The 2018 Dodge Challenger is offered in 6 main trim levels: SXT, R/T, R/T Scat Pack, SRT 392, SRT Hellcat, Demon and GT. Most trims have several sub-trims that represent different luxury and performance upgrades. Like the pony cars of old, the Challenger offers something for everyone, with offerings ranging from sporty and economical to full-blown muscle car and, in the case of the Hellcat, something completely insane.
SXT and SXT Plus models come with a 305-horsepower 3.6L V6 engine, which is capable of an EPA-estimated 30 mpg on the highway. The Challenger R/T draws its power from a 5.7L Hemi V8, which makes 375 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. The new R/T Scat Pack features a 6.4L Hemi V8 with 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet, while still returning up to 25 mpg on the highway. The SRT 392 utilizes that same engine, while the Challenger SRT Hellcat has a new 6.2L supercharged Hemi V8. The monstrous engine makes 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque -- the most powerful muscle car engine ever produced until this year's Demon toppled it. All Challengers feature a standard 8-speed "TorqueFlite" automatic transmission, though a TREMEC 6-speed manual is available in all the V8 cars other than the Demon.
Challenger SXT models have the same retro muscle-car silhouette as the others, but they're a little bit more sensible, with a low base price and reasonable fuel economy on the highway, while still providing satisfying acceleration for most everyday driving. The V8 models, however, have a different attitude, with a rumbling exhaust sound, tremendous torque just off idle, and a true muscle-car feel. Thanks to Dodge's multi-displacement system, which shuts down some of the cylinders during coasting or cruising to save fuel, all Hemi engines have the power to lay rubber but can also behave themselves when cruising.
Seating rests rather low in the Challenger, and the car's tall shoulders lend a protective feeling. The redesigned front seats have plenty of space for the largest folks, and although technically the Challenger is a 5-person coupe, its back seat can be quite tight, and entry and exit from the back seats can be a challenge. The trunk, however, is huge and easily accessed; Dodge says it's as big as that of the Charger sedan.
The high-performance SRT models at the top of the Challenger range are truly where the muscle-car cues all come together. They include HID headlamps, power heated mirrors, a remote start system, heated leather seats, a media center with hard-drive system and Boston Acoustics sound. Exterior cues include hood stripes, a rear spoiler, a functional hood scoop, a satin chrome grille and special SRT 20-inch alloy wheels. The appearance extras make the most of the blunt, aggressive shape and low, wide stance.
Standard features across the Challenger model line include electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, side airbags and side-curtain airbags. The base Challenger SXT isn't luxurious but it includes nearly all the features that are expected at its price level, including keyless entry, cruise control, air conditioning, power foldaway mirrors and a CD/MP3 sound system with auxiliary input. In addition to the V8, suspension, steering, and wheel upgrades, the R/T adds fog lamps, satellite radio, Bluetooth and a spoiler, while the R/T Scat Pack also includes premium cloth sport seats, Brembo 6-piston brakes and a Bilstein high-performance suspension.
The T/A and T/A 392 are sub-trims, which modify the R/T and Scat Pack, respectively. They include many upgrades from the Shaker variants, along with styling elements from the Hellcat, including the unique air intake that masquerades as a headlight.
While a majority of automakers are looking toward the future, Dodge is mostly planted in the past. That's a compliment, by the way. After launching the retro-cool in 2008, Dodge has managed to keep it fresh more than a decade later, and the latest example is this absolutely insane SRT Hellcat Redeye.
The Redeye boasts the 6.2-liter, supercharged V8 from the, combined with a 2.7-liter supercharger -- the largest factory supercharger available in a production car, producing 14.5 psi of boost. Rather than the insane 840 horsepower of the Demon, the Redeye makes just -- just! -- 797, complemented by 707 pound-feet of torque. Two dual-stage fuel pumps feed premium octane into that V8, and Dodge says you can drain the 18.5-gallon tank in just 11 minutes if you run the car at full throttle. Insane.
Dodge says 60 miles per hour arrives in just 3.4 seconds, and you can rip off a quarter-mile time of 10.8 seconds at a trap speed of 131 mph. Top speed? 203 mph. In a Challenger. Seriously.
It was the right car at the wrong time from a cash-strapped automaker.
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