2018 Dodge Challenger

2018 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Review

All of the heart-pounding muscle-car personality with fewer sacrifices in practicality.
author
by Mark Takahashi
Edmunds Editor

Edmunds expert review

In recent years, the muscle-car class has been contested by the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang. The Challenger differs from the Mustang and Camaro with its larger size, unabashed retro look and boulevard-cruiser attitude. The Challenger's bigger size allows for much more backseat room and a sedan-size trunk, but don't think this means the Challenger is tame by comparison.

You have a wide variety of choices, ranging from the 305-horsepower SXT V6 up to the drag-strip-dominating Demon and its potential for 840 horsepower. When pitted against its rivals, the 2018 Dodge Challenger doesn't have the sharp handling to keep up on a curvy road, but it bests them in comfort, refinement and pure retro appeal.



What's new for 2018

As if the 707-horsepower Hellcat wasn't enough, the 840-hp Demon joins the 2018 Challenger lineup with a narrow focus on drag-strip supremacy. Only 3,000 will be built for the United States. There's also a new SRT Widebody model based on the Hellcat, along with some cosmetic updates. Elsewhere, there's a new Performance Handling package for 5.7-liter V8 models, the standard touchscreen gets bigger, and all trims get a rearview camera and Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration.

We recommend

The R/T trim is our pick among the 2018 Dodge Challenger lineup since it's the most affordable V8-powered model. Along with some performance-related mechanical upgrades, it's eligible for a long list of options to configure it to your personal tastes without breaking the budget. Of course, if money were no object, there's the new SRT Demon, but limited production and a track-focused mission will make it quite rare. For everyone else, we'd push for the scintillating SRT Hellcat Widebody that comes with a bonkers 707-horsepower supercharged V8 and the wider tires.



Trim levels & features

The 2018 Dodge Challenger is a five-seat, two-door coupe that is available in seven major trim levels, most of which are further divided into several subtrims. Major trim levels include the SXT, GT, R/T, R/T 392, SRT 392, SRT Hellcat and SRT Demon. The SXT and GT Challenger trims are powered by a V6; the others are driven by increasingly more powerful V8s, culminating in the 840-hp Demon.

Drawer

The 2018 Dodge Challenger is a five-seat, two-door coupe that is available in seven major trim levels, most of which are further divided into several subtrims. Major trim levels include the SXT, GT, R/T, R/T 392, SRT 392, SRT Hellcat and SRT Demon. The SXT and GT Challenger trims are powered by a V6; the others are driven by increasingly more powerful V8s, culminating in the 840-hp Demon.

First up is the SXT, powered by a 3.6-liter V6 engine (305 horsepower, 268 pound-feet of torque) matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Standard features include 18-inch wheels, automatic headlights, heated mirrors, keyless ignition and entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone automatic climate control, a six-way power-adjustable driver seat and 60/40-split folding rear seats. Tech features include Bluetooth, a 7-inch touchscreen, a rearview camera, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration, two USB ports and a six-speaker sound system.

The GT employs the same V6 and is the only Challenger with all-wheel drive. On top of the SXT features, it adds 19-inch wheels, foglights, rear parking sensors, upgraded brakes, heated front seats, ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, a power-adjustable and heated steering wheel, interior ambient lighting, an 8.4-inch touchscreen, performance-related in-car apps, and satellite and HD radio.

The R/T is the least expensive way into a V8 Challenger, offering a 5.7-liter engine paired to either a six-speed manual transmission (375 hp, 410 lb-ft) or the eight-speed auto (372 hp, 400 lb-ft). In addition to the SXT features, you get 20-inch wheels, foglights, upgraded brakes, a limited-slip differential and an active sport exhaust.

The R/T 392 gets an even larger 6.4-liter V8 (485 hp, 475 lb-ft) along with Brembo performance brakes (four-piston front and rear), a sport-tuned suspension, a rear spoiler, cloth sport seats, rear parking sensors, an 8.4-inch touchscreen with the newest version of Uconnect, performance-related in-car apps and an Alpine audio system with HD/satellite radio.

The SRT 392 model builds upon the R/T 392 offerings, adding xenon headlights, a special air intake, power-folding mirrors, beefier front Brembo brakes (six-piston front), adaptive suspension dampers, a power-adjustable and heated sport steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, leather upholstery, configurable driving modes, an 18-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, navigation, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.

There are also variants of the above, such as the Plus, R/T T/A, R/T Scat Pack and R/T Shaker that add a few extra features.

The SRT Hellcat is all about raw speed, evidenced by its supercharged 6.2-liter V8 (707 hp, 650 lb-ft). It's also equipped with unique exterior styling, a sportier suspension, quad exhaust tips, automatic high beams and automatic wipers. A new SRT Hellcat Widebody model gets some very prominent Demon-based fender flares to accommodate wider tires that improve the car's handling and grip.

The new SRT Demon makes its mark as the most powerful muscle car in history (840 hp, 770 lb-ft on 100-octane race fuel or 808 hp, 717 lb-ft on premium unleaded). The eight-speed automatic is the only transmission offered. With drag racing as its reason for being, the Demon receives specialized equipment that includes numerous cooling systems, street-legal drag slicks, a transbrake (for optimum engine power at launch), an adaptive suspension with a drag mode, and launch control. It's also important to point out what is eliminated: There's no front passenger seat, no rear seats and no sound insulation. You can add back the seats for a mere $1.

In terms of features, the Demon is similarly appointed as the Hellcat, but with 18-inch wheels, four-piston lightweight brakes, an active exhaust system, a power-adjustable cloth sport driver seat, a navigation system, and a two-speaker stereo with satellite and HD radio.

Most of the features found on the upper trim levels can be added to the lower trims as options. A sunroof is optional on all Challenger trims, and new SRT model buyers get a one-day course at an SRT Driving Experience school.



Driving

The SXT Plus performed surprisingly well considering it's overshadowed by the V8 models. Handling is impressive due largely to grippy summer tires. The upgraded brakes are outstanding. In terms of drivability, the Challenger SXT is an acceptable, if not enjoyable, daily commuter.

Acceleration

The 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 is smooth yet hard-revving. The 3,930-pound SXT accelerates from zero to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, which is a bit slower than rivals with base engines. Obviously, the Challenger's various V8s provide significantly quicker acceleration.

Braking

The brake pedal feel is medium-firm and well-suited to everyday driving. During panic-stop testing, the portly Challenger needed just 104 feet to stop from 60 mph. This is a great result, but keep in mind it had the benefit of summer tires.

Steering

Turn-in response is quick, though there is little in the way of feedback between the road and the driver. Some drivers could find the steering's hefty weighting to be a bit much for daily duties around town.

Handling

There's no getting around it: For a sport coupe, the Challenger is big. And heavy. Even with our tester's Super Track Pak (which adds a sportier suspension and performance tires), body roll is pronounced when going around turns. Still, there's enough grip to have an enjoyable time.

Drivability

The Challenger's responsive steering helps maneuverability, but the car just feels big, especially on narrow roads and tight corners. The gas and brake pedal are responsive and easily modulated. The eight-speed automatic also shifts quickly and maintains gears well on grades.

Comfort

A firmer ride is acceptable from a sporty car such as the Challenger, so it is impressive that it manages small bumps so well. Larger bumps are much more noticeable in the cabin. Still, the combination of comfortable seats and a quiet ride make this a nice place to be for an extended time.

Seat comfort

The front seats are comfortable, and we have no complaints after spending hours on the road. If one area could be improved, it is the front seat's insufficient lateral support. The door and center console armrests are nicely padded, though.

Ride comfort

Equipped with the Super Track Pak's firmer sport-tuned suspension, the Challenger has a firm ride that's to be expected for the class. It does a great job absorbing small road imperfections but feels jarring over larger bumps and dips.

Noise & vibration

You'll hardly notice the V6 at highway cruising speeds. The Challenger's sound deadening is quite good for the segment, although tire noise is evident over certain surfaces. Overall, it's a pretty quiet car.

Interior

The Challenger is a king among coupes with its class-leading passenger and cargo space. It's a far more livable daily driver than its coupe/muscle-car competition. But wrestling the large doors open to gain access can be a challenge.

Ease of use

Controls consist of a combination of knobs and buttons that are large and easy to use. Some functions are tucked away in the touchscreen, but otherwise it's one of the most user-friendly interfaces in the industry.

Getting in/getting out

The doors are large and open fully, allowing the potential for easy entry and exit. That said, the Challenger's big doors are heavy, and their size is a hindrance in tight parking spaces. Rear-seat access is a bit better than in rival muscle-car coupes.

Roominess

The Challenger has a lot of front legroom and shoulder room. Headroom is slightly compromised by the sunroof, though most 6-footers will still fit. The rear seat isn't quite made for all sizes, but it is far bigger than those of competitors and offers three seats versus two.

Visibility

Visibility is not good, but typical for the segment. There are significant blind spots over the shoulder. Forward sightlines are acceptable, but it can be difficult to judge the front corners. A large-display rearview camera is standard and helps considerably.

Quality

There are no squeaks or rattles to speak of. The upper door panels on our test car did shake, as if loose, when we closed the doors, but this is a minor quibble with what otherwise appears to be a well-built automobile for the price.

Utility

Coupes aren't generally known for a spacious cargo area, but the Challenger boasts a trunk that puts the Mustang's and Camaro's to shame. Cargo measurements are just slightly smaller than those of the Charger sedan.

Small-item storage

The Challenger has decent small-item storage all around, and the moderately sized center console is useful for holding a variety of items.

Cargo space

The trunk opening is large, and its capacity blows the class away with a midsize-sedanlike 16.2 cubic feet. The rear seatbacks fold in a 60/40-split configuration to expand the Challenger's space even further.

Technology

We've had a lot of experience with older versions of Dodge's infotainment system, Uconnect, and we've even tested the newest Uconnect 8.4 system in other cars. We haven't tested it in the Challenger yet, but in those other cars, it offers crisp graphics, quick responses and simple, logical menus.

Edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.