Mustang, Camaro, Challenger. You say it in the same breath as you would, red, white and blue. The Dodge Challenger is a part of American car culture. It’s the automotive equivalent of wrapping yourself in the flag. Never mind the new ones are made in Canada.
Still, the revitalized Challenger, introduced back in 2008 and built on Dodge’s successful Charger full-size sedan, is about as old-school muscle car as you can get these days while still being able to enjoy the conveniences of a modern car. A brash, two-door, large coupe is a rarity these days, especially at such a modest price tag. If you’re in the market for one, here’s what to look for in the CARFAX Used Car Listings.
You really have to start by looking at the Challenger SRT. The epitome of the Challenger range, it’s the one with the biggest dollop of heritage – and that’s why you buy one of these cars. When the Challenger was reborn in 2008, it launched with the SRT-8 and a 6.1-liter Hemi V8 and 425 horsepower. Prices start from about $25,000.
The SRT is like a 1970 throwback with stability control. And even the electronic intervention can’t harness the brute force of that massive V8 up front. It’s rocket propulsion hooked up to a boulevard cruiser, in true American fashion.
If you want something truly ballistic, however, seek an SRT-8 made from 2012 or later, which start at around $35,000. These models benefitted from an enlarged 6.4-liter V8 and 470 horsepower. Just save some money for insurance – and extra tires.
Not all V8 Challengers are ridiculously powered. There’s the much more manageable, popular and reasonably priced Challenger R/T to consider. Using the venerable 5.7-liter Hemi V8, it’s probably enough performance for Challenger buyers, from less than $20,000.
Here, you get the burble and brawn from the Hemi without the lunacy of the SRT. Plenty of these have been modified and driven hard, however, so take a look at the vehicle history and go over the vehicle itself well before buying. But the great thing about the Challenger is that it’s probably the most spacious coupe you can buy for the money. Four humans fit comfortably, which you can’t say for many two-doors this side of a Mercedes-Benz S-Class Coupe.
If you want the Challenger looks with a touch more fuel efficiency and ease of ownership, there’s the V6 models. Our top picks would be 2011 and newer models, which benefit from the modern and refined 3.6-liter Pentastar V6.
With 305 horsepower, the Challenger V6 is a lot of horsepower for $17,000 or so, which is where 2011s and 2012s tend to start out. The EPA claims it’s possible to get around 30 mpg on the highway, but just take comfort in the fact the engine here delivers better economy than the V8s, even if it moves confidently rather than authoritatively. But again, you get the looks and comfort of the V8 models. And let’s face it, the Challenger isn’t really your friend on a twisty mountain road, no matter the engine.
Compared with the Mustang and Camaro, the Challenger has been the more left-field choice. And there’s something to be said about being the more distinctive choice in history. With plenty of models to choose from, the Challenger is also one of the biggest expressions you can make about reliving that muscle car heyday without getting bogged down in classic car maintenance. It’s the car you can drive every day so you can wrench with your ‘70 Challenger on Saturday.