I agreed to this since the car will be driven daily. Therefore, all cars driven were automatic. I went to a dealer not far from me that allows the customer to test drive the cars alone. I drove three cars. I went into this thinking the SRT-8 would be my automatic favorite. Here are my thoughts:

2008 Challenger SRT-8, Hemi Orange

As I slid into the leather/suede buckets and saw the dual hood stripes stretching out in front of me, I could not help but smile. The Hemi Orange Challenger looks even better and more striking in person. Dodge really got the retro muscle car look right. I could go on and on about why the exterior looks better than the Mustang or Camaro, but we already know that. Inside, the interior felt fairly high quality and better than the Camaro's. However, I think the dashboards are a bit softer to the touch in the 2011s. The one gripe I had was the interior door handles seem very low. I had my hand on the side of my left thigh and could open the door. The Camaro was the same way. It should be noted I had just sat in a 392 prior to getting into the 2008, and that was my initial impressions. The interior is basically the same save for the gauges, easy access driver's seat, and steering wheel. The car I test drove had 8,700 miles and was fitted with a Mopar Cold Air Intake and Mopar Exhaust system. The visibility was good out front and the sides. Rearward visibility means trusting your mirrors, but the Camaro's was significantly worse. The SRT-8 actually rode a little harder than I was expecting, but it was by no means annoyingly harsh. I cruised a few blocks away from the dealer and hit the throttle and was surprised at the lack of acceleration at first. Then it downshifted, and whatever doubts I had, were quickly left behind in the dust. Apparently, I did not give it enough to downshift at first. I was being cautious as I had just left the dealer's lot. The more I drove it, the wider the grin became on my face. For its size, this is one fast car. It's like a sledge hammer with a rocket attached to it. It may be heavy, but it packs a hell of a punch! I called a a few of my friends and my father and put them on speaker phone as I hit passing gear a few times. That is how exciting this car was to me, and I had to tell someone. The entire experience was sublime. The exhaust note was like God shouting or the Devil shrieking depending on which analogy suites your tastes. With that said, the engine was a tad peaky at times. It seemed to come alive more as the RPMs climbled like a DOHC engine. I was surprised by this but not turned off. The car still lays plenty of rubber, which I inadvertently did leaving a light. Perhaps, this is why the car typically loses to the SS and GT in 0-60 times but catches back up in the quarter. The Brembos gave pretty good feedback through the pedal, and the brakes felt excellent. The handling was good as well. It did not feel as sharp as I would have liked, nor was there a ton of feedback through the wheel, but I could imagine this car taking off ramps at 60mph with ease. I could also see myself taking a roadtrip in this car with extreme comfort and room for a few passengers plus luggage. I could not say that about the Camaro or Mustang. I returned to the dealer and told the salesman, I could not help but smile while driving this car.

2010 Dodge Challenger R/T, White, 20 inchers, non STP
I told the saleman I wanted to try an R/T next and out came a Kowalski special in white of course. The exterior was not as striking as the SRT-8 in Orange, but the white R/T had a coolness factor about I could not place my finger on. Perhaps, it reminded me of Vanishing Point or because it was more understated kind of like the 08 Bullitt Mustangs - no flash and all business. The leather seat upolstery seems to fit the car's overall classic look better than the leather/suede combo in the SRT-8, but the SRT-8s seats are much better in terms of comfort and bolstering. Bear in mind, I am only 5'4", 140lbs, so that opinion could be nill depending on your body type. The stock exhaust was definitely too quiet, even under heavy load. The acceleration was not extremely far off the SRT-8, though there was a pretty substantial difference in the higher RPM range. The SRT-8 definitely felt quicker and livlier. This R/T also only had 40 miles on the odometer and was not broken in yet. The handling on this non STP R/T did not disappoint either. The suspension was not as firm, so it road softier and was actually more comfortable. However, it felt spongier than and did not instill the confidence the SRT-8 did. The brakes, however, were the R/T's weakest point. The pedal travel was further, and the brakes felt like they had to struggle much more to reign in the 4,100lb car. The Brembos were just felt and performed much better. All in all, the R/T makes more sense as the daily driver. However, the R/T felt less special than the SRT-8, and I did not smile as much while driving it. I think I would get bored with it after a while and would always wish I had gotten an SRT-8, even if the price difference does not make much sense for a car so similar. Sometimes, we want and buy things based on emotion rather than reason. The SRT-8 struck an emotional cord in me that the R/T did not. My head says buy an R/T, but my heart... Well, we know what my heart wants me to do.

2010 Camaro SS RS, Imperial Blue Metallic

Since they also had a used 2,800 mile Camaro SS on the lot, I drove that too for comparison's sake. Navy blue on this particular car does nothing for it. The Camaro needs to be black, yellow, red, or orange in my opinion. Love it or hate it, the exterior styling does make a statement. I do not like the big, ugly Chevy badge in the grill, nor the rear bumper diffuser. I think the car looks awesome from certain angles and cartoony from others. Inside, the cabin/gauges are more interesting to look at, and you really feel like you piloting something special. The Challenger's interior, though higher quality, did not evoke ths feeling. Sadly, the hard plastic typical of GM cars remains. The interior makes the car seem much smaller than it is. The low windows and high door sills create a cramped feeling. I had the seat raised fairly high to be able to see over the cowl to confidently drive. I only had an inch or two from the headliner in this position, and this was a non sunroof car. Remember, I am only 5'4". Rearward visibility consists of putting the car in reverse and hoping not to hear a crunch from outside. Once settled in, I checked the side mirrors and could see the curvy rear fender jutting out away from the car. It reminded me of driving the batmobile. It would be cool for a while, but eventually would get annoying in traffic and day to day use. I pulled out of the lot and was surprised how solid this chassis felt. Based on the critically loved but defunct G8, I could see why people liked it. The Camaro did ride a little harder than the SRT-8 but felt more solid. The SRT-8 felt like it was riding on top of its suspension, whereas the Camaro felt like one with it. It is hard to explain. You just have to drive them back to back. The Camaro's braking and handling felt crisper as well. I felt I could toss the Camaro around more than the SRT-8, though on paper they are basically the same in these categories. The Camaro also felt just as fast as the Challenger if not a bit quicker in areas of the RPM range. This is probably due to the 6 speed auto vs 5 speed. I was able to break the tires loose hitting passing gear while traveling at 40mph. The exhaust note was pleasant but not orgasmic like the SRT-8's. Yes, I have compared the exhaust on the SRT-8 to God, the Devil, and orgasms. The Camaro's paddle shifters on the steering wheel were awkardly placed, so I did not really bother. I fully expected to hate the SS, but I was actually quite impressed by its driving dynamics and powertrain. However, the interior is cramped, the trunk is tiny, and the visibility out is poor. The Camaro's styling also did not get my heart pumping in the same way the Challenger's did. Weekend play car - yes. Daily driver - no. Therefore, the Challenger SRT-8 is still at the top of my list for my next vehicle purchase. Sorry, GM. Close but no cigar.

Next up 2011 Mustang GT...
 

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One thing to consider, which I'm sure you have. The SRT8 you drove had a CAI and Mopar exhaust. You can put those on the R/T for the same sound, and that alone gets the R/T close if not matched in RWHP to the SRT. My R/T is a different car with the Corsa Mopar exhaust and a CAI, and I haven't even had it tuned yet(another 40hp gain isn't unrealistic with a tune). And there's plenty of R/Ts like mine in Hemi orange.

Also for the suspension, you can get the Hotchkis suspension for the R/T, and it's better than the SRT, which is on my list. A good middleground to keep the softer more comfortable feel of the R/T is to just get the thicker Hotchkis sway bar, a friend said it made his SRT8 handle/corner like a 2 seat sports car! Thats what I'll be doing 1st. So exhaust, CAI, tuner, and sway bar with an R/T, thats still less than halfway to filling the price gap between it and the SRT8.

Lastly, there's not much helping the brakes, but note that a simple brake job with the Bembros costs over $1400 in parts and labor!

Your comments on the Camaro are identical to my observations lol.
 

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Excellent writeup. Thanks for sharing.
 

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I have a 6-speed RT, but reading threads on here I have **heard** the Diablo Predator hand held tuner ($300 or so) really, really wakes up the lame automatic. I can't speak against the SRT, I only test drove an auto RT and 6-speed RT (SRT's were out of my budget) but it was like night & day. In fact I was so turned off by shift points, lack of response, etc of the automatic, it was either a 6-speed or no RT for me.

Obviously, YMMV.
 

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Yes thanks for sharing your thoughts and views after the drives. Will be interested to see what you think of the '11 GT.
i didn't hate the Camaro either, but sided like you said based on the negatives getting old real quick on the Camaro.

Good Luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
One thing to consider, which I'm sure you have. The SRT8 you drove had a CAI and Mopar exhaust. You can put those on the R/T for the same sound, and that alone gets the R/T close if not matched in RWHP to the SRT. My R/T is a different car with the Corsa Mopar exhaust and a CAI, and I haven't even had it tuned yet(another 40hp gain isn't unrealistic with a tune). And there's plenty of R/Ts like mine in Hemi orange.

Also for the suspension, you can get the Hotchkis suspension for the R/T, and it's better than the SRT, which is on my list. A good middleground to keep the softer more comfortable feel of the R/T is to just get the thicker Hotchkis sway bar, a friend said it made his SRT8 handle/corner like a 2 seat sports car! Thats what I'll be doing 1st. So exhaust, CAI, tuner, and sway bar with an R/T, thats still less than halfway to filling the price gap between it and the SRT8.

Lastly, there's not much helping the brakes, but note that a simple brake job with the Bembros costs over $1400 in parts and labor!

Your comments on the Camaro are identical to my observations lol.
Very good points here. Since I only drove automatics, I am somewhat limited in my viewpoints. I was tempted to drive a Mopar 10 six speed they had, but I knew my wife would not go for it. The dated five speed is one of the car's weakest links I think, but it is silky smooth. I will daily drive the car, and my wife will drive it too sometimes. Therefore, it must be an auto, but I can live with that. I am not completely ruling out a used R/T Classic with light modifications, but stock for stock, I prefer the SRT-8 for reasons mentioned above. I will be driving a 2011 GT this afternoon with a writeup afterwards.
 

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Thanks for the detailed reviews! I'm interested in reading your impressions on the 2011 GT.

I've driven a 2010 SRT, a 2010 R/T with 18" wheels, a 2010 R/T with the Super Track Pak, and a 2011 GT, all with automatics. I looked at the Camaro SS, but after seeing the car's interior and exterior in person and sitting in one, I knew I could never buy one so I didn't bother driving one. That's saying something, considering my family and I have bought mostly GM cars over the years. Overall, I pretty much agree with your conclusions. I ended up going with a 2010 Hemi Orange R/T Classic with the Super Track Pak. It satisfied my aesthetic and financial requirements better than the SRT and with a few minor tweaks it comes close to the SRT's power and sound.
 

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Nice write-up. Good to see an objective view. Emotions have their place, but some constructive criticism can go a long way.

Best of luck with your choice.

HemiSam
 

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Lastly, there's not much helping the brakes, but note that a simple brake job with the Bembros costs over $1400 in parts and labor!
l.
SRT8 brake pads and rotors are the easiest swap known to mankind. Most of the effort is getting the tires off\on. Don't let that sway you, and then end up spending north of $3k to upgrade the RT brakes.
 

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I have my R/T and my pals 2008 HO SRT8 Challenger to compare. His is bone stock and mine is lightly customized. The SINGLE thing I like better about his than mine (other than perhaps the Brembos!) is the almighty low end grunt of that wicked 6.1L! All else is comparable but now modded and tuned my car is real close in power, my 5.7 is noticeably smoother running. I like the ride better in mine although his is probably meant to convey a more sporty connection to the road. It doesn't feel right though like my Mustang Gt did, rather his SRT8 just seems to have stiffer springs with about half the travel. My STP R/T however rides like an all day mean street brawling machine. Sporty enough but well set up and driveable enough to make the driving experience very addictive. I could have had either and sometimes I've wished I would have gotten the SRT8 but now I know I would have missed the things that are very special indeed about the R/T, a very well thought out mid model sports car if there ever was one.
 

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Good write up; fair and balanced.

Something outside the scope of your story- put a cam, exhaust, decent Hurst six speed shifter, and work with a tuner who really knows what he's doing and it's a completely different beast from stock.

Not even close to the same car. I don't know how well the Chevy responds to the same work, but can say the LS1 is several years ahead of the 6.1 in terms of tuners being able to get the right tune on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
Well, I went to the Ford dealer today a drove 2011 GT Premium with automatic. I also drove a 1,700 mile 2009 Red/Black GT500 just for fun :). Let's start with the 5.0.

Race Red 2011 Mustang GT

Parked next to a used Challenger R/T on the lot, the new 5.0 Mustang was almost invisible. That is not to say the styling is bad. Quite the contrary, this is the car that started the retro craze. It is certainly more aggressive looking than the 05-09s, but it does not get my heart pumping like that SRT-8 did. Its exterior styling is getting a little old and not in the retro way. I also think the rear end is unnecessarily bloated like most of Ford's product line. Inside, the cabin has the best blend between a retro look and high quality materials and is a huge improvement over the 05-09 cars. The visibility was good in all directions as long as you folded the rear headrests down. I was also able to find an ideal driving position almost immediately. The car simply fit me. The acceleration was just as good the SRT-8/Camaro SS from what I could tell. The salesman was in the car, so I could not test it like I did the others. It is definitely a higher revving engine than the 6.1L and sounds silky smooth similar to a Bullitt's exhaust note. The exhaust was still not as mean as the SRT-8's I drove with the Mopar system on it though. Handling was definitely better all around, which is no surprise given the Mustang's smaller size. The braking felt almost as good as the Camaro and SRT-8. This was a non Brembo car mind you. I felt like I could toss this car into turns at much higher speeds than the and felt willing to be pushed to its limits more. The 5.0 is now more of sports car than a muscle car. It did ride harder than the Challenger I believe but surprisingly, I could not tell this car had a live rear axle.The trunk and rear seat room were directly in the middle, cutting the line between the tiny Camaro's and roomy Challenger's. After driving the Mustang, I could not purchase a Camaro with its terrible visibility and feel good about my decision since the performance is so similar between the two. The Mustang is truly a driver's car with the best all around performance and bang for the buck.

2009 GT500, Red with black stripes

I know I originally limited these tests to cars with automatics only, but I could not help myself. This car is sort of in a class by itself anyway. We all know what the exterior and interior is like on these, so I will not get too detailed. Basically, it reminds me of an angry GT on steroids. The leather stitched dash cover and SVT gauges were a nice touch over the stock interior. As soon as I turned the key, I thought I had started a race car. The exhaust note is loud and somewhat raspy but in a very good way. The gear throws are short and precise. I would place the clutch effort at moderate. I did have a little trouble finding third, instead going into fifth a few times. I could be a little rusty though. This car is ridiculously fast once the supercharger kicks in and is faster than any car I've ever driven. The ride was a bit harsh but not a ton more than the Mustang or Camaro. I will say the new 5.0 felt more luxurious and composed than the GT500. However, the GT500 was the most fun of all the cars I test drove. The whine of the supercharger and immediate thrust thereafter was addicting. I came from a Stealth Twin Turbo, so I liked the sudden rush of power the GT500 provided. I can only imagine what new 2011 GT500 would be like. If I were buying a second/toy car, this would be my winner.

Conclusion

Test driving all these cars has not made this decision any easier. In fact, I may have muddied the waters a little bit since I am not setting anything in stone at this point. Basically, I want a car that looks great, performs well, and is somewhat pratical for daily use. I need to be able to have a functional rear seat/trunk as well as an automatic transmission to appease the spouse. Thus, the Camaro, while a great effort, is out. Gas mileage is not a huge concern since I live close to work. With that said, the SRT-8 is my all around favorite though I may still consider a R/T Classic STP once I find one to drive. It is by the far the most roomy, comfortable, and best looking of the three. It also has the best exhaust note and is much less common than a Camaro or Mustang. Sure it is not a tossable as the Mustang, or its handling characteristics as planted the new Camaro's, but it has something the others somewhat lack - charisma. Its ability to stand apart from the crowd are second to none. The luster of the new Camaro has worn a little, and I suspect this will be exaserbated as they become more common. The Challenger is the one that will still turn heads ten years from no and is the car that drew the strongest emotional reaction from me. I liked the others but did not fall in love. The great Jeremy Clarkson once said of the Porsche 928, "This is a Heman's car. The sort of thing that would go out and eat a tractor - for fun!" That's the Challenger.
 

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With regard to your earlier post, calling the auto tranny in the Challenger a weak link cannot be done. At the track it takes an expert driver in a 6 speed Challenger to be as fast as a relative newb in an auto Challenger. Might be more boring, but at best the 6 speed can only hope to match it.

You can't go wrong either way. I am really impressed by the Mustangs 5.0 powerplant(although I prefer the 05-09 body, looks like they were trying to make it look like a Camaro in 2010). But yeah as you say, Mustangs are a dime a dozen, I could toss a rock at the road blindfolded and probably hit a Mustang. The Stang is the fastest(stock), but you have to consider how often you race as a pose to just driving to work. :) And if you have the coin, perhaps the SRT does make more sense. A major attraction for me at the time was the 09 Challenger R/Ts had a lifetime powertrain warranty(the SRTs never had that). But R/Ts are a good deal cheaper, very little difference in HP, and with the Hotchkis suspension handle better than stock SRTs.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
With regard to your earlier post, calling the auto tranny in the Challenger a weak link cannot be done. At the track it takes an expert driver in a 6 speed Challenger to be as fast as a relative newb in an auto Challenger. Might be more boring, but at best the 6 speed can only hope to match it.

You can't go wrong either way. I am really impressed by the Mustangs 5.0 powerplant(although I prefer the 05-09 body, looks like they were trying to make it look like a Camaro in 2010). But yeah as you say, Mustangs are a dime a dozen, I could toss a rock at the road blindfolded and probably hit a Mustang. The Stang is the fastest(stock), but you have to consider how often you race as a pose to just driving to work. :) And if you have the coin, perhaps the SRT does make more sense. A major attraction for me at the time was the 09 Challenger R/Ts had a lifetime powertrain warranty(the SRTs never had that). But R/Ts are a good deal cheaper, very little difference in HP, and with the Hotchkis suspension handle better than stock SRTs.
Maybe I should drive manuals and start the process over. I could tell my wife to just to live with it :) . I should have specified on that comment about the auto trans. I did not mean the auto tranny was slower as it is clearly not in regard to the six speed car. I should have said the tranny was a bit outdated in comparison to the six speed auto offerings from Ford and Chevy. I wonder how fast the SRT-8 would be with a six speed auto is what I was thinking while driving the other two.
 

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You should try driving a SRT8 Challenger with the 93 tune. It gave me a huge increase in lowend power. I drove over 600 miles in the last 2 days in my SRT8 (lots of mountain/curvey roads) & avg over 24mpg.

Before I bought I test drove a 10 Challenger SRT8, 11 Camaro SS & 11 Mustang GT (all autos) within 2 hrs of each other. The GT was the most fun if you drove it hard but the weakest below 3,000rpms. The SS had the most power below 3,000 rpms but died off the soonest. The SRT8 was in the middle below 3,000 rpms but pulled hard till redline. The GT pulled hard to 7,000 rpms.

I bought the SRT8 ($8,000 off MSRP & the cheapest of the 3) then 2 weeks later I drove a new 10 Mustang GT & to my surprise it had more power below 3,000 rpms than the 11 GT making it a better daily driver than the 11 GT. I bought the 10 GT ($9,250 off MSRP) for my wife. The 10 GT was much quicker than I expected. We took ours to the track with 1,500 miles on it and ran a [email protected].

For long trips I highly recommend the SRT8 over the Mustang.
 

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One thing to consider, which I'm sure you have. The SRT8 you drove had a CAI and Mopar exhaust. You can put those on the R/T for the same sound, and that alone gets the R/T close if not matched in RWHP to the SRT. My R/T is a different car with the Corsa Mopar exhaust and a CAI, and I haven't even had it tuned yet(another 40hp gain isn't unrealistic with a tune). And there's plenty of R/Ts like mine in Hemi orange.

Also for the suspension, you can get the Hotchkis suspension for the R/T, and it's better than the SRT, which is on my list. A good middleground to keep the softer more comfortable feel of the R/T is to just get the thicker Hotchkis sway bar, a friend said it made his SRT8 handle/corner like a 2 seat sports car! Thats what I'll be doing 1st. So exhaust, CAI, tuner, and sway bar with an R/T, thats still less than halfway to filling the price gap between it and the SRT8.

Lastly, there's not much helping the brakes, but note that a simple brake job with the Bembros costs over $1400 in parts and labor!

Your comments on the Camaro are identical to my observations lol.
You are not going to want to respond to this post, and you should never type on this forum again. You have 392 posts, this is the perfect amount as this is the highest performing chrysler in the history of the World.

Please do not respond. :indifferent:
 

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Says 393 already unfortunatly, :( . I do lust after that 392, though having done the math in money I'd lose trading from the R/T to the 11 SRT, it would be more cost effective to drop a 426 in mine. :D
 

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Great reviews of the cars! I think you nailed it head on with an honest unbiased impressions. I would love to hear what you think about the 392 if you get a chance to try one out.
 

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One thing to consider, which I'm sure you have. The SRT8 you drove had a CAI and Mopar exhaust. You can put those on the R/T for the same sound, and that alone gets the R/T close if not matched in RWHP to the SRT
I have never heard of a R/T with just a CAI and exhaust swap beating a SRT-8 or coming close o.o, and it seems he wants it more for the "it's the best Dodge could do" why not buy used and get the BETTER equipped and more expensive version if you can get low mileage? I agree with him 100% on the SRT compared to R/T, it wouldn't feel the same if I had an R/T, there's something about owning that "division" of performance that just makes you smile, def worth buying used rather than new imo
 
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