The 2018 Dodge Challenger

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.

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.


2018 Dodge Challenger


The 2018 Dodge Challenger

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-hp Challenger 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.

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, 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.


2018 Dodge Challenger

The 2018 Dodge Challenger

The 2018 Dodge Challenger would look just as at home in 1971 as it does today, and that’s all right with us. Retro never goes out of style when it comes to the 2018 Dodge Challenger.

This big two-door, with its wide hips, low-slung roof, and unmistakable swagger, is still a head-turner.  Dodge makes all versions of the Challenger look suitably muscular. From the front, their deeply inset grilles and headlights are throwbacks to the late 1960s and early ‘70s. The Challenger masks its size reasonably well from the front, but its big rear haunches and slab sides serve as reminders that it’s a very large two-door.

Even the Challenger SXT has the right look with several available graphics and wheel packages that work well. Work your way up the food chain and the Challenger gets more aggressive, but it’s not until you reach the purpose-built Challenger SRT Demon that things really look different.

It’s squat, with fender flares that look like they’ve been cribbed from a 1990s SUV. A massive, functional hood scoop stands by ready to gobble up Ford Fiestas. And the tires—oh, the tires. At the rear, those fat arches hide enormous, street-legal Nitto drag tires.

The “Mad Max” widebody look is also available on the Challenger SRT Hellcat for 2018. Inside, the Challenger is a throwback specifically to one model year: 1971. Its dashboard cants toward the driver and flows nicely into the high center console. Optional houndstooth cloth upholstery on some trim levels completes the look, but there’s no shortage of technology here, either.


2018 Dodge Challenger

The 2018 Dodge Challenger


The 2018 Dodge Challenger offers the most comprehensive muscle car lineup ever. The 2018 Dodge Challenger cements its reputation as a straight-line runner this year, but it can also scoot its way around a corner far better than its hefty size and curb weight suggests.

The tamest Challengers—the SXT and GT—use a 3.6-liter V-6 that can be found in everything from the Ram 1500 pickup to the Chrysler Pacifica minivan. Here, it’s rated at 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque and it is paired exclusively to an 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters. While the SXT is rear-wheel drive, the GT shuttles power to all four corners. The V-6 provides decent oomph with a high degree of refinement, but it feels a bit like putting ketchup on potato chips; something’s not quite right here. A V-8 belongs under this hood.

The GT has its own suspension setup that’s pleasantly firm without being punishing. It is a pleasant four-seasons muscle-style coupe, but it feels like the answer to the question nobody was asking.

Step up to the Challenger R/T and T/A models and you’ll get a 5.7-liter V-8 rated at up to 375 hp and 410 lb-ft with the standard 6-speed manual. Opt for the 8-speed automatic and you’re down to 372 ponies and 400 torques. Either way, this engine provides enough extra power and a NASCAR-worthy soundtrack to make it a worthwhile upgrade over the base V-6.

If that’s not enough, the 6.4-liter V-8 in Challenger R/T Scat Pack, T/A 392, and SRT 392 Challengers comes in at a thunderous 485 hp and 476 lb-ft and can likewise be paired to 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmissions. It’s noticeably more powerful, especially as the tachometer needle swings toward redline.

Nearly 500 hp is plenty, even for a 4,300 pound vehicle like an unladen Challenger SRT 392. But for the folks at Dodge, it’s not nearly enough. The 707-hp SRT Demon packs a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 that helps it rush through the quarter-mile in a hair over 11 seconds. That’s awe-inspiring, but it’s not the top of the Challenger heap. Enter the 2018 Challenger SRT Demon, Its force-fed 6.2 cranks out 840 hp and 770 lb-ft and it’s geared specifically for ferocious straight-line acceleration.


2018 Dodge Challenger


The 2018 Dodge Challenger

The Demon vaults to 60 mph from a stop in just 2.3 seconds and the NHRA certified it at a 9.65-second quarter-mile sprint. A special drag setting for its adaptive suspension helps clamp down its Nitto drag tires for easy, repeatable straight-line performance. It hold several Guinness World Records for a performance car, including our favorite—how high it lifts its front wheels off of the ground during acceleration. Sure, there’s not exactly a lot of competition, but who cares?

That’s not to say that the Challenger is totally out of its element when it comes to tackling a curvy road. Just as their engines offer varying degrees of thrust, the wide range of Challengers on offer each have their own personality with different takes on suspension tuning. Challenger SXTs are the softest of the group, but they’re also the most compliant. The Challenger GT is surprisingly firm and rides about like a base Challenger R/T. Step up to the SRT-branded models and things can get a little firm, albeit with a noticeable reduction in body lean during cornering.

Only the Challenger SRT Hellcat has conventional hydraulic power steering, while the rest of the lineup features user-adjustable electric steering, the electric setups are accurate and direct. A revamped Performance Handling Package tightens up the suspension on R/Ts even further and also adds four-piston Brembo brakes.

There’s no disguising the Challenger’s heft; only the base SXT comes in under 4,000 pounds unladen. Strong brakes on all variants reel things in nicely on all models, with the Brembo-branded units available on R/Ts and standard on SRTs delivering the best combination of power and feel.

2018 Dodge Challenger

The 2018 Dodge Challenger

Given the Challenger’s nearly 17-foot length, it’s not much of a surprise that it delivers good space inside for four or even five in a pinch. Rear-seat riders have more room here than in just about any other two-door on the market thanks to the Challenger’s long wheelbase. Up front, well-bolstered seats with firm padding aren’t much of a throwback to the flat, contour-less seats once endemic to muscle coupes—unless they’re upholstered in the delightfully retro houndstooth cloth upholstery optional on certain Challengers.

At 16.2 cubic feet, the Challenger has a decently roomy trunk for a two-door, Soft-touch materials abound inside and the Challenger can be upgraded with buttery Nappa leather or grippy synthetic suede upholstery, too.

Most models are fairly quiet on the road—except for the SRT Demon with its weight-saving sound deadening delete. But who wants silence a quarter-mile at a time?

All Challengers come standard with six airbags, anti-lock brakes, stability control, and a rearview camera. Standard on all but the SXT, R/T, and Demon is a rear park-assist system. Blind-spot monitors, forward collision warnings, and rear cross-traffic warnings are optional on almost every version of the Challenger.


2018 Dodge Challenger

The 2018 Dodge Challenger

The optional Technology Group available on many Challengers bundles forward collision warnings, automatic windshield wipers, automatic high-beam headlights, and adaptive cruise control. Automatic emergency braking is not on the Challenger’s options list.

Prepare to spend hours picking the right options for your 2018 Dodge Challenger. It’s one of the most customizable new cars on the market.
Well-equipped from the get-go, the 2018 Dodge Challenger can be optioned up with about the same high degree of customizability as its 1960s namesake.

The Challenger is available in a dizzying array of combinations; plan to spend considerable time narrowing down just what works for you since the odds are slim of finding two identical Challengers on a dealer lot. A total of 15 trim levels are on offer, beginning with the reasonably well-equipped SXT. Even the Challenger SXT includes 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a power driver’s seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The Challenger GT is positioned as an all-season touring car and comes equipped with lots of luxuries for the money in addition to its standard all-wheel drive. An upgraded 8.4-inch infotainment screen, heated and ventilated leather-upholstered seats, Alpine-branded audio, and rear parking sensors are among its highlights.

From there, the Challenger R/T is the gateway to V-8 performance. We’re smitten with the idea of a lightly optioned R/T, but the sky’s nearly the limit once you start loading on features like a heated steering wheel, 18 Harman Kardon speakers, 20-inch alloy wheels, and a couple of packages that sub-in ever-stiffer suspensions matched to beefier Brembo brakes. The Challenger R/T can also be equipped with a genuine “shaker” hood with cold-air induction or with the larger 392 V-8 engine.

Step up to the SRT level and you’re fully committed to Detroit performance (by way of Ontario, Canada, where these coupes are built). The Challenger SRTs include more niceties, too, like HID headlights with automatic high-beams, stickier 20-inch performance tires, and even fancier leather upholstery.

At the top of the heap sits the Challenger SRT Demon. On paper, it’s shockingly basic in order to save weight: it comes standard with only a driver’s seat and two stereo speakers. But for those who want to actually drive their drag cars on the street, Dodge will sell you back a full complement of seats for just $1. Leather and 18 Harman Kardon speakers are on the options list, but we think that outfitting your Demon with all these luxuries kind of defeats the go-fast, take no prisoners point.


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