2021 Dodge Challenger FAQ Review

Jack R. Nerad, Independent Expert | Jun 23, 2021

The 2021 Dodge Challenger finds itself in a U.S. car market that used to be filled with high-horsepower two-doors offering style along with a reasonable level of 5-passenger practicality — cars like the Pontiac GTO and Oldsmobile 442. But times and tastes change, so the once very vibrant market segment is now a shadow of its former self.

That doesn't mean there is no market at all for V8-powered American performance. While the 2021 Dodge Challenger is not a "pony car" like the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro, those are the coupes that are most similar to it. Another competitor is the Dodge Charger, which in many ways is a 4-door version of the Challenger.

The Dodge Challenger uses the classic American-car configuration of front engine and rear drive. The base engine is a naturally aspirated V6, but the Challenger hangs its hat on traditional high-displacement V8 power. Dodge also mixes in healthy doses of technology, especially in the Challenger's infotainment systems.

The Challenger has the looks, performance, and heritage to warm the heart of many a Baby Boomer who remembers the car from "back in the day." But at the same time, its appearance, acceleration, and practicality mark it as a car that resonates with many younger buyers who want a daily driver that sets them apart.

What's new for the 2021 Dodge Challenger? - Find the best Dodge deals!

The 2021 Dodge Challenger is, mechanically, essentially a carryover from the previous model year, so changes revolve around new accessories and packages. For 2021, new items include:

  • Widebody package available on R/T Scat Pack Shaker and T/A 392
  • Memory feature for driver's seat, steering column, side mirrors, and radio presets available on all trim levels
  • 20-inch wheels now standard on GT AWD, available on SXT AWD trims
  • Additional SRT branding on SRT trims
  • Black chrome finish on the grille, spoiler, and fender badges on some SRT trims

2021 DODGE CHALLENGER SPECS - Find the best Dodge deals!

2021 Dodge Challenger RT Scat Pack Widebody Red Front Quarter View

What are the 2021 Dodge Challenger configurations?

Dodge offers a wide variety of Challenger models, ranging from reasonably mild-mannered V6-powered versions to the supercharged SRT Super Stock that boasts an astounding 807 horsepower. The Challenger that is the subject of this FAQ Review is a middle-of-the-line model with a 6.2-liter V8 engine. All V8 Challengers have rear-wheel drive, while all-wheel drive (AWD) is available with the V6 engine.

Dodge makes the Challenger in a staggering nine trim levels: SXT, SXT AWD, GT, GT AWD, R/T, R/T Scat Pack, SRT Hellcat, SRT Hellcat Redeye, and SRT Super Stock. Further, the R/T Scat Pack, SRT Hellcat, and SRT Hellcat Redeye are available in Widebody form, while the SRT Super Stock is Widebody only.

What is the 2021 Dodge Challenger price?

Base prices for the 2021 Challenger range from $28,870 for the SXT to $59,570 for the SRT Hellcat. Packages and engine options can move SRT prices much higher. In addition, each vehicle has a destination charge of $1,495.

What is the 2021 Dodge Challenger trunk space?

The Dodge Challenger offers 16.2 cubic feet of trunk space. In comparison, the Mustang provides 13.5 cubic feet, and the Camaro offers a mere 9.1 cubic feet.

What is the 2021 Dodge Challenger gas mileage?

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the 2021 Challenger should return the following fuel economy in combined driving:

  • 23 mpg for SXT and GT with the 3.6-liter V6 engine
  • 21 mpg for SXT and GT AWD models
  • 19 mpg for R/T with the 5.7-liter V8
  • 18 mpg for R/T Scat Pack with the 6.4-liter V8
  • 16 mpg for SRT Hellcat with the supercharged 6.2-liter V8

During testing of the 2021 Challenger with a 6.4-liter V8 engine, 8-speed automatic transmission, and rear drive, the car averaged 16.5 mpg. With a fuel tank capacity of 18.5 gallons, the expected driving range is about 300 miles. However, based on its fuel consumption, it is wise to re-fuel at the 250-mile mark.

Is the 2021 Dodge Challenger safe?

Compared to many other current vehicles, the Dodge Challenger is relatively light concerning standard and available advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). At the same time, the Challenger has been rated positively by independent safety experts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The Challenger was not chosen as a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). But it was rated Good in moderate overlap frontal collision crashworthiness and side crashworthiness. Additionally, the Challenger has received a 5-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

2021 DODGE CHALLENGER REVIEW - Find the best Dodge deals!

For this review, I evaluated a 2021 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack. It had "Go Mango" orange paint, side decal delete for a sleeker look, locking lug nuts for anti-theft security, Alcantara and Nappa leather seats, a mid-level Alpine audio system, T/A package including 20-inch alloy wheels, Driver Convenience Group, and Technology Group. This resulted in a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $53,485, including the destination charge.

How is the 2021 Dodge Challenger interior?

2021 Dodge Challenger RT Scat Pack Widebody Interior Dashboard

Getting into the Dodge Challenger is not as easy as slipping into the typical crossover, but it is significantly easier than getting into the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro coupes. The Challenger has large doors, but the fact that it is three inches taller than the Mustang and more than four inches taller than the Camaro gives the typical adult more straightforward access to the seat. Getting out is equally easy.

The Challenger's interior design breaks no new ground, which is probably how its buyers want it. The instrument panel and the infotainment screen are located in a unified, framed space. At the same time, some of the controls, including the controls for the heat and ventilation system, are well below that space at the front of the center console. This and the positioning of the display screen requires the driver to look down as well as right to get some information and perform some functions. This isn't difficult to do, and veteran drivers will find this very familiar.

The speedometer and tachometer are the traditional round shape in the familiar positions, but they have been jazzed up with flashy electronics in many trims. Depending upon your seating position and size, portions of the gauges can be obscured by the steering wheel, but that doesn't present a problem.

The steering wheel controls are pretty simple because the Challenger doesn't have many electronic driver aids that require additional controls. They include switches and buttons for the audio system and the cruise control.

The gear selector for the test vehicle's automatic transmission is an easy-to-grip T-shaped handle, one of the car's many old-school touches. The heating and ventilation controls are mounted low in the center dash area, and they are intuitive to operate.

Is the 2021 Dodge Challenger comfortable?

The Alcantara and Nappa leather seats are nice to look at and comfortable in which to sit. Some might prefer a more heavily bolstered seat, but for typical day-to-day driving — the kind of driving the Challenger will be put to — prominent bolsters can often get in the way. The R/T Scat Pack's seats strike a nice compromise. Of course, an advantage the Challenger's interior has versus the interiors of the Mustang and Camaro is its size. It is larger in virtually every dimension than the two pony cars.

The driver's seat power-adjusts six ways; it also has power-operated 4-way lumbar support. Then there is the T/A logo to remind you that you're in a special car. The steering wheel is heated and leather-wrapped.

The Challenger has a significant advantage over the Mustang and Camaro in rear-seat room. While the back seats of the pony cars are torturous for adults, the rear bench seat of the Challenger can accommodate as many as three adults for long stretches of driving. The back seat also accommodates child seats, but access to the rear seats in the two-door configuration is difficult. So with kids in car seats, the 4-door Dodge Charger is a better choice.

The Challenger has dual-zone automatic temperature control with front and rear passenger vents and a humidity sensor to keep driver and passengers comfy. Another welcome touch is the 12-volt power outlet inside the armrest.

Does the 2021 Dodge Challenger drive itself?

No, 1,000 times no. The Dodge Challenger is designed for drivers who want to be very actively engaged at all times. But, of course, that should be the role of every driver.

The test Challenger offered some driver assistance features as part of optional packages. The Driver Convenience Group of options includes blind-spot warning and rear cross-traffic warning. The Technology Group includes adaptive cruise control, automatic high-beam headlights, and forward-collision warning. The Challenger also has hill-start assist and rear parking warning.

Compared to other contemporary cars, the Challenger's array of ADAS is rudimentary, even when the vehicle is equipped with the optional items.

Does the 2021 Dodge Challenger have AWD?

Yes, it can have AWD. All-wheel drive is available on the SXT and GT trims, both of which are powered by the 3.6-liter V6 engine. All-wheel drive is not available on the V8-powered Challengers; all of them are rear-drive.

Is the 2021 Dodge Challenger fun to drive?

Do ducks like the water? The Dodge Challenger is fun to drive in virtually any of its iterations, but the test vehicle with its 485-horsepower engine and quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission was particularly fun to drive. Certainly, higher-horsepower Challengers (and Chargers) are available, and they provide even higher levels of all-around performance. But for everyday practicality and overall solid performance at an attractive price, the Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack is a particular bargain.

According to independent tests, the R/T Scat Pack will vault from 0-60 miles per hour in just 4.2 seconds. Dodge says the car's top speed is 176 mph. That's very impressive for a vehicle that will also comfortably transport up to five adults and their luggage and costs around $50K.

In R/T Scat Pack trim, the Challenger's handling might not be as cutting edge as the top performance versions of the Mustang or Camaro. What the Challenger does offer, however, is extremely pleasant around-town and highway drivability in a vehicle that offers plenty of interior room, good visibility, and exceptional acceleration and braking. Some current Mustangs and Camaros might beat it around a road course. The question is, do you care?

If you seek the ultimate right-from-the-showroom drag strip car, the Challenger SRT Super Stock is there for you. Of course, the other Challenger SRT models also deliver performance muscle car buyers could only have dreamed about a generation ago. That said, the Challenger R/T Scat Pack is one grand everyday coupe for the enthusiast driver.

IS THE 2021 DODGE CHALLENGER A GOOD CAR? - Find the best Dodge deals!

Owners of the Dodge Challenger certainly like what their vehicle offers them. According to the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout Study, the Dodge Challenger is the top-ranked Midsize Sporty Car. The Challenger also ranks second in its segment in the J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study, which examines 2018 model-year vehicles, including the 2018 Challenger that is very similar to the current Challenger. The Dodge did not rank among the top three models in its segment in the J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Initial Quality Study.

2021 Dodge Challenger RT Scat Pack Widebody Red Rear Quarter View

Looking at the Challenger from the point of view of a sporty coupe buyer, the Dodge Challenger offers many choices, from mild performance at low cost to amazing performance at a price far less than those of cars with similar performance credentials. It delivers a winning combination of good looks and a reasonable amount of interior and trunk space for a coupe buyer, far outperforming its competition in the latter areas.

What is the 2021 Dodge Challenger competition? - Find the best Dodge deals!

Once a high-volume segment in the U.S. market, the sporty coupe market has become a shadow of its former self. Because of that, the 2021 Dodge Challenger only has a couple of nearly head-to-head competitors — the Ford Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro.

As has been noted, the Challenger is larger than its two main competitors. It has a longer wheelbase and longer overall length, it is wider, and it is taller. That gives it more interior space and trunk space. However, it also makes it slightly less agile than the Mustang and Camaro. The upside is more comfort for the driver and passengers.

Looking at all its attributes, the Dodge Challenger is an attractive sports coupe with advantages in interior and cargo space versus its competitors. In addition, it is reliable, and its owners swear by it. Couple that with the fact that in many trim levels, it offers very impressive amounts of horsepower for the price, and one has to conclude the Challenger is worthy of strong consideration.

Jack R. Nerad has been road testing and writing about vehicles for decades for Web and print publications, including JDPower.com and others. He has a weekly podcast called America on the Road, and his work has appeared in scores of prestigious newspapers, magazines, and online publications.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2022 J.D. Power

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