All the Dodge Challengers You Can Buy in 2018, Ranked
And we used the one metric you care most about: Trackday usefulness.
The first time I ever coached a trackday student with a modern-generation Challenger was nearly a decade ago, at New Jersey Motorsports Park. He was a “green group” novice with zero previous track time, and he showed up with a brand-new SRT-8 six-speed that was already sporting an aftermarket supercharger. Just a few minutes into our first session together, I realized that he was deliberately ignoring my instruction regarding the safest line to take around the “Thunderbolt” course. I had him pull into the pits and I asked him just what he hell he thought he was doing.
“I’m the fastest guy here, in the fastest car,” he replied, absolutely impassive behind his off-brand Oakley-style sunglasses, “and I don’t want to reveal my real speed until the afternoon.” I pride myself on having an immediate answer for nearly anything when I’m coaching but that statement left me speechless for a full five seconds.
“Why don’t we try doing the correct line on the track,” I suggested, “and you can go light on the throttle on the way out of the corners.” We spent the next two days together being passed by everything from a 1.6-liter Miata to a Toyota Yaris on Hoosiers. If the real speed ever arrived, I never noticed it. But I sent him home to his family safe and sound, which at the time I judged to be the maximum achievable result.
Fellows like my supercharged-SRT student have given the big two-door Dodge a bad rap at trackdays. It doesn’t help that many autowriters find themselves just plain overwhelmed by the challenge of driving a high-power, full-sized vehicle on a road course and as a result they tend to be less than complimentary regarding the Challenger’s merit as a trackday toy.
Ignore all of that. Even the rental-spec variants can be a lot of fun at a casual event, and the big-motor Challys can be just plain joyful. I’ve driven well over two dozen of them in (mild) anger, ranging from the zero-options automatics to the SRT-fettled variants, and I’ve enjoyed them all. In the list that follows, I’ve ranked the trackday fitness of all the different 2018 Challenger models. This isn’t a strict list of laptimes, as you’ll see. Instead, it’s kind of a buyer’s guide for the potential buyer who wants to use his new Dodge with NASA, Hooked on Driving, or any of the other weekend-getaway providers out there.
Just for fun, they’re ranked worst-to-first.
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