Dodge to offer all-wheel-drive Challenger for $35,000

Michael Wayland
The Detroit News

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV early next year will release an all-wheel-drive Dodge Challenger starting at about $35,000.

The automaker will begin production of the 2017 Dodge Challenger GT at its Brampton Assembly plant in January, followed by nationwide vehicle availability at dealerships in February or March. Sticker price starts at $34,490, including a $1,095 destination charge.

“Dodge is shifting the muscle-car paradigm with the new 2017 Dodge Challenger GT — the world’s first and only all-wheel-drive American muscle coupe,” said Dodge boss Tim Kuniskis, head of FCA-North America passenger car brands, in a statement.

The long-awaited, two-door muscle car will feature the same all-wheel-drive system found in the four-door Dodge Charger AWD, which has an entry-level starting price of $31,340, including destination.

Powering the car will exclusively be the automaker’s 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 engine, delivering 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque. A V-8 engine will not be offered, according to a Dodge spokeswoman. The engine will be paired with a standard TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission.

The Challenger GT will get up to an EPA-estimated 18 city/27 highway miles per gallon, the company said. Additional details of the car, including zero to 60 time, will be released closer to the car’s launch.

An optional “GT Interior” package will be available for $995. It includes Nappa leather and Alcantara suede seats; nine-speaker Alpine system including a subwoofer and a 506-watt amplifier; and Dodge performance steering wheel.

The Challenger GT announcement comes a year after the automaker unveiled a Challenger GT concept equipped with an enhanced 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, eight-speed transmission and a custom all-wheel drive system for improved performance and stability during inclement weather — a feature performance enthusiasts have been asking for since the Challenger was resurrected in 2007.

Kuniskis recently told The Detroit News that an all-wheel-drive Challenger such as the concept was “technically possible.” He said there would have to be a business case for it, which the company has seemed to have found.

Kuniskis previously said there are 19 states where the company sells more all-wheel-drive Chargers than rear-wheel-drive models: “There’s a consumer for it with Charger, but we also know Charger and Challenger is a very different buyer.”

The Challenger GT likely will help the automaker keep the car relevant until it is expected to be completely redesigned in 2020, at least two years than previously planned.

Challenger sales in the United States heading into December were down 4 percent to more than 59,000 sold — in line with the Dodge brand, which was down 2 percent through November.

Correction: The Dodge Challenger is produced at Fiat Chrysler's Brampton Assembly plant. A previous version of this article named the wrong assembly plant.

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Twitter: @MikeWayland