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- Undeniable swagger
- Depth and breadth of lineup
- A factory drag racer!
- An all-wheel-drive touring car!
- A corner-carving sports car!
- Light on safety tech
- Not nearly as sharp to drive as some competitors
- Beginning to really show its age
- Still rather plump
The 2018 Dodge Challenger can be anything you want: a docile all-season touring car, just the thing for Friday night car shows, a track-tamer, or a drag strip champion.
As its competitors veer into sports car territory, the 2018 Dodge Challenger embraces its all-American muscle.
We give this lineup, which ranges from tame style icon to drag strip-tamer, a 6.8 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
This year, Dodge has grown the Challenger’s lineup to 16 different trims, starting with SXT and working its way through the all-wheel-drive GT and V-8 R/T to the real stormers of the group, the SRT 392, SRT Hellcat, and SRT Demon. The street-legal drag-racer Demon’s the big news for 2018, but there’s also a new widebody kit for the Hellcat, a newly standard rearview camera, and available Brembo brakes for R/T models.
The Challenger’s swagger isn’t the only thing that’s a throwback about this big coupe. It rides on a Mercedes-Benz-derived platform that dates back to the 1990s and even the Challenger itself hasn’t been fully redesigned since 2009. Still, Dodge has done a heck of a job keeping it up-to-date and enhancing its performance appeal. With up to 840 horsepower on tap in the new 2018 Challenger SRT Demon, this coupe is unlike anything else on the road today.
The lineup starts with the 305-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6-powered SXT and GT, which both come exclusively with an 8-speed automatic transmission. R/T and T/A models sub in a more appropriate 5.7-liter V-8 rated at 375 hp. A 485-hp, 6.4-liter V-8 is shoehorned into the Challenger R/T Scat Pack, T/A 392, 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker, and SRT 392 Challengers. For most of us, those naturally aspirated V-8s offer more than enough power and they’re available with 8-speed automatic and 6-speed manual transmissions.
We thought Dodge was loony (but in a good way) when the SRT Hellcat with its supercharged, 707-hp 6.2-liter V-8 showed up a couple of years ago with a choice between 6-speed stick and 8-speed automatic transmissions. Now, Dodge has gone far further with the 840-hpChallenger SRT Demon. It’ll lift its front wheels nearly three feet off the ground as it lunges through the all-important quarter-mile in a world-record 9.65 seconds, Dodge says. Thankfully, buyers get a day at the Bob Bondurant School of High-Performance Driving with the $86,000 SRT Demon—although that’s kind of like saying you’re qualified for neurosurgery after a semester of Biology 101.
What’s perhaps most impressive about the breadth of the Challenger’s lineup is its depth. Even V-6 models provide decent thrills and upwards of 30 mpg, plus a roomy, comfortable cabin that can be outfitted with dressy Nappa leather and up to 18 Harman Kardon speakers. For the most part, they’re quiet and composed on the highway and can hold their own when the road gets twisty. Although curb weights top 4,000 pounds for all but the base SXT, the Challenger corners well with decent road feedback. While its Chevy Camaro and Ford Mustang rivals have shed weight and tamed Germany’s famed Nurburgring in an effort to be true American sports cars, the Challenger proudly waves its stars and stripes bravado on its sleeve.
The Car Connection Consumer Review
- RWD SXT $26,995
- RWD SXT Plus $26,995
- AWD GT $33,495
- RWD R/T $33,495
- RWD R/T Plus $33,495
- RWD R/T Plus Shaker $33,495
- RWD R/T Shaker $33,495
- RWD T/A $33,495
- RWD T/A Plus $33,495
- RWD 392 Hemi Scat Pack Shaker $38,995
- RWD R/T Scat Pack $38,995
- RWD T/A 392 $38,995
- RWD SRT 392 $49,495
- RWD SRT Hellcat $63,795
- RWD SRT Hellcat Widebody $63,795
- RWD SRT Demon $83,295