2018 Dodge Challenger GT
Class: Sporty/Performance Car
Miles driven: 285
Fuel used: 15.5 gallons
Real-world fuel economy: 18.4 mpg
Driving mix: 50% city, 50% highway
EPA-estimated fuel economy: 18/27/21 (city, highway, combined)
Base price: $33,495 (not including $1095 destination charge)
|CG Report Card|
|Big & Tall comfort ratings are for front seats only. "Big" rating based on male tester weighing approximately 350 pounds, "Tall" rating based on 6'6"-tall male tester.|
|Room and Comfort||B-|
|Power and Performance||B|
|Fit and Finish||B|
|Report-card grades are derived from a consensus of test-driver evaluations. All grades are versus other vehicles in the same class. Value grade is for specific trim level evaluated, and may not reflect Consumer Guide's impressions of the entire model lineup.|
|Big & Tall Comfort|
Options on test vehicle: Technology Group ($1195; includes automatic high-beam headlights, rain-sensitive windshield wipers, adaptive cruise control, and forward collision warning ), Driver Convenience Group ($1095; includes high-intensity discharge headlights, blind-spot and rear cross-path detection, and remote start system), GT Interior Package ($995; includes leather performance steering wheel, 9-speaker stereo with subwoofer, 506-watt amplifier, Sound Group II, and Nappa/Alcantara performance seats), compact spare tire ($295), Uconnect navigation system with satellite radio ($795)
Price as tested: $38,965
The great: All-wheel-drive traction–a rare feature in sporty coupes
The good: Good interior and trunk space for the class
The not so good: Rear-seat entry/exit, high trunk liftover, not as lithe as smaller performance coupes
There’s never a snowfall around when you need one.
Some months ago, right around the start of autumn, Consumer Guide® reported on the 2017 Dodge Challenger GT, which added all-wheel drive to the list of things a performance-coupe buyer could find in this long-running product line. At the time of that test, it was a little too early for the sting of winter to be felt.
CG got a second crack at a GT, now a 2018 model, in the final weeks of the following winter. It had been a season of cold snaps and a few substantial snowstorms—just not when the AWD Challenger was in the fleet. Not a flake was to be seen. That’s the way it goes.
Actually, the Challenger GT goes pretty well, even on dry pavement. It uses the same 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 that’s been the base engine in Challengers since 2011. Challengers are famous for their hairy Hemi V-8s—with up to 840 horsepower in the new drag-racing-ready Demon—but even the V6 is a lively performer that’s plenty eager off the line, and with a bit of exhaust snarl. The 8-speed automatic transmission, the only gearbox available with the V6, kicks down smartly when it’s time to pass in expressway driving. This is consistent with the performance in CG’s 2017 test. What did change, and not for the better, was fuel mileage. The 2017 GT test car averaged 25.9 mpg with a majority of highway driving, but a greater degree of city driving pulled the ’18 mileage figures down below 20 mpg.
The 2018 GT sports a “4” badge on the standard decklid spoiler, a new touch that calls attention to its all-wheel driveline. Perched on smoky “Granite Crystal”-finish alloy wheels and 235/55R19 all-season tires, the GT doesn’t exact much of a penalty in ride quality for its performance-car pretentions. That’s a benefit of the Challenger’s platform, which is quite a bit larger than other sporty coupes. The extra bulk does make the Dodge a little less of a handler than its cozier competitors.
Smaller performance coupes don’t have the interior or trunk space that the Challenger possesses. There’s actually hope for a couple of average-sized adults to fit in the back seat—and sit fully upright when they do. The trunk is wide, though filling it is complicated by a high liftover. All Challenger models now have a standard rearview camera and rear parking sensors, welcome touches in a car with a substantial over-the-shoulder obstruction from the wide rear roof pillars. (Front and side vision is pretty good relative to other cars in the class, however.)
The Challenger GT clocks in at $33,495 to start, or $3500 more than the SXT Plus, the rear-drive V6 model it most closely resembles. That encompasses items like a heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated front seats that can cost extra in a number of luxury-class cars. Drivers can punch up the “Performance Pages” on the 8.4-inch Uconnect infotainment screen to change mechanical settings (engine, steering, etc.) for a sportier feel and to monitor things like g-forces and horsepower and torque progression. With delivery and options, the test car climbed to $38,965. That added forward-collision warning, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot and rear cross-traffic detection, attractive and grippy Nappa-leather seats with Alcantara inserts, navigation, and more.
The addition of variants like the AWD GT has managed to keep the Challenger somewhat fresh, even though it’s fundamentally the same car it was when introduced in 2008. There’s no telling how much longer Dodge can keep making it that way, but at CG we’d at least like to see it stick around long enough to get to drive a GT in the snow.