Inside all of us somewhere is a teenager that would love to sit at a stoplight and rev the engine in a well-oiled machine, tempting the car in the next lane to try to out-gun you. Owning a Dodge Challenger is like satisfying that inner teenager, but unlike the Ford Mustang and the Chevy Camaro, it has a back seat large enough to actually use, and a trunk you would expect in a sedan. Sitting in the cockpit of a Challenger harkens back to the days when muscle cars ruled the road and folks parked at drive-ins to be served by people on roller skates, but with a decidedly modern twist. If you’re typing “used cars near me” in search of a vehicle, why not live on the wilder side and consider a Dodge Challenger?
All silliness aside, the Challenger is more than just a muscle car. Go into car forums, and you can find threads loaded with people who have bought Challengers raving about the reliability of this car. It runs with few needs for repairs, it holds value, and it can even come with all-wheel drive if you happen upon the right trim. You might think a Dodge Challenger would be thirsty with a massive engine under the hood, but unless you buy one with a supercharged V8, the fuel economy for the V6 engine can best many an SUV with a weaker engine, even with all-wheel drive. Just for giggles, let’s take a deeper look at what buying a used 2018 Challenger could mean for your life.
First, the Powertrain
The list of engine options for the Dodge Challenger is sizable. Base models come standard with the Pentastar 3.6-liter V6, making haste with 305 hp and 268 lb-ft of torque. Fuel efficiency for this V6 is rather good at 19 MPG in the city and 30 MPG on the highway. Paired to the Pentastar engine are an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. Bumping up to the GT will mean the same engine, but with the option for all-wheel drive. This is the only trim offering all-wheel drive as an option.
Further up the scale in trims, the next engine option found on the RT is the 5.7-liter V8 Hemi, which tears out 372 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque in the eight-speed automatic, or 375 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque with the six-speed manual. Fuel efficiency is 16 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway with the automatic, and 15 and 23 with the manual.
Next up is the 6.4-liter V8 Hemi engine, which blasts up to 485 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque, also paired with the same transmission options. Fuel efficiency for this powerhouse is 15 MPG in the city and 25 MPG on the highway for the automatic, and 14 and 23 for the manual. Finally, the Hellcat rolls out the most powerful engine available on the Challenger trims with the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that shreds out a hair-burning 707 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque, along with frying whatever roads you leave in your wake. Metaphorically speaking, of course. Does it matter what fuel efficiency it gets? Sadly, it eats fuel more like a truck at 13 MPG in the city and 22 MPG on the highway for the automatic, or 13 and 21 for the manual.
The Muscular Exterior
Truly, this car is made to show off its inner beast. With its wide stance, long hood, and clean lines, the Challenger isn’t fancy, but it flexes even standing still. If fortune smiles on you at the dealership lot where such a gleaming beauty may be waiting for you to snag into your possession, you might find one with hood scoops to make you swoon. Even the lights are cool without being too over the top, with old-school round headlights in the front counterbalanced by a long straight line of tail lights across the back. It’s almost like going from past to present in the same car.
Dark-tinted windows will add to the mystique of who might be riding in the rear seats, and the high-sided doors of the coupe style body make even the front seat passengers only visible from the neck up. Though the Challenger has been accused of having large rear pillars which inhibit visibility, that is easily remedied with the rearview camera. Other than backing up, once you hit the gas you won’t have to worry about what’s behind you.
Fun features you will find standard from the base trim are 18-inch wheels, LED daytime running and brake lights, halogen headlights, keyless entry, and heated wing mirrors. Optional features like a powered sunroof, foglights, sport-tuned suspension, active sport exhaust, Brembo performance brakes, or xenon headlights could all be additions you find on different trims. Even the base trim will look slick as you drive down the street, though, and you won’t feel a lack of delight when you step into the garage to the sight of it.
A Sleek Modern Interior
Inside the 2018 Challenger, modern life will meet you on the sporty houndstooth bucket seats that you definitely won’t mind sitting in for hours while you drive. Even the base-level Challengers come with spectacular amounts of tech and creature comforts like Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, powered front seats, parking distance sensors, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, dual-zone climate control, split-folding rear seat, and a seven-inch touchscreen in the dash.
The Challenger actually seats five comfortably, even for adults riding in the rear. Speaking of rear-seat riders, Dodge provides LATCH system anchors for child safety seats. Yes, the Challenger can serve as a family car, and you could be the coolest mom at the school drop-off. Without rear doors, you won’t have to worry about the kids opening doors and cracking the car in the next parking spot, and the Challenger has plenty of safety features and airbags to cushion any impacts that could happen.
In upper trims or with added packages, the Challenger options get almost dizzying. There are too many trim levels to list, but they involve things like wireless charging, ventilated leather seats, an 18-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, a heated steering wheel, automatic high beams, and automatic wipers. Included in the list of wildly outrageous upgrades in trims is the Hellcat, which has probably flattened many a passenger to the back of a seat when the pedal hits the metal. “Blistering” speed is a term often used to describe the most powerful Challenger available for purchase by us ordinary citizens. The Demon is reserved for the elite drivers who can only take that monster out on an oval-shaped road.
The Closing Argument
Before delivering the final words of wisdom for why the Dodge Challenger should be your next used car, one word of caution should be offered: beware the lure of speed. You may be tempted to roar across straightaways at higher speeds than are recommended by the law. This is the one potential drawback of owning such a powerful vehicle, particularly those as untamed as the Hellcat. Consider yourself warned. Otherwise, the Challenger not only looks good, it has all the modern conveniences you could ever need, is comfortable even with five riders, and has trunk space no other sports car even considers. Driving a Challenger is nothing short of giddy, and the challenge is probably to keep yourself from laughing in glee while you’re behind the wheel.
There’s no time like the present to start searching for your used Dodge Challenger. You’ll save money on the depreciated new car while still gaining the convenience of modern technology and safety features. Rather than buy a classic muscle car, have a modern one that’s lightly used so you can plug in your smartphone to play your favorite tunes and use your voice-activated system to navigate to your next destination. Route 66 might be a good place to start.