The 2023 Dodge Challenger keeps things retro with a package that’s designed more for old-school pony-car jollies and straight-line speed.
A V-6 engine is standard in these non-SRT Challengers but the real fun comes with the optional naturally aspirated Hemi V-8 engines, which are offered in a variety of displacements and outputs spanning a 375-hp, 5.7-liter to a 485-hp, 6.4-liter.
The Challenger isn’t as intense as the Hellcat, but for some, its V-8 burble and relatively comfortable ride will be enough to trigger nostalgic feelings for the vintage Dodge lineup with which it shares a name.
Enthusiast drivers will find modern versions of the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang more capable on twisty roads and racetracks, but the Challenger’s old-school charm is undeniable.
Engine & Performance
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 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 looking to maximize the Challenger’s potential will want the 6.4-liter V-8, which produces 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque.
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-lanes and road courses.
The rear-drive, V-6-powered Challenger is estimated to earn 19 mpg city and 30 highway. Adding all-wheel drive into the mix lowers those ratings by 1 and 3 mpg, respectively. Challengers with the 5.7-liter V-8 are expected to earn up to 16 mpg city and 25 highway.
Versions with the 6.4-liter V-8 are rated up to 15 mpg city and 24 highway. We’ve tested the all-wheel-drive V-6 Challenger and one with the 485-hp V-8 and automatic transmission on our 75-mph real-world route. Surprisingly, they both earned 26 mpg on the highway.
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 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.
Dodge’s pony car has an extra seven cubic feet of cargo space in its trunk versus the Camaro. This allows the Challenger to swallow two more bags of luggage than the Camaro. Fold the back seats down and that advantage grows to six. The Challenger has a big center-console bin and a useful spot for a smartphone.
Safety & Driver-Assistance Features
This old-school coupe is available with some driver-assistance technology, but buyers wanting more advanced tech will need to look elsewhere.
The blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, and automatic high-beams, also come standard with the 2023 Dodge Challenger.
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