Dodge Charger vs Challenger – How Do These Two Differ?

Which do you prefer – Dodge Charger vs Challenger? Dodge has produced some legendary muscle cars over the years, but none are more iconic than the Challenger and the Charger.

Aggressive styling which embodies the excess of Americana, rear-wheel drive, and high horsepower engines are the essence of these vehicles.

The modern Challenger bears the closest resemblance to its roots – a two-door muscle coupe designed to blow the doors off its rivals while looking and sounding more aggressive than anything else on the streets.

The Charger, on the other hand, has matured over its lifetime. Originally a 17-foot barge that evolved into one of the most iconic American muscle cars of all time, the 2006 retro-styled Charger has become Dodge’s flagship performance sedan.

Dodge Charger vs Challenger: History And Background

The Dodge Charger is the elder of the two vehicles, first appearing in 1966 at the Rose Bowl College football show in Pasadena. This heavy fastback sold poorly, as American buyers were growing tired of the bloated oversized cars of the 50s/early 60s and wanted something compact with more power.

Dodge Charger vs Challenger

In 1968 the Charger received its first of many redesigns and became one of the most iconic muscle cars on the planet. A menacing split grille with hidden headlights, a longer hood, and a shorter boot, all contributed to the Charger’s brutal makeover.

Starring in the likes of Bullitt and The Dukes of Hazzard as the ‘General Lee’; the Charger became a household name. The Charger became so popular that it even had a song dedicated to it by Johnny Cash.

The base spec came with a 5.2-liter V8 which was reduced to a 3.7-liter inline-6 later that year however the Charger wasn’t aiming for economy by any means – the largest engine on offer was a 7.2-liter V8 which featured in the top of the line R/T (Road Track) models. To read more about the 4.7-liter, read here.

The Charger’s biggest rivals were the Ford Torino, and the Plymouth Roadrunner, and the Mercury Cyclone, all of which it competed against in Nascar, albeit with various aerodynamic adjustments. A homologation special called the Charger Daytona was available to purchase to the public and could hit 205mph with enough road.

Dodge Charger vs Challenger

While the Charger arguably dominated the muscle car market in the late 60s, come 1970 the same designer, Carl Cameron, created the Challenger. This stocky pony car was smaller in dimensions than the Charger but was just as powerful.

Produced to rival the increasingly popular Mustang and Camaro, the Challenger could be fitted with almost every engine in Chrysler’s history, from a 3.2-liter inline V6 to the same 7.2-liter V8 in the Charger, alongside an insane variety of trim options.

Despite the two models’ similarities in name, country of origin, and pursuit of raw adrenaline thrills, there are still many factors that make them their own beasts.

Charger vs Challenger

Out of the two, the Challenger bears the closest resemblance to its forefather, being a low-slung coupe with a chopped roofline, and 2+2 seat configuration. The Charger, on the other hand, has evolved from its coke bottle-shaped predecessor into a 4+3 sedan.

Dodge Charger vs Challenger

In simple terms, the Challenger chooses classic muscle car styling whereas the Charger champions practicality.

Dodge Charger vs Challenger #1: Styling

Continuing with the styling differences, one easy way to differentiate the Challenger from the Charger is the front fascia and lighting configuration. The Challenger has four round headlights with a thin split grille separating them, whereas the Charger has two large square headlamps.

At the rear, the Charger has one long taillight which stretches across the width of the vehicle, with ‘DODGE’ lettering integrated into the design. The Challenger features two separate two units with DODGE lettering stamped onto a black divider in between.

Dodge Charger vs Challenger

The Challenger is the only one available with a choice of hood options with the iconic ‘shaker’ hood as an option – a large air intake that sticks out of a cut out in the hood allowing you to see the intake shaking when the engine is running.

Dodge Charger vs Challenger #2: Wheelbase

In terms of size, the Charger’s wheelbase is four inches longer, but the larger overhangs to accommodate the menacing front bumper and rear spoiler of the Challenger make them almost identical in overall length.

The Challenger is available with a widebody option for the ‘Hellcat’ and ‘Demon’ models but none of the rest of the line-up. There are rumors amongst fans that the Charger will be getting a widebody model soon, but nothing has been confirmed by Dodge yet.

American muscle car comparison

Dodge Charger vs Challenger #3: Gearboxes

Driving purists will be disappointed to learn that the Charger cannot be spec’d with a manual gearbox whereas the Challenger can. The Charger is only available with an 8-speed automatic, even with the top-of-the-line Hellcat edition. Challenger buyers also have the option of a 6-speed manual except for some select models.

Dodge Charger vs Challenger #4: The Demon

One of the largest differences between the Charger and Challenger is that the Challenger has a unique model – The Demon. This top-of-the-line Challenger is one above the previous reigning champion, the Hellcat, and is built for demolishing drag records.

The Demon comes with a 6.2-liter V8 producing 840bhp and 770lb-ft of torque, this comes with the drawback of only 14.5mpg but you aren’t buying one because it’s the sensible option. Other impressive stats include a 0-60 time of 2.3 seconds, and a quarter mile time of 9.65 seconds clocked at 140mph.

This is all achieved thanks to a highly tuned supercharged engine, super slick drag tires, plenty of weight reduction, and the 8-speed transmission gear ratios adjusted for the drag strip.

Demon buyers also have a plethora of other bragging rights; the fastest quarter mile for a production car, the fastest 0-100mph of any production car, the first ever production car to be capable of a wheelie, and the highest G-forces ever recorded in a production car.

Whereas performance milestones are more Challenger territory the Charger trumps its brother with a wider selection of safety features; automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, and lane-keeping assist all appear on the Charger options list.

The Charger also comes with a 12v power socket and USB ports for rear passengers to make journeys more enjoyable.

Similarities Between The Charger And Challenger

In the simplest terms, both are Dodges that begin with ‘Cha’ and end in ‘ger’. Yet, there is far more that these two models share than brand and syllables.

1. RWD and AWD

Both are available in rear-wheel drive or all-wheel drive configurations. Prior to 2017, only the Charger had an AWD option. But, with the introduction of the Challenger GT AWD model, both now have the choice of drivetrains to boast about.

American muscle car comparison

2. Gearboxes

If driving in comfort with nothing to distract you from the road is what you’re after, or you never got your manual license, then you’re in luck because both the Dodge Charger and Challenger are available with an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Hardcore driving enthusiasts may call this blasphemy. But, if Dodge can make their autos good enough to take a Demon to 100mph in 5.1 seconds then they can’t be that bad.

3. Interiors

The dashboards of both cars are almost complete clones albeit with some minuscule dimensional differences. The layout, materials used, gauges, and steering wheel are all identical so there’s no superiority between the two.

YouTuber ‘SaabKyle04’ gives an in-depth analysis of the interiors of both the Charger and the Challenger where you can see the uncanny similarities.

Dodge Charger

Dodge Challenger

Furthermore, the same 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system comes as standard in both models. Plus, each buyer has the option of upgrading to an 8.4-inch system with a USB port and built-in satellite navigation.

4. Safety Features

Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise control, auto high-beams, and rear parking sensors all come as standard. Yet, this hasn’t prevented both the Challenger and Charger from receiving low safety scores.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, both cars score a ‘marginal’ score in the driver-side front crash test. For comparison, another coupe with around 350bhp in basic trim, the 2018 Audi S5, scored a perfect ‘G’ rating in the same test.

5. Engine Options

In terms of mechanicals, Dodge has offered customers a selection of V6 or V8 offerings; a 3.6-liter V8 (305bhp), a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 (370bhp), a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 (408bhp), or a 6.2-liter SRT Hellcat V8 (707bhp). The 840bhp 6.2-liter SRT Demon V8 mentioned earlier is unique to the Challenger.

American muscle car comparison

6. Fuel Economy

Fuel economy across all engines and trim levels is identical. And, that’s despite the different body styles of the coupe Challenger and sedan Charger. The V6 models get 23mpg combined, the 5.7-liter V8 yields 19mpg, the 6.4-liter V8 achieves 18mpg, and the Hellcat V8 16mpg.

7. Pricing

Pricing at basic trim levels is only $1,000 apart from the Charger at $27,995 and the Challenger at $26,995. However, this is where the pricing similarities end. The Charger’s price escalates at approximately $1,000-$2,000 jumps between each model. Whereas, the Challenger’s price inflates anywhere from $6,000-$15,000 depending on how generous you are when selecting the optional extras.

8. Warranty

Dodge offers the same warranty packages for both… A 3-year, 36,000mile ‘Basic Limited’ warranty, a 5-year, 60,000mile ‘Powertrain Limited’ warranty, or a 5-year, 100,000mile ‘Roadside Assistance warranty’.

Dodge Charger vs Challenger: In Conclusion…

In simple terms, the Challenger and Charger share many similarities… Both are modern muscle cars that harken back to simpler times when big power was all that mattered. And, back when things like aerodynamics and safety features were afterthoughts. Both are high horsepower, RWD, and lack the modern technology of their overseas rivals.

The main differences are that the Charger is a 4-door sedan, whereas the Challenger is a 2-door coupe. If it’s the extra practicability and driver visibility you’re after then the Charger is your choice. But, if it’s a highly stylized American muscle car you’re after then the Challenger is your pick.

If you are a big Dodge fan, keep your eyes open for the release of the new Dodge Barracuda coming soon.

FAQs On Dodge Charger vs Challenger

If you’re still curious to learn more about the Dodge Charger vs Challenger, our FAQs here might help…

What Is A Hellcat

Hellcat is a trim level and badge that’s only ever put on the fastest cars that Dodge can build. Nowadays, there are two that stick out, the Charger Hellcat and the Challenger Hellcat. Both come with a similar engine – a massive 6.2-liter supercharged V8. Although, they have been tuned slightly differently for both cars. In the Charger, the top-most Hellcat variant spits out 797 horsepower. Meanwhile, with the Challenger, the fastest Hellcat version has a whopping 807 horsepower. The latter is officially the most powerful production V8 engine. For a Hellcat, outrageous horsepower, that loud supercharger whine, and lots of tire smoke is the main appeal of Dodge’s fastest muscle cars.

How Much Horsepower Does A Scat Pack Have

If you can’t afford a Demon or a Hellcat, the Scat Pack is a suitably performant variant of the Charger or the Challenger. They all share the same V8 engine, which can output 485hp, with peak power at 6,100RPM. And, another 475 lb-ft of torque, with peak torque at 4,100RPM. In its earliest model years, the Charger and Challenger Scat Pack cars had around 432hp. The 392 Scat Pack trim was then upgraded over the years, raising the horsepower to 470hp. And as of late, 485hp. This accompanied a newer transmission, too. The earlier Scat Pack cars came with a Mercedes-sourced 5-speed automatic, while the later ones had an 8-speed automatic, with paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

Are Dodge Chargers Reliable

The Dodge Charger is just about average when it comes to dependability. That alone is surprising, as its prospects as a high-performance sedan should’ve made it less reliable than it actually is. But compared to other full-size sedans, it’s not too bad. According to RepairPal’s survey, they found that Dodge Chargers can sometimes cost their owners quite a lot to fix fairly severe issues. However, the frequency of major issues appearing isn’t as high as in some other cars. Moreover, they’ve found that on average, you might have to spend $652 per year on maintaining and repairing your Charger. This is also just about average and is on par with rival cars.

How Fast Is A Hellcat

The Hellcat badge is stuck onto only the fastest cars that Dodge can build. It’s no surprise then that a Hellcat should be able to break past the 200mph barrier. Specifically, an SRT Hellcat Redeye, either on the Challenger or the Charger, could hit a top speed of 203mph. Dodge’s engineers have worked on aerodynamics. Thus, ensuring that even at higher speeds, both Hellcats could remain stable and planted onto the ground. Besides top speed, it’s also pretty fast in a straight line. From 0 to 60mph, either Hellcat will manage this in just 3.6 seconds. Although, it’s worth noting that the regular Hellcat might struggle to break past 199mph – which is its official top speed figure.

Is Dodge Charger A Sports Car

Whether or not a Dodge Charger is a sports car remains questionable. It certainly has the necessary performance, dynamics, and handling ability to rival most sports cars. With that in mind, you can make the argument that the Charger is indeed a sports car. However, some folks might also argue that a true sports car should be a two-door coupe. But, a Dodge Charger isn’t a two-door coupe – it’s a practical four-door sedan that could seat five at once. As such, it might be more accurate to label the Dodge Charger as a sports sedan instead of a sports car. Meanwhile, the two-door Dodge Challenger muscle car is more akin to a sports car in both performance and form factor than a Charger.


  • Julian Porte Says

    An informative – and fair – comparison, I’d say … thank you!

    • Zack Norman Says

      Thanks for the comments, Julian Porte!

      Cheers, happy you’ve found our little guide here 🙂

  • “The Challenger has four round headlights, whereas the Charger has two large square headlamps.” – Simple 🙂

  • Rhonda Cheryl Bartsch Says

    I love my 2010 Challenger as it is so similar to the one I had in my late teens. Because I was over 50 when I purchased it my older brother and some of my family could not understand my desire to buy it. My kids and lady friends certainly like to cruise around in it. Royal Blue with white stripes trimmed in red sporting a sun roof and awesome sound system.

    • Zack Norman Says

      Thanks for the comment, Rhonda Cheryl Bartsch!

      Typically, I’ve personally also found that non-car-folks often find it odd why we choose a particular car, too! But glad to hear that you’ve stuck with it anyways, and in such a nice choice of trim, too!

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