If you want a real muscle car that confirms every bygone stereotype of American cars, then the 2019 Dodge Challenger will be your huckleberry. Dodge clearly still believes that there's no replacement for displacement, offering the two-door sports coupe with a plethora of V8s and incredible amounts of horsepower. While the Challenger may be getting old, Dodge has somehow found a way to keep the design fresh, even if it could stand to lose a few pounds.

Best Value

If it wasn't for taxes, we'd say that the sweet spot of the line up is the R/T Scat Pack, which gets a larger 6.4-liter 392 Hemi V8 with 485 horsepower. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite meet federal fuel economy standards, so each and every new Scat Pack gets assessed a one-time $1,000 gas guzzler tax. This alone is enough for us to recommend the less powerful and slightly more efficient Challenger R/T with its 5.7-liter V8. The Scat Pack is a ton of fun, but paying a $1,000 straight to Uncle Sam because he thinks you're making a bad choice cannot be construed as a good value any way you look at it.

But don't think that the 5.7-liter V8 is slow. It still packs 375 hp and 400 pound-feet of torque, which is enough to haul its planetary mass of 4,200 pounds to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds. We'd also stick with the manual transmission, as it provides the driver an extra point of connection to the car and saves us $1,595. Since we are evading taxes by sticking with the cheaper R/T, we have some extra room in our budget to add some packages and options. Oh, and by the way, the B5 Blue paint is definitely worth the extra $69.

  • Model: 2019 Dodge Challenger R/T
  • Engine:5.7-liter V8
  • Output:375 hp / 400 lb-ft
  • Transmission:Six-speed manual
  • Drivetrain: Rear-wheel drive
  • Fuel Economy:15 City / 23 Hwy
  • Options:Performance Handling Group ($1,495, four-piston Brembo brakes, 20-inch Black Noise wheels, an upgraded rear axle with a ratio of 3.09, high performance suspension and steering), Plus Package ($3,000, premium six-speaker sound system, 8.4-inch infotainment screen with Dodge Performance Pages and HD and satellite radio, Nappa and Alcantara ventilated performance seats, a heated steering wheel, a power tilt and telescope steering column, heated front seats, ambient lighting, a 4G LTE wi-fi hotspot), Driver Convenience Group ($1,295, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, HID headlights with the Rhombi "air catcher" intake, power multi-function mirrors), B5 Blue exterior paint ($69)
  • Base Price: $35,690 (including the $1,395 destination charge)
  • Best Value Price:$41,549

Performance

Dodge Challenger

The Dodge Challenger may not be a sports car, but it's certainly a performance car. While the base trims pack a 3.0-liter V6 with 300 hp that would feel powerful in many other cars, the Challenger weighs more than some SUVs and, therefore, 300 hp simply isn't enough to make it feel fast. The next level 5.7-liter-V8-equipped R/T model has 375 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque, and while you can certainly feel the extra power, you'll still be left behind at stoplights by some hot-hatches with half as many cylinders and almost a quarter of the displacement.

The Challenger gets really interesting with the R/T Scat Pack with its 6.4-liter V8, which offers 485 hp and 476 lb-ft of torque. This amount of power makes the Scat Pack happy to spin its wheels on the dampest of surfaces if you aren't careful, but the power is downright giggle inducing. It'll hit 60 mph in 4.4 seconds, and will pass the quarter mile in 12 seconds. The Scat Pack is the perfect amount of power for the Challenger line, and the chassis honestly doesn't need much more for that classic muscle car feel.

However, Dodge does offer the Challenger with much more. The SRT Hellcat gets an incredible 717 hp from a 6.2-liter supercharged V8, which is a 10-hp bump over the previous year. This is enough to blast the Hellcat to 60 mph in just 3.5 seconds while giving it a quarter mile time of 11 seconds. That would be sufficient for most automakers, but this is Dodge we're talking about. Therefore, the SRT Hellcat Redeye exists as well, which gets 797 hp, knocking a few tenths of a second off of both the zero-to-60-mph and quarter-mile times. That's way faster than anyone truly needs, but who are we to stop them?

While the Challenger is fast in a straight line, a sports car it is not. The Challenger doesn't like to corner, mostly due to the incredible amount of inertia it experiences due to its weight – 4,492 pounds at its heaviest. Dodge does offer some help in the form of options packages, including the Widebody Package available on the Scat Pack, Hellcat, and Redeye models that adds wider wheels and tires under wider fenders for extra grip, as well as the Performance Package that gives the Challenger upgraded suspension, brakes, and steering. While the Scat Pack could hold its own on a racetrack, most Challengers are suited for long distance cruising.

Style

First debuting in 2008, the Challenger is one of the oldest cars on the market, and yet Dodge has somehow managed to keep things looking fresh with its retro design. The Challenger looks like a muscle car, with big proportions like a long hood and wide hips. Widebody models are even wider, making it feel downright gargantuan on narrow country roads. Every trim of the Challenger also offers at least one appearance package and a wide variety of paint choices that run the gambit from Destroyer Grey to Plum Crazy purple. Driving a Challenger is a statement to the world, and Dodge clearly recognizes this fact.

Interestingly, the Challenger can be had with basic cloth seats at every trim level, but Dodge also gives buyers the option of upgrading to leather or Alcantara should they so desire. The Challenger is also unique in that it's optimized for real comfort over performance coupes. The ride is cushy and the amount of interior space is immense, making it comfortable to drive over long distances. There are quite a few niceties available as well, including standard dual-zone climate control and options like upgraded infotainment and audio systems, heated and ventilated seats, and an array of performance upgrades.

The Best and Worst Things

The Dodge Challenger's best asset is the array of engine choices. While other automakers debate whether or not to kill off their larger engines for eco-friendly smaller engines with forced induction, Dodge is staying true to the magic of the V8. There's something very charming about the V8, and it gives the Challenger a character that isn't found in any other car.

On the other hand, the Challenger could go on a diet. As fast as it is, it could be even faster if it lost a few hundred pounds, and it's even possible that change could allow the R/T Scat Pack to see enough of a bump in fuel economy ratings to a level that would be higher than the gas guzzler tax threshold. Regardless, this probably won't happen until we see a new generation.

Right For? Wrong For?

Dodge Challenger

The Dodge Challenger is a perfect tool for making rude gestures to "the Man." It doesn't care about fuel economy, it doesn't care about what's "appropriate for the streets." It's loud, powerful, and imposing, and anyone who wants to make that statement would love driving one. Otherwise, the Challenger is great performance car for those who are on the larger side, as its seats are wide and the interior is spacious.

On the other hand, the Challenger isn't for those who want to carve corners during a track day or on twisty back roads. The laws of inertia aren't on its side, and it wants to continue going the direction it's going. Those who want to engage with the apexes but still pack some muscle may be better off with something like a Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro.

The Bottom Line

The 2019 Dodge Challenger is truly the last of its breed. It bellows American muscle with every fiber of its being, and it stands in stark contrast to the current direction of the modern automotive world. It may not make much sense these days to have gigantic engines with massive horsepower, but people still want it and, thankfully, Dodge will give it to them. All in all, the Challenger is comfortable cruiser with personality and horsepower, and it should be accepted with open arms.