Dodge Challenger

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.

Editors' Review

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The Dodge Challenger is not exactly the newest car on sale today; this version dates back a decade. Yet Dodge has managed to keep its muscle coupe feeling fresh by rolling out new versions regularly. From more horsepower to special-edition models, and from extended color palettes to go-fast options, there's seemingly a new Challenger every year.

For all the changes, though, the basic nature of the Dodge Challenger remains the same. It's got big, brash personality with the driving fun to back it up. And in no version is that truer than this R/T Scat Pack Widebody -- a car with nearly as many syllables in its name as horsepower under the hood.

Trickle-down muscle car-nomics

Decoding the myriad changes to the 2019 Dodge Challenger is as simple as figuring out the tax code, but in a basic sense, this R/T Scat Pack model benefits from components developed for higher-performing versions. The Widebody treatment, for instance: the fender flares, which widen the car by 3.5 inches, were designed for the quarter mile-roasting Demon before trickling down to the Hellcat and, now, Challengers with this test car's 6.4-liter Hemi V8. So too do the "air catcher" headlights, which were introduced on the Hellcat. Hollowed-out, they permit more cooling air into the engine bay.

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The Good The 2020 Dodge Challenger has a ferocious engine, plenty of grip to use it and a head-turning soundtrack.

The Bad It's still a big, heavy car and not particularly fuel efficient.

The Bottom Line No car better lets you relive the muscle-car dream today than the 2020 Dodge Challenger -- and this version is the one to get.

Editors' Rating
  • Performance 8.5
  • Features 6.5
  • Design 8.5
  • Media 9

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