The Challenger may be the most out-of-date muscle car, but its age is beginning to give it a true character of its own. The sixth-generation Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro have been trimming fat in the pursuit of lower lap times, but with the chubby old Challenger, Dodge has mostly been focused on style and the quarter-mile.
New aspects of the 2018 Mustang include a more powerful dual-injected version of Ford’s 5.0-liter Coyote V8, an available 10-speed automatic transmission, a 12-inch LCD instrument panel, a twin-disc clutch six-speed manual transmission for V8 models and available MagneRide magnetic dampers. Keeping with the track ready theme Ford and Chevy are on, the 2018 model year Mustang also features revised shock absorbers, stiffer stabilizer bars and a reworked fully independent rear end.
Any potential pony car buyer can see that while Ford and Chevy have the more up-to-date offerings, the two are clearly studying each other’s moves. FCA, on the other hand, hasn’t had the cash to bring an all-new Challenger to market to replace the current version, which debuted in 2008. The Challenger is now the old school offering, which isn’t such a bad thing in a segment that essentially thrives off of those wearing rose tinted glasses. Dodge is also bringing unique model variants to market to make up for it, such as the 707 horsepower Challenger Hellcat or the upcoming hellcat-based Challenger Demon widebody. They might not be all-new cars, but it’s helping to keep the Challenger relevant.
An all-new Challenger won’t arrive until 2020. That vehicle is expected to follow in the footsteps of the current Mustang and Camaro and place a heavy emphasis on handling and dynamic performance. Rumors point to it riding on Alfa Romeo’s ‘Giorgio’ platform that debuted in the Alfa Romeo Giulia QV – a car that broke the Nurburgring lap record for four-door performance cars. Maybe FCA can see to it that the next-gen Challenger breaks a pony car record at the Green Hell, but until then, it’s the Mustang and Camaro that will feel more at home on the racetrack.
BY SAM MCEACHERN