2016 Dodge Challenger 392 Shaker: Hellcat Aside, Mopar's Coolest Modern Muscle Car
I imagine that many people scanned my title and immediately thought “how can the 392 Shaker be the coolest modern Mopar muscle car when it shares a stable with the 707 horsepower SRT Hellcat?” That is why I added “Hellcat aside” to the title and honestly, there is no disputing that the Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat is the coolest modern Mopar muscle car – if not the coolest modern muscle car from any automaker.
The Hellcat Challenger is the king of the hill, but with a price that can easily climb up around $70k, the 707 horsepower supercharged model is not for everyone. There are plenty of people who will do whatever they can do get their hands on the 707 horsepower Hellcat model, but for those who don’t “need” that much power or who can’t stomach the $65k price tag – Dodge offers a trio of Challengers with the 485 horsepower, 392 cubic inch Hemi.
Those who want as much bang for the buck will likely prefer the Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack while those who want the big brakes and high tech suspension of the Hellcat Challenger will be drawn to the SRT 392 model, but those buyers who want the most old school appeal, tons of premium features and a price well below $50k – all with the 485hp Hemi – should find the 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker to be the ideal modern Mopar muscle car.
The 2016 Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker has a basic exterior design which is very similar to the R/T and Scat Pack models, but it has one very unique – and very important – feature that makes this package so special. Like the original Hemi Challenger back in the early 1970s, this 392 Hemi Challenger wears the familiar Shaker hood scoop design, which has a hole cut in the hood for the engine-mounted cold air induction system to show itself to the world.
Really, the Shaker hood is the most significant feature of this package, so if you don’t love the Shaker hood design, you are probably better off saving some money and picking the mechanically-identical Challenger R/T Scat Pack. However, I absolutely love the Shaker hood design so for me, there is no Challenger model on sale today – Hellcat included – that LOOKS cooler than the 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker.
In addition to the vintage hood design, the 392 Shaker package further spruces up the exterior with the unique Shaker stripes running down the middle of the car, a satin black rear spoiler and a satin black fuel door. When added to the basic features of the Challenger R/T Scat Pack on which the 392 Shaker is built – like the satin black chin spoiler, the black pocketed 20” wheels, the LED halo headlights, the Scat Pack badging, the stunning Go ManGo paint and the bold lines of the modern Challenger – this Mopar muscle car is nothing short of a vintage-styled stunner.(More on the Next Page)
Again, if you aren’t in love with the Shaker hood design like I am, then there is really no point in paying for the Shaker package, which adds $4,800 over the price of the “normal” R/T Scat Pack. However, I am in love with every aspect of this package, so were I shopping for a new Dodge Challenger and I wasn’t focused on having the most horsepower possible – the looks of the 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker would sell this package for me.
While the 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker package provides a very retro look from the outside, the cabin of this Dodge muscle car is chock full of premium high tech gadgets. The Shaker package starts off with a set of leather-wrapped, heated, cooled and power controlled “performance” front seats with the Shaker logo embroidered on the seatback with a leather rear bench seat, along with a flat-bottomed Dodge performance steering wheel that is also leather-wrapped, heated and power adjustable. This package also includes a Shaker dash plaque, a Shaker logo on the driver information screen at start-up and the ParkView rear backup camera system that displays on the 8.4” UConnect infotainment screen.
The 8.4” UConnect infotainment touchscreen system is standard in all new Dodge Challengers, but in my 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker test car, FCA had added the optional 506 watt sound system with 9 speakers along with the premium UConnect system, which brings Navigation, HD Radio, Sirius Traffic and Sirius Travel. Also standard in the 392 Shaker is the reconfigurable driver information center, which features a 7 inch screen nestled between the big, beautiful analog gauges for the engine RPM and vehicle speed. The huge tachometer and speedometer with big, bold numbers has a very retro look, while the 7 inch screen brings in the modern technology – with everything from basic trip or fuel economy information to an on-board timing system that measures G-forces, 0-60, quarter mile, braking distances, top speed and a few other performance measurements.
Finally, the Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker has a dual zone climate control system that is controlled either via the touchscreen or the small panel located down near the shifter, which you will also find another simple button panel with sound system controls, the Sport mode button, the traction control button and the Super Track Pak button.
In short, my Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker had premium leather seats which are both heated and cooled, a heated sport steering wheel, a premium sound system mated to one of the industry’s most awarded infotainment systems, an adjustable driver information center with a built in performance timing system – but what does that all mean?(More on the Next Page)
Well, the performance leather seats are plush and nicely padded for long rides, but for spirited sprints around a set of twisty turns, the deep base and side bolsters will keep the driver and passenger securely in place. The sound system is impressive enough to justify the $845 upcharge of the Sound Group II and the infotainment system is predictably good – offering easy changes on the fly to the sound system, the navigation, the climate control or the vehicle settings. When coupled with the buttons on the front and back of the steering wheel, the button panel located further down the center stack and the voice control system – the Challenger’s UConnect system is remarkably user friendly, so after a few minutes acclimatizing yourself to the system, most drivers will have no issue finding their way through the different functions of the infotainment system.
My favorite aspect of the Dodge Challenger 392 Scat Pack Shaker interior technology is the Super Track Pak button, which switches the 8.4” touchscreen to the Dodge Performance Pages. Once in this unique section of the infotainment package, you can access two different gauges screens, a G-force screen with current and high numbers, the “engine” page and the timing pages with 0-60, 0-100, 8th mile time and speed, quarter mile time and speed and braking distances. The additional gauges are an interesting feature, but the coolest part of the Dodge Performance Pages is the timing menu and the engine screen. The timing menu allows you to measure all sorts of performance in the real world while the engine screen has a real-time gauge that displays horsepower, torque and vehicle speed – so when you take someone for a ride, they can see that 485 horsepower and 475lb-ft of torque is helping to pin them against the seat.
Finally, putting the luxurious features aside, the Challenger 392 Shaker has plenty of room for very tall drivers or front passengers, but unlike many other coupes of this size, the Challenger actually has a back seat that you can use. In fact, I was able to comfortably seat four people who are all at least 5’10”, and while I wouldn’t drive across the country with four adults – the Challenger cabin offers far more functional passenger space than the competition.(More on the Next Page)
More importantly, in addition to being plenty spacious for any driver, the cabin of the Challenger 392 Shaker is nicely oriented to the driver, putting the manual transmission shifter just a few inches from the steering wheel, so during stints of high performance driving, your hand won’t have to stray far from the wheel to grab the next gear – allowing for better driver control during extreme situations. Really, Dodge did a great job of wrapping the interior of the new Challenger around the driver, so anything that the driver should ever have to reach while on the road is easily accessible without leaning away from the seatback.
With the additions of the Shaker package, the Sound Group II and the premium UConnect system, it is nearly impossible to find a more well-appointed coupe than the Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker – unless you turn to the far more expensive luxury brands.
The 2016 Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker is powered by the 392 cubic inch (6.4L) Hemi mated to a standard 6-speed manual transmission, offering 485 horsepower and 475lb-ft of torque. Oddly, the cooler intake air of the Shaker package doesn’t officially add any power, but with the Shaker scoop moving back and forth with the motion of the engine – this vintage hood design offers a ton of cool factor to the driver. There might not be any real performance difference with the Shaker hood, but that doesn’t matter – it never gets old watching that scoop move with the 392 Hemi. The video below shows me launching the Challenger 392 Shaker and running up to 60mph in 4.9 seconds – offering a great look at the Shaker scoop doing its thing.
In addition to the 392 Hemi and the manual transmission, the 392 Shaker includes several mechanical goodies from the R/T Scat Pack, including the Brembo performance braking system, a high performance Bilstein suspension setup, a sport-tuned steering setup and the wonderful active exhaust system.
The combination of the sport-tuned steering, the Brembo brakes and the Bilstein suspension leads to a Challenger that will make its way through the corners with surprising control. This suspension setup offers a slightly stiffer ride, with less body roll and better control under hard cornering while the sport-tuned steering provides less power assist and more feedback. Should you get headed into a set of turns a bit too quick, the Brembo brakes get this heavy muscle car slowed down in a big hurry, so while I wouldn’t call the Challenger 392 Shaker an ideal road course car – it handles beautifully in most on-road driving situations. There is still an impressively smooth ride (for a 485hp muscle car), but compared to the Challengers without the Bilstein dampers – the 392 Shaker lets you feel more of the bumps on the highway, but that rougher ride is an easy compromise for the improved handling.(More on the Next Page)
While driving the Dodge Challenger 392 Shaker for 8 days, at no point did I think “man, this ride is rough”, but I frequently thought “I love how this car handles the road” – and I suspect that most muscle car fans will agree with those on-road impressions.
Finally, we have what the Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker does so well – accelerate hard. While the clutch pedal might be tricky for a novice driver, as it is slightly less forgiving than some other performance clutch assemblies on the market today, but that translates to a transmission that gives you a wonderfully connected feel to all of that power. Some performance cars have a clutch that is very soft and easy to operate, but those cars often lose that connected feel through the clutch pedal. The Challenger 392 Shaker clutch is exactly how I want a muscle car clutch to feel – with a good weight to the pedal and a great feel as you quickly rip through the gears.
The Challenger’s 6-speed manual transmission has a nice, tight shift pattern that makes banging through the gears a breeze for experienced drivers, leading to a 485hp car that is a ton of fun to take from a stop up to 100 or so. I was able to turn in a best 0-60 time of 4.5 seconds with quarter mile times in the 12.70 range in fully stock form and the manual transmission is a big part of those great performance times – coupled with my advanced driving skills – of course. This transmission also makes for easy downshifts when you are tossing the big Mopar muscle car through tighter turns, with an engine, transmission and clutch combo that makes rev matching very simple for experienced drivers.
The video below has a rearend video view, which cuts down on wind noise and offers the best example possible of the active exhaust system – which has a nice throaty grumble at idle and at lower throttle input, but when you put the hammer down, this exhaust system lets the 392 Hemi scream. You can also hear how quickly the transmission can be popped from gear to gear, so this video is about as good as it gets when it comes to hearing a 392 Challenger in roar.
So, the Shaker package doesn’t make the 2016 Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker any quicker, but the 392 cubic inch Hemi, the 6-speed manual transmission, the Bilstein suspension and the Brembo brakes make this Mopar muscle car a blast to drive in any conditions – whether you are blasting down the quarter mile or cutting along a tight canyon road.
This isn’t the best performance modern Dodge Challenger, but it only falls a little short of the SRT392 and the SRT Hellcat when it comes to braking and handling – so if 485 is “enough” horsepower and you are happy with a muscle car that offers a great balance of handling and ride quality, this is a muscle car that you will love driving.
The Final Word
On the outside, the 2016 Dodge Challenger 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker offers the most old school style thanks to the classic Shaker hood scoop design and the unique stripe package being applied to the stunning lines of the modern Mopar muscle car. I love the look of the current Challenger and the application of the Shaker hood along with the features of this package make this the best looking option in the current lineup.(More on the Next Page)
Sure, it doesn’t pack the monster Hellcat power, but with 485 horsepower and 475lb-ft of torque, it is still one of the more powerful production cars in the US market. This naturally aspirated Hemi makes the 392 Shaker Challenger a blast to drive when coupled with the 6-speed manual transmission, while the Brembo brakes and the sport suspension system allow this brawny Mopar muscle car to corner nearly as well as it launches away from a stop.
If you love the Dodge Challenger and you want big power, but you can’t make the Hellcat model work into your life, the 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker trimline offers the biggest combination of power, amenities and old school styling for the price – allowing this package to offer the most bang for your buck when you want more than just power.
In my opinion, the Shaker package is the coolest exterior option for the 2016 Dodge Challenger and when you added the 392 Hemi along with the rest of the standard features of the 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker package – this muscle car packs everything that you could want (shy of 707hp) and it does so for well under $50k.