While rival muscle cars have recently shifted their focus to sharp handling, the 2023 Dodge Challenger retains a package that prioritizes old-school pony-car handling and straight-line speed. These non-SRT Challengers come standard with a V-6 engine, but the real fun comes from the optional naturally aspirated Hemi V-8 engines, which are available in a range of displacements and outputs from 5.7 liters and 375 horsepower to 6.4 liters and 485 horsepower.
If you desire even more power, Dodge will gladly supply you with the Challenger SRT Hellcat, which we review separately. The standard Challenger is less intense than the outrageous Hellcat, but for some, its V-8 burble and relatively comfortable ride will evoke memories of the classic Dodge pony cars with which it shares its name. Modern versions of the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang are more capable on winding roads and racetracks, but the Challenger’s retro appeal cannot be denied.
2023 Dodge Challenger Exterior
This year marks the end of an era for the Challenger coupe, as Dodge prepares a model with an electric powertrain. Dodge will offer popular colors from the car’s past, including Plum Crazy, B5 Blue, and Sublime Green, on the 2023 Dodge Challenger, which wears special commemorative plaques under the hood to mark the final model year of the current generation. All R/T models receive a new “345” badge on the front fender to honor the Hemi V-8 engine housed beneath the vehicle’s long, vented hood. Dodge calls the first of these seven special editions the Shakedown. Only 1000 will be constructed. The Shakedown edition will likely cost between $55,000 and $65,000 and will consist of the 485-hp R/T Scat Pack and its Widebody twin.
We would choose the R/T Scat Pack model with its 6.4-liter, 485-hp V-8. Believe it or not, we would choose the eight-speed automatic transmission over the standard manual transmission because it is significantly more responsive. Additionally, we would add the adaptive dampers for adjustable ride quality, as well as the Dynamics package with its 20-inch wheels, six-piston Brembo front brakes, and leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Plus package enhances the interior with ambient lighting, faux-suede seat inserts, and much nicer dashboard and door materials. The Driver Convenience Group, which includes blind-spot monitoring, rear-cross-traffic alert, power mirrors, and high-intensity discharge headlights, is also required.
2023 Dodge Challenger Powertrain, Engine, and Performance
The Challenger’s base V-6 engine is insufficient for thrill-seekers. The modest engine is paired exclusively with an eight-speed automatic transmission, but in the heavy Challenger, it lacks the acceleration and excitement of its competitors. The Hemi V-8 engines of the Dodge are a different story. The 375-horsepower, 5.7-liter engine we tested had ample power to powerslide on demand, and its throaty growl was satisfying. The 6.4-liter V-8 engine produces 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque. We also drove the T/A 392 equipped with an automatic transmission and admired the exhaust’s cannon-like start-up sound and baritone roar when prodded.
While we prefer a manual transmission, the automatic transmission is incredibly responsive to throttle inputs and has rapid power-on downshifts. The Challenger speeds around corners like a raging bull seeing red, snorting angrily and swaying menacingly. The imposing Dodge is a muscle car in the purest sense, as it performs better on the street and drag strip than on two-lane roads and road courses. Since the 2015 redesign of the lineup, the models we’ve driven have provided a compliant, comfortable, yet somewhat unrefined ride. Compared to the sharper and stickier handling of the Camaro and Mustang, the Challenger’s tight-turning performance and steering are subpar. The slow-reacting helm is ideal for leisurely drives and power-induced tail slides that are simple to control.
Energy Efficiency and Real-World MPG
The rear-drive, V-6-powered Challenger is projected to achieve 19 city mpg and 30 highway mpg. The addition of all-wheel drive reduces these ratings by 1 and 3 mpg, respectively. Challengers equipped with the 5.7-liter V-8 are anticipated to achieve up to 16 city mpg and 25 highway mpg. Versions with a 6.4-liter V-8 can achieve up to 15 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. As part of our extensive testing regimen, we put 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, both of their highway fuel economy was 26 mpg. Visit the EPA’s website for more information about the Challenger’s fuel economy.
2023 Dodge Challenger Cargo, Comfort, and Interior
The interior of the 2023 Dodge Challenger is reminiscent of muscle cars from the 1970s, with a simple design and comfortable accommodations. The interior of the Dodge is significantly more spacious than its pony-car competitors, and adults can fit in the back seat. Unfortunately, the rubberized materials resemble old vinyl instead of premium plastic, and the rear visibility is poor. The Challenger’s front seats are comfortable for cruising, but even the optional seats with additional bolstering do not embrace their occupants as much as those in the Camaro and Mustang.
The trunk of the Dodge pony car is seven cubic feet larger than that of the Camaro. This allows the Challenger to accommodate two additional suitcases than the Camaro. When the rear seats are folded down, the advantage increases to six. The Challenger has a large center-console bin and a convenient smartphone holder. However, none of the vehicles in this class were particularly adept at accommodating small items.
Informational Entertainment and Connectivity
Every Challenger is equipped with Dodge‘s user-friendly Uconnect infotainment system. The feature-rich unit comes standard with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration. Looking to remove the Led? Listen to Jimmy Page’s spine-tingling guitar riffs through one of two optional Alpine audio systems or the 900-watt, 18-speaker Harman Kardon system.
This is one of the most efficient plug-and-play systems available. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto complement the already user-friendly Uconnect system in the Challenger. It is extremely user-friendly, with multiple solutions for identical commands. However, the interface appears somewhat dated in comparison to the rest of the class.
The voice controls have an easy-to-learn structure and recognize basic audio, navigation, and hands-free calling commands. Connecting your smartphone makes familiarity even greater. The Driver Convenience package includes monitoring for blind spots and rear cross-traffic alert. During our testing, there were no false alarms.