There's a simple formula when it comes to muscle cars. Make it powerful, make it fast and make it look good. The urge to add to that formula is hard to resist, and many times shunned by the muscle car faithful, but sometimes it further enhances the experience.
The 2013 Dodge Challenger executes that formula with solid determination and benefits from a little added something that is rare among its competitors: comfort. From a smooth and compliant ride to an abundance of interior space, the Challenger isn't a challenge to live with.
Fortunately, this added luxury doesn't require compromises that might alter its muscle car personality. The entry-level V6 is anything but timid, though the 5.7-liter V8 is the obvious power plant of choice. For the rare driver who subscribes to the "too much is almost enough" philosophy, the 6.4-liter V8 will likely satisfy his cravings. Then there are the Challenger's looks. With a sinister front end and a menacing overall stance, it has the don't-mess-with-me attitude that is synonymous with muscle cars.
Pitted against its few rivals, the 2013 Dodge Challenger makes a very compelling case for itself. We still consider the 2013 Ford Mustang to be the top choice for its all-around excellence and bang-for-the-buck value. The 2013 Chevrolet Camaro is also a must-see if for its styling alone. But if you want some extra livability with your muscle car, the Challenger is the best choice here.
The 2013 Dodge Challenger is a five-seat coupe available in three trim levels that each corresponds to a different engine: SXT, R/T and SRT8 392.
The SXT's standard equipment includes a V6 engine, 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry/ignition, full power accessories, cruise control, automatic climate control, rear A/C outlets, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel, a six-way power driver seat (with power lumbar adjustment), a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, a trip computer and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
The optional SXT Plus package adds foglights, automatic headlights, leather upholstery, heated front seats, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, illuminated visor mirrors, Bluetooth connectivity/streaming audio and an upgraded sound system with satellite radio and an iPod/USB audio interface.
The SXT also offers a number of other packages. The Super Sport group includes 20-inch chrome wheels (with performance tires), a rear spoiler, a 3.06 rear axle ratio, performance-tuned suspension/steering/brakes and steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles. An Interior Appearance group includes metal-accented pedals, a car cover, upgraded floor mats and a T-handle shifter. The Electronics Convenience group includes heated mirrors, remote start and displays for tire pressure and outside temperature. The Sound Group II package comes with a 6.5-inch display screen, Boston Acoustics speakers and digital music storage.
The Challenger R/T gets a V8 engine, the SXT's Super Sport group (except with 18-inch alloy wheels), automatic headlamps, foglamps, heated mirrors, a USB/iPod interface, satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity/streaming audio. The R/T Plus package adds the rest of the features of the SXT Plus package that aren't already standard. The R/T Classic package includes the R/T Plus items as well as 20-inch "heritage-style" wheels, black side stripes, functional hood scoops and xenon headlights. The Super Track Pak (not a typo) includes higher-performance suspension/steering/brakes and revised stability control programming. Audio/navigation options essentially mirror those of the SXT. The R/T also offers the Interior Appearance group.
Individual option highlights for the SXT and R/T include a sunroof and a variety of special Mopar trim pieces and styling enhancements.
The Challenger SRT8 392 gets all the R/T's basic equipment, but adds a larger V8 engine, xenon headlamps, unique 20-inch wheels, sport seats, an upgraded trip computer with real-time performance data, hydraulic power steering (versus electrohydraulic), upgraded brakes and suspension and a one-day driver training course at the SRT Track Experience. Optional for the SRT8 are a navigation system and a premium 18-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
Unlike the Dodge Challenger's distinctive-looking exterior, the interior is quite bland. A few styling cues, like the large beveled dashboard and distinctive shifter knobs, are reminiscent of Challengers past, but overall, the interior experience pales in comparison to its retro-themed rivals. Rearward visibility, because of the car's chunky rear roof pillars, is also poor.
Despite a slightly confusing audio interface, however, the interior is quite functional and its materials are of good quality, with plenty of soft-touch surfaces. A relatively small-diameter steering wheel that's well-contoured makes for a pleasant interface between car and driver.
The front seats in most Challengers are wide and flat, which doesn't do much for lateral support, but they're exceptionally comfy for long-distance drives. The SRT8's have better bolstering and are also covered in leather and faux suede. The rear seats are surprisingly roomy for two adults, with good headroom and decent legroom. The backseat also features a 60/40 split-folding back, a fold-down armrest and a middle seat for tiny/good-natured folks. At 16.2 cubic feet, the Challenger's trunk is positively enormous for this segment and bigger than those of many midsize sedans.
The 2013 Dodge Challenger SXT is powered by a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 305 horsepower and 268 pound-feet of torque. A five-speed automatic is standard. EPA fuel economy estimates stand at 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined.
The Challenger R/T gets a 5.7-liter V8 that when paired with the standard six-speed manual transmission cranks out 376 hp and 410 lb-ft. When hooked up to the available five-speed automatic, output drops slightly to 372 hp and 400 lb-ft. In Edmunds testing, a manual-equipped Challenger R/T went from zero to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds; the automatic raises that to 5.8 seconds. Fuel mileage estimates are 16/25/19 for the automatic, with the manual getting 15/23/18.
The Challenger SRT8 392 gets a 6.4-liter V8 that produces 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. A six-speed manual is standard and a five-speed automatic is optional. In Edmunds testing, a manual-equipped SRT8 392 went from zero to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds. Fuel mileage estimates are 14/23/17 for either transmission.
While all 2013 Dodge Challengers are blessed with a ride quality that's comfortable enough to keep your mom happy when you pick her up from the airport, the base tuning of the SXT is pretty floaty. We highly recommend going for the Super Sport group's performance-tuned suspension, which buttons down the ride and brings with it more responsive steering and brakes. Or you could just get the R/T, which comes standard with those upgrades, plus the big V8 that, as expected, will have your mother screaming with anger or delight as you tear away from Arrivals. That goes double for the SRT8 392.
Overall handling is pretty respectable, particularly with the R/T and SRT8 392, though competitors like the Mustang or Hyundai Genesis Coupe are noticeably more agile.
Every 2013 Dodge Challenger comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, active front head restraints, front side airbags and side curtain airbags. In Edmunds brake testing, the SRT8 392 came to a stop in an excellent 106 feet.
The 2013 Dodge Challenger is unchanged.