Based on the same platform, the 2018 Dodge Charger and 2018 Dodge Challenger are two different takes on the classic American muscle car. The Challenger is all brute, with an aggressive design that remains true to the original Challenger that debuted for 1970. The reincarnated Charger, on the other hand, is a modern take on the original Dodge Charger, now with two extra doors for added capability. The new Charger is a muscle-car sedan — the only such vehicle on sale today. As these vehicles share most of their technology and powertrain options, identifying the differences between the two can be tough, so we’ve set out to compare them for you.
While they ride on the same underpinnings, the Charger and Challenger wear vastly different sheet metal. With the same overall design since it was brought back for the 2008 model year, the low-slung Challenger remains true to the original, albeit now with the larger proportions required in order conform to modern crash standards and incorporate modern technology. Still, the Challenger is a muscle car through and through, with round headlights, a long, flat hood with a multitude of different scoops and a low, sloping roofline. The sides are slab-like and the trunk lid is short and incorporates a subtle "ducktail" spoiler, much like the original. As a result of these aggressive proportions, outward visibility and interior storage room both suffer greatly.
The Charger is a more modern take on the classic muscle car, and this is made evident through its exterior design. Blending retro elements with a modern shape, the Charger offers sedan proportions with muscle-car cues. With sweeping features, the Charger doesn’t give up the muscular demeanor of the original, but does incorporate such modern cues as LED headlights and taillights, aerodynamic air intakes and a taller, more functional greenhouse. Perhaps the Charger’s biggest selling point, though, are its two extra doors and increased interior and trunk space, all of which make it acceptable as a family vehicle.
Exterior dimensions between the two vehicles are very similar. Altogether, the Charger’s wheelbase is four inches longer than the Challenger’s, but the two vehicles are within half an inch of one another when it comes to overall length.
The dashboards of the 2018 Dodge Charger and Challenger are essentially the same. They offer the same control layouts, the same steering wheels, the same infotainment system and the same gauge clusters. The real differences start to emerge when it comes to interior space. With its two extra doors and usable back seat with room for three people, the Charger offers far more practicality inside than the cramped Challenger with its 2+2 seating layout.
Both the Charger and Challenger are offered with an 8-speed automatic transmission; but only the Challenger is available with a 6-speed manual.
The Charger’s and Challenger’s V6 isn’t quite up to par with the lower spec offerings of the Mustang and Camaro. While the 4- and 6-cylinder Mustang and Camaro are performers in their own right, the V6 Challenger and Charger lack the power necessary to feel like true performance cars. This is why we recommend a configuration with one of the available V8 engines and rear-wheel drive.
Both the Charger and Challenger come with the same range of V8 engine options. There’s a 5.7-liter V8 that makes 370 horsepower in the Charger and 375 in the Challenger, a 6.4-liter V8 that makes 480 hp in both and a 6.2-liter V8 offered in both iterations of the nefarious Hellcat trim level, putting out a whopping 707 hp in both.
Fuel economy is about the same for both vehicles. V6 models earn 19 miles per gallon city, 30 mpg highway and around 23 mpg combined. Equipped with the automatic transmission, 5.7L V8 models earn 19 mpg combined, while the 6.4L V8 yields 18 mpg. Hellcat models both earn 16 mpg combined.
In terms of acceleration, the Charger and Challenger are within a few tenths of a second of each other when comparing the range of available engines. With rear-wheel drive and the 8-speed automatic, the Challenger goes from 0-to-60 miles per hour in 6.3 seconds, while the Charger takes 6.2. Stepping up to the 5.7-liter V8, both the Challenger and Charger take 5.1 seconds to reach 60 mph, while the 6.4-liter V8 yields a 0-to-60 time of 4.2 seconds in the Challenger and 4.1 seconds in the Charger. Hellcat models reach 60 in a blistering 3.6 seconds in the Challenger and 3.4 seconds in the Charger.
You’ve read this all correctly — the longer and less aggressively styled Charger is faster than the Challenger in all flavors.
Altogether, these cars are engineered more for straight line performance than they are for track duty or for Sunday drives through the mountains. Their bloated, aging platforms cost them when compared to more modern offerings from Ford and GM, but Dodge’s knack for adding power over the years has helped to make each one a hoot when it comes to drag racing and smoky burnouts.
Features & Technology
Both the 2018 Dodge Challenger and Charger offer a standard 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system operating Chrysler’s UConnect system. Optional is an upgraded 8.4-inch system that offers a few more features like an additional USB port, a 1-year subscription of Sirius satellite radio and built-in navigation.
Both offer a Harman Kardon audio system, while the Charger offers an additional 12-volt outlet and USB ports for the back seat passengers.
In independent third-party crash testing from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, both the Charger and Challenger receive scores of Marginal in the driver’s side small front overlap test, indicative of their aging designs. Overall, the crash performance of these two vehicles is just okay.
The Charger offers more driver assistance features than the Challenger. Both vehicles offer blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, rear cross-traffic monitoring and rear parking sensors. In addition, the Charger offers front automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist.
Given their equally mediocre performance in crash testing and the fact that the Charger offers a few more driver assistance features, it’s safe to say that when fully equipped, the Charger is the slightly safer vehicle overall.
Given your unique needs, you probably already know which of these two vehicles is right for you, as they’re targeted toward different buyers. Both are built on the same aging platform and have been on the market for a while. While competing manufacturers have released significantly updated models in recent years, both of these Dodge offerings have stayed largely the same.
The Challenger is a modern take on a classic muscle car, offering lots of power in a sporty coupe shape, perhaps one of the better values on the market for anyone looking for a power-packed sports coupe to take to the drag strip.
The Charger, on the other hand, is likely easier to live with, as it offers a better trunk, an extra set of doors, a usable back seat, immensely better outward visibility and more driver assistance features, while still offering that muscle car attitude, thanks to the engines and powertrains it shares with the Challenger.