Driving a 2019 dodge Challenger R/T on one of western Washington's best roads... in a rain storm
I was in the car with my dad on an overpacked Seattle highway. It was a stereotypical Seattle day - gray skies, thick fog and continuous masses of rain. The reason for going out on a day like this? Getting to a car that perfectly matched the feel and color of the day. A 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T plus package. With its steel gray paint, and tinted windows, this battle ship of a car was pretty much the feel of the of the day in car form.
Our plan was to drive the Dodge on a large loop around the Puget Sound’s coast. First, we had to pick up our Dodge. After forging our way through traffic, the airport, overly packed buses, and a grandma that asked far too many questions, we arrived at the Hertz car rental where our car awaited. We got into the car and started it up. The minute the car started up, I understood muscle cars. Something about that deep, gravelly explosion of the engine just got me excited that I could be in this car for the rest of the day. We got out of the parking garage and punch it onto the highway. Sadly, we were able to drive faster in the parking garage than on the Prius and Subaru-packed highway. We got off at the first exit and were finally able to explore the car.
The seats were soft yet supportive, and the infotainment screen was fairly modern and easy to use. And in case you’re like everyone else and confuse Chargers and Challengers, there is a handy little plaque on the dash with the name Challenger written on it. The one problem was that you couldn’t see a thing out of the tiny, tank slot- like window, making it hard to navigate packed streets.
We arrived in the small beach townof Gig Harbor to get a bite to eat. The first thing we noticed about thetown was the cars. In the course of five minutes we saw two Bentleys, three new AMG Benzes, a Jag F type and much more. This was clearly a town that preferred European luxury over American muscle. So, we sought refuge at the most stereotypical, Americana drive-thru we could find - Burger King. After loading up on some greasy fries, topped off with a Starbucks (conveniently located next door), we headed out. We started up the engine causing large smiles to once again break out on our faces, reminding us why we chose American muscle for the day.
The town in mind was the historic naval town of Bremerton. As we pulled into town the car felt at home. The first sight we saw was the looming battleship Turner Joy (not exactly a name that strikes fear in you). With its huge gray hull, this giant steel ship reminded us of our gray Dodge. As we drove around we see many fellow muscle car drivers casting us approving looks. This was clearly a muscle loving town.
Unfortunately, the rain was picking up, and with many more miles to cover, we had to get going. After taking one last good look at the battleship and a short photo shoot, we headed out of town towards one of Western Washington’s most beautiful coastal roads. By then, the roads were absurdly slick with rain, and the skies were as gray as the car we were driving, making the road conditions quite dangerous in a rear-wheel drive sports car. Even though it slipped, and felt slightly dangerous in those conditions, the Challenger still felt solid due to its heavy doors and fairly muffled interior. In the course of about an hour we saw a total of three, major accidents. At one point we passed a delivery van lodged upside down in a tree.
We continued on and finally arrived at a windy coastal road where we could test out our car. Unfortunately, we couldn't really push the car to its limits in those conditions. Even then, I was able to get a pretty good sense of the car. Though muscle cars are often not focused on cornering (as much as straight line speed, clouds of tire smoke, and making you laugh with joy when you start the engine), the Challenger still managed to pull mediocre a .89 G on the skid pad. This is by no means great, but it’s not terrible.
We passed by another accident and soon stop for some more food, (jerky and a Coke were all we could find) before starting back to Olympia. By then we had pretty much accepted that we wouldn’t be able to test the Challenger any time soon unless we wanted to end up like the many people we passed; smashed car, standing in the rain with many frustrating insurance calls to make in the near future. We slowed down to a steady 45 miles per hour and prepared ourselves for the slow trek home.
The sky was beginning to grow darker, the light almost completely disappearing, turning the sky into a dark moving mass of clouds and rain. The raindrops were illuminated by the car’s circular LED headlights. All you could hear was Tom Petty playing over the Harman Kardon speakers as the car grew quiet. That is, as quiet as a car can be when it has a massive 5.7 liter V8 in it. The rain continued to poor down, and soon we were back home. We pulled into the driveway of our house. When I got out of the car and saw the Challenger, it once again brought a smile to my face. It’s not as fast as the Mustang GT, nor does it handle as well, but it does what a muscle car is supposed to; put a smile on your face, squeal its tires and look great while doing so. All for a cheaper price tag than its European competitors. The day started with a liking for the Challenger, but ended with a love for it.