By on December 21, 2018

2018 Dodge Challenger GT AWD

2018 Dodge Challenger GT AWD

3.6-liter V6 (305 horsepower @ 6,350 rpm; 268 lb-ft @ 4,800 rpm)

Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

18 city / 27 highway / 21 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)

12.8 city, 8.7 highway, 11.0 combined. (NRCan Rating, L/100km)

Base Price: $33,495 (U.S) / $41,240 (Canada)

As Tested: $38,965 (U.S.) / $44,195 (Canada)

Prices include $1,095 destination charge in the United States. Canadian pricing for freight, PDI, and A/C tax is unavailable. Because of cross-border equipment differences, pricing can’t be directly compared.

At one point during my time with the 2018 Dodge Challenger GT, I fired it up and shook my head.

“That can’t be right,” I thought. “It sounds like a V8, but the GT is a V6.”

Which it is – all-wheel drive GT models are powered by a 3.6-liter V6 making 305 horsepower and 268 lb-ft of torque. No V8 on offer here.

Yet, the V6 has a bit of the aural aura of a V8, if not the acceleration.

Two hundred and sixty-eight lb-ft of torque doesn’t seem like enough for a car that weighs over two tons, and you do miss the extra grunt of the V8 Challengers. But it’s still enough for around-town cut and thrust – enough that if you’re willing to forego cruise-night cool points and you don’t need our lady of blessed acceleration on the regular, this version of the Challenger is just fine.

Back in the day, cars like these were referred to as “insurance beaters” or slapped with the sexist label of secretary’s cars. Today’s base-engine pony cars are more than that, though. They are both performance bargains and commuter-friendly editions of iconic sports performers.

2018 Dodge Challenger GT AWD

Adding all-wheel drive to the mix doesn’t seem to alter the Challenger experience all that much. While Dodge has improved the model’s handling incrementally over each passing year – to the point that the big-power trims are relatively track friendly – the Challenger will never not feel large and heavy, not as long as it continues to exist on its current platform. It’s more spry than it used to be (unlike most of us), but that’s not its best trait.

Like its big brothers, the Challenger GT succeeds best at acceleration, and sounding cool while so doing. Its second-best trait is the interior – although Challenger interiors across all trims are starting to get long in the tooth from a design perspective, the size of the cabin remains appreciated. That’s one of the benefits of sharing a platform with the Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 sedans.

[Get new and used Dodge Challenger pricing here!]

Another benefit is that the Challenger is a pleasant highway cruiser – it feels more like a large sedan than a low-level muscle car. Again, there are reasons why the V6 versions are commuter cars – and a lower price and higher fuel economy are also part of the bargain. So, too, is a more relaxed (relatively speaking) ride.

2018 Dodge Challenger GT AWD

There’s not a whole lot new for 2018 – most of the news is limited to the availability of 19-inch wheels.

That’s no shock – while Dodge sometimes brings about big updates for the more-powerful versions, as it did this year, the overall Challenger milieu remains fairly constant over time.

Which is fine. The exterior styling has aged well, interior materials are acceptable for the price, and you get decent available content. Among those goodies: adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, blind-spot detection, rear cross-traffic detection, remote start, leather steering wheel, premium audio, navigation, and UConnect infotainment. These features were all part of various packages – standard equipment includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, fog lamps, heated and cooled front seats, heated steering wheel, satellite radio, and dual-zone climate control.

Starting sticker price is $33,495, and the options packages brought it up to $38,965, plus $1,095 destination.

2018 Dodge Challenger GT AWD

You end up with a respectably performing muscle car that isn’t as fire-breathing as its brethren, but still has enough guts to allow you to have some fun. It will also be a tad easier to drive in snow (although we all know tires are the real key), and it won’t lighten your wallet as much.

Yeah, the V8s are more fun. A hell of a lot more fun. The V6 may be a logical value choice, but logic and value don’t often matter with muscle cars. Still, if you can live without the extra cylinders, the V6 will work just fine.

[Images © 2018 Tim Healey/TTAC]

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57 Comments on “2018 Dodge Challenger GT AWD Review – Maybe You Don’t Need a V8...”


  • avatar
    JimC2

    “our lady of blessed acceleration”

    I thought it was perpetual acceleration?

    EIther way, great reference to slip inside an article about a fast Mopar!

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Local Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, RAM dealer has a white 2018 Charger GT sitting on the lot. Been sitting there a while and I anticipate it will continue to sit a bit.

    Around here the V6 models get snatched up by the people who want to have a big car for a cheap price – lots of bare bones AoB ones get sold. They might invest a little more money in some RIMZ to try to look cool but that’s about it.

    The V8 guys want nothing to do with a V6 model regardless of options or AWD etc.

    I’m just wanting an all-weather commuter and family road trip car. However I know myself well enough to see me thinking “woulda, shoulda, coulda” if I got anything less than an R/T if I were to pull the trigger on a Charger/Challenger.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      Yeah, I drove a neighbor’s Challenger GT just to see if I could have lived with it. I’m sure I could have, but I wanted the car that replaced my ’10 R/T(which I really liked) to be exactly what I wanted, no compromises, and that was the Scatpack “narrowbody” I ended up with. No regrets, it amuses the hell out of me every time I drive it. The fuel economy hit compared to the R/T is almost zero, and in every way it’s better, inside and out. In my apartment complex, there are two Challenger GT’s and a Charger R/T, along with my Scatpack, a couple of older Charger R/T’s, the Rams, and several 300’s, there are a lot of RWD and AWD Mopars there. I get a lot of, “I wish I could have your car” type comments from neighbors, and from a lot of other people.

  • avatar
    carguy67

    re: “… slapped with the sexist label of secretary’s cars …”

    “… slapped with the label of administrative assistants’ cars …”

    Not sexist anymore.

  • avatar
    Gedrven

    I wonder if in the 30’s, it was just as common (and obnoxious) a meme to say “Coulda had the V12”?

    Thank you for at least mentioning the weight, but it really deserves a higher (or any, at this point) spot in the spec sheet than, say, the RPM of peak power. 1867kg or 4108lb. Porky.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      V16

      • 0 avatar
        Gedrven

        I thought about that, but a V16 was pretty exotic even back then; I doubt anyone was cross-shopping with a plebian 8-cylinder. At any rate, a cursory glance suggests V16 engines weren’t an option, but the sole offering in their chassis (all… two of them: Cadillac 452 and Marmon Sixteen, plus a one-off Peerless and a few racecars).

  • avatar
    ajla

    “performance bargains”

    On the Camaro and Mustang I’d agree. A Camaro V6 can do high 13s while the base turbo versions are fairly quick out of the box and you can apply some *Mad TunZ, YO* to make them legitimately fast. Plus they both have some serious handling prowess these days.

    On the Pentastar LX cars, I don’t know. Their performance is on the plus side of acceptable, but they are really more for people that just want to cruise in comfort and have some style to go with it.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      A 12 second car, which any of the 392 engine cars are, isn’t “legitimately fast” to you? The Scat pack and others handle pretty well. They won’t keep up with one of the higher end Mustangs and Camaros, but they aren’t far behind, and look a hell of a lot better than either of them, and are more usable as a daily driver for sure.

  • avatar
    Steve Biro

    Challenger GT with no options or base Mustang with turbo four and manual transmission with no options?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Challenger GT interior is a step up from a BASE V6 Challenger – just FYI.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      Two completely different cars and missions. If you want a comfortable coupe for lazy cruising, the Challenger is your best bet. If you want something more fun, and are less worried about comfort, Mustang all day.

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        I have a soft spot for Mustangs and always have, but I know that I couldn’t live with it as a daily driver and my only vehicle. It’s just too cramped, and I’m average sized.

        I’ve driven my friend’s 2017 Mustang GT a couple times and enjoyed it enough, but I recognize my driving style would ne wasted in it. A lazy boulevard cruiser would suit me fine.

        I had a 300 for a time and found it to be extremely comfortable once the lumbar support was dialed down.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    As an R/T owner and someone who is around a LOT of LX cars from base up to Hellcats…there’s not a chance in hell that ANYONE can mistake the exhaust note of the pentastar V6 for any V8.

    NO.
    CHANCE.

    That said, the 3.6 is a good motor for the casual LX owner. The V6 cars can’t keep up with the Hemis but they aren’t slugs by any means. Not everyone wants or can afford to feed and insure the Hemi and that’s ok. The V6 LX is still an economical everyday car that is practical yet doesn’t force you to downgrade to some soulless fwd eco-blob. Truth is, without these V6 cars pulling yeoman duty to make the volume, the Hemi cars wouldn’t likely have a business case. It’s a win-win.

    • 0 avatar
      Tim Healey

      I said it sounded like A V8, not the Hemis. It really does sound good for a V6.

    • 0 avatar
      MoparRocker74

      You guys are reading something into my statement that isn’t there. I said a this motor sounds nothing like a V8. I did NOT say that it was unpleasant. A V6 just ‘can’t’ have the same inherent note as a V8…the acoustics and harmonics are all wrong. Arguably one of the best V6 exhaust notes was the GM 60 degree V6s with that raspy snarl. It definitely sounds ‘good’…but anyone who’s paying attention can immediately tell that it’s not the same sound a V8 has. Period.

      P-Dan: one of my buddys has a 3.6 Challenger and he’s done pretty extensive exhaust upgrades including aftermarket downpipes, true duals, Flowmaster 44’s, and no resonators. It has the deepest sound of any V6 Challenger I’ve heard. It’s aggressive without being ricey. But you immediately know it’s a V6.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I had the local muffler shop slap a performance muffler on my Highlander but only because I was irritated that the V6 was quieter standing outside the vehicle than a 4 cyl RAV4.

        Ended up sounding like a 60s British roadster. Definitely an audio/visual disconnect now. But certainly more interesting than trying to sound like nothing.

      • 0 avatar
        MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

        I can tell a V6 with exhaust mods from a mile away, literally. I’m sure if I had one I’d mod it, too, but often it just sounds like they are trying too hard.
        ASIDE: There is NO WAY to get a turbo Mustang to sound good.
        Anyway – here’s a cheap & cheerful tip for any Hemi R/T owners out there: have the center 2 mufflers cut out and replaced with straight pipe, but LEAVE the 2 resonators at the rear just behind the exhaust tips. It sounds awesome, and with no drone. Get on it and everyone knows you have a V8, but you can still have a normal volume discussion inside the car while cruising. Total win/win.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    At this point in time, V8s are about wants, not needs.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      All anyone NEEDS is a bus pass

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus

      At what point was having a V-8 a necessity? Outside of a truck, and many of those could be had with torque-ladden Inline 6s, even in medium duty tricks (F-700, C60, etc).

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        You Know, I owned an F100 with a 300 and a stick. I remember it fondly. But I last drove it over 25 years ago. Something tells me that if you replaced my 2015 with it the nostalgia would last for about 30 seconds. Slow and thirsty are a couple adjectives that come to mind and while it was very long lived by the days standards, that was back in the 100k is an accomplishment days and 274k ain’t what it used to be. Good truck, but today’s stuff is just better. I have slowly come around to that fact.

    • 0 avatar
      MoparRocker74

      All anyone ‘needs’ is a minimum of food, water, clothing and shelter. But I don’t work 40 hours or more per week to scrape by on the bare necessities, capitalist dog that I am.

  • avatar
    Kendahl

    The more powerful the engine, the more the chassis benefits from all wheel drive. Can’t the all wheel drive handle V8 power?

    The Challenger is better looking than the Mustang or Camaro. Too bad it’s so big and heavy.

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      No, the V8 took up too much space in the front nacelle and the AWD system couldnt be designed around the Hemi’s girth. It had nothing to do with too much power for the AWD drivetrain.

      • 0 avatar
        MoparRocker74

        AWD/345 Hemi was offered on Charger/Magum/300 from ‘05 to about ‘14. Police package Charger R/Ts can still be had with AWD—but with the 5spd auto and a column shift. The driveline is plenty strong for the 345…beyond that, who knows? There is plenty of room under the hood of these cars for the Hemi/AWD option. The TF-8 runs longer than the 5spd but the v6 is oriented further back than the Hemi. So I’m not buying that.

        The ‘claimed’ reason for the nixing of Hemi AWDs is low sales. That’s a half truth, as the snow belt supposedly couldn’t keep them on the lot. Outside of that they weren’t stocked or advertised so it’s a self fulfilling prophecy.

    • 0 avatar
      smithkey08

      Looking at the Jeep Grand Cherokee Trackhawk you can see that the AWD system can definitely handle the power. The issue was that the V8 and 8 speed auto couldn’t fit without modifying the floor pan in the LX cars. AWD V8 sales of the 300 and Charger weren’t enough to warrant spending the money to re-engineer and re-certify an AWD V8 version with the new 8 speed. That’s why the newer AWD V8 cops cars still use the 5 speed.

  • avatar
    JimC2

    I’m in the minority here but I *don’t* like the sound of a V8 (or a raspy odd fire GM V6). It’s the sound of exhaust pulses fighting each other and wasting horsepower by doing so. (I’ve said it before, I know…)

    I like the V8 layout for what has always made it successful- a smart, simple, rigid layout to pack a lot of cubic inches into a tight package (and save a bit of weight over a loooooong equivalent inline).

    I do like the sound of flat plane V8s though!

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I’m in the minority here but I *don’t* like the sound of a V8…

      GASP! That’s 90% of the reason I keep my old Mustang around even though it is seriously out-powered by the 3.5 V6 in my Toyota. THE GLORIOUS NOISE!

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        That’s a perfectly good reason and I get it- to each their own. Based on your brief description, it might be one of the greatest cars in the world. Why? Because it makes its owner happy.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        fox or SN95/New edge car? Probably the best sounding Mustangs ever!

        The S-197 and later cars can be great but I don’t think they will ever quite hold a candle to the fox based cars.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          lol… 1967 Mustang, 289 V8, custom true dual exhaust and cheap “turbo” mufflers. But a real upgrade over the rotted out glasspacks that were on it when I got from my Dad.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I can take it or leave it. What I really like is a nice 4 spinning rapidly. My favorite was probably my old Miata I put a blower on though. It was still slow, but could take a Caravan after it was installed and the whine was awesome. The old V12 behind your head would be above a V8 as well.

    • 0 avatar
      Flipper35

      Depends on the headers and exhaust layout if the pulses are fighting each other.

      • 0 avatar
        JimC2

        Sort of… with or without equal length headers, the exhaust pulses in each bank aren’t coming out of the cylinder exhaust ports perfectly spaced, so they do interfere with each other on each bank of the engine. A crossover helps a lot (a properly designed crossover at the right length), one of the few cases of “free horsepower” when it comes to hotrodding engines.

        Soooo we’re both right. ;)

    • 0 avatar
      Spike_in_Brisbane

      I do like the sound of a V8 but I prefer the noise which comes from the Nissan V6s which rev high and sound like racecars.
      Actually my current , real favourite is the silence generated by the Jaguar I-Pace.

  • avatar
    Papasmurf2

    If you want the AWD V6, but more horsepower, have a supercharger installed. The only downside is the money spent for the supercharger, exhaust and installation, you might as well buy a hemi Challenger.

  • avatar
    jatz

    No aircraft sounds better that a radial-engined warbird at the airshow and V-8s are just as anachronistic.

  • avatar
    brn

    Won’t it be embarrassing when a car that looks like that can’t outrun a Taurus from a stoplight?

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Nothing with a “GT” moniker should be without the better engine.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    I like the AWD Challenger GT (even though the similarly named Grand Caravan GT is ‘not’ AWD). The problem is the Challenger GT is an impractical car with practical capabilities. I guess the hope is that people will buy the GT instead of the V8 R/T, secure in the knowledge that, when the weather turns foul, they’ll be happier driving a car better able to navigate the slick, snow-covered roads than a RWD musclecar.

    But, really, I’m not feeling it selling all that well. Given the choice between the V8 or AWD, I suspect most will go with the V8 and take their chances on bad roads to be able have that nice, throaty V8 in the warm, summer months.

    It’s a shame because the GT seems like a modern Audi Quattro. And maybe the ‘administrative assistants’ will think differently and buy enough Challenger GTs to keep FCA from deleting it from the roster.

    • 0 avatar
      nrd515

      I drove a Charger R/T for 3 winters, and a Challenger R/T for 7, and had little issues, except for the horrible winter of ’13-14, where I got stuck about 8 times. It was the first and so far only, times in over 40 years of driving that I got stuck. Not the car’s fault really, mostly just more snow than usual, by far. It would have taken one of my old 4WD trucks to get out of my driveway most of the times I got stuck. In my driveway. I couldn’t believe it. One time, I was six feet from my garage door! But in general, I’ve had no real issues driving any number of RWD vehicles in the winter. The GT just wouldn’t cut it with me. No V8, not enough power to make me happy, and they are just too raised up to look right. I’m glad they offer the GT, as it keeps the LX cars alive, but I wouldn’t want one.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    Are administrative assistants really buying brand-new muscle-y cars that are $40k as-tested? More like the Grand Marquis inherited from Dad, I should think.

  • avatar
    Edsel Maserati

    Not a word about the fuel economy? One of the most important reasons you go for the V-6? Or even what fuel it prefers? What do you do? Drive it around the parking lot?
    The Hemi Challenger I drove was one of the thirstiest cars I’ve experienced.
    Lately I’ve been doing some transcontinental runs and noticing how the numbers do stack up.
    We’re drivers here. This should be part of any review.

    • 0 avatar
      MiataReallyIsTheAnswer

      My Charger R/T 5.7L is averaging close to 20 MPG with probably more stop N go than HWY, and it’s not fully broken-in yet.

      Compare that to my Honda Odyssey that might average 2-3 MPG better, but is seriously lacking in creature features, acceleration, shift quality and general “fun” by comparison. More than fair tradeoff IMHO.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    I’m conflicted about the Challenger, love the looks, AWD would be a bonus here in snowland, the wife loves Challengers and AWD appeals to her. I just can’t get past feeling like I’d look like a guy trying to relive the past in a retro musclecar. For some reason I don’t get that vibe from the Mustang (the Camaro is just too ugly to consider).


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