Apparently when it comes to muscle cars, there can never be too many variations. At least it seems that way with the 2019 Dodge Challenger. A quick glance at Dodge’s consumer website tells us that there are as many as 15 Challenger models, depending on how you slice and dice them. There’s not much daylight between some of them, but that’s how Dodge is marketing the Challenger.
At a recent event where the media were invited to drive various Challenger SRT models — including the new Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye — around the Maine and New Hampshire countryside, as well as on the track at the relatively new Club Motorsports in Tamworth, New Hampshire, we sat down with Dodge Challenger brand manager Kevin Hellman to discuss some of the many Challenger iterations. We wanted to know who buys what. Afterwards, we distilled the plethora of models down to five core versions.
What we learned is that Challenger buyers typically buy an engine/transmission combination. They seek a particular level of performance. Beyond that, they may decide to opt for something retro, like the Shaker or the Scat Pack. One interesting comment Hellman made during our conversation was that product planners are very reluctant to take things away from one model year to the next. Because consumers like the Challenger so much, they tend to save up for a particular trim, like the Shaker, or a specific color. As a result, they’re upset if some option or color disappears from one model year to the next.
V6 – SXT & GT
With a price range of $28,690 to $31,390, this is where the Challenger power and pricing begins. Producing 305 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, the 3.6-liter V6 is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Here, Hellman told us, consumers are buying price or they’re buying heritage, meaning they’re picking the V6 is because of affordability or because they don’t really care about performance, but simply like the car and the color choices. Emotion may enter into the choice. Maybe there was once a Challenger somewhere in the family and the buyer has always wanted one. Just as likely, the buyer likes the Mango (orange) exterior paint.
Additionally, the availability of all-wheel drive on the V6 versions is another big draw.
V8 5.7-Liter – R/T
Base price with factory delivery charge is $35,495. It’s the base V8, but it still carries the Hemi badge, turning out 372 hp and 400 lb-ft of torque with the optional 8-speed automatic transmission. It can also use the standard 6-speed manual transmission to change the cogs. This, Hellman said, is for the buyer who doesn’t really seek bragging rights, but loves the idea of a V8 and can afford it. For this buyer, looks also enter into the decision. R/T is where the customizing appearance add-ons, like the Shaker Package, really begin. Very few R/T buyers don’t add some appearance item, even if it’s just a racing stripe.
V8 392 Hemi – R/T Scat Pack
At $41,390, the R/T Scat Pack base price includes a $1,000 gas-guzzler tax (GGT). Generating the go is a non-supercharged 485-hp 6.4-liter Hemi V8 that also makes 475 lb-ft of torque. The transmission choices are the same as the R/T. A new-for-2019 Widebody option brings wheel flares that add roughly 3.5 inches to the total width, and includes 1.5-in wider wheels and rubber. According to Hellman, this Challenger model is the core of the V8 buyers. It’s a buyer who likes all the options. Offered as a Scat Pack option is the drag-strip-inspired 1320 Package ($3,995), which includes appearance upgrades, as well as several Demon elements like Drag Mode with adaptive damping suspension, TransBrake, Torque Reserve, Nexen P275/40R20 street-legal drag radial tires and 20 x 9.5-in Low Gloss Black drag wheels. An "angry bee" logo replaces the Dodge Super Bee logo on the 1320 with a claimed 0-to-60 time of 3.8 seconds.
The Challenger Scat Pack offers the most horsepower on the market for a MSRP under $40,000.
V8 6.2-Liter Supercharged – SRT Hellcat
With a buy-in of $61,745 (including delivery and a $1,700 GGT), you can own this beast generating 717 hp and 656 lb-ft of torque. It also can switch the cogs with either a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic transmission. With a top speed of 195 miles per hour, it can run the quarter mile in 11.2 seconds. Thanks to the extra rubber meeting the pavement, the Hellcat Widebody ($6,000 option) is a bit quicker in the quarter mile at 10.9 seconds. Hellcat is where the floodgates of options and customization really open, Hellman said. Everything from wheels to interiors can be customized. "When they spend that much money," he explained, "they want choices."
V8 6.2-Liter Supercharged – SRT Hellcat Redeye
This all-new Challenger version rings the register at $72,745, including delivery and GGT. Dodge also offers it with the Widebody option, bringing the total price precariously close to 80 grand. Despite Dodge arming Redeye with the 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V8, the SRT crew rewired it to 797 hp and 707 lb-ft of torque. Basically the same version of the 6.2-liter that powered Demon, its only transmission is the 8-speed automatic offered as an option in other souped-up Challengers. It still manages to chew up the quarter mile in 11.1 seconds, or 10.8 seconds with the Widebody package. Sprinting from 0 to 60 in 3.4 seconds, it has a top speed of 203 mph. It shares 24 components with the Demon, almost all in the area of performance like launch control and a larger supercharger: 2.7 liters versus 2.4 liters in Hellcat.
No surprise, this is the Challenger model for those who want it all. They want bragging rights, customization choices and gobs of raw power. They want to say, this is mine!
What It Means to You: Regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, if you are on the market for a muscle car, there’s a 2019 Dodge Challenger to fit your budget and performance appetite.