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2019 Dodge Challenger

Starting at $29,590

2019 Dodge Challenger

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  • Highs Powertrain options galore, comfy and simplistic cabin, all-wheel-drive exclusivity.
  • Lows Lazy handling, portly proportions, rubberized interior materials.
  • Verdict This big, brash pony car balances old-school cool with new-age performance.
By Eric Stafford


Like a classic-rock song, the 2019 Dodge Challenger quickens the heart rate and stirs up nostalgia. Its old-school roots are obvious; witness the retro design and simplistic interior. Available with a class-exclusive, all-wheel-drive powertrain for the base V-6 engine, Dodge's pony car also can be fitted—in rear-wheel-drive form—with a 375-hp or mighty 485-hp Hemi V-8. Both engines have a standard six-speed manual transmission; a proficient eight-speed automatic is optional. The Challenger's cushy ride and comfy cabin make it a compelling cruiser, but the Chevy Camaro and the Ford Mustang have elevated performance expectations.

What's New for 2019?

The Challenger lineup receives a slew of updates for 2019 that include a new rear-drive GT model (previously all-wheel-drive only) and various performance enhancements. Every model adds a new interior trim finish and standard cloth seats with leather and faux-suede options. There are a couple fresh wheel designs and a new Triple Nickel paint color, too. Every R/T now includes the Super Track Pak, which adds a sport-tuned suspension, sharper steering, 20-inch wheels, and paddle shifters (automatic only). Both the Performance Handling and Performance Plus packages bring upgraded equipment that Dodge says improves handling.

Buyers can also have the rear seat and rear seatbelts removed to save weight on the R/T and R/T Scat Pack. The latter gets a bunch of goodies from the Challenger SRT Hellcat, including the widebody exterior, larger front brakes, wider wheels and tires, and upgraded suspension components. Along with a new satin black spoiler and more badging inside and out, the Scat Pack version now comes with standard launch control and line-lock features that help perfect burnouts and takeoffs.

Pricing and Which One to Buy

The Challenger's optional 485-hp V-8 is the most powerful engine in its class; the 717-hp Hellcat and 840-hp Demon are in another league altogether. We prefer the regular V-8 Challenger R/T Scat Pack for the best balance of appearance and performance. The eight-speed automatic transmission costs $1500 for this trim, but it avoids the six-speed manual's $1000 gas-guzzler tax so it's effectively a $500 option. Its standout standard features are 20-inch wheels, more powerful brakes, rear parking sensors, and an 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The only options we'd add are: Driver Convenience Group package (blind-spot monitor, rear cross-traffic alert, high-intensity-discharge headlights, and more), Dynamics package (wider 20-inch black wheels, six-piston Brembo front-brake calipers), and Pirelli P Zero summer tires.


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Engine, Transmission, and Performance

Likes: Great automatic transmission, available all-wheel drive, widebody version enhances style and handling.
Dislikes: Bland V-6 engine, numb steering feedback, lacks the precise handling of pony-car rivals.

The Challenger's base 305-hp V-6 won't satisfy thrill seekers. The modest engine mates exclusively to the eight-speed automatic, but in the heavy Challenger it lacks the acceleration and excitement of similar rivals. The Dodge's Hemi V-8 engines are another story. The 375-hp 5.7-liter we tested had plenty of juice to powerslide on demand, and its guttural growl was gratifying. Those seeking to maximize the Challenger's potential will want the 6.4-liter V-8, which produces 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque. We also drove the T/A 392 with the automatic and admired the exhaust's cannon-blast startup sound and baritone roar when prodded. It provided breakneck acceleration, especially at highway speeds (2.6 seconds from 50 to 70 mph). While we're suckers for the shift-yourself stick, the ZF automatic is incredibly responsive to throttle inputs, with quick power-on downshifts.

The Challenger hustles through corners like a raging bull seeing red, snorting aggressively and swaying threateningly. The burly Dodge is a muscle car in the truest sense: it's better on the street and the drag strip than on two-lane roads or road courses. The several models we've driven since the lineup was redesigned for 2015 have had a compliant ride that's comfortable but a bit unrefined. Compared with the sharper and stickier handling of the Camaro and Mustang, however, the Challenger is too soft in the twisties and its steering is too numb. The slow-to-react helm is well suited to leisurely drives and easily controlled, power-induced tail slides. The all-wheel-drive Challenger GT took an overly lengthy 176 feet to stop in our emergency-braking test. Its firm brake pedal felt fine underfoot, but that distance is alarming. On the other hand, the T/A 392 we tested stopped in an impressive 151 feet—its powerful Brembo brakes provided chest-compressing stops and linear brake-pedal feedback during normal driving.

Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG

The Challenger V-6 and V-8s have EPA ratings that are similar to the Camaro and Mustang, and all earned nearly identical figures in our real-world testing. Its 5.7-liter and 6.4-liter V-8s improve fuel efficiency by seamlessly deactivating four cylinders when they're not needed in situations such as steady highway speeds. The all-wheel-drive V-6 we tested matched its 26-mpg rating on our highway test route; the 485-hp V-8 version actually beat its highway rating by 1 mpg and earned 26 mpg.

Interior, Infotainment, and Cargo

Likes: Interior is more livable than rivals, excellent infotainment systems, large trunk has ample storage room.
Dislikes: Cabin materials take retro theme too far, limited interior cubby space.

The Challenger has a classic muscle-car interior, with a simple design inspired by its 1970s-era predecessors and comfortable accommodations. Compared with its pony-car rivals, the Dodge is far roomier inside and adults can actually use the back seat. Unfortunately, its rubberized materials resemble old vinyl rather than premium plastic, and its rear visibility is lousy. The Challenger's broad front seats are comfortable for cruising, but even the optional seats, which have added bolstering, don't hug their occupants the way those in the Camaro or Mustang do. Its standard power-adjustable driver's seat is nice, but memory settings and a power-adjustable passenger seat aren't available.

Every Challenger has a version of Dodge's easy-to-use Uconnect infotainment system. The feature-filled unit includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard. Looking to get the Led out? Listen to Jimmy Page's spine-tingling guitar riffs with one of two optional Alpine audio systems or the crème-de-la-crème 900-watt, 18-speaker Harman/Kardon setup.

Dodge's pony car has an extra seven cubic feet of cargo space in its trunk versus the Camaro. This allowed the Challenger to swallow two additional bags of luggage with the back seat in use and six more than the Camaro with it folded down. The Challenger has a big center-console bin and a useful spot for a smartphone. Still, none of the cars we tested in this class were particularly adept at storing small items.

Safety and Driver-Assistance Features

Overall Safety Rating (NHTSA)

View Crash Test Results

The Challenger earned a five-star crash-test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and average scores from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). While many passenger cars have a longer list of driver-assistance features, this old-school coupe is available with several desirable driver assists. Key safety features:

  • Available blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert
  • Available adaptive cruise control
  • Available automatic high-beams

Warranty and Maintenance Coverage

The Challenger has an average limited and powertrain warranty. Unlike BMW and Chevrolet, Dodge doesn't provide any complimentary scheduled maintenance.

  • Limited warranty covers 3 years or 36,000 miles
  • Powertrain warranty covers 5 years or 60,000 miles
  • No complimentary scheduled maintenance


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