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2021 Dodge Challenger Performance

#3 out of 8 in Sports Cars

U.S. News Best Price Program

2021 Dodge Challenger Performance Review


Performance: 7.9

The 2021 Dodge Challenger has incredible engine power, but fuel economy and handling are less impressive.

  • "Muscle cars are all about blistering straight-line performance, but the Challenger SXT and GT models with the V6 and all-wheel drive focus on daily use all year long. This feature not only improves the Challenger’s cornering and handling, but makes the car easy to drive in bad weather." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The Challenger is always a hoot to drive. With the 6.4-liter V8, power is readily available in any gear at almost any speed. … Braking is strong. Our test Challenger stopped from 60 mph in 105 feet, a short distance for such a big vehicle." -- Edmunds (2020)
  • "If your automotive tastes skew toward the handling/mountain-road variety, the Challenger isn't for you. If, however, you're more of a high-speed-cruising/road-tripping/shred-the-tires-in-apocalyptic-amounts-of-smoke kinda guy, well, this is definitely the car for you. Indeed, the Challenger is the most like an actual muscle car in this regard." -- Autoblog (2020)

Engine Options, Horsepower, and Acceleration

  • Base engine: 3.6-liter V6 with 303 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque
  • Available engines:
    • 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 375 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque
    • 6.4-liter Hemi V8 with 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque
    • 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8 with 717 horsepower and 656 pound-feet of torque
    • 6.2-liter high-output supercharged Hemi V8 with 797 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque
    • 6.2-liter high-output supercharged Hemi V8 with 807 horsepower and 707 pound-feet of torque
  • Drivetrain: standard rear-wheel drive; available all-wheel drive
  • Transmission: standard eight-speed automatic; available six-speed manual

The Dodge Challenger's standard V6 engine delivers adequate acceleration, but the car’s larger size means it isn’t as quick as some similarly equipped rivals. All of the optional V8 engines are very powerful, with SRT variants bringing blistering speed.

  • "It’s also about speed, although the 303-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 in the SXT and GT trims makes the Challenger merely quick rather than outright fast." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "With an engine as muscular and responsive as those in the SRT Challengers, a mere touch of the accelerator can lunge the car forward with a force just on the scary side of exhilarating.” -- Autotrader
  • "We'll say one thing for the Challenger, it provides plenty of choice. Yet, even if you stick with the base engine, you're doing OK. … You can expect a zero-to-60 time in the low-6-second range, which is pretty quick, but ultimately pokier than the four-cylinder Camaro and Mustang." -- Autoblog (2020)

MPG Estimates

With its base engine, the Challenger gets about average fuel economy for a sports car. Efficiency is much worse with the optional engines.

  • V6, RWD: 19/30 mpg city/highway
  • V6, AWD: 18/27 mpg
  • 5.7-liter V8, automatic: 16/25 mpg
  • 6.4-liter V8, automatic: 15/24 mpg
  • 5.7-liter V8, manual: 15/23 mpg
  • 6.4-liter V8, manual: 14/23 mpg
  • 6.2-liter V8, automatic: 13/22 mpg
  • 6.2-liter V8, manual: 13/21 mpg

Handling and Braking

The Challenger handles fine for its size, though it's noticeably less agile than many rivals. Ride quality is good, but some competitors offer a more comfortable ride thanks to their softer suspensions.

  • "Although steering and suspension differ by trim, the Challenger is generally comfortable and easy. However, there’s no getting around the car’s considerable weight, which at least contributes to the rock-solid stability at highway speeds. But it’s less of an asset on tight roads." -- Autotrader
  • "Expect every Challenger to be more cumbersome to drive than its muscle car competitors. Its handling just isn't as good, regardless of the model you choose. Now, its ride tends to be more comfortable, but the magnetically controlled suspensions available on the Mustang and Camaro are actually able to best it in that arena as well." -- Autoblog (2020)
  • "The Dodge's beefy size makes in-town maneuvering a bit tough, but it's a champ out on the open road. The Challenger is pretty capable on curvy roads too. Well, as long as you don't try driving it like a nimble sports car. Its mass and weight become readily apparent if you try to drive quickly through tight turns." -- Edmunds (2020)
U.S. News Best Price Program

2021 Dodge Challenger

MSRP: $28,295 - $58,995

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