2018 Dodge Challenger GT Review

Controlled muscle, minus some sinew


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Great inclement weather traction without compromise, attitude in gobs, a truly great infotainment system, just enough guts to sound serious.
Negatives: Cramped back seat, somewhat suffocating interior, no sign of efficiency anywhere to be found.
Bottom Line: Though it doesn't have the bark or bite of the V8 HEMI, the GT is still a bonafide muscle car with grunt and visual attitude. We love it because it gives those with limited budgets a muscle car option to drive all year-round.
By definition, a muscle car has aggressive looks, a potent engine, rear-wheel drive, and a tiny back seat. Ford Mustang. Chevy Camaro. Dodge Challenger. Except Dodge thought muscle car owners might want the option of driving their steed in four seasons rather than dock it in the garage for fear of sliding into the weeds. That's where the Challenger GT comes in. It's the first real attempt by any automaker to turn a retro muscle car into a winter-capable vehicle. We drove it for a week to see what it was all about. Read on for our full review.
 

Driving Experience

8

 

Like all Challengers, the GT feels big when you drive it, but the added traction gives more security. It's got enough power to impress but not so much that you have to worry about getting arrested. Front drive wheel can accept up to 38 percent of the power, but it's rear-biased most of the time.

Ride Quality: The ride is on the firm side, but it's not upsetting. The suspension is sporty, and the 19" wheels don't allow cushion as much a smaller ones would.

Acceleration: The GT will launch to 60 in the low six-seconds, which is decent given its additional AWD weight and smaller engine. The added traction from the front axle certainly helps. Just don't try to drag race other muscle cars, unless it's in the snow.

Braking: Brake pedal feel is good, but the added heft and the all-season tires increase typicall good stopping distances.

Steering: The steering is surprisingly precise with good feedback.

Handling: Though the GT is heavy, the performance suspension keeps the body roll predictable. It's easy to take it around corners, given that it's rear-wheel biased.

Technology

9

 

Muscle cars might seem like dinosaurs in terms of how far they go back, but the tech has done more than caught up. The in-car tech is excellent in the GT, and Uconnect is a standout.

Infotainment System: Uconnect 4C is one of the best systems out there, and 4C is its best iteration. The menus flow well, and the response icon that pops up is surprisingly useful.

Controls: Physical controls are big and easy to use while driving, especially audio and climate controls. We just wish the heated/ventilated seat controls had physical buttons instead of being buried in the screen menus.

Styling

8.8

 

You'd never be able to tell that the GT is different from other Challengers just by looking at it. It has the same retro ethos with its bulging rear haunches, hood vents, and large circular headlights. It's an iconic look that comes across like nothing else for sale today.

Front: The front end bears the exact same look as the Challenger SXT. The slim twin grille, and overhanging hoodline provide menace, and the round driving lights provide a smidge of evil. We love it.

Rear: The optional body-colored spoiler and the long rectangular taillights give the back end the proper muscle car width.

Profile: The rear overhang is a bit long, but it gives the Challenger the right rear-drive look, even though this beast has all-wheel drive. The dark wheels are a nice touch.

Cabin: The cabin is very dark, but that's okay given the nature of this car.

Comfort

8

 

Most muscle cars, with the exception of the four-door Charger, have only two doors. That limits back seat capacity, but at least manufacturers can build the front seats well, and that's where the Challenger shines. The seats can handle taller, wider folks without a problem.

Front Seats: The black Alcantara is grippy and soft, and the seats are wide and supportive.

Rear Seats: The seats are soft and have good support, but there's scant legroom. It's not good for adults, and only small kids will hang there for any amount of time.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): We noticed some mild creaking, but it was inconsistent. You can hear the V6 rumble, which is not as good as the V8s but still fun to listen to.

Visibility: Visibility out the front past the long hood is mildly compromised, while the back end sightlines are poor due the tall rear decklid.

Climate: The fact that this bad boy has both heated and ventilated seats is perfect, along with a potent climate system with big vents.

Safety

6.5

 

The Challnger gets mixed results in crash testing. One body gives it high marks, while the other gives it average/below average test scores. At least our tester had a really good set of optional safety tech.

IIHS Rating: The Challenger gets dinged with "marginal" scores for the driver small overlap crash and only "acceptable" roof strength and head restraints/seats.

NHTSA Rating: It gets a full five stars, the top score from the government.

Standard Tech: There's no standard safety tech aside from airbags, ABS, and Traction control.

Optional Tech: Our car came with Automatic High Beam Control, Rain Sensitive Wipers, Adaptive Speed Control, Forward Collision Warning, High Intensity Discharge Headlamps, and the much-needed Blind Spot and Rear Cross Path Detection.

Storage/Cargo

7.2

 

Muscle cars aren't for trips to Home Depot, but the Challenger GT actually does well compared to the competition, namely the Mustang and the Camaro.

Storage Space: Though there's no dedicated large space in the center stack, there's a convenient slot next to the shifter and cupholders right between the driver's seat. The big armrest is ideal for larger items.

Cargo Room: 16.2 cubic feet in the trunk is bigger than both the Mustang and the Camaro. It's enough for several bags of groceries or a weekend away.

Fuel Economy

6.8

 

The fact that it houses a V6 instead of a V8 means it's more efficient but by no means miserly. We didn't hit our EPA numbers, but we really didn't expect to. The GT has the best mileage in the Challenger lineup, except for the two-wheel drive version.

Observed: 20.3 mpg

Distance Driven: 73 miles

Driving Factors: We didn't drive the GT very far, but we throttled it aggressively to test out its legs.

Audio

8.6

 

There's no Beats audio system like the one found in the Durango SRT, but the GT does get a very good upgraded Alpine premium system. The 9-speaker system comes with a subwoofer and a powerful 506-Watt Amplifier. The sound was strong with great bass and good clarity.



Final Thoughts

If you want to show off in a muscle car with burnouts and a deafening exhaust note, an all-wheel drive V6 version might not be the way to go. But if you want to blow past all the RWD V8s when the snow falls, the Challenger GT is the only way to go. It presents a great option for buyers who want the retro muscle look without the inclement weather risks. It's backed by great tech, great front seats, and enough power to make things fun. Frankly, it's the responsible way to go.
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