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Auto blogTue, 22 Jul 2014 11:57:00 EST
Darrell Waltrip once said, "If the lion didn't bite the tamer every once in a while, it wouldn't be exciting." The sentiment behind that aphorism is causing my adrenal gland to wake up as Dodge and SRT drivers and engineers - somber-faced to a man - give me the track talk that will precede my driving the 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT on the circuit at Portland International Raceway. PIR might not be Daytona, and the 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat might seem tame to a legend like ol' Jaws, but there's a not-small part of me that's thinking about how hard Dodge's fire-breathing kitty might bite.
Just a few hours previous, I'd gotten behind the wheel of the Hellcat for the first time, letting its hyperbole-spitting, supercharged V8 Hemi pull me yieldingly through Portland's morning commuter traffic. Lulled into a cocky certainty by the Challenger's good manners at low speed, I drove the throttle just a hair too deep, too fast when I ran on to the highway ramp. For just an instant the rear tires were utterly drenched in torque, and the back end of the big Dodge loosened up like a drift car on a wet track. Throttle steer lives at the fleeting whim of your right foot in this car.
It was no big thing to lay off the gas and pull the Hellcat back in line as I entered the highway, but the incident did get me to thinking: What will this car do to me on a road course?
It happens every year. We bid adieu to some cars and trucks that will be missed, and say good riddance to others wondering how they stayed around so long. Whether they're being killed off for slow sales or due to a new product coming along to replace them, the list of vehicles being discontinued after 2012 is surprisingly long and diverse.
CNN Money has compiled a list of departing vehicles, to which we've added a few more of our own. In the slow sales column, cars like the Lexus HS 250h, Mercedes-Benz R-Class and the full Maybach lineup appear, while the Ford Escape Hybrid, Mazda CX-7 and Hyundai Veracruz are all having their gaps filled with more modern and more fuel-efficient alternatives. Obvious exceptions to the rule include models that still sell in decent numbers like the Jeep Liberty and the Chrysler Town & Country (which will eventually be replaced by a crossover-like vehicle).
Check out our gallery of discontinued cars above, then scroll down for more information.
If you want to go fast, there's certainly nothing wrong with the Dodge Challenger SRT8. With 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque for 2014, there's certainly not much to complain about. But what if you want something more aftermarket in flavor? There's no shortage of options, but while turning to the tuner world will make your car plenty fast, that extra power won't just shred rear tires, it'll torch your warranty, as well. That's where Dodge's Scat Pack comes in.
With three stages of mods for both the 5.7 and 6.4-liter Hemi V8s Challenger (as well as the 5.7-liter Charger and, soon, the four-pot Dart), the Scat Pack cars give drivers all the power, aggression and noise of a heavily modded aftermarket car while maintaining the piece of mind provided by the Dodge warranty.
Power gets bumped up to 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque with the 6.4-liter Scat Pack, while the 5.7-liter can provide up to 58 hp and 47 lb-ft of torque to add to the stock engine's 375 horsepower and 410 pound-feet. It's the latter engine that can really get some work done, with upgrades ranging from the mundane - intake and exhaust - to the racy, like the ported heads and high-flow headers.