The Dodge Challenger is a Worthy Road Trip Car

By: jwilder

Is the Dodge Challenger a good car? Yes. But it's also a great road trip car! And here's why...

Austin Texas Dodge Challenger Vanishing Point
Kowalski, pondering the meaning of Cadillac Ranch, and how he ended up in Amarillo. Photo from the movie Vanishing Point (1971). And yes, I added the Cadillacs for my enjoyment. Because I think Cadillac Ranch and a Dodge Challenger should be in a Texas road trip movie.

I have been wanting a new daily driver / road tripper for a long time.

Granted, you can drive any car you want on a road trip. But for an automotive enthusiast, a road trip is as much about the car as it is the journey.

The Bandit had a Trans-Am. The Groovers had a Cadillac. Thelma and Louise had a Thunderbird. Kowalski had a Challenger.

No matter what type of car it is, it plays an important role in a road trip. It's certainly not an appliance.

My current object of desire is the iconic Dodge Challenger.

Over the years I've grown to appreciate the Dodge Challenger. As a matter of fact, if I bought a car today, I would buy a Challenger.

Here are my reasons the Dodge Challenger will be my next road trip car...

[Updated 2020: I did buy a Challenger!]
[Updated 2021: A new Dodge eMuscle Car in 2024!]

It's a Movie Star

Dodge Challenger Vanishing Point Movie Poster
Vanishing Point Movie Poster (1971). Fair use. Cropped.

This car is a movie star.

The Dodge Challenger played leading roles in two car-movie cult classics - Vanishing Point (1971) and Quentin Tarantino's Death Proof (2007).

If you haven't seen these movies, you should. Especially since Death Proof was filmed in Austin (at least the first half was). Unfortunately the Challenger didn't appear in the Austin scenes. It'd be a lot cooler if it did. Alright, alright, alright.

While Vanishing Point may be a cult classic, and not as popular as Smokey and the Bandit, it still brings additional value to the Challenger brand. No doubt there's someone in Texas with a white Challenger with the plate number OA-5599.

It's Darn Photogenic

Texas Dodge Challenger Photogenic
Photo courtesy Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Now days, part of a road trip is capturing the journey with your digital camera.

The Dodge Challenger is darn photogenic, at every angle, on city streets and dusty country roads.

In fact, just taking photos of the Challenger will improve your Car Photography.

Think of all the Vanishing Point scenes you could recreate on your road trips.

And speaking of road trips...

It's Build for Road Trips

Texas Dodge Challenger Road Trip
Photo courtesy Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Here in Texas we have blue skies and roads that go forever!

No sweat. The Dodge Challenger is up for the challenge.

It's roomy enough to be comfortable on long trips.

It hauls! The Challenger boasts 16.2 cubic feet of trunk space[1] so you don't have to use the back seat for luggage.

It's easy to get in and out for quick getaways! Seriously, this is actually very important, as we pull off the road quite frequently to explore and photograph cool stuff.

If you drive the highways more than the track you can get a V6 to save on gas and still have fun. The 3.6L Pentastar® V6 engine delivers 305 horsepower and only sips a gallon of gas for every 30 highway miles. With an 18.5-gallon fuel tank, you can cruise more than 550 miles without thinking about petrol. That's Austin to Dallas, and back, without a fillup! Or Austin to Amarillo (500 mi.) without stopping! Sweet!

1. For comparison, the 2016 Camaro is 9.1 cubic feet.

It Still Looks Like a Challenger

Texas Dodge Challenger 2016
Live a colorful life! Note the green car in the background is an original 1970s Challenger! Photo courtesy Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

The retro muscle car look has been "designed out" of the Mustang and Camaro with each iteration. They now have their own modern identities.

However, the Challenger still closely resembles its original shape, 50 years later.

What? Seriously bro? Do the math! 50 years! That's crazy!

Michael Castiglione, head exterior designer for the Challenger project said "For me, that car symbolizes the most passionate era of automotive design." Preach it brother!

They picked the right guy to design the modern Challenger.

With the 2015 refresh it only got better! The designers subtly refined the shape, and did an amazing job.

It Could Be the Last Retro Muscle Car (Updated for 2020)

The third generation Challenger debuted in 2008. Now, after twelve years, it looks like 2022 will be the last year of the Challenger (on its current platform), and possibly the end of the retro muscle car design era.

According to The Drive, "the automaker recently confirmed that the deadline has been pushed back to an undecided date. It has been speculated that we might see the future muscle cars hit showroom floors in 2023, and it looks as if Dodge might've confirmed that news with a cleverly placed Easter egg."[1]

The Drive article also points out "2023 is also when the current-gen Chevrolet Camaro is expected to end its life cycle with no return in sight." That would leave the Ford Mustang as the Challenger's two-door pony car competition, if it survives beyond 2023.

So, 2023 (unofficially) is the next target date for a new Challenger. That's three years from now. Will it break away from its iconic look? Will electric cars rule the world by then? Who knows. So buy one now.

Congratulations Dodge for staying true to the one and only Challenger for so long.

1. Press Photo Easter Egg Hints Next-Gen Dodge Challenger, Charger Coming in 2023
By Caleb Jacobs. October 17, 2019

Dodge Challenger Road Trip Car Update [2020]

Dodge Challenger 2016 Carvana
2016 Challenger delivered by Carvana. Photo by j.wilder

Not long after I wrote this article I decided to go ahead and get a Dodge Challenger.

I purchased a pristine 2016 Dodge Challenger SXT from Carvana. And yes it's white.

It was pretty awesome to see this beautiful car delivered to my front door.

Carvana allows you to take a quick test drive to determine if you want to accept the car. The car felt comfortable and solid. Sold.

I couldn't be happier. I've been driving it for over two years and I love it.

I was concerned about the V6 and weight of the car, but it was a non-issue. The 305 horsepower engine is more than capable in the Dodge Challenger.

What's Your Ideal Road Trip Car?

In this article I listed a few criteria for my ideal road trip car.

  • Featured in movies.
  • Darn Photogenic.
  • Easy to get in and out of, for frequent stops.
  • Plenty of storage.
  • Fuel efficient.
  • Retro muscle car looks.
  • Modern reliability and comfort.

What's your next road trip?

Here are some Texas road trip ideas to get you thinking.

Dodge Muscle in 2024

Dodge Challenger or Charger 2024
Dodge teases new eMuscle car for 2024. Photo Credit Dodge.

Ok. A lot has happened in 2021.

In January Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and French auto giant PSA merged to create a new company named Stellantis.

Then in July, Dodge announced that a new muscle car was coming in 2024, with an electric powerplant. Dodge teased the new car with a video of a car doing a four-wheel burnout. The front grill of the car resembles a 1970s Charger. I think there's a reason it looks like a Charger, electricity is in the name.

"If a charger can make a Charger Quicker, we're in! If we know of a technology that can give our customers an advantage, we are obligated to embrace it... Car and muscle aren't changing." -Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis

Also of note is the brand badge in the grille. The Fratzog returns.

Watch the video: 2021 Dodge EV Summit Announcement


James Wilder

James Wilder is the owner, writer, photographer, designer, and developer for MOTOR Texas.


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