For the first time since American muscle returned to the assembly line in earnest, Dodge’s Challenger has managed to outsell both the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro inside the United States. Though Mopar fans might point out that Dodge would win every year if we bothered to include Charger sales in the headcount or were more precise when making determinations about what constitutes a muscle vs pony car.
Regardless of semantics, the Big Three have their performance icons and the Challenger has taken the two-door sales crown for the first time in modern history. Sadly, it was less about Dodge making inroads with new customers than it was about the other brands flubbing things. Performance vehicles aimed at the middle class are presently experiencing a rough patch, with the Challenger having lost the least amount of ground in the last decade.
Most large sedans exist to provide comfort and some level of luxury to their owners. Some have a bit of sport, and some are bought to haul humans while others are meant to coddle the driver, regardless of whether they’re sporty or not.
Then there’s the Dodge Charger Hellcat, which exists to kick ass while also being an easy commuter.
Dodge has long been synonymous with high levels of horsepower. Modern-day marketing materials practically scream it into your ear, acknowledging the company’s historic penchant for providing ludicrous amounts of power for hysterically low prices. The reality is a bit more complicated, however. While Mopar brands were indeed offering some of the best bang-for-your-buck muscle cars, back when they were a tad more novel, some of the fastest machines actually came from General Motors and Ford.
Today’s situation is very much the same. When the rest of the industry started downsizing powertrains, Dodge was still trying to squeeze even more juice from its colossal V8 engines — installing them anywhere they might fit. Rivals quickly got wise to its attempt to corner a segment just about everyone else had abandoned, resulting in gems like the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 or Ford Shelby GT500. But with everyone now back on board with the concept of displacement meaning power, Dodge has decided to change tactics.
What if it manufactured the V8 offering the smallest amount of horsepower imaginable?
I didn’t plan for it to happen. It just did.
I had requested a Shelby GT500 loan because I’d driven the car on the launch but wanted to see what it’s like to live with the king of current Mustangs in the real world. Because the car is likely in high demand among Chicago-area automotive journalists, the loan would be short. So I’d have a gap in my schedule.
I don’t need test cars to get around. I am not dependent on them – I don’t feel beholden to the fleets or the automakers. I have other ways to get around, whether it be walking, biking, using a cab/Uber, or whatever. But I try to schedule cars each week, either so I can review them for TTAC (even if it takes a while to actually get around to the write-up, sorry gang) or at least use them as background for knowledge and comparison.
Beneath the Dodge Charger, you’ll find evidence of America’s oldest sedan, but it’s what’s up front that counts. Traditionally stuffed with as much muscle as Fiat Chrysler (and its predecessors) can muster, the aging Charger gets a testosterone injection for 2021 with the SRT Hellcat Redeye.
Familiar to Challenger aficionados, Redeye guise takes the already overly potent Hellcat and dials up the output — and also the price. If you can be swayed away from the “power dollars” offered on remaining 2020 models, the most powerful of these LX-platform sedans has what it takes to win shallow bragging rights for the buyer.
FCA thanks them for their contribution.
It’s been a while since Buy/Drive/Burn covered a trio from the Seventies; December 2019, in fact. But today we return to that decade of automotive change with (almost) everybody’s favorite topic: personal luxury coupes.
Let’s sort out which of these PLCs was worth taking home in ’76.
The yellow front splitter guards on Dodge’s Charger and Challenger have become a major point of conflict among automotive enthusiasts. In one corner, we have traditionalists who believe protective coverings used for shipping have no business appearing on a road-going car. In the other? A bunch of maniacs who think keeping the guards on adds something to the aesthetics, sort of like how you see people maintaining the stickers and tags on a new baseball cap.
Your author has seen a Challenger where the protectors had been on so long, they became sun-bleached and had started to lose their color. Dodge/SRT design boss Mark Trostle expressed his distaste for the trend in October, saying the guards were never part of the concept drawings and basically just ruin the paint.
Despite the issue causing a ruckus online, including some top-shelf trolling, some people still refuse to take them off. Dodge appears to have a plan, however. It’s swapping the protective coverings’ coloring from yellow to hot pink, presumably in an effort to discourage the trend.
For a model seemingly older than the domestication of plants and animals, the Dodge Charger manages to foist new things at its intended audience every year. Same goes for its two-door sibling, the Challenger.
For 2020, the Charger offers something the Challenger debuted for the 2018 model year: a GT model with four-wheel grip.
No one has a need for a large family sedan that produces over 700 horsepower.
But I’m glad one exists.
Dodge is now offering a wider Charger Hellcat and Scat Pack in a bid to keep reminding us enthusiasts that the Charger’s aging platform may still have plenty of life left in it. Somehow, this trick continues to work.
Dodge’s Charger and Challenger are rolling anachronisms we’ll miss after they’re gone. For now, the two full-size rear-drivers soldier on into the future atop their ancient underpinnings, with Fiat Chrysler bestowing an ever-growing list of variants upon still-interested buyers.
The latest corrects what some Mopar fans may have viewed as an oversight. Last year, following the release of the long-teased Challenger SRT Demon, Dodge pushed the Challenger SRT Hellcat’s supercharged 6.2-liter up to 717 horses, giving would-be buyers 10 more reasons to desire the model. A Redeye version delivered 797 hp, a downgrade (if it can really be called that) from the limited-edition Demon’s 840 hp.
Meanwhile, the Charger was left to “suffer” with only 707 hp. Not anymore.
After an eternity of seeing the Honda Accord and Civic topping lists of America’s most-stolen cars, tastes have finally evolved. According to the Highway Loss Data Institute’s list of vehicles most likely to be stolen, Hemi-equipped Dodge Challengers and Chargers are now the ride of choice for automotive miscreants. Interestingly, bandits seem to prefer larger vehicles on the whole — with full-sized pickups and large-engined cars topping the charts.
However, there are a couple items that need to be sorted out before we progress. You’ll probably continue seeing Accords, Corollas, Civics, and F-Series pickups on subsequent most-stolen lists. Their volume alone makes them popular targets and any study going by sheer numbers is bound to include them. But the HLDI report quantifies automobiles by their relative risk using insurance data, suggesting its big-boy season for car thieves.
Instagram user eviil_srt, so named for his sinister-looking Chrysler 300 SRT8, posted a video in which he claims to have caught a production-ready Charger widebody in the midst of filming a commercial.
The video quality is perplexingly horrendous and involves plenty of unnecessary hooting noises coming from the camera operator, but we’ll cut him some slack. As a Mopar fan, he can’t be expected to remain sane in situations like these. Tapping down the enthusiasm is for saner people responding to other brands.
Despite being manufactured in Canada, the Dodge Charger and Challenger feel like the most American vehicles currently on the market. Large, brash, and deliciously unapologetic about it, the vehicles embody multiple historical stereotypes thrown onto the United States citizenry. While those characteristics aren’t a good fit for everyone, Dodge says its holdout muscle cars capture the highest percentage of active military buyers in their respective segments (according to mTAB).
Now, Fiat Chrysler says it’s time for Dodge to “celebrate the men and women who serve our country,” providing a new Stars & Stripes Edition for the Charger and Challenger — along with some fleshing out of their existing appearance packages.
Rampant speculation surrounds the Dodge Charger and the possibility it might eventually receive the same wide-body treatment applied to the Challenger SRT Hellcat and R/T Scat Pack. Last month, Mopar enthusiasts, claiming insider knowledge, said Dodge would have sedan versions ready for the 2020 model year.
It wasn’t much to go on, but the automaker recently confirmed there will be a concept Charger on display at California’s Spring Fest this weekend, following the appearance of an online video showing a camouflaged SRT sedan cruising around Southfield, Michigan.