The Dodge Challenger is nearly old enough to start driver's ed in some states, and it doesn't have a firm grasp on the increasingly crucial concept of downsizing, yet it beat the odds to become the most popular American two-door model during the third quarter of 2019. Its ballooning sales figures suggest buyers don't always want the latest, most advanced car they can get their hands on.
Dodge sold 18,031 examples of the Challenger during the third quarter of 2019, a shocking 21% increase over the same period in 2018. It's a true muscle car, normally sardined in the same can as the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang, a pair of smaller, nimbler two-doors that are much closer to the historic definition of a pony car. Semantics aside, the Mustang finished on the second spot of the sales podium with 16,823 sales, a 12.3% drop compared to the third quarter of 2018, and the Camaro took third with 12,275 sales, a 15% dip that alarmingly comes in the wake of two redesigns.
More specific sales figures aren't available. We don't know what percentage of the sales mix V8s represent, or whether buyers prefer manual or automatic transmissions.
The scoreboard looks different when we examine 2019's year-to-date figures. The Mustang takes first place with 55,365 sales, followed by the Challenger at 46,699, and the Camaro at 36,791. While the Challenger's recent ascent is encouraging, it can't mask the fact that two-door models no longer enjoy a favorable tailwind, and the entire segment — not just the American entries — is declining. The aforementioned year-to-date figures are down by 10.1, 11, and 7.6 percent, respectively.
The third-quarter statistics revealed a handful of other surprises unrelated to the world of performance. Dodge notably sold three examples of the Dart, a sedan it hasn't built since 2016. That's a 93% drop compared to the 45 units that found a home during the third quarter of 2018.