Certified Benz & Beemer Compares 2011 BMW M3 VS 2011 Dodge Challenger Near Scottsdale, AZ

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2011 BMW M3

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2011 Dodge Challenger

Safety Comparison

The BMW M3 has Daytime Running Lights to help keep it more visible under all conditions. Canadian government studies show that driving with lights during the day reduces accidents by 11% by making vehicles more conspicuous. The Challenger doesn’t offer Daytime Running Lights.

The M3 offers optional Park Distance Control to help warn drivers about vehicles, pedestrians or other obstacles behind their vehicle. The Challenger doesn’t offer any parking assist system.

The M3 offers optional BMW Assist, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to remotely unlock your doors if you lock your keys in, help track down your vehicle if it’s stolen or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Challenger doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies, so if you’re involved in an accident and you’re incapacitated help may not come as quickly.

Both the M3 and the Challenger have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four wheel antilock brakes, traction control and electronic stability systems to prevent skidding.

Warranty Comparison

The M3 comes with a full 4 year/50,000 mile basic warranty, which covers the entire car. The Challenger’s 3 year/36,000 mile basic warranty expires 1 year and 14,000 miles sooner.

The M3 comes with free roadside assistance for 4 years unlimited miles. BMW will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Dodge doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Challenger.

The M3’s corrosion warranty is 7 years and unlimited miles longer than the Challenger’s (12/unlimited vs. 5/100,000).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the M3 for 4 years and 50,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, tire rotation, lubrication and any other scheduled maintenance. Dodge doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the Challenger.

Reliability Comparison

For smoother operation, better efficiency and fewer moving parts, the M3 has an overhead cam design, rather than the old pushrod design of some of the engines in the Challenger.

To reliably power the ignition and other systems and to recharge the battery, the M3 has a 180 amp alternator. The Challenger’s standard 160 amp alternator isn’t as powerful.

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without their vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports predicts that the M3’s reliability will be 109% better than the Challenger.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2010 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Dodge vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 16th in initial quality. With 17 more problems per 100 vehicles, Dodge is ranked 28th.

J.D. Power and Associates’ surveys of the owners of three-year-old cars provide the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Dodge vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 17th in reliability, above the industry average. With 25 more problems per 100 vehicles, Dodge is ranked 27th.

Engine Comparison

The M3’s 4.0 DOHC V8 produces 109 more horsepower (414 vs. 305) and 27 lbs.-ft. more torque (295 vs. 268) than the Challenger SE’s standard 3.6 DOHC V6. The M3’s 4.0 DOHC V8 produces 42 more horsepower (414 vs. 372) than the Challenger R/T automatic’s standard 5.7 V8. The M3’s 4.0 DOHC V8 produces 38 more horsepower (414 vs. 376) than the Challenger R/T manual’s optional 5.7 V8.

As tested in Motor Trend the BMW M3 is faster than the Dodge Challenger (manual transmissions tested):


Challenger R/T

Challenger SRT-8 392

Zero to 60 MPH

4.1 sec

5 sec

4.6 sec

Quarter Mile

12.6 sec

13.5 sec

13 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

113.2 MPH

105.9 MPH

111.3 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

In heavy traffic or at stoplights the M3’s engine automatically turns off when the vehicle is stopped, saving fuel and reducing pollution. The engine is automatically restarted when the driver gets ready to move again. The Challenger doesn’t offer an automatic engine start/stop system.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

For better stopping power the M3’s brake rotors are larger than those on the Challenger:



Front Rotors

14.2 inches

12.6 inches

Rear Rotors

13.8 inches

12.6 inches

The M3’s brakes have 33% more swept area (the area covered by the brake pads) than the Challenger with its standard brakes (694 vs. 523 square inches), so the M3 has more braking power available.

The M3’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs standard on the Challenger SE are solid, not vented.

The M3 stops much shorter than the Challenger:



70 to 0 MPH

153 feet

160 feet

Car and Driver

60 to 0 MPH

105 feet

118 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction and acceleration, the M3 has larger standard rear tires than the Challenger (265/35R19 vs. 235/55R18). The M3’s rear tires are larger than the largest rear tires available on the Challenger (265/40R18 vs. 255/45R20).

The M3’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 40 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Challenger’s standard 55 series tires. The M3’s optional tires have a lower 35 series profile than the Challenger SRT-8’s optional 45 series tires.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The M3 offers an optional driver-adjustable suspension system. It allows the driver to choose between an extra-supple ride, reducing fatigue on long trips, or a sport setting, which allows maximum control for tricky roads. The Challenger’s suspension doesn’t offer adjustable shock absorbers.

The M3 Coupe handles at .97 G’s, while the Challenger SE pulls only .85 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The M3 Coupe executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver 2.2 seconds quicker than the Challenger SE (24.8 seconds @ .76 average G’s vs. 27 seconds @ .62 average G’s).

Chassis Comparison

The M3 Coupe is 1 foot, 3.9 inches shorter than the Challenger, making the M3 easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The design of the BMW M3 amounts to more than styling. The M3 offers aerodynamic coefficients of drag from .3 to .32 Cd (depending on bodystyle and options). That is significantly lower than the Challenger (.348 to .372) and many sports cars. A more efficient exterior helps keep the interior quieter and helps the M3 get better fuel mileage.

For excellent aerodynamics, the M3 has standard flush composite headlights. The Challenger has recessed headlights that spoil its aerodynamic shape and create extra drag.

Passenger Space Comparison

The M3 Coupe has 1.1 inches more rear legroom and 1.3 inches more rear shoulder room than the Challenger.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

A low lift-over trunk design makes loading and unloading the M3 Coupe easier. The M3 Coupe’s trunk lift-over height is 26.75 inches, while the Challenger’s liftover is 33 inches.

With its coupe, convertible or sedan body style, valet key, locking rear seatbacks and remote trunk release lockout, the M3 offers cargo security. The Challenger’s non-lockable folding seat and non-lockable remote release defeat cargo security.

Ergonomics Comparison

When two different drivers share the M3, the optional memory system makes it convenient for both. Each setting activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, outside mirror angle, climate settings and radio stations. The Challenger doesn’t offer a memory system.

The M3’s standard easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Challenger doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The M3 has a lever hand brake in the console, easy to use while keeping both feet free and not impeding entry and exit. The Challenger’s foot pedal parking brake is not handy to use as a hill holding device with a manual transmission.

The M3’s standard power windows have a locking feature to keep children in the rear seat from operating them. Dodge does not offer a locking feature on the Challenger’s standard power windows.

The M3’s front and rear power windows all open or close with one touch of the switches, making it more convenient at drive-up windows and toll booths, or when talking with someone outside of the car. The Challenger’s power windows’ switches have to be held the entire time to close them fully.

If the windows are left down on the M3 the driver can raise them all using the key in the outside lock cylinder; on a hot day the driver can lower the windows. The driver of the Challenger can only raise the windows from inside the vehicle, with the ignition on.

The M3 has a standard locking fuel door with a remote release located convenient to the driver. A locking fuel door helps prevent vandalism, such as sugar in the tank and fuel theft. The Challenger doesn’t offer a locking fuel door.

The M3’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The Challenger’s intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the M3 to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The Challenger doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The M3 offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The Challenger doesn’t offer headlight washers.

The M3 has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. The Challenger only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

While driving with high-beams on, sensitive light sensors available for the M3 detect other vehicles which could be blinded and automatically switch to low-beams. The Challenger doesn’t offer automatic dimming high-beams.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the M3 has standard cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The Challenger doesn’t offer cornering lights. The M3 also has standard adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

A power rear sunshade is optional in the M3 Sedan/Coupe to help block heat and glare for the rear passengers. The Challenger doesn’t offer a rear sunshade.

When the M3 is put in reverse, the passenger rearview mirror tilts from its original position. This gives the driver a better view of the curb during parallel parking maneuvers. Shifting out of reverse puts the mirror into its original position. The Challenger’s mirror doesn’t automatically adjust for backing.

The M3 offers optional automatic dimming rear and side view mirrors which automatically darken quickly when headlights shine on them, keeping following vehicles from blinding or distracting the driver. The Challenger has an automatic rear view mirror, but its side mirrors don’t dim.

The M3’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Challenger doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

Economic Advantages Comparison

The M3 will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. Kiplinger’s estimates that the M3 will retain a greater percentage of its original price after two and four years than the Challenger.



Four Year

42% to 44%

37% to 39%

Two Year

60% to 62%

52% to 56%

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