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Harry P.

Challenger vs. Camaro: Heavyweight muscle showdown

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http://my.chicagotribune.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-81023964/

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American heavyweight muscle match: Camaro Z28 vs Dodge Challenger Hellcat

We like to think of the 1960s and early '70s as the glory days of the muscle car, but today marks a new golden age for American muscle. Modern muscle cars are pushing the performance envelope ever outward, and two new cars in particular can achieve performance figures never dreamed of in the glory days. Dodge revived the Challenger for the 2008 model year, and along with a 2014 refresh comes the Challenger SRT Hellcat, which is not only the most powerful Challenger but the most powerful American car of all time. Meanwhile, after its 2010 revival, Chevrolet updates the Camaro for the 2014 model year and brings back the Z28 moniker, this time on the best handling pony car America has ever seen.

Having had the opportunity to drive both cars within just a few days of each other, we decided a comparison was in order. Let's break these cars down based on three main factors to help muscle car fans decide if they want the ultimate Camaro or the ultimate Challenger.

Round 1: Power

The 2014 Camaro Z28 is powered by the 7.0-liter LS7 V8 that had previously done time in the Corvette Z06. This all-aluminum V8 spins out 505 horsepower and 481 pound-feet of torque. It's not as powerful as the ZL1 Camaro's supercharged 6.2-liter V8, which makes 580 horsepower, but this naturally aspirated engine offers immediate throttle response, ridiculous amounts of torque to help the car leap off the line, and plenty of thrust as speeds increase into the triple digits.

The Z28's performance numbers are fantastic. Chevrolet says the top speed is 172 mph, and according to Car and Driver, it accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 4.4 seconds and covers the quarter mile in 12.7 seconds. Frankly, we love the immediate response and rumbling note of this engine, and there are few engines that can top it.

One powerplant that can top the LS7 is Dodge's new supercharged 6.2-liter Hellcat V8. The supercharger force feeds the engine 11.6 psi of air, helping the Hellcat produce an astonishing 707 horsepower (!) and 650 pound-feet of torque.

While the Camaro burbles, the Hellcat rumbles like the earth is opening up so hell can spew forth. The engine is surprisingly tractable in city driving, though initial throttle tip-in is a bit too aggressive. Stab the throttle, though, and the power erupts, pinning you back in your seat and shooting the car forward like it was shot out of a cannon. Dodge has posted a 0 to 60 mph time of less than four seconds and a quarter-mile run of just 11.2 seconds. Be aware, however, that achieving those times requires straddling the line between traction and chaos. It's awfully easy to light up the tires in a puff of smoke, which results in slower times. Amazingly, the big, wide Challenger can reach a top speed of 199 mph.

Scoring: Hellcat, without a doubt.

Round 2: Dynamics

While the Challenger Hellcat is a tactical missile that does its best work in a straight line, the Camaro is a precision fighter jet built for agility. Chevrolet engineers started with the already great handling 1LE package, reduced the weight as much as possible, and threw every part it could at the Z28 to turn it into a factory-ready road racer. For agility, they installed spool-valve shocks borrowed from Formula One racing and sticky Pirelli Trofeo R compound tires that are the closest thing to racing slicks legal for the street. To prevent oil starvation during hard cornering, Chevrolet outfitted the LS7 with a dry sump oiling system. And to help it stop on a dime, they opted for Brembo ceramic composite brakes, which wear better than steel discs and weigh 21 pounds less.

The Z28 still weighs in at a somewhat hefty 3820 pounds, but it feels much lighter. It doesn't just track through corners, it attacks them with incredible agility. The sticky tires provide unrelenting grip and the car changes direction like a lithe wide receiver.

Despite the phenomenal handling, we have a few caveats. The tires provide so much grip and the car leans so little that there is very little feedback when the car is approaching the limits of grip. A couple journalists found that out during our test drive at southwestern Michigan's Gingerman Raceway, as they spun the car during aggressive cornering. Second, the tires are so specialized that they are probably only good for 5000 miles or so, and they cost $500 a pop. Finally, the suspension is so focused on track handling that the Z28 will be harsh on public roads and jittery on the freeway, and the wide front tires will likely follow any line they encounter on the highway.

The Hellcat, on the other hand, is surprisingly comfortable on the street. It does get jiggly on the highway when the adjustable shocks are set to Track mode, but this car would be easy to live with every day. The Hellcat rides a shortened version of a full-size car platform and it weighs some 600 pounds more than the Z28, so track handling isn't nearly as accomplished as its GM rival. Still, it is capable on a road course. The brakes are big enough to handle all the power and weight, and the car rotates through turns nicely provided you slow it down enough to take them.

Scoring: For track duty, the Z28. For real-world driving, the Hellcat.

Round 3: Interior

The Challenger's greatest shortcoming is also its greatest advantage. The excess size gives it a hospitable interior. In fact, it can seat up to five in comfort while the Camaro accommodates only four and the backseat passengers are cramped. The Hellcat also boasts better sight lines, much higher quality materials, and the latest in infotainment systems, including an 8.4-inch touchscreen and Chrysler's Performance Pages software that shows real-time performance figures. The Camaro, on the other hand, has no navigation system and one of the least impressive, overly plastic interiors on the market.

Scoring: This is a slam dunk for the Hellcat.

The Verdict:

In this three-round fight the Hellcat comes out on top as the ultimate muscle car to drive on a daily basis. Not only is it more powerful, but it's roomier, more refined, and more comfortable. It's also cheaper, with pricing that starts at $59,995 versus $75,000 for the Z28. However, if ultimate track-ready performance is your main concern, you can't beat the Z28.

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Kewl. I don't read the current production car mags any more, so I haven't seen these numbers. Pretty impressive for both of them (the weight is impressive too) but for $60k to $75k, I'm pretty sure I could build a hot rod something that would eat their lunches, and have at least $20k left over for gas.

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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The 13/14 gt500 tops ALL of those performance numbers btw...

Challenger Hellcat: 707 HP, 650 lb/ft torque

Mustang GT500: 662 HP, 631 lb/ft torque.

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Can't afford either one.

C'mon Harry, your salary as a moderator has to be enough to cover the monthly payments!?!?!?! :lol:;)

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C'mon Harry, your salary as a moderator has to be enough to cover the monthly payments!?!?!?! :lol:;)

My salary as a moderator wouldn't cover the cost of a brochure... :lol:

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Challenger Hellcat: 707 HP, 650 lb/ft torque

Mustang GT500: 662 HP, 631 lb/ft torque.

Yes but the hello kitty at 44xx lbs vs the shelby at 38xx. The performance numbers for the Shelby are better. Even according to motortrend. The camaros are not even close to these two big boys on the straights. The camaros DO handle a bit better though

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You said the Mustang tops all the performance numbers. It doesn't.

Shelby 0-60: 3.5, quarter mile in 11.8

Challenger 0-60: 3.7, quarter mile in 11.7

Looks pretty even to me.

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Yes but the hello kitty at 44xx lbs vs the shelby at 38xx. The performance numbers for the Shelby are better.

The Challenger matches the Mustang even though it weighs more. So which has the better performance numbers?

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It will be a drivers race for sure. The auto will be tricky to beat with a manual. It has been asked why a Shelby was not invited to play with these too. It will happen I'm sure. I know mine has been bottom 11's on stock goodyears so we will see

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You said the Mustang tops all the performance numbers. It doesn't.

Shelby 0-60: 3.5, quarter mile in 11.8

Challenger 0-60: 3.7, quarter mile in 11.7

Looks pretty even to me.

Mileage will vary, but there are official NHRA certified quarter mile times for the Hellcat at 11.20 with street tires, 10.80 on drag radials. I'm biased as I own a '13 Challenger, but in real world driving experience, the Challenger wins hands down. Better styling, more comfort for all passengers. Real trunk in the back to haul the groceries. Performance numbers do mean bragging rights, but none of us drive at 10/10ths of a cars performance all day long.

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Geez...it just sank in that these two cars are in the 11s in factory, non-lumpy idle, emissions-controlled, street, go-to-the-grocery-store trim. Really impressive, especially as heavy as they are. High 10s blows me away. Last car I drove that was honestly in the 11s was barely streetable. Pretty obvious I haven't been going in a straight line for quite some time.

Man, I gotta put an LS in something really light.

Edited by Ace-Garageguy

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What's really nice is with my car and about 3 grand it's a legit ac on 10 oh car...

OK, I'll bite. What $3k-worth of mods gets it to that point?

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Pulley, cold air intake , throttle body, tune and long tube headers. I already got the axle back exhaust and drag radials that puts this thing to right around 750 at the wheels. The challenger is going to be very hard to modify in this way. The supercharger they use is the same as on the amg Benz and it's costly to pulley not to mention dodge has locked up the electronics pretty hard. It will be fun for me soon as one of my buddies has a hellcat order in at the dealer but it has not been picked by dodge yet. They said it may end up being a 2016

I am hoping to do this work over winter, but a 2.8 whipple 4.6 dohc build for my. 97 cobra might cut into that time and cash lol

Edited by freakshow12

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Mileage will vary, but there are official NHRA certified quarter mile times for the Hellcat at 11.20 with street tires, 10.80 on drag radials. I'm biased as I own a '13 Challenger, but in real world driving experience, the Challenger wins hands down. Better styling, more comfort for all passengers. Real trunk in the back to haul the groceries. Performance numbers do mean bragging rights, but none of us drive at 10/10ths of a cars performance all day long.

I have to agree on all but the comfort, my Sister has one and I find it difficult to get in and out of, especially after a long day at work, and really doesn't have the room of my smaller Chrysler 200 sedan either.

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Geez...it just sank in that these two cars are in the 11s in factory, non-lumpy idle, emissions-controlled, street, go-to-the-grocery-store trim. Really impressive, especially as heavy as they are. High 10s blows me away. Last car I drove that was honestly in the 11s was barely streetable. Pretty obvious I haven't been going in a straight line for quite some time.

Dad got to thinking about this too, last time you could buy a monster like this from the Big 3, they were light weight, stripped down, drag only cars with special parts like plastic windows, tin foil or fiberglass body panels, seats from smaller vehicles, ect and were slightly more streetable than a funny car. Today, even the V-6, FWD grocery getters can pull times comparable to if not better than some of the milder muscle cars could back in the day and still get 2-3 times the mileage in 87 octane pump swill, let alone what the Challenger and Charger R/T, Pontiac G8/Chevy SS, and Mustangs can now do. Dad always thinks back to the stuff he played with in decades past vs what you can buy right now as an example. His first car was a '50 Plymouth coupe with the 217" flathead six than made 95hp new. By the late 80's, Chrysler's 2.5l (152" I think) SOHC 4 cylinder was making that with just throttle body injection. Keeping up with that, the 3.5l (also 217") V-6 my Sister's old Charger had made 250hp stock and the 3.6l (220") in my 200 will put out 283hp on plain old 87 while the one in the current 200 makes 295hp! GM's 3.6l V-6 is just as potent and the most recent V-6 Mustangs could eat some of their V-8 powered ancestors alive. Get into the V-8's, fantastic power with mileage to match.......so long as you don't bury the skinny pedal too often. My Sister's Challenger has the "weak" Hemi that "only" makes 370hp, and that alone is still better than 1hp/cu.in. while naturally asperated........just too bad it weighs 500lbs more than my 200............

Man, I gotta put an LS in something really light.

My thoughs, 'Glas bodies Track-T! Even a junkyard 4.8l truck V-8 should be enough power to make things interesting, let alone being in an otherwise sub 2000lb car on top of that! Edited by Joe Handley

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Ever since Dodge announced that they would build the Hellcat Challenger, I have noticed on various forums, comments regarding this car compared to the other two cars available....the one common thing.....is the Challenger is sooo heavy and the Ford Mudstain and Chevy Craparo is so much faster and lighter. Guess what....EVERY Dodge fan knows that the Challenger is the heaviest, every one of us would like it if was lighter, we get it! BUT....guess what.....Ford DOES not make the most powerful car, Chevy does not make the most powerful car....DODGE does!!! And if the other two decide to bring something to the table that is more powerful....so be it, then they can brag about it. All the Ferd fan boys comparing this factory production car to a aftermarket company is a joke...."well the Shelby 1000 is more powerful....blah, blah blah". Anyone with the cash can drop off the Hellcat at Hennesy and pay to play.....all it takes is cubic dollars!!!

The current GT500 is a nice car....captures the look of the old one....lots of power....great aftermarket support!!

The Camaro...does not have the retro look, but still has lots of power and same great support from the aftermarket!!

The Hellcat Challenger....retro....powerful.....we will see what the aftermarket is able to do!!

Anyway....we should all be thank full that anyone with the means can purchase a new diesel truck with over 350 horse and 800 ft. lbs of torque, same thing with the cars....OVER 500 horse....FACTORY??!!!! Get em while you can....the brand of your choice....cause ya just never know what the insurance companies may do.....AGAIN!!!

*sorry about the rant....too many "hello kitty" comments I guess from the Ford fan boys....I guess maybe I appreciate what all the manufactures are building, I may not buy one....but can still like what I see.

Edited by dieseldog1970

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Well I can see some of your point. You dodge boys have not had much to cheer about in years. I guess us ford fan boys can give you this one thing for a little while as from 07-14 we had the big boy toys. I can't wait for my friends kitty to show up so I can drag it down the highway like I do everything else I have run...

Oh, but I will give you this, dodge diesels are the king! Got 5 of them!

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I don't think so...

Depends where you get your numbers... I will just re state what I said earlier, the hero car the numbers came from was a pre production car that did not yet have EPA certification and a team of dodge engineers tweaking on it every pass. Those numbers have not been repeated by any mag yet and range from 11.4 xx to 12.xx so while everyone is getting all tingly down south for this thing I will just wait and line one up. Ever wonder why the gt500 wasn't invited to the shootout?? MARKETING! Everyone knows the camaros are slow, thus they ran the z28 and not the zl1. Dodge made pretty bold claims and the marketing machine at dodge is making sure they are reflected in print. Look at the big picture! Funny how when the 662 hp Shelby came out motor trend said it was silly to focus raw power over handling but now they claim that is pretty cool now that dodge is doing it?? I'm not saying it's not a great car. I like them and may get one but do I think it's the best thing since sliced bread? Hardly. I watched a dodge dyno session and the thing overheated and pulled all the power out on the 2nd pull! I think heat soak may be a real problem. Shelby's get that too but not like that! There is my rant. I am bowing out of this thread until there are real cars at real dealers in the hands of real people putting up real numbers

Edited by freakshow12

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