Haven’t I seen you somewhere before? In orange paint, the modern-day Dodge Challenger is a couple of 01 decals and a Confederate flag away from being mistaken for the General Lee – the Sixties Charger that inspired a generation of kids to dream of muscle cars.

Yet it’s not just old reruns where you’ll have seen the Challenger before. It’s been on sale since the late Noughties – an incredible run for any production car, but one which will be coming to an end this year. Lift the hood, and a Last Call plaque attests to the end of an era. EVs and hydrogen fuel cell cars have obvious merits, but they’ll never be as soulful as the instantly recognizable V8 burble most – though not all – Challengers emit.

The power and the glory. If the last sentence surprised you, we should briefly discuss the V6 engine that’s available with the Challenger. It produces 303 hp, can be configured with AWD and delivers the only decent gas mileage in the range.

Now let’s turn our attention to what really matters in a Challenger – a V8. There are several options, starting with a ‘cooking’ 372 hp engine in R/T models. This 5.7-liter unit gives way to a 6.4-liter 485 hp unit in the unfortunately named Scat Pack versions, while SRT models begin at 717 hp in Hellcat form.

Still not enough? You can have a 797 hp Redeye or 807 hp Super Stock or Jailbreak model. Super Stock can hit 60 in just over three seconds, while Widebody versions have 11-inch Pirelli tires that offer almost indecent amounts of grip. You’re unlikely to lose a quarter-mile race unless your opponent has a nitrous tank, though the burbling V8 soundtrack is equally intoxicating when you’re going easy with the right foot.

Could you live with one every day? That’s a good question, but the answer depends on your model configuration. The abundance of power generated by SRT models makes them impractical for daily use, with a punishing ride and a propensity to become lively in wet or greasy conditions. You certainly wouldn’t fancy doing the school run in a Challenger, especially given a safety report that cruelly betrays the car’s age. If you live in a northern state, AWD does make sense. R/T models could be a daily driver everywhere else because they’re generally comfortable and surprisingly hard to unstick in sedate driving.

A 116-inch wheelbase ensures the Challenger is a four-seater (despite the presence of five seat belts), though access to the rear requires acrobatics Bo and Luke would have been proud of. The front seats are very comfortable, and the 16.2 cu ft trunk is decent despite a small, awkwardly shaped aperture. Cabin storage is especially limited in the dark and claustrophobic rear with its tiny windows, though even front-seat occupants will struggle to find anywhere to put their phones.

2023 Dodge Challenger Interior

Decent equipment levels. The Challenger’s dash is heavily canted towards the driver, giving an oddly lopsided aesthetic from the flat rear bench. However, it ensures everything falls neatly to hand, including the T-bar for the smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission (a six-speed manual is also available, with a satisfyingly meaty change). The dash plastics are very much of the Noughties, but the infotainment system is more modern if you bypass the standard seven-inch screen and choose a model with an 8.4-inch display.

Safety is a weak point, with no automatic emergency braking; forward-collision warnings are only available as options, and not available at all on SRT models. Scat Pack Challengers benefit from Brembo brakes behind 20-inch wheels, though higher trims don’t offer much in the way of driver assistance. As was always the way with V8 muscle cars, it’s up to you get yourself out of trouble.

Final thoughts. We’ll assume you’ve read this far because you’re willing to buy a 15-year-old vehicle that’s soon to be deleted. You’re also willing to accept poor safety, awful fuel economy and limited storage. What you really want to know is which Challenger to buy, and the answer is simple – R/T. You could upgrade to the Scat Pack variant, but both models give you V8 thrills for under $50,000, allied to a modern infotainment system and incredible presence. These cars give seriously good rearview mirror.

If you want one last dalliance with the internal combustion engine, SRT models are glorious old-school fun, in both positive and negative ways. You’ll have a blast on a clear stretch of freeway in fine weather, but they’re only suitable as hobby cars – they’re not meant for daily commuting, the school run or grocery shopping. As a daily driver, we suspect the shine would wear off very quickly.

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