Working for a car magazine is cool, but since there are titles for nearly every brand of vehicle at our Florida office, discussions regarding which brand performs the best, looks the best, or has the best reliability can be heated. One thing everyone agrees to, however, is that Dodge really nailed the look of the Challenger, making the dimensionally different new Challenger look very much like the 1970 model. The second thing that everyone agrees to is that while the car looks great, it is also very heavy for its size when compared to Mopars built during the sixties and seventies.

Extra weight always has a negative effect on automotive performance, so we are often asked why the Chrysler Corporation made the new Challenger so heavy. And while the answer to that question can lead to discussion on many levels, one explanation is that Chrysler, and all other domestic car producers, are strictly regulated by the government in terms of the standards of construction for the passenger compartment, required safety equipment like air bags, and economy. Additionally, we humans are used to more creature comforts these days, and it’s hard to find a car without power seats, power windows, power steering, air conditioning, satellite radio, and the list goes on. So to be competitive in the market, the new offerings from Dodge must feature this equipment, adding even more pounds to the car’s weight.

An unfortunate byproduct of this extra weight, and the reasons it’s there, is that manufacturers like Dodge are forced to cut corners during manufacturing in order to keep the total weight of the vehicle at a reasonable level. The new Challenger is a unit-body constructed vehicle, similar to older Mopars, meaning the car’s frame rails, floors, roof, and body panels all work together to form the vehicle’s structure. Engineers work very hard to decide how much and what type of metal to use in key areas, and other areas are made much thinner to save weight. And while the result is a car that’s mechanically sound and will last a long time if only used to drive normally, the chassis has too much flex for our taste when it comes to driving aggressively.

Knowing that chassis flex robs performance, Razor’s Edge Motorsports actually tested chassis flex in a late-model Challenger, and reported to us that when cornering, accelerating, or braking aggressively, the car flexes more than we’d like to admit. Adding thicker sway bars like we have to our car only makes the problem worse, transferring more load to the car itself. To correct this issue, Razor’s Edge has developed a line of high-quality components designed to stiffen the chassis of the new LX Mopars, including the Dodge Challenger. In previous issues of Mopar Muscle we’ve shown you the Razor’s Edge front and rear strut tower braces being installed in a late-model Dodge Charger, and this month we’ll install a set of Razor’s Edge sub-frame connectors and transmission crossmember in our ’09 Challenger project vehicle.