I’ve spent almost every moment of my life in New England. With a freshly minted driver’s license in 1985, I went out in the first significant snow storm in a 1976 Chevrolet Camaro and learned how it worked with limited traction. Over the years, I’ve come to believe that a rear drive car can be just as capable in the winter as an all-wheel drive car. But on this nasty morning, I was greeted with a quarter inch of ice covering everything, and a 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 in the driveway. How’d it go? Read on:
We’ll have a full review of the car next week, but for today’s entry, it went pretty good.
It was pretty nasty out there this morning. A quarter inch of ice had fallen, and then it started raining on top of that, for the slipperiest surface known to man. In the first mile, some kid riding a bike in front of me lost it on the ice and hit the asphalt like a bag of cement.
Of course, the wise guys were out in force:
This is a car that’s designed to light the tires up almost on command in any gear, so driving it in the rain is a bit of a challenge, let alone on the ice.
Unlike most people that drive to work on a series of well-maintained highways, I take back roads to BestRide HQ every day. It’s generally me and three other cars. The roads are maintained, but only after the main roads get treated. There was ice on the road for about half of the ride in.
My driveway was the most immediate challenge. It’s about a 6% grade all the way down to the street. My wife took her car to have the snow tires put on her rear-drive 1999 Jaguar XJ8 today, and I didn’t want her sliding out into the street, so I thew a bit of sand out there for traction.
The Challenger negotiated the driveway without issue.
It’s a six-speed manual, so you have the ability to select a much higher gear than you’d normally choose to start out on a slick surface. We started out onto the main road — which hadn’t been salted quite yet — in second gear. The 392’s giant torque can get you out into traffic from a dead stop in anything south of third. Keep the revs low and you’re in pretty good shape.
It was definitely slick out there, but the traction and stability control in the Challenger SRT 392’s default drive mode kept me in line. That’s opposed to Sport or Track modes that turn the traction control off. Definitely don’t want that on a day like today.
If this was MY Challenger that I was planning on driving every day, regardless of the weather, I would’ve made two choices:
1. I’d have purchased the best snow tires money could buy. That’s not a cheap proposition with the SRT 392, because it’s shod with 275/40ZR20s. Per tire, you’re looking at $190 to $260 a tire before mount and balance. Your winter tire options are limited with the SRT 392 because of the massive 15.4-inch rotors up front. With a lesser — still great — trim like the R/T Scat Pack, you can select an 18-inch winter wheel and tire package for less than $900.
2. With decent tires, the next challenge is ground clearance. That chin spoiler jutting out front is ready made for slowing your momentum when the snow starts getting deep, and you’re running the risk of snapping it off at some point. The R/T trims have a less pronounced spoiler, which might make more sense as a daily driver.
For a car whose sole mission is to get you into trouble on dry pavement, though, it worked.