2019 Dodge Challenger

Performance


#3 out of 8 in Sports Cars

$27,845 MSRP
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2019 Dodge Challenger Performance Review

Scorecard

Performance: 8.3

Power is never in short supply with the 2019 Dodge Challenger, whether you opt for a V6, or one of the brawnier Hemi V8s. It's also the only vehicle in the class with available all-wheel drive. Handling tends to lean more toward comfort, and while the Challenger is fabulous to drive, it’s not as nimble as some rivals. As expected of a vehicle with this much raw power, gas mileage ratings are quite low.

  • The Challenger may look mean, but it's surprisingly docile behind the wheel. Steering effort is light, ride quality is luxury-car smooth, and road noise is subdued by performance-car standards. However, there's no getting around the Challenger's considerable mass, which imparts a commanding feel on the highway but becomes quite evident on tight roads. Although sportier Challengers are capable by the numbers, they feel big and heavy when driven like sports cars." -- Autotrader (2016)
  • One of the 2016 Dodge Challenger's signature traits is its excellent ride quality. You could take this big coupe on an all-day road trip and feel as if you never left your sofa. The default suspension tuning of the base SXT is pretty floaty, however … Otherwise, the Challenger actually handles rather well. This is especially true of the higher-performance versions, which provide a crisp, responsive and confident drive on a curvy road. Still, none of them will let you forget about the car's sheer bulk, especially on narrow roads. The Mustang and Camaro are more agile and less imposing around tighter turns, and can be fitted with wider and grippier tires. In that way, the Challenger is the most classic muscle car of them all." -- Edmunds (2016)
  • In least-sporty V6-powered SXT trim Challenger boasts more than adequate power and a surprisingly compliant ride – a perfect combination of traits for casual cruising. And in doing just that, I had an epiphany. While higher trim levels of the Challenger boast the muscle and track chops to take on the feistier versions of the Camaro and Mustang, the SXT is more of a spiritual successor to the personal-luxury coupes of the Seventies and early Eighties." -- Consumer Guide (2015)

Acceleration and Power

Rated at 305-horsepower, the base Challenger powertrain consists of a 305-horsepower V6 engine and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Though it’s the baby of the Challenger lineup, the V6 is still plenty satisfying for everyday driving. With most other sports cars employing a base four-cylinder engine, this engine is on the thirsty side. It has a fuel economy rating of 19 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.

Dodge also builds four Hemi V8 engines for the Challenger. The smallest of the group is the 5.7-liter R/T engine, which is rated at 375 horsepower. R/T Scat Pack models have a 392 cubic-inch V8 (equivalent to 6.4 liters) that cranks out 485 horsepower. Both come with either a standard six-speed manual transmission or an available eight-speed automatic.

A supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8 powers the two Hellcat editions. For 2019, the SRT Hellcat gets a boost in power and now delivers 717 horsepower. It has the same transmission options as the R/T trim levels. The SRT Hellcat Redeye pirates the high-output Hemi V8 from the now-discontinued Demon, with retuning that results in a 797-horsepower rating. An eight-speed automatic transmission is the only gearbox for the Hellcat Redeye.

The Challenger's V8 engines are smooth and potent, emitting growly exhaust notes as an added bonus. Fuel economy is estimated at 13-16 mpg in the city and 21-25 mpg on the highway. 

  • "The 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 is smooth yet hard-revving. The 3,930-pound SXT accelerates from 0 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." -- Edmunds
  •  +"I already feel that the Hemis are the best-sounding American V8s right now. They have such a round, mellow rumble, and it's particularly loud and hearty in the Red Eye. Then you add the urgent whine of the supercharger under the hood, and it becomes a harmony of raw power. And the sound isn't reserved to redline or full throttle … They deliver a serious wallop of torque right off the line, but also near-instant throttle response and a level of smoothness that even the best turbo engines don't quite match. It's an effortless feeling that catches you off guard. So even when it's only delivering a fraction of its total output, the Hellcat Red Eye's engine makes for a special, fun experience." -- Autoblog
  • "The base car's 305-horsepower V6 provides plenty of day-to-day power, and you can even get the all-weather security of all-wheel drive -- unique to the class." -- Kelley Blue Book (2018)

Handling and Braking

Most Challenger trim levels come with rear-wheel drive. The SXT and GT editions are also available with all-wheel drive for $3,000, an uncommon upgrade for a muscle car. The Challenger has a comfortable ride for your daily drive, even in models with the available performance-oriented suspension. The Challenger's heft becomes apparent on a twisty road course, though. In comparison, the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro feel more athletic.

  • The handling is a bit sloppy compared with the athletic Mustang and Camaro. And, of course, the fuel economy is abominable. But still, this thing is full of personality and style, and I would never blame someone for picking it over its crosstown competitors." -- Autoblog
  • There's no getting around it: For a sport coupe, the Challenger is big. And heavy. Even with our tester's Super Track Pak (sic) (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." -- Edmunds
  • "Yet the Challenger -- even the Hellcat -- is no challenge as a daily driver thanks to its comfortable suspension and relatively quiet interior." -- Kelley Blue Book
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