2018 Challenger New Car Test Drive
Dodge Challenger, Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro are three of a kind (never mind that in NASCAR it's the Mustang, Camaro and Toyota Camry, the latter front-wheel drive in production form).
The Mustang and Camaro are smaller, nimbler, and more graceful, so the Challenger can't run with them in the corners. But MoPar fans don't much care. They have the 707-horsepower SRT Hellcat, with its 6.2-liter supercharged V8. Megahorsepower can quickly make up for handling disadvantages.
And now, the SRT Demon joins the 2018 Challenger lineup. Try 840 horsepower and 770 pound-feet of torque. Why? Well, it's a factory production drag car, the fastest muscle car in history, offering acceleration from zero to sixty in 2.3 seconds, a quarter-mile time of 9.65 seconds, and a top speed of more than 200 miles per hour. It's the first production car that will do a wheelstand: 2.92 feet, as certified by Guinness World Records.
But wait, there's more. For 2018 there's another new model, the Hellcat Widebody. It gets fender flares, 20-inch aluminum wheels that are 11 inches wide, and 305/35ZR20 Pirelli tires.
The 2018 Challenger Hellcat gets a new grille and fender badges, so-called Air-Catcher headlamps with the Hellcat logo, and Demonic Red Laguna leather upholstery. New options include Brembo brake calipers painted black, orange and gunmetal; and a wheel finish called Matte Vapor.
Drive one of those, and you can sneer at Camaro and Mustang drivers.
There are more new performance upgrades and options for 2018, as well.
We would be here a long time, if we got into the details of all of the Challenger possibilities. There are no less than 16 models. Challenger SXT, SXT Plus, R/T, R/T Plus, R/T Shaker, R/T Plus Shaker, R/T Scat Pack, T/A, T/A Plus, T/A 392, GT AWD, 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker, SRT 392, SRT Hellcat, SRT Hellcat Widebody, and last but for sure not least, the SRT Demon.
Base engine in Challenger SXT is Chrysler's 3.6-liter V6 making 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque. The R/T uses a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with 375 horsepower and 410 pound-feet of torque. The R/T Scat Pack and SRT 392 use a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 making 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet. The Hellcat's supercharged 6.2-liter V8 makes 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque, and can do the quarter-mile in 11.2 seconds and reach a top speed of 199 mph.
Transmissions for the Challenger are an 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual. It depends on the model which one is standard, and which one is optional.
The V6 gets an EPA-rated 23 combined miles per gallon with the automatic (30 mpg highway), while the 5.7-liter V8 gets 18 mpg combined with the 6-speed manual and 19 mpg with the automatic. The manual needs premium fuel, while the automatic is okay with regular. That's because the engine mated to the manual gearbox is a bit more powerful.
In crash testing, the NHTSA gives Challenger five stars overall, with four stars for frontal collision and rollover. The IIHS gives top Good scores for moderate overlap front and side impacts, but only Marginal in the difficult small-overlap front collision test, with Acceptable grades for roof strength head restraint security. Automatic emergency braking isn't available on the Challenger.
The 2018 Dodge Challenger lineup ranges from the entry-level V6-powered SXT ($26,995) to the SRT Demon ($83,295). In between are the R/T with the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 ($33,495), and the T/A 392 with the 6.4-liter V8 ($38,995), and the Hellcat ($63,795).
Challenger SXT includes hound's-tooth cloth upholstery, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, rearview camera, power driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel, 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The infotainment and rearview camera are newly standard for 2018.
The Challenger GT is the all-season car, with all-wheel drive standard. It adds an 8.4-inch infotainment screen, heated and ventilated leather-upholstered seats, Alpine-branded audio, rear parking sensors, and more.
The R/T designation means hemi. Challenger R/T models get bigger wheels, brakes and a rear spoiler, among other things. The Shaker designation means a bulging hood with wide but relatively slim and restrained intake for the cold air induction. The 392 means 6.4 liters.
Challenger SRT models have things like HID headlamps with automatic high-beams, lightweight 20-inch aluminum wheels with grippy tires. Black cloth upholstery is standard, with regular or fancy Nappa leather available.
There are many options, either stand-alone or in packages, including LED headlamps and taillamps, synthetic suede upholstery, adaptive cruise control, a forward-collision warning system, blind-spot monitors, and cross-traffic alerts. For 2018 there are a quite a few new and miscellaneous equipment and trim upgrades and availabilities, to all the models. Things like optional Brass Monkey wheels on the SRT 392; optional red Brembo brake calipers on the R/T and R/T 392; a Performance Handling Package on 5.7-liter models with four-piston Brembo brakes and the high-performance suspension; and new F8 Green and IndiGO Blue colors, to add to the already eye-catching Plum Crazy.