2021 Dodge Challenger

Performance is why you’re here and if it’s not, it should be.

The 2021 Challenger mostly sings the same tune as years before and its key is a low-octave V-8 rumble. It’s an 8 for performance based on the most popular engine configuration, which is a 5.7-liter V-8. If it were rated on what’s possible, the Challenger could be an 11.

The Challenger starts with a standard V-6 on SXT and GT models that makes 303 hp. It’s paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission with rear- or all-wheel drive. It’s enough power to send the coupe just about anywhere, but not enough to keep us from looking at what’s next.

That would be a 5.7-liter V-8 that makes 375 hp and 410 lb-ft of torque shipped to the rear wheels through a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic in R/T models. It lights up its rear tires and snaps off runs from 0 to 60 mph in about five seconds. Neat.

The R/T Scat Pack subs in a more powerful 6.4-liter V-8 (392 cubic inches, if you’re wondering what the badges mean) that makes 485 hp and 476 lb-ft, paired to a 6-speed manual or 8-speed automatic. It drubs 0-60 mph sprints in about four seconds and is ready for the dragstrip straight out of the box. (The 1320 version, which is available again for 2021, is even more ready with adaptive dampers, drag radials, TransBrake, and other goodies.)

From there, the Challenger’s performance speeds past superlative, toward the horizon of silly. A 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 under the hoods of SRT Hellcats spins out 717 hp and 656 lb-ft and will run to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds. Paired to an 8-speed automatic or 6-speed manual, it’s a muscle car in modern times. It’s fast, loud, and thirsty.

A 797-hp version of that same engine is found under the hoods of Redeye Hellcats and shaves a tenth off of that 0-60 mph sprint and is paired only to an 8-speed automatic. We’ve driven this version plenty; our sore necks from 707 lb-ft of thrust are proof.

The 807-hp Challenger Super Stock is king of the horsepower hill for this year. It’s best for drag-strip detail and features 18-inch wheels with street-legal drag radials and suspension components geared toward shifting its weight toward the rear.

Suspension and handling

More than two tons has no right to move this fast. Yet, here we are.

All Challengers get a four-wheel independent suspension that’s comfortable and competent in a straight line. From there, physics extracts a heavy toll that technology can mitigate—but not eliminate.

Adaptive dampers fitted to SRT Hellcats and SRT Super Stock toggle among Auto, Sport, and Track or Drag modes for increasing firmness and to shift weight toward the rear wheels. (Those dampers are available on R/T Scat Pack models as well.)

The wider Challengers are the readiest for corners, relatively speaking. They’re 2.5 inches wider than the rest of the bunch, with wider tires that grip that much more.

That said, nearly every Challenger wouldn’t blink at swapping ends faster than we can say “What’s oversteer?”

That’s why driver education and track days are critically important in any Challenger. Especially anything with an SRT badge on it.

Review continues below