STYLISH NEW SUV UP TO THE CHALLENGE
HE change is refreshing when you get into something with drive to all
Tfour wheels that can actually use it. The new, improved Challenger has been a while coming back to the market but it has been well worth the wait.
With plenty of the good bits from its LCV Triton cousin, the Challenger turbodiesel — in this case an LS five-seater — sounds a little trucky when it first starts, but it’s not thrashy or too rough from within.
The $44,490 basemodel five-seat LS (the auto starts from $46,990) sits on 17-inch alloy wheels with a matching spare.
It has side steps, climate control, wheel-mounted cruise and sound system controls, power windows, remote keyless entry and central locking, a sixspeaker CD sound system, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and gear shifter and cloth trim.
The centre display shows the current radio station but also has a compass, trip computer, exterior temperature display, altimeter and even a barometer.
There are dual front, side and curtain airbags, stability control and anti-lock brakes, so the equipment list is decent.
But the best bits are what the manufacturer
calls Super Select 4WD and the rear diff lock, with the latter standard.
The wagon can be run in 2WD or 4WD with the centre diff unlocked.
The rear-wheel-drive mode will give a slight reduction in fuel consumption but means you have to be a lot more judicious with the right foot, as 400Nm of torque can set the rear wheels talking.
In 4WD mode, with plenty of city and country running and some dirt work, the fuel consumption from the 131kW/400Nm 2.5-litre turbodiesel fourcylinder still returned about 10 litres per 100km, despite hauling two tonnes.
Throwing the Challenger at unsealed surfaces caused no concern, with the 4WD system offering ample traction.
Rougher dirt showed the ladder-frame chassis still feels a little rubbery, but the ride quality is good.
The payoff is that it rolls around a little and the steering needs plenty of twirling in tight stuff.
Locking the centre diff, employing the rear diff lock and getting into bumpier stuff doesn’t deter the Challenger either, with more than enough gumption to get way off the beaten track, even on roadbiased rubber.
If you have any desire to get the wheels dirty on your family wagon, the new Challenger is priced competitively and will go much deeper into the scrub than most of the medium SUV offerings.
Pictures: AMY BRABIN