The phrase “the end of an era” gets thrown around a lot in marketing and advertising because it sounds good and elicits a strong emotional response. Sometimes, however, it’s accurate and is the best way to describe the discontinuation of a product––this is one of those times. Dodge has announced that the 2023 model year for the Charger and Challenger will be the last time we see them in their current form. By current form, I mean internal combustion engine (ICE) models featuring powerful, rumbling powertrains that make the earth tremble in fear.
So what’s this last hurrah for the classic muscle car look like? Dodge recently showed off some of the features and details of the final model year for these two legends, and they’re certainly going out with a bang. Whether you’re thinking about buying one of these last models or you’re just curious about the transformation of the American muscle car, this is a big announcement that is sure to have a lot of people talking. Dodge didn’t just detail the end for these two models; they’ve also given us a first taste of what the future will look like.
Legacy of the Dodge Charger and Challenger
For many people, the Charger and Challenger are the quintessential muscle cars that define what we think of when it comes to this sort of beast. The Charger was introduced by Dodge in 1966 to compete with the Mustang and similar models. It was designed as an upscale option with nicer features than a lot of its competitors at the time. Since its first release, the Charger has been through seven generations, with a few gaps here and there when its production ended for a time, and has remained an important figure in the muscle car scene. The modern Charger is a four-door model that makes it unique in the sports car market, with powerful engines available.
Although Dodge first used the Challenger name in the late 1950s as a version of their Coronet, the modern Challenger muscle car came about for the 1970 model year. It was one of two models to use Chrysler’s E-body platform, the other being the Plymouth Barracuda. The Challenger was designed as a second competitor to take on the Mustang and similar muscle cars of the time and proved quite popular. While the Charger has been available more often than not, the Challenger has only had three generations and its longest run started with its current generation for the 2008 model year. It might not be quite as iconic as the Charger, but for any fans of modern muscle cars, it’s certainly been a familiar face in the market.
Going Out in Style
Recently, however, Dodge announced that both the Charger and the Challenger are coming to an end––at least in their current ICE form. The auto industry is going all-electric, with more models available every year. The shift toward trucks as battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) has recently begun alongside SUVs, and sports cars seem to be next. There’s been a lot of speculation and rumors about which models would be the first to blaze a trail into the all-electric future. Ford made a move with its Mustang Mach-E, but that’s an SUV, not their flagship pony car. We’ve heard a lot of mumbling about an EV version of the C8 Corvette––called the E-Ray––but so far, nothing has really materialized.
Dodge seems to be taking the lead here, at least in terms of committing to this course, and the result is that the 2023 model year for both the Charger and Challenger will be their last years as ICE vehicles. Whether you want to view it as a marketing ploy to drum up sales or a true celebration of an automotive icon, Dodge has announced big plans to ensure these two legends go out in style. They recently revealed the majority of their offerings for this final year, though at least one more announcement is set to come in November.
For starters, the 2023 Dodge models will be available in several heritage colors, along with one modern favorite. In their final years as ICE models, the Charger and Challenger will both be offered in B5 Blue, Plum Crazy purple, and Sublime green––three legacy colors that long-time Dodge fans are sure to love. Destroyer Grey, a modern color that was quite popular for several years, will also make a return for this last hurrah. In total, both models will be offered in 14 exterior colors, so fans looking to answer this “Last Call” can do so in a wide range of hues.
Unique Details and Options
In addition to this panoply of colors, all 2023 Charger and Challenger models will also have a “Last Call” plaque installed under the hood. This will be made from brushed aluminum and feature the name and silhouette of the vehicle, as well as “Designed in Auburn Hills” and “Assembled in Brampton,” celebrating the Canadian factory that has made more than three million Dodge vehicles since 2005. I’m a little surprised the plaques won’t include numbering, but perhaps that didn’t fit their vision.
For the 2023 model year, the SRT Jailbreak models for the Charger and Challenger will also be more jailbroken than ever. Full-color combination ordering will be available for these models, which will allow customers to fully customize an SRT Jailbreak model in whatever way they see fit––getting a monster of a car in exactly the way they want. We’ll have to see what else Dodge has cooking when they reveal the final option at the 2022 SEM Show in November.
Dodge Isn’t Going Anywhere
For anyone worried that this announcement in some way indicates Dodge is in rough shape, all signs point to them going stronger than ever. They ended 2021 on top of the muscle car game, and this push for a final ICE version of their two models will undoubtedly sell like crazy. In fact, to help their customers get these vehicles, all 2023 models will be allocated to dealerships at the same time, so their customers can more easily get the vehicle they want. They’re even providing a full list of which dealers will carry the 2023 Charger and Challenger through the Dodge Garage website.
When the new auto giant formed, Stellantis set a challenge for all of its brands to prove themselves over the next few years. Dodge has, so far, answered this call quite well, and this move marks a push toward the future, something that’s sure to please the Stellantis overlords. Besides, while announcing the end of the Charger and Challenger as we know them, Dodge also revealed a new option for the Durango and revealed an all-new Dodge Hornet model. They were also quick to tease something more…
The Future of the Dodge Charger
Although it was just a concept vehicle, Dodge revealed a Charger Daytona SRT as a BEV model virtually the same day they announced the end of the ICE lineup. The concept model looks gorgeous, with a “retro” design that immediately screams Dodge, though it was a two-door model more like the classic Charger than the modern four-door version. Everything about it looks stunning, and it blends the iconic style and looks of the 1968 Charger with modern interior features and amenities that drip with luxury and comfort.
It utilizes a new propulsion system: an 800V performance-focused system they call Banshee, set to go alongside other Dodge hallmarks like Hellcat and Redeye. This is joined by a new eRupt multi-speed transmission that features electro-mechanical shifting to deliver distinct shifting points, feeling more like a traditional Dodge shifting through gears. It even has a PowerShot push-to-pass feature that lets you push a button on the steering wheel for a burst of horsepower and acceleration. Perhaps most remarkably, this BEV was fitted with an exhaust that amplifies the sound of its performance into an audio and tactile experience designed to please muscle car fans. No real info was given about its performance, but since this could become a reality as a 2024 model, we should get more details and some numbers next year.
Sad and Exciting Things Are Happening
It is sad to see the era of the loud muscle car coming to an end with the discontinuation of ICE models like the Challenger and Charger. While it is exciting to see these companies taking serious moves to improve their lines with electric options, there is something special about having a roaring engine under the hood. It’s going to be interesting to watch the evolution of the new Challenger and Charger EV models and how the industry responds to the change. I, for one, can’t wait, and I’m curious to see if Ford or Chevy will respond to this news sometime soon.