5.26.2017

30 Minutes With: The 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392

Front 3/4 view of 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392
The 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392.
Publisher's note:  Normally, the cars you read about here at TireKicker are loaned to us by the press fleets of the various manufacturers for several days.  Seven is typical.  Occasionally, we'll get a longer period of time, and sometimes it'll only be three or four days.  Our "30 Minutes With" series are cars that we spent half an hour behind the wheel of during the just-concluded Western Automotive Journalists Media Days in Monterey, California.

Day one of Media Days is a driving program, with journalists taking cars from the staging area at Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca via Laureles Grade.  Once there, you swap cars with another journalist for the drive back, and then swap cars again once back at the Quail. Apart from an hour's lunch, this is your day from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Each run is about half an hour, and driving 10 to 12 cars back-to-back-to-back gives you interesting points of reference about the next one.

My ninth car of the day was one of the most fearsome...the 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392.



Map of route from Quail Lodge to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca via Laureles Grade
Quail Lodge to Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway via Laureles Grade (courtesy Google Maps).
Laureles Grade is about five and a half miles of non-stop twists and turns between Carmel Valley Road and CA 68, and thus perfect for a pack of automotive journalists and some high-grade machinery.

Rear 3/4 view of 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392
2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392.
The 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392 is only three rungs down from the top of the Dodge Challenger hierarchy.  Above it, the SRT 392 with the same 485-horsepower 6.4-liter Hemi, but with configurable drive modes, the Hellcat, with a supercharged 6.4-liter Hemi making what until recently was considered an insane 707 horsepower, and the soon-to-be released (or is that unleashed?) Demon with 808 horsepower.

Trust me, the T/A 392 is more than enough power for anyone not intent upon breaking laws of man and physics.  Packing the same power as the 2017 Dodge Charger Daytona 392 I'd driven a couple of hours earlier, it knocks off 0-60 in roughly the same four and a half seconds, but being in a slightly smaller package heightens the sensation of speed.   The good news is that, like its bigger brother, the Charger, what we have here is a muscle car that blows away "golden era" cars from the 60s not only in straight-line performance but in handling and braking power.

Interior view of 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392
2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392 interior.
And, like its big brother, it gives you a comfortable, if business-like, place in which to do your driving.  As a value proposition, the 2017 Dodge Challenger T/A 392 is a pretty good one, with a base price of $44,995.  I won't attempt to do the guesswork as to what optional equipment the one I drove might have, but I found three within 25 miles of TireKicker World headquarters in Folsom, one at $47,785, one at $49,080 and the third for $51,840.

Having not yet driven a Hellcat or Demon (and frankly, not entirely sure I want to), this stands as the hottest Challenger I've ever driven.  Getting one of these instead of one of those would by no means be settling.

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