Charger vs. Challenger: Which Dodge Used Muscle Car is Better?
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Muscle cars are a core component of the American dream. Baked into the auto landscape as a symbol of independence and go-getter glory, few of these over-exuberant rides come with a more vaunted reputation than the Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger.
Both of these cars have been around for decades, with the Charger first appearing on the market in 1966. The Challenger arrived in 1969, and both saw their peak popularity during the muscle car boom of the ‘60s and ‘70s. After an extended hiatus, their manufacturer brought them back in the late 2000s, combining retro styling with a modern flare.
If you’re a muscle car fan and have the budget to buy only one of these vehicles, which one do you choose? Below, we’ll break down the Charger versus the Challenger, and the benefits of both, by focusing on more recent years to keep things simple when it comes to updates and features.
Engine and Fuel Economy: the Difference between Dodge Charger and Challenger
To say one would be interested in the engine of a muscle car is an understatement. After all, if you’re in the market for one of these American legends, you’re buying a vehicle geared toward peak performance first.
With the Challenger, you have seven primary trim levels, each featuring a selection of engines. Depending on the model you buy and the customization options included, your specs can vary. They can go from a basic 3.6-liter V6 with 305 horsepower up to a 6.2-liter V8 that features a staggering 707 horsepower. With the Challenger SRT Demon, that stat goes even higher, reaching a massive 840 horsepower.
Rear-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic transmission come standard in the newer Challengers. From 2017 onward, Dodge offers the option to pair a V6 engine with all-wheel drive.
For the Charger, you have more trim-level options, although the engine specs are somewhat similar. They range from a basic 3.6-liter V6 with 292 horsepower up to a top-tier V8 with 707 horsepower. Like its fellow speed demon, the Charger comes with rear-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic transmission as standard. However, you can opt for an all-wheel drive in newer models.
The downside: You’ll find no optional upgrades for Chargers with manual transmissions.
When it comes to muscle cars, fuel economy is usually not the primary concern. Still, in the current era with rising gas prices, this might be an extra factor to consider. The 2019 rear-wheel-drive models of both vehicles have 13-19 mpg in the city and up to 30 mpg on the highway. The reason for this fluctuation is that the higher you rev your engine, the more this fuel economy will drop.
When you compare the Charger versus the Challenger’s respective weights, this can also affect your performance.
Our verdict on the Charger versus the Challenger and which is faster? With nearly identical specs, it’s a devil’s bargain as to which car you prefer.
The Exterior of the Dodge Charger or Challenger: Which is Better?
If there’s one thing that matches an engine in importance, it’s how eye-catching that muscle car looks on the road.
With its coupe body that sits on a low platform, the Challenger appears exceedingly retro in the best of ways. You can find these frames in the Scat Pack and Hellcat variants, and its cast-aluminum wheels are sure to catch the attractive flare of the sun as you drive. Its exterior paint job also comes in a wide variety of colors.
Newer Challengers have many decidedly un-retro features despite its frame, including automatic headlights and split LED taillights.
For the Charger with its sedan body, expect an equally broad selection of exterior colors and a frame that comes in the Scat Pack and SRT Hellcat variants. Additional perks to the newest versions of this stylish beast include an acoustic windshield and LED daytime running lights.
Our verdict? Both of these cars are incredibly appealing.
Interior Features, Cargo Space, and Tech: Comparing the Charger vs. Challenger
On the inside, both of these muscle cars are equally stylish.
The Challenger has a wide range of customization options. With base models, expect to see a simple, plush interior featuring cloth upholstery; upgraded options may feature leather seats. The back seats in this model aren't the biggest, and when it comes to Dodge Challenger versus Charger back-seat room, the Challenger can't compete.
That said, the cargo space is surprisingly spacious, and it's on par with other high-performance vehicles like the Camaro and the Mustang. Tech options include smooth interfacing with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto in newer models.
For the Charger, expect to seat five reasonably well, along with impressive cargo space in the back. The 2019 model has a touchscreen system as a key feature for certain upgrades. Additional tech options include voice control, two USB ports, and sync with Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Overall, these cars match equally well in cargo space, interior upgrades, and tech options. The deciding factor is how many passengers you expect to carry regularly, if any. If neither option works, it may be wise to check out this list of the best sports cars for 2021.
2016 Dodge Challenger SRT 392 (from $42,950)
For Muscle Car Options, Which One is Safer?
Safety might not be the first thing on your mind when buying a muscle car. Still, we’d like to argue that even with muscle cars, safety should be at the top of the list, especially if you’re carrying passengers.
Because 2015 was when both the Dodge Charger and the Dodge Challenger received a significant revision, this year and up is where you’ll want to start looking if you’re keeping modern safety features in mind. Optional upgrades include automatic emergency braking, rear parking sensors, and forward-collision warning for both models, among others.
Charger versus Challenger: Which is More Expensive?
Lastly, you’ll want to know what kind of price you’ll be paying for these fantastic cars. If you’re looking for a brand-new 2021 Challenger, the price currently averages out to $29,000 for the most pared-down model. With the Charger, the base averages out to $30,500.
That said, you can buy an earlier muscle car model for a better price, and at Shift, these deals are plentiful. Through Shift, you can get fair, no-haggle prices driven by powerful machine learning algorithms and tons of data. This way, with whichever car you choose, you can be assured that you made the right purchase.
2019 Dodge Charger Scat Pack (from $44,450)
Buy the Perfect Muscle Car on a Budget
So now that we’ve gone through this comparison in total, which car is better? Which American legend is the stuff of dreams?
Well, technically both, and the one you decide to purchase will be the vehicle that is best tailored to personal activities. Both of these cars are evenly matched in engine performance and retro looks. They are comparable in their tech features, as are their prices. The only notable difference is how comfortably they seat their passengers.
If you remain undecided on these two Dodge options but still want a muscle car, consider checking out this list of best-used muscle cars to buy in 2021.
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All prices are based on vehicle availability and pricing as of
April 15, 2022
Pricing shown is not guaranteed and does not include taxes or other product fees.