- Cool retro looks
- 707-hp Hellcat flagship
- Comfortable ride
- Adult-size back seat
- Manual shifting available (V-8s)
- Poor outward visibility
- Awkward back-seat access
- Quite thirsty
- Social stigma, depending where you are
Big and heavy, the 2016 Dodge Challenger offers touring comfort you won't find in the other muscle coupes. A variety of models lets owners choose a comfortable daily driver, a dragstrip menace, and everything in between.
The 2016 Dodge Challenger is a sport coupe that competes with the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. The Challenger is bigger than those cars, and takes a more retro approach to the modern American muscle car archetype.
After a 2015 refresh, the 2016 Challenger adds a new Blacktop Appearance group with black accents, available Plum Crazy paint, and, for the Uconnect infotainment system, a drag-and-drop menu, Siri Eyes Free, and a "Do Not Disturb" feature.
The Challenger has always been the largest and blockiest of the muscle cars, giving it substantial road presence. Looked at through a different lens, the Challenger has been slightly more of a touring coupe—large and comfortable, with a supple ride. But the Challenger also offers an array of even more powerful, rip-up-the-track models at the top end for buyers who want to keep pace with the most powerful vehicles in the competition's lineups.
The exterior styling adopts cues from the classic 1971 Challenger, including a split grille in a slim front opening with projector headlamps surrounded by LED halos. There's also a pronounced and fully functional "power bulge" hood (with a variety of available scoops) and LED taillights in a glossy piano black surround. Inside, the 2016 Challenger has a modern dash with soft-touch surfaces, an up-to-date instrument cluster with a fully customizable 7.0-inch display screen, and an available 8.4-inch center touchscreen.
Ten separate trim levels are offered for 2016: SXT, SXT Plus, R/T, R/T Plus, R/T Shaker, R/T Plus Shaker, R/T Scat Pack, 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker, SRT 392, and SRT Hellcat. Customization options mean no two Challengers need be identical, with 14 different interiors, 12 wheel options, and a range of paint colors, including retro shades like Sublime Green, B5 Blue, and, new this year, Plum Crazy.
The standard powertrain in the base SXT Challenger is a 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6. Then there's the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, which is rated at up to 375 hp and 410 lb-ft or torque. Next, there's a 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 that Dodge rates at 485 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque. At the top of the lineup is the supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 in the Hellcat that produces 707 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, making the Hellcat the most powerful muscle car—and production American car—ever. All four engines can be mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission with a Sport Mode and paddle shifters. A 6-speed manual gearbox remains available for the V-8 models. Like all three of its competitors, the Challenger remains a rear-wheel-drive vehicle with independent rear suspensions.
Suspension tuning varies by model, and the base suspension becomes a bit firmer this year. That's OK because even the track-oriented Hellcat offers a fairly smooth ride. A Super Track Pak is available with the V-6 or 5.7-liter V-8. It gets you a lowered ride height, larger sway bars, Bilstein shocks, high-performance brakes, and a three-mode stability control system. The track-ready 6.4-liter Scat Pack model includes not only the 6.4-liter Hemi but also 20-inch aluminum wheels and Brembo disc brakes, and the 392 Scat Pack Shaker model adds a functional shaker hood inlet scoop.
The Challenger's large footprint pays dividends inside. The Challenger is the only one of the three American muscle coupes to offer seating for five. Access to the back seat requires some contortion, and only two adults will really be comfortable there, but it's doable. At 16.2 cubic feet, the trunk is also larger than those of even some mid-size sedans on the market.
Challenger sales have increased steadily throughout its life, so there's clearly a market for a retro muscle car. We tend to think that the best deals in the lineup include the base SXT, where the Challenger costs less than $30,000 and is far more flamboyant and exciting than any other comfort-oriented mid-sizer. The R/T Scat Pack model is also quite the deal, with as much performance as you could possibly take advantage of on the street, all for around $40,000.
Despite it's relative size and potent powertrains, the Challenger can be equipped to manage respectable fuel economy. In V-6 form, the Challenger can return up to 30 mpg highway, and much of the lineup can manage up to 25 mpg.
2016 Dodge Challenger
Bold, brawny and some would say beautiful, the 2016 Dodge Challenger is pure retro muscle with a modern interior.
The Challenger has always been the largest and blockiest of the muscle cars, which gives it substantial road presence. Looked at through a different lens, the Challenger has been slightly more of a touring coupe—large and comfortable, with a supple ride. But the Challenger also offers an array of powerful, rip-up-the-track models for buyers who want to keep pace with the most powerful vehicles in the competition's lineups.
Inside, the Challenger has a modern dash with soft-touch surfaces and an up-to-date instrument cluster with a fully customizable 7.0-inch display screen. The available 8.4-inch touchscreen in the center of the dash controls the usual audio functions and navigation system, as well as apps through the Uconnect Access system.
The center console has a higher edge on the passenger side, inspired by the 1971 Challenger, and the dash, instruments, and console have aluminum accents. Among the 14 options for interior color and trim are a classic Houndstooth premium cloth that Dodge calls a "throwback" to the 1970s and premium leather and Alcantara suede high-performance seats.
The basic exterior shape features a long nose, a flat decklid, thick 1970s-inspired roof pillars, and a pronounced kickup in the waistline. It keeps the Challenger more faithful to its decades-old ancestors than either the Camaro or Mustang, which have evolved over time. The exterior styling adopts cues from the classic 1971 Challenger. Up front, it features a split grille in a slim front opening with projector headlamps surrounded by LED halos. It also gets a pronounced and fully functional "power bulge" hood (with a variety of available scoops), as well as LED taillights in a glossy piano black surround.
2016 Dodge Challenger
Fast in a straight line and comfortable in any form, the can handle a road course, too, but not like a Camaro or Mustang.
Living up to its muscle-car expectations, the 2016 Dodge Challenger packs big V-6 and V-8 engines under its hood, has rear-wheel drive, and handles well enough to feel controllable and secure. It's definitely not nimble, but the Challenger has the goods to satisfy anyone who craves a particular kind of uniquely American performance car. Even aggressive SRT Hellcat models are surprisingly comfortable on the road.
We're not huge fans of the electric power steering that's offered on all models except for the top-of-the-line SRT Hellcat. In the V-8 models especially, it's precise, yet seems to have all of its feedback (or kickback) tuned out, which can lead to more small adjustments than intended over choppier stretches of pavement. The only other issue we have is a bit too much nosedive during hard braking—more than you might expect from a car with sporty aspirations—in base SXT cars and even in the R/T.
At the base level, Challenger SXT and SXT Plus models get a 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, making 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque. It's solely offered with an 8-speed automatic transmission, and the combination offers up both enough off-the-line pep to feel like a muscle car and enough high-revving passing power to never feel short on steam.
In R/T models, you get a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 making up to 375 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. (R/T models with the automatic transmission make 372 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque.) Otherwise, the R/T is stronger than the V-6 models, especially during passing, and it makes all the right sounds—but it's no rival for the V-8s in the Camaro and Mustang.
If you want to stick to the affordable SXT or R/T models but want the better handling of the more powerful models, there's a Super Track Pak option that gets you a lowered ride height, larger sway bars, Bilstein shocks, high-performance brakes, and a three-mode stability control system.
Above that, there's the R/T Scat Pack model, the 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker, and the SRT 392, all of which have a higher-output 6.4-liter "Apache" version of the HEMI that makes 485 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque. A 6-speed manual gearbox is standard here, and the 8-speed automatic is available as well. These models feel far quicker than the R/T. Stopping power is upgraded, too, with four-piston Brembo brake calipers for non SRTs and six-piston calipers for the SRT 392. The non SRTs also get Bilstein high-performance shocks and Goodyear Eagle F1 tires, while the SRT 392 has Pirelli P Zero Nero all-season tires and adjustable shocks.
The Hellcat—the most powerful muscle car ever—is fitted with a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 making 707 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, will run a quarter mile in 11.2 seconds, at 125 mph. That’s on the optional Pirelli P Zero Y-rated performance tires, which have loads of grip. When fitted with full-on drag radials, the Hellcat will do a 10.8-second run at 126 mph. Power is delivered through a 6-speed manual gearbox. As much as we love manuals, we think the heavy-duty 8-speed automatic might be a wiser companion when you have more than 700 horses in the stable.
The Hellcat is very easy to drive for a car with so much power. It’s fairly at ease with itself on the power, near the limits or not. The ride is only somewhat firmer and more jittery than lower-line models in the Normal drive mode, though it becomes far harsher in the focused Track mode. Just beware that there are a lot of secondary motions in the Hellcat; it's far from a sports car, so tapping into that power on any sort of curvy road demands a lot of good judgement.
Separately, for much of the lineup you can get a Performance Pages system that's paired with the 8.4-inch Uconnect screen and lets you set drive modes as well as activate launch control or view expanded gauge displays and performance timers.
2016 Dodge Challenger
Comfort & Quality
Big and wide for a coupe, the Challenger offers passenger comfort and a simple high-tech control interface.
The Challenger has always been a little more of a touring coupe than the other muscle cars or pony cars, and the 2016 model fits that description as well as ever. The Challenger SXT and R/T models feel almost like luxury coupes—refined, comfortable, and very finely detailed. The dash offers soft-touch surfaces pretty much everywhere the driver or front passenger will touch, and the interior is quiet. There is some engine noise when you want to hear it, though, which is when you’re accelerating hard in the V-6 and during all but gentle low-rev cruising in the V-8.
At about 198 inches long and 76 inches wide, the Challenger is a large car, and while it doesn't quite have the interior space of a modern sedan, it offers generous seating space in front, enough room for adults in back, a large trunk, and a surprisingly sophisticated, quiet ride.
The front seats in the Challenger feel like they could be from a luxury car. They're soft yet supportive, though their width means that some slimmer drivers will lack side support. As for the back seat, the passenger space is there, but access is difficult. Blame the roofline, which tapers downward, the high belt line, and the seatbelts for the front seats, which require that you duck underneath. Once you're back there, it's just fine for two adults, or three in a pinch, though the center hump will make the middle passenger mostly miserable.
Trunk space is absolutely huge. With 16.2 cubic feet of space, it's the trunk of a large sedan. While it is shallow, it's wide and long, and could accommodate several large suitcases.
2016 Dodge Challenger
It may be a retro muscle machine, but that doesn't mean it doesn't offer today's safety features.
You may not think that the 2016 Dodge Challenger is the type of car that prioritizes safety, but it offers plenty of features that will keep you safe and sound and it gets good safety ratings.
The federal government's safety organization gives the 2016 Dodge Challenger a five-star rating overall crash safety rating, with a four-star rating for frontal impacts and rollover protection and five stars for side impacts. The Challenger has not been crash tested by the IIHS.
All the passive and active safety features you'd find in a premium sedan are here in the Challenger, including seat-mounted side pelvic-thorax bags, front knee air bags, active head restraints, anti-lock brakes, brake assist, and hill-start assist. Adaptive cruise control is available, as are forward collision warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear traffic alert, a ParkSense assist system, and a rearview camera. A 911 emergency-assist feature is also part of Uconnect Access.
2016 Dodge Challenger
With a variety of models and engine options, the Challenger can fill every role from daily driver to dragstrip menace.
Dodge has a Challenger for every taste and budget. The 2016 lineup includes SXT, SXT Plus, R/T, R/T Plus, R/T Plus Shaker, R/T Scat Pack, 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker, SRT 392, and SRT Hellcat models. As usual, there are lots of extras to personalize your car, as well as individual and packaged options.
The base-level Dodge Challenger starts at around $28,000, including dual-zone automatic climate control, a 7.0-inch thin film transistor instrument panel display screen, a 5.0-inch Uconnect center touchscreen, Bluetooth, a power driver's seat, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, firmer suspension settings this year, automatic headlights, and 18-inch aluminum wheels. The SXT Plus is much better equipped, with 20-inch polished alloys, Nappa leather seating, ventilated front seats, a heated steering wheel, the 8.4-inch version of Uconnect, Alpine sound, rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, and a garage-door opener.
R/T models get bigger brakes, a decklid spoiler, and an available "shaker" hood—a cutout that reveals the visibly shaking engine.
SXT and R/T models can be ordered with the new Blacktop Appearance package. On the outside, it includes 20-inch five-spoke gloss black aluminum wheels, a gloss black grille, satin black finishes on the deck-lid spoiler and fuel-filler door, a “strobe” designed dual stripe, and fog lamps. Inside, this package adds a performance steering wheel with paddle shifters and dark finishes and appointments, including black cloth upholstery (with perforated Nappa leather in SXT Plus and R/T Plus models), and a rearview camera.
An R/T Shaker model adds performance and appearance features. On the outside, it gets a shaker hood scoop, satin black graphic stripes, a gloss black grille surround, a satin black rear spoiler and fuel filler door, and 20-inch polished aluminum wheels with black pockets in a satin finish. It also comes with the equipment from the Super Track Pak, which includes a performance suspension, brakes, and steering; three-mode electronic stability control; and Goodyear Eagle F1 performance tires.
Especially of interest to enthusiasts on a little more of a budget is the Challenger R/T Scat Pack model that adds performance features and comes with the SRT 392 model's 485-hp 6.4-liter Apache Hemi engine. It also comes with four-piston Brembo brakes, performance suspension, a performance steering wheel, a 180-mph speedometer, cloth seats, a large front aero splitter, a rearview camera, and Performance Pages. Dodge's Performance Pages measures 0 to 60 mph and quarter-mile times, shows a variety of performance information (including real-time power use), and allows driver control of such vehicle settings as steering feel, transmission response, stability and traction control, and launch control. Pricing starts around $40,000, and the Scat Pack delivers a 0-60 mph time on the mid four-second range.
Above the Scat Pack, the SRT 392 also gets the 485-hp HEMI, plus a Viper-inspired hood, Brembo brakes with six-piston calipers, an adaptive-damping suspension, special high-performance Nappa leather seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel, 900-watt Harmon Kardon audio, and more. All said, it costs around $47,000.
Colors for the lineup dig deep into the "high-impact" retro vault once again and include hues like Sublime Green and B5 Blue, as well as Bright White, Redline Red, Pitch Black, Granite Crystal, Billet Silver, Jazz Blue, TorRed, Phantom Black, and Ivory White. For 2016, Dodge also brings back Plum Crazy. You can complement those colors with factory-original striping or graphics—with plenty of choices, especially at the R/T and SRT levels. And across the lineup, there are 12 different wheel options, with 11 different 20-inch wheels.
2016 Dodge Challenger
Fuel economy depends on engine choice, but even the powerful Challengers aren't as thirsty as you might think.
Even though it's big and brawny, with big engines and an emphasis on performance, much of the Dodge Challenger lineup will return numbers well near or above 25 mpg on the highway—or, in the case of V-6 models, 30 mpg on the highway, according to the EPA.
The V-6-powered SXT model is rated at 19 mpg city, 30 highway, 23 combined. R/T models feature a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 that returns an EPA estimated 15/23/18 mpg with the 6-speed manual transmission or 16/25/19 mpg with the 8-speed automatic. The 5.7-liter has cylinder deactivation to run on four cylinders under light load conditions to save fuel.
The R/T Scat Pack and SRT 392 models have a 6.4-liter version of the Hemi V-8 that gets 14/23/17 mpg with the manual and 15/25/18 mpg with the automatic, according to the EPA.
The top performance model, the 707-hp Hellcat models with their supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, are rated at just 13/21/16 mpg with the manual and 13/22/16 mpg with the automatic. The Hellcat will lope along on the highway and deliver that or even better in real-world driving, as we've observed.