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All sport coupes tend towards uncompromising performance machines, but the Dodge Challenger takes that principle well past its limits. Home to both of the most powerful mass-production car engines in the world, the Challenger is certainly a loving ode to the American muscle car tradition.
But there is more to the Challenger than just pure power. It comes in a full variety of different trim levels that range from the relatively mild and comfortable cruisers with just a little extra kick over the competition all the way up to the monstrously powerful Hellcat and Demon variants. Along the way, the Challenger offers a fair bit of equipment that makes even the more calm drives pretty enjoyable, and provides the car’s passengers with a suitable level of comfort as well.
The 2018 Dodge Challenger is one of the more complicated Dodge vehicles, adding two new trim levels to the specification sheet for a grand total of 16 different variants. There are also optional features available for each one, making for an almost infinite amount of different combinations available to purchase.
This guide simplifies the process by summarizing all of the important differences that each trim level brings, as well as giving drivers some additional advice as to which options and trim combinations can provide them with the most enjoyment for their money.
Compare the 2018 Challenger SXT vs SXT Plus Trims. What is the difference?
The starting point of the Dodge lineup is the SXT model, which is slightly pricier than many competitors in the two-door sports car segment, but also comes with a nicer selection of standard equipment.
This year has seen the SXT get some further upgrades, including a standard 7-inch infotainment touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The engine on this model is the 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6, producing 305 horsepower. Potent, but not earth-shattering like the higher Challenger models, it comes exclusively with an eight-speed automatic transmission. The base Challenger also takes car of the basic comfort, convenience and style features well. 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone climate control, a rearview camera, and push-button start with smart entry are all included on this trim as standard features.
There is also a full range of optional packages and equipment available on the SXT. The Blacktop package is an appearance package that includes 20-inch wheels with Firestone tires, fog lights, interior and exterior accents, a spoiler, and satellite radio.
The Super Track Pack also adds 20-inch wheels, but it combines them with performance tires, rear parking sensors, and a tune-up of the car’s brakes, steering, and suspension. It also comes with steering wheel paddle shifters and special performance tracking software for the infotainment system.
The Super Sport Group is another package that combines the 20-inch wheels with performance brakes and paddle shifters. The last of the packages including the 20-inch wheels is the Performance Handling Group that also includes Brembo brakes, Bilstein suspension, parking sensors, performance steering tune, paddle shifters, and performance tracking software.
There are also packages more focused on comfort and style. The Cold Weather Group adds heated front seats and steering wheel, while the Driver Convenience Group adds blind spot monitors with rear cross traffic alert, high-intensity headlights, rear parking assist, a remote starter, and a universal garage door opener.
The Interior Appearance Group adds Mopar-branded door sills, pedals, and floor mats. Outside of these packages, a six-speaker sound system, a moonroof, navigation, satellite radio, and side and hood stripes are all available as independent options.
The SXT Plus is a small upgrade on the SXT. It comes with the same engine and transmission, while also including a larger number of standard features and options. It’s major upgrades are the Nappa leather seats with heating and ventilation for the front row, 20-inch wheels, and an upgraded 8.4-inch infotainment system. It also comes with rear parking sensors, satellite radio, a six-speaker Alpine sound system, and fog lights.
For the most part, the SXT Plus offers the same set of packages as the regular SXT, but it also offers a number of upgrades on top of them as well. The Technology Group adds dynamic cruise control with a forward collision warning, as well as automatic high beams and windshield wipers. The sound system can also be upgraded to a 9-speaker Alpine setup or an 18-speaker Harman/Kardon one. The Super Sport Group and the Cold Weather Group are not available on the SXT Plus, as it includes pretty much all of their features, while the Super Track Pack also comes with sport seats.
The SXT is a fairly average deal compared to other sports cars. It offers a little more standard equipment - similar to a mid-range model - but also costs slightly more that most entry-level sports cars. The SXT Plus offers a more impressive value. After accounting for the optional packages from the base SXT that it includes, the price difference between the two trims comes out to less than $1000.
Drivers who were already including the Cold Weather Group and the Super Sport Group in their plans would then get much more value by simply upgrading to the much nicer SXT Plus. With the solid set of standard and optional comfort choices, it is a good car for those looking for a more plush sports car experience without too much additional expense.
Compare the 2018 Dodge Challenger SXT vs GT Trim Levels. What is the difference?
The Dodge Challenger is a rear-wheel drive car, with the exception of one model - the GT. The Challenger GT comes with the same engine and transmission as the SXT models, but is equipped in an all-wheel drive configuration. The GT also has 19-inch wheels, but beyond that matches the SXT Plus in terms of standard features, including things like the heated and cooled Nappa leather seats. It offers slightly fewer optional packages however.
The Blacktop Package, Technology Group, and the Driver Convenience Group from the SXT Plus are available, as are the navigation and the moonroof. There is also a special GT Interior package, which adds the 9-speaker sound system and a sport steering wheel. Exterior stripes are also available as usual on this model.
There is not a huge market for all-wheel drive among rear-wheel drive sports car buyers, but the GT is the perfect model for those. It can be a good car for a region with relatively nice weather that occasionally gets some snow or heavy rain. In places where traction-affecting weather is rare, the rear-wheel drive models are either less expensive or offer more performance for the money. Meanwhile, in areas that regularly get snow, the Challenger is likely to be a summer car anyways, so all-wheel drive is not as high of a priority either.
Compare the Challenger SXT vs R/T Trim Levels. What is the difference?
The first performance upgrade available for the Challenger, the R/T model comes with the more powerful 5.7-liter HEMI V-8. It gets up to 375 horsepower and is matched to a six-speed manual transmission, though an eight-speed automatic is also available. It also comes with 20-inch alloy wheels and an active exhaust control system, as well as a leather-wrapped steering wheel with paddle shifters for the automatic models. Aside from those features, the R/T is basically the same as the base SXT model in terms of standard and optional equipment. It comes with the smaller 7-inch infotainment system, cloth seats, and the same selection of optional packages. The R/T falls around the middle of the road in terms of power on the Challenger.
It is a powerful car and feels stronger than the V-6 version, but it is still fairly comfortable to drive as a daily commuter or around town without feeling tense or overpowered. It also features the nice selection of standard features and options that the SXT offers that cover everything short of leather and the high-end amenities. Those are found in the higher R/T Plus trim level.
Compare the Challenger R/T vs R/T Plus Trims. What is the difference?
The Dodge design team was being fairly honest when they named the R/T Plus trim level, and it comes with exactly the equipment that one would expect. It has the 375-horsepower HEMI V-8 from the base R/T, as well as the standard comfort features introduced by the SXT Plus trim level. The only deviation from this formula is the active exhaust system, which has dual tips on the R/T Plus rather than the single-tip version on the regular R/T.
The options packages are the same as on the SXT Plus as well, with a few additions. The R/T Classic package gives the car a more vintage look, complete with the Challenger logo rendered in cursive script and classic black racing stripes along the side. It also includes performance leather seats, high-intensity headlights, and unique wheels with classic styling.
Like with the choice between the SXT and the SXT Plus, the upgrade to the R/T Plus is generally worth it for buyers who were planning on including at least a few upgrades on their R/T. The R/T Plus lists for about $3,000 more than the R/T, but it also includes a little more than $2,000 in R/T optional packages as well as the leather seats and other nice upgrades. While the base R/T is a solid muscle car and a good choice for those on a budget, the R/T Plus offers a lot more for only slightly more money.
Compare the 2018 Challenger R/T Plus vs R/T Shaker Trims. What is the difference?
While the R/T Plus serves as a comfort upgrade over the R/T, the R/T Shaker serves as the performance-oriented model. It comes with the same equipment as the base R/T model, and does not add most of the comfort features that the R/T Plus does, aside from the rear parking assist. Instead, it has a large Shaker hood scoop with a Mopar cold air intake system. It also has a multi-setting traction control, as well as the ability to turn it off completely.
Beyond that, the R/T Shaker adds the performance tracking infotainment option and the Super Track Pack package, which comes with performance-tuned brakes, suspension and steering. It also offers an optional Shakedown package on top of the usual R/T add-ons. It includes a special black-and-white instrument cluster, exterior Shakedown graphics, and a six-speaker sound system.
While it lacks the comfort options of the R/T Plus, the Challenger R/T Shaker is built around squeezing more performance out of the 5.7-liter HEMI. The cold-air intake adds a little extra hustle to the car’s performance, and the additional tuning for the other mechanical components also results in slightly better handling and cornering.
It is a fair comparison to the base R/T or the comfort-focused R/T Plus, but at only $2,500 less than the starting price of the significantly more powerful R/T Scat Pack, it fits in a slightly awkward place in the model lineup.
Compare the 2018 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker vs T/A Trim Levels. What is the difference?
Available for just $500 more than the R/T Shaker, the Challenger T/A is a variant of that trim level with its own unique exterior and interior styling inspired by the traditional 70s muscle cars. It has a unique seat and upholstery design, as well as a bold exterior look with large stripes running down the sides. In all other respects, it is the same as the R/T Shaker model, though without the available Shakedown package.
At the price point of the R/T Shaker and T/A models, the $500 difference is just loose change really. The unique look of the T/A is certainly attractive, and helps the Challenger stand out of the crowd more than it already does.
Compare the 2018 Challenger R/T Shaker vs R/T Plus Shaker Trims. What is the difference?
For those who can’t choose between the added performance of the R/T Shaker model and the added comfort of the R/T Plus model, the R/T Plus Shaker combines the two seamlessly. It has all of the added performance equipment of the R/T Shaker package as well as all of the nice comfort amenities that the R/T Plus adds. The options packages are the same as on the R/T Plus, with the addition of the Shakedown Package with its special Shaker look.
The R/T Plus Shaker combination trim level is aimed at the demographic of people who like both performance and style, though it is awkwardly positioned like the regular R/T Shaker. It is more expensive than the entry-level 392 model, which offers more power, and it is close in price to the 392 Shaker model, which also includes all of the added Plus comfort features. In most cases, buyers would be advised to skip this trim level for one of the others around the same price range, as they offer much more for a similar cost.
Compare the Challenger R/T Plus Shaker vs T/A Plus Trim Levels. What is the difference?
The T/A Plus trim level gives the T/A visual treatment to the R/T Plus Shaker model. It is identical to the R/T Plus Shaker Challenger, with the exception of the T/A styling, which is the same as on the regular T/A model. The optional features are likewise similar.
For those who find the R/T Plus Shaker model to be the best fit for them, the T/A Plus offers a nice fresh look for about $500 more. Those who enjoy the unique T/A styling will easily find it money well spent. But like the regular R/T Plus Shaker, there are quite a few better alternatives available around this price range.
Compare the Dodge Challenger R/T vs R/T Scat Pack Trims. What is the difference?
The R/T Scat Pack, despite its name, is actually the first of the 392 Dodge Challengers. It uses the 392 HEMI V-8 that ups the car’s power output all the way up to 485 horsepower. It is a car put together with the track in mind, as such power is mostly unnecessary for any non-SUV passenger car. The R/T Scat Pack comes with the same equipment as the other base models like the R/T and the SXT, though it does feature a few extras. It has 20-inch aluminum wheels, a rear spoiler, and four-piston Brembo brakes. Outside of that, it is the same as the R/T and SXT models.
It also shares much of its options with them. The Driver Convenience Group, the Interior Appearance Group, the Technology Group, the Alpine speaker package, and the Harman/Kardon package are all available on the R/T Scat Pack unchanged from their earlier versions. The hood stripe, navigation, and a sunroof are also available. Beyond that, there are a few special packages new for this trim level. The Scat Pack Appearance Group adds some stylish exterior accents and high intensity headlights, while the Dynamics Package adds performance wheels and tires by Pirelli, as well as 6-piston Brembo brakes. Finally, the Leather Interior Group upgrades the upholstery to a Nappa and Alcantara mix with special Scat Pack badging.
Aside from the top-end Hellcat and Demon models, the R/T Scat Pack offers the most powerful engine that the Challenger has, and is the cheapest model with that equipment. At just under $40,000 in list price, it is definitely offers a good amount of horsepower and performance for the price. The optional leather and active safety equipment also makes this a fairly versatile trim level, and even with options it is less expensive than some of the weaker R/T models. For those looking for just power and performance, this is among the top choices.
Compare the Challenger R/T Scat Pack vs 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker Trims. What is the difference?
The rather lengthily-named 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker is both the performance and comfort upgrade over the base R/T Scat Pack model. Using the same 392 HEMI, it is enhanced with the addition of the Shaker hood scoop and cold air intake. It is also outfitted with the stylish leather and Alcantara suede seat upholstery and special Shaker-themed styling cues inside and out. It offers the same packages as the R/T Scat Pack, aside from the leather one, since that is standard on the 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker. It can also be equipped with the optional Shakedown Package.
The 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker is the definitive upgrade over the regular R/T Scat Pack, offering both improved performance and more standard luxury features. Aside from the cold-air intake though, it offers only a little over the basic R/T Scat Pack that can’t be added to it in an optional package, while costing nearly $3,000 more. Still, it is the best-performing 392 Challenger aside from the SRT model, which is significantly pricier.
Compare the 2018 Challenger 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker vs T/A 392 Trims. What is the difference?
Like with the R/T Shaker model, the T/A 392 offers the T/A styling on top of the 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker features and functionality. It is a more expensive upgrade, at around $2,000, but it also comes with some additional extras. The headlights are equipped with the Air Catcher technology that collects air and sends it to towards the engine for extra cooling, while the front brakes get upgraded to six-piston Brembo models. The T/A 392 also replaces the Challenger’s tires with Pirellis. The leather interior is also not standard on this model, though it is available as an upgrade.
Like with the previous model, the T/A 392 is a stylistic choice. Those who like how it looks will definitely enjoy driving this model over the regular 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker, while those who do not will find it a waste of money. The higher price point and the lack of leather make this model slightly less attractive though, so potential buyers really need to be sure that they prefer this styling to the regular look before committing.
Compare the 2018 Dodge Challenger T/A 392 vs SRT 392 Trim Levels. What is the difference?
Fully tuned for the track, the SRT 392 has everything that is needed to make a racing impact. It is based on the 392 HEMI Scat Pack Shaker model, and adds several major features that make it faster and more responsive. It has low-weight aluminium wheels with Pirelli tires, a racing steering wheel, and a three-mode adaptive damping suspension by Bilstein. It also includes the heated and ventilated leather-and-suede seats, a navigation system, and the 19-speaker Harman/Kardon set. A moonroof, the Technology Group, and racing stripes are the sole options, aside from the usual choice of manual or automatic transmission.
The SRT 392 is a track car, and the best performance option with the 392 HEMI engine. The only models more powerful than that are the top end Hellcat and Demon models, and they also offer a similar level of tuning and handling to the SRT 392. Outside of drag racing or trying to break speed records, the SRT 392 is likely to be tied for the best available performance Challenger with those more expensive cars.
Compare the Challenger SRT 392 vs SRT Hellcat Trims. What is the difference?
Take the Challenger SRT 392 tuning, performance, and capabilities, and add in a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 making 707 horsepower. That is the SRT Hellcat. The most powerful mass-produced car available when it came out, today it holds a second place only to the other Challenger trim - the Demon.
In order to keep the engine cool, the air induction hood scoop actually comes with dual heat extractors, and stopping the Hellcat requires 15.4-inch brakes rotors made by Brembo, with six pistons on the front wheels and four on the rear ones. It also comes with special launch controls and a valet mode that limits the car’s horsepower. There is also a special key that similarly restricts the engine to just 500 horsepower of output.
The only major options available on the Hellcat are the color of the brake calipers and whether the rear bench should be removed to make the car faster. There are also several options for racing stripes and hood graphics, and a moonroof is also available.
Compare the Challenger SRT Hellcat vs SRT Hellcat Widebody Trim Levels. What is the difference?
The Widebody version of the SRT Hellcat has wider fenders and is about 3.5 inches wider than the regular version. Otherwise, it is pretty much identical to the regular Hellcat trim level.
Compare the 2018 Challenger SRT Hellcat vs SRT Demon Trims. What is the difference?
The SRT Demon is an even more impressive version of the Hellcat that is new this year and has already dethroned it from its position as the most powerful production car in the world. The 6.2-liter V-8 has been adjusted and optimized, raising the power output to 808 horsepower.
Aside from the engine and the performance features it shares with the Hellcat and the 392 SRT, the Demon comes with little standard equipment aside from the 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment with navigation and a cloth driver seat. A passenger seat and a rear bench can be added to the vehicle, and the entire thing can be upholstered in leather. Harman/Kardon audio, a moonroof, and a variety of stripes can also be added. But this is far from a comfortable car, and is designed primarily to be driven to, from, and - most importantly - on the track.
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Which Trim Level to Choose?
As one climbs the long list of Dodge Challenger trim levels, one is moving through several categories of increasingly powerful performance vehicles: the V-6 group, ranging from the SXT to the GT, the R/T group ranging from the eponymous R/T to the T/A Plus, the 392 models starting with the R/T Scat Pack through to the 392 SRT, and finally the high-end Hellcat and Demon models.
The first group offers a base option - the SXT, a premium option - the SXT Plus, and the all-wheel drive option - the GT. The second group is the most varies, with a base R/T model, a comfort R/T Plus model, an R/T Shaker model with a hood scoop, and a T/A model with unique styling.
There are also the combinations of the above, such as the R/T Plus Shaker and the T/A Plus. The 392 series is simpler, with a base R/T Scat Pack model, the Scat Pack Shaker model that combines the hood scoop with luxury amenities, and the track-ready SRT, along with a T/A model.
The Hellcats and the Demons are all SRT only, optimized for track performance. With this breakdown and the advice above, buyers should have no trouble selecting the perfect Challenger for them.
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