By on June 28, 2018

While Fiat Chrysler may share its bed with the Italians and has factories all over the planet, it maintains several of the most unapologetically American brands in existence. It’s difficult to imagine someone purchasing Ram or Jeep products without having a soft spot for the United States and it’s flat-out impossible to envision a Dodge owner who doesn’t have a glovebox full of American flags and a handgun.

Whether or not that represents reality (it doesn’t) is irrelevant, because purchasing these brands means buying into that image to some degree — unless you bought a Dodge Journey.

A large part of the American experience, at least historically, is excess. In the car world that means size, which is everything. Bigger cars, bigger engines, bigger numbers, bigger noises. While most domestic manufacturers followed this recipe fairly closely over the last 10 years, Dodge seems obsessed with it. The company keeping the muscle car legacy alive and continues attempting to raise the bar beyond what seems sane. It’s absolutely wonderful. 

Whereas Ford still offers the Mustang, the full-sized Taurus is slated for the scrap heap — which means no more SHO. Chevrolet still has the Camaro but the SS sedan was discontinued for the 2017 model year. Meanwhile, Dodge’s Charger and Challenger have collectively mustered enough sales to rationalize their continued existence.

Part of that longevity could be attributed to Dodge’s image. Even thought only a tiny fraction of its total production volume includes tire-shredding, supercharged missiles, base and mid-tier models still benefit from the same aggressive presence and enough horsepower to make a genuine scene.

However, the Charger and Challenger are still throwbacks riding on an old platform. They’re massive, rear-wheel-drive sedans offering an array of increasingly powerful engines and a lot of comfort for a competitive price. But that honestly doesn’t sound all that bad — especially when FCA is willing to offer modern fuel-saving technologies, luxury items, and all-wheel drive to offset the myriad of performance upgrades coming from the higher trims.

“Despite a shift toward utility vehicles in the United States over the past decade, the Dodge Charger and Challenger continue to buck the trend,” said Steve Beahm, head of FCA’s passenger car brands. “Charger and Challenger retail sales have increased 70 percent since 2008, and since the launch of Scat Pack in August 2014, high-performance model sales increased from 4 percent to more than 25 percent. Charger is on track to lead the large car segment in the United States for the fifth straight year in 2018, and we intend to keep that string alive by updating the product to deliver the performance and capability that our customers demand.”

We’ve already announced the new hyper-aggressive, 797-horsepower variant of the SRT Challenger Hellcat coming for 2019, which Dodge calls the Redeye. But “lesser” models gain some trickle-down upgrades as well. For starters, the normal Hellcat — if it can even be called that — now offers 717 horsepower. That’s 10 more than last year. Other upgrades include a double nostril hood reminiscent of some of the wildest vintage Mopars ever made.

The Charger Hellcat persists with the old 707-horsepower 6.2-liter Hemi but adds some tech upgrades enthusiasts are sure to love. They include launch assist (which uses sensors to watch for driveline-damaging wheel hop at launch and grip optimization), a line lock for burnouts, an after-run chiller for the supercharger, and a torque reserve launch system that mimics the one on the Demon.

Meanwhile, the Challenger R/T Scat Pack gains the widebody kit we’ve all clamored for since seeing it on the Hellcat. That means more room for bigger and badder tires, which includes anything that will fit on the 20×11-inch Mopar Devil’s Rims. The kit adds 3.5 inches to the standard Scat Pack footprint.

All Scat Packs are powered by a naturally aspirated 392 Hemi V8 that cranks out 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque, mated to a TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission. For 2019, the package adds launch assist and line lock. On the Charger variant, Dodge has also added the new performance grille with dual air inlets from the old SRT Hellcat and replaced the R/T badge with a Scat Pack bee. A “Dark Dub Plate” instrument panel and houndstooth cloth performance seat (also with Scat Pack bee logo) are newly standard. Dual Carbon stripes, a satin hood and Bilstein three-mode adaptive damping suspension have been added as available options.

Starting below $40,000, the souped-up, Scat Pack Charger seems like a bargain. But not everyone has that kind of cash to dump into a daily driver. Fear not, Dodge’s madness continues moving downmarket.

Rear-drive Challenger R/T and GT models all receive a high-performance suspension as standard for 2019. There is also a separate handling package for the GT that hooks you up with Brembo brakes, a beefier rear sway bar, and wider 20 x 9-inch wheels. This is all available on the R/T as well but its package also comes with more serious sway bars, Bilstein shocks, upgraded springs, bushings, and mounts. Want more? The “Performance Plus” package adds 20 x 9.5-inch forged wheels with 275/40ZR20 Pirelli P-Zero tires and a limited-slip differential.

Back on the Charger side of things, both the 370-hp R/T and 300-hp GT models get upgraded performance suspensions as standard, as well some visual upgrades and new paint options. Practically everything in the lineup also comes with an available cold weather package, which adds a heated steering wheel and heated cloth driver and passenger seats.

There’s more. In fact, Dodge seems intent on offering a ludicrous amount of options and configurations for these cars, but that covers the big stuff. The only thing that really seems to be missing is an option to trim some of the vehicle’s weight. However, if you’re really serious about turning one of these cars into a track-focused monster, you’ll probably buy a widebody Scat Pack or Hellcat and rip out the interior yourself.

[Images: FCA]

 

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46 Comments on “Trickle-down Madness: The 2019 Dodge Charger/Challenger Lineup...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    To quote Professor Farnsworth: “Good news everyone!”

    I was hoping these would hang around long enough for my next vehicle purchase and they will.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      “I was hoping these would hang around long enough for my next vehicle purchase …”

      If the mountain will not fly to Mohammad then Mohammad must fly to the mountain, and all that jazz.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      +1 – I am thinking about a sedan for my next purchase, and the Charger R/T Scat Pack has my name written all over it.

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    My current R/T might wear our faster than I thought…

  • avatar
    kkop

    Time to trade in our beloved 2012 R/T Challenger DD for a Scat Pack I think :-)

  • avatar
    legacygt

    With all the intro about the influences of Italy and America at Chrysler, there is not mention of Germany which is where the bones of these cars come from. Underneath each is a little bit of E-Class from the early 2000s. Still, these cars are the best example of a brand making the most out of what it has. It has an aging but solid RWD platform. It’s not supposed to underpin a mainstream American sedan. It’s not supposed to underpin a pony car. But here it is doing both of those things and dong it well. Want your pony car with AWD? You’re getting a Challenger. Want your pony car with a real back seat and useful trunk? You’re getting a challenger. Want ridiculous power? Hellcat. These cars may not win every comparison. They may not be perfect. But they’re awfully good and answer some questions that other cars can’t. That they’ve been able to do so much with so little makes you wonder what’s going on elsewhere in the company. Why do we still not have a 3 row Jeep? Why are there only 2 Chrysler vehicles?

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Yes, before we get six million comments on it, this is not the newest platform in the game.

    However, it is a complete democratization of HP and performance. A European can with similar performance may have newer and 0.002% stiffer chassis, but the price tag is going to be in the six-figure range.

    These are MUSCLE cars, and they are everything right about American cars.

    • 0 avatar
      baconator

      Darn right. Of the Big 3’s trio of pony cars, the Challenger is the only one that I’d write a check for. The Mustang and Camaro post great performance numbers, but they’re at least 500 pounds too heavy to be satisfying sports cars. Whereas the Challenger is great at being exactly what it claims to be: A powerful, fast, and comfortable American car that you can drive cross-country.

      An SRT 392 will give you 485 horses and a six-speed for basically the price of a 3-series BMW. I’ll take mine in Plum Crazy with the black interior.

      • 0 avatar
        geozinger

        @baconator: I’m with you. I love the new ponycars in general. They’re no longer one-trick ponies, but the Camaro and Mustang leave me a bit cold. I don’t know why as I’ve owned ‘Stangs and F-bodies in the past and enjoyed them.

        Is it the nostalgia factor? Is it the fact that it’s probably the best retro car? Is it the value proposition? Maybe all of these…

  • avatar
    Sub-600

    Matt, I own a R/T but I don’t have a handgun or any American flags in my glovebox. I also didn’t buy into any image, I’ve been regularly purchasing Chrysler or FCA products since 1979. This is almost as ludicrous as your recent assertion that there are several Dodge Challengers sporting “Buy American” bumper stickers. Do you have a problem with Dodge, the U.S., muscle cars, or all three? I suggest you enjoy these cars for what they are while you can, it won’t be long before these badges will end up on a CUV.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Nah not a crossover but an itty bitty Alfa platform that only has room for a turbo 4 or turbo 6. That is what I fear for the next generation of these nameplates.

      And the 300 will go to a Pacifica platform so it can be an Avalon clone.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        You mean like the 300 was before it was a 2005 300c– and when Chrysler had options for people that didn’t want to scream some radicalized POV?

        Like when people could drive a Chrysler and be a bit elegant about it– rather than to be pidgeonholed a gun-toting, vaping– flat-billed cap, Vin Diesel-a-like by internet bloggers that need to speak out about such things?

        Sign me up.

        My Dodge Dart(now riding on Pirelli tires– since, you know– we aren’t all poverty peeps dodging a repo man, yo yo yo) is simply an affordable, efficient car. It isn’t overstyled or boring. It isn’t a civic, nor is it a Jetta.

        It’s the exact car anyone should picture when they’re asked to think of an everyday car from 2015– splitting the difference between boring and stylish.

        It’s classically-styled for it’s era, and I’ll take my leave of y’all now. Got guns and ‘Murican flags to count.

    • 0 avatar
      "scarey"

      I absolutely agree, Sub. Who would keep their American flags in the glovebox ? A roscoe, sure, but not my flags.
      P.S.- Thank God for Dodge.

    • 0 avatar
      fn2drive

      Well then surely you must have a redneck or have married your first cousin.

      Note to author-Let’s leave the stereotyping and unsubstantiated bigotry where it belongs. It is simply ignorant.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    I hope that widebody kit on the Scat Pack is optional, because I want no part of it. I just want a bee logo on my Challenger.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    Well, a 10 year old model on a 30 year old platform has to do something to stay relevant. I am not really a fan of the cars but do like that they represent relatively inexpensive speed at perhaps the cost of a portly curb weight. Its been a while since I have been in one, but as I recall the Charger suffers from “huge on the outside, not that big on the inside” syndrome. But I suppose it is in good company in that regard.

    Despite the flaws, I do see the appeal. Although, even fans have to wish on some level that these cars would see a new model emerge at some point. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s going to happen….ever. So I suppose that is my largest grievance against them. If you buy, your car will be an orphan, its just a matter of time.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I used to complain about the weight on these cars too, but pretty much everything’s a porker these days. Go look at what an M5 or an E63 weighs, and you won’t feel so bad about the Dodge that costs 40 grand less.

      • 0 avatar
        Flipper35

        Go check out the weight of a Veyron if you want to see a porker in its class. You would think they would be in the ‘vette/Viper weight range for the money, but they are the same as a V8 Challenger.

        • 0 avatar
          thegamper

          Yeah, I am sometimes shocked at how much a certain vehicle weighs. It may not be outlandish weight for a vehicle in the segment, but when you look at vehicles that weigh significantly less and have basically the same mission, just makes me think that it weights more than it needs to. Just another way of cost cutting really.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      The LX/LY was developed by Chrysler in the 2000s and a few suspension bits came from the E class after it was greenlighted by Daimler Chrysler, despite what internet rumors and moronic salesmen may have you believe.

      It has no competitor domestically and anything comparable from Germany will make the FCA cars look like 1990s Toyotas reliability wise.

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        Don’t forget that Chryler’s improvements to those parts back-fed into DaimlerChrysler and helped the next generation of E/S-Class cars become more refined.

        Let’s all commit to telling the story of the original ML-Class vehicle, and the versions that came after Chrysler’s folks fixed that mess EVERY time we’re parroted the w210/LX nonsense.

  • avatar
    redapple

    Love these 2.

    May need to get a Challenger with the 392.

  • avatar
    TheDoctorIsOut

    The one thing you really got to love about Dodge’s remaining auto offsprings Is they are clearly and unabashedly American. No aspirations to European luxury or handling, no competing with Asian econosedans in this showroom. While Lincoln shows signs of understanding this, Cadillac is still a confused mess of products that tries to have a foot in both camps and succeeded in either, unless you count the XTS which may be the only true Cadillac there really is. Hope the Dodges stick around in modernized form one way or another for a long time to come.

    • 0 avatar
      TheDoctorIsOut

      “…and succeeded in neither.”

      • 0 avatar
        Tele Vision

        Americans have no aspirations of handling; luxury; or economy?

      • 0 avatar
        SSJeep

        Disagreed. I have driven both of the above. The Challenger and Charger in their top trim are very nice inside and have some stellar technology packages including collision detection/mitigation, lane keeping, radar cruise, 1000 watt multimedia, etc… To get that in any European performance sedan, costs will at least double and maintenance costs will go up 5x. Sure, the Euro interior may be a bit more luxurious but it is not worth the extra cash outlay.

    • 0 avatar

      The main difference is that Cadillac has strong Chinese sales and won’t go extinct like Chrysler. Cadillac also has pride in their engineering. Sergio has stripped Chrysler of its pride and forced it to use rebadge Fiat platforms. Ok, these muscles cars are based on German platforms, but you get the general idea.

      It is not even worth having a Chrysler deadwatch since it is already pretty much dead.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    I’d like to submit: “driving while Dodge” to the modern American lexicon.

    Because fsk if my entire adult life hasn’t been spent trying to prove to the world I’m more.

    It’s just not ok.

    Maybe Jay and Bey could dance ethnically in front of a Mopar store to reclaim and destigmatize this one.

    • 0 avatar
      TwoBelugas

      what are you trying to prove to the world if you are happy with your own life?

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        A man that’s been marginalized by a single facet of his existence needn’t beg nor to defend his position to prove his humanity. He was human before that was questioned.

        No amount of walking-it-back makes this okay.

        “just kidding– I don’t think you’re trash like I just said you were– only some of the people like you are that way– why would you need to defend yourself if you’re not?!”

        It’s baiting, it’s an ism– and it’s not okay. It needs to stop.

  • avatar
    Dan

    I’m going to buy a Challenger – Vanishing Point white, maybe the 392 just because even though the RT is already plenty – before the run ends but I’m happy to put it off for another few years so I’m glad that FCA is in no hurry either.

    I hope that “standard high performance suspension” is marketing speak for “justify the 2019 price hike” because these cars need a stiffer suspension like they need a FWD option. The Super Track Pack car that I test drove turned an extraordinary cruiser into a really mediocre sports car. When I buy mine the first thing that’s going on are 18″ wheels with actual rubber on them and the stupid dubs are going directly to craigslist.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      That was my reaction too. Give it the hi-po motor sure, but keep the livable comfy suspension and tires with a bit of sidewall. I love these LX twins, I just wish the Charger seats were shaped better to feel more like you sit “in” them than “on” them. I test drove an SXT Charger with the pentastar and 8 speed and was mightily impressed by both the power train and ride/handling. With our roads, the base suspension and wheel/tire setup is just the ticket. I too would like a Challlenger in a basic color without the splitter doo dads or graphics, just the basic V8 and meaty tires.

  • avatar
    mike978

    How does Dodge cope with the manufacturing complexity of offering 8 spec levels, multiple standalone options on most specs and 12 colors? Unless you are ordering one, it makes finding the one you want at a dealer nearly impossible – example now is finding a Scat Pack Charger, with optional beats stereo, optional leather/suede seats and optional nav, in a color I like – so many combination possibilities.

    • 0 avatar
      ptschett

      I’ve bought 4 Mopars since 2005, and the only one that was on a lot and able to be adjusted with dealer-install accessories to meet my requirements was my 2010 Challenger R/T (which needed just satellite radio).
      The 2005 Dakota and its replacement the 2017 Ram 1500 were pretty much never not going to be special orders due to my choices conflicting with how local dealers usually ordered their pickups, and the 2015 Challenger R/T that replaced the 2010 was an order because the only already-built car that the dealer could find through the system that otherwise met my specifications had the sunroof that I didn’t want.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      So you’re upset that you have too many options? Go to a dealer, see one you like? Buy it, if you can live without something they didn’t order, or with something you didn’t want. Or just order one. I shopped Challengers once, and when I told the dealer what I wanted he found something acceptable at another dealer. You have a lot of options.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      So you’re upset that you have too many options? Go to a dealer, see one you like? Buy it, if you can live without something they didn’t order, or with something you didn’t want. Or just order one. I shopped Challengers once, and when I told the dealer what I wanted he found something acceptable at another dealer. You have a lot of options.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I had a hell of a time finding a car I wanted, in any color I wanted, without a sunroof. I found perfect match after match, in “Destroyer Grey”, or White, etc, but finding one in one of the colors I wanted to required a dealer swap and it took a couple of tries to get the car I would take before it got sold out from under the dealer before he could finalize a deal. I wanted, in order, a Yellow Jacket, TorRed, Octane Red, or Plum Crazy R/T Scatpack, with leather, Dynamics Package, A8, and either upgraded stereo, and no sunroof, no stripes, Shaker, T/A, etc, and they are like finding a diamond in your back yard around Toledo. Go up to Michgan, there they are, Mid Ohio, there they are. I don’t get it. If I went with one of the colors I hate, the local had sunroofs, the base stereo, cloth interior, or were a manual, or they were one of the “special” models like the T/A. I loved the original T/A, but the new one I really just hate, and the Shaker is $2000 more for what? In a strange way, the first car I found after I started seriously looking online, is the one I ended up with Sat morning:

      https://imagizer.imageshack.com/v2/640x480q90/924/nCAGtw.jpg

  • avatar

    Sergio the-destroyer has pretty much gutted Chrysler’s engineering so there is a uncertain future for these muscle cars. After 20 years of Daimler and Fiat rule is Chrysler even capable of platform engineer on their own? They used to be pretty good at it. Sometimes I wonder what is the point of Chrysler even being around.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    Wow, that’s a lot of Mopar Pron!

    I have so many competing wants. I want a Challenger T/A, a Pacifica hybrid and a Chevy Volt. (I know, what a mix…)

    I guess the good news is, I will probably be able to get a new Chally T/A in about five more years when I’m ready…

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    That’s just a bucket full of awesome. Looking forward to my next Charger rentals.

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