2018 Dodge Challenger
The release of the 2018 Dodge Challenger marks a full decade since the iconic redesign first made its appearance. So impactful has its reintroduction been, that it makes it difficult to remember that the world had existed without a new Challenger for over thirty years. Aside from second-generation offerings that were little more than namesakes, the Challenger (in its truest form) had been discontinued after the 1974 model year (and it would take a new millennium to change that).
The 2000’s made for a breathtaking decade in the eyes of any driver with an affinity for old school muscle and pony cars. In what seemed like a straightforward refutal of the hatchback, fastback and even convertible styling that had permeated so many models in the ‘80s and 90’s, the resurgence of certain classic vehicles marked a true return to form. Among these was the Dodge Challenger, as heralded by the successful reintroduction of the Charger before it. Nestled comfortably between Ford’s 2005 refresh of the Mustang, and Chevy’s 2009 reintroduction of the Camaro, the 2008 Challenger made for an immediate attention-grabber (just as it had done nearly forty years prior).
First introduced in late 1969, the Dodge Challenger (which shared many features of the iconic Plymouth Barracuda) made for a late entry into the pony car market dominated by the all-prevailing Mustang and innovative Camaro. But elements of the Challenger, such as its’ longer wheelbase and luxury-inspired interior positioned it in a unique slot against the likes of the Mercury Cougar. That said, the Challenger felt almost infinitely configurable, with a wide selection of trim and powertrain options to choose from.
Despite its’ relatively short life, the Challenger’s five-year existence served as an impactful tentpole in the proverbial Ballad of Detroit Steel. Piggybacking on the widely-applauded reintroduction of the Charger, it was of little surprise that the new Challenger was met with equal (if not greater) fanfare. Considering the timing (complete with higher fuel costs, and recession-era economics) it made for a powerful realization…that driving was a joy people were interested in reclaiming for themselves.
So how does today’s Dodge Challenger measure up, with ten years underneath its belt? Excuse us if we have a hard time containing our excitement…
30 MPG Highway
The Challenger excels at creating a true sport-inspired interior, albeit it with the signature American feel that one would expect of a domestic offering within the segment. As with any vehicle of its stature, the cabin is heavily stylized but retains a sense of minimalism. To create a truly ‘driver-centric’ cockpit requires a ‘less-is-more’ approach. To achieve this in the Challenger, Dodge uses unique contouring to compartmentalize controls and gauge-clusters, minimizing dead space within the comfortable, well-designed cabin.
That said, there is no shortage of technology available. Even at the (base) SXT level, the Bluetooth-enabled Challenger includes an infotainment system based around a 5-inch touchscreen and six-speaker surround sound. With more enhancement packages and upgradable features to count, every trim level is deserving of further exploration.
At the (base) SXT level, standard equipment includes a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine which delivers an impressive 305 horsepower, 268 lb-ft of torque, and offers a respectable 30 mpg (highway, 19 city).
Stepping up to the R/T levels, one can enjoy the 5.7-liter V8. Depending on whether you opt for the manual or automatic transmission, you can expect up to 375 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque. More than enough power for just about anybody.
But for those left unsatisfied, the SRT Hellcat boasts a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 rated for a pulse-pounding 707 horse and 650 lb-ft. And the Demon takes the Hellcat’s engine where only eagles dare, upsizing the supercharger as well as the air induction, increasing the boost pressure and RPM limit, and adding a mother dual-stage fuel pump. The result: a mind-blowing 840 hp, making it the most powerful V8 engine ever produced.
By 1971, Dodge had already proven successful in creating an iconic visage for the Challenger. With that in mind, it’s no real surprise that the 2018 Challenger was designed to evoke the legendary styling of that model year.
The Challenger’s first impression comes as a result of the split grille design that it has inherited from its ancestor. Its’ aggressive brow design and dual lamp headlights flow effortlessly into its stamped hood, conveying both speed and power. Opting for certain configurations adds a Shaker hood with a cold-air-induction scoop, further conveying the Charger’s performance pedigree. There is no mistaking the Challenger for any other vehicle on the road, and nearly every one of its features beckons you closer, demanding a full walk-around inspection.
With its lean, sculpted profile and two-door styling, the Challenger exists in a constant state of ‘passing you buy’, a design note that is further embodied by its shortened tail, rear fascia, and taillights. And its’ primal impact on our senses is only encouraged by the palate of colors in which it is offered. Even less vibrant colors such as Destroyer Gray, Octane Red, White Knuckle get distinctive on-brand monikers.