With the addition of the 840-horsepower SRT Demon – a street-legal drag car – this year, the 2018 Dodge Challenger can be everything from a comfy, all-weather coupe to a high-speed grand tourer and an all-out drag strip trophy winner. But after eleven years, the Challenger is beginning to show its age with poor second-row access and a lack of advanced safety features across the lineup.

Best Value

The eighteen 2018 Challenger models range in price from $28,090 for the base SXT model to nearly $98,000 for a fully-optioned SRT Demon. Buyers where the snow flies looking for a year-round driver would be better served with the $34,590 AWD GT. For everyone else, we'd skip it, both SXT models, and the base V8 R/T and make a beeline for the V8 R/T Plus.

That's because the performance upgrade over the V6 is worth every penny, while pushing past 375 horsepower stretches even what we feel is necessary (if you disagree, study the 475-horsepower Scat Pack – no one actually needs the 707-hp SRT Hellcat or the 840-hp Demon).

The R/T Plus model adds Nappa leather seating, a heated power tilt/telescoping steering wheel, larger 8.4-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, bright pedals, and access to a number of optional advanced active safety features not available on R/T and lower trims.

  • Model: 2018 Dodge Challenger R/T Plus
  • Engine: 5.7-liter V8
  • Output: 375 hp / 400 lb-ft
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
  • Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
  • MPG: 16 City / 25 Hwyy
  • Options: Eight-speed automatic ($1,500), Technology Group ($1,195, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, rain sensitive windshield wipers), Driver Convenience Group ($1,095, HID headlights, rear park assist, blind spot detection, rear cross-traffic alert, power, multi-function fold-away mirrors, remote start), Power Sunroof ($1,195), Red Brake Calipers ($195).
  • Base Price: $37,590 (including a $1,095 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price: $42,770

Performance

Dodge Challenger

With a number of engine, transmission and suspension choices, the various Challenger models offer drivers everything from smooth, (relatively) fuel-efficient cruising to neck-snapping quarter-mile acceleration times. Frankly, you can't go wrong with any of the V8 models. The 5.7-liter in the R/T is easily the most balanced, although the 6.4-liter V8 in the 392 and SRT models is even more charming without demanding a huge efficiency sacrifice.

The supercharged SRT Hellcat and Demon provide supercar-levels of straightline speed, although even the 707-hp Hellcat could prove too much for the unprepared driver. Meanwhile, the Challenger's eight-speed automatic – offered with every engine – is a charmer, offering quick upshifts during aggressive driving and invisible performance while commuting.

At the same time, only V6 models offer acceptable fuel economy, while the Challenger's aging platform makes it heavier, and therefore less nimble, than competitors from Ford and Chevrolet. Even the adaptive dampers on high-end models struggle to deal with the Challenger's sheer mass.

Interior and Exterior

The Challenger's muscular, retro design looks good from any angle, getting more aggressive with each step-up in trim, while its roomy interior, supportive seats, and soft touch surfaces promise comfortable cruising. And even though it's a coupe, visibility is far better than a comparable Chevrolet Camaro, with excellent rear and lateral sightlines. There's enough content here too, with one of the best infotainment systems in the business and a slew of available active safety systems. The available 18-speaker Harman Kardon audio system is lovely, too.

At the same time, the Challenger's cabin can feel claustrophobic for rear seat passengers, while just getting back there requires a certain degree of physical dexterity. And while it feels like we're kicking the Challenger while it's down, there's little ignoring the fact that this car's interior materials felt out of date several years ago – today, they're inarguably the worst in the segment.

The Best and Worst Things

The Challenger's broad lineup means there's a model for most types of customers. But in further developing its aging platform, FCA has decided to concentrate on straight-line performance, rather than incorporate some of the most advanced features available.

Right For? Wrong For?

Dodge Challenger

Although rivals from Ford and Chevrolet continue to transition from straight-line muscle cars to full-tilt sports cars, the Challenger (stubbornly, some might argue) continues to carry the torch with a blend of style, comfort, and the widest performance spectrum for drivers aching for a run between the traffic lights. This is a compelling choice for muscle car enthusiasts.

The back seats may be large enough for passengers, but getting infants, toddlers, small children, and their required car seats in and out requires the elasticity and dexterity of an Olympic gymnast. Young families should look elsewhere.

The Bottom Line

Despite the lack of many advanced safety features and the presence of newer, more capable rivals, the Challenger's retro styling and broad model lineup make it a solid choice if you're looking for a mid-size performance coupe.