What is Happening to the Dodge Challenger After 2023?

Since the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept debuted back at the Speed Week event in Pontiac, Michigan, that muscular battery electric vehicle has been the focus of all speculation on the future of the Dodge brand. We know that the current Charger will be discontinued after 2023 and it seems like the sexy BEV – which has since been displayed at Detroit’s North American International Auto Show and the SEMA Show in Las Vegas – will serve as the next generation for the Charger nameplate. However, we really haven’t talked much about the future of the Challenger, mostly because Dodge isn’t talking about the future of the Challenger.

B5 Blue Dodge Challenger

While the world met the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept at the Speed Week debut, a small group of select media got to see the car a few weeks earlier at the company headquarters and I was a part of that group. During that preview of both the new Hornet and the electric Charger concept, Dodge boss Tim Kuniskis talked about the end of the current generation of the Challenger and Charger, making it clear that those cars would not be built after 2023.

While explaining how the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept would be offered in production form with a variety of electric drive systems with different power levels, he stated that the car would be electric-only. He answered some questions on the future of the Charger, based on what was available for the BEV concept, but he would not comment on the Challenger beyond the fact that 2023 was the end of this generation.

In most cases, if a nameplate is being discontinued altogether, an automaker will make that known in advance. For example, we knew in advance that the Dodge Journey was being discontinued altogether, but for the Challenger, the company has only said that the current generation is coming to an end. The company has not stated that 2023 will be the final model year for the Challenger nameplate as a whole, and if that was the case, I am quite sure that the company would clearly be marketing the current car as the last Dodge Challenger ever. They are not marketing the 2023 car as the last Challenger ever, so it seems likely that the Challenger will return after 2023.

How Will Challenger and Charger Differ?

The key question for many people is how Dodge will market a next generation Challenger from the next generation Charger. The Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept is a two-door model with a longer wheelbase, offering rear interior space similar to a four-door sedan with the exterior look of a coupe. Since the Charger nameplate was reincarnated for the 2006 model year, it has been a four-door sedan – the bestselling big sedan in the US market. The American auto industry as a whole is shifting away from cars in favor of more small SUVs, but two-door coupes are becoming even less common. Most automakers only offer one two-door car, if any, but if the Charger is becoming a two-door model, that makes you wonder how the Challenger fits into the lineup.

Dodge Charger Daytona

The most likely option is that Dodge will make the next generation Challenger a bit smaller than the current model and smaller than the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept. The Challenger has always been criticized for being bigger and heavier than the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro, so if Dodge could trim the weight a bit, they could have a Challenger that would match up even better with the cross-town rivals.

More importantly, the Challenger could be powered by gasoline engines – presumably including something from the Hurricane inline-six family. Dodge has already included the Hurricane engines in the Direct Connection catalog and the brand has stated that a Hurricane inline-six will power the next generation Drag Pak car. The Drag Pak has always been based on the Challenger, so in a roundabout way, the Hurricane engine information for Direct Connection supports the rumors of a next gen Challenger that runs on gasoline. Also, we know for a fact that the chassis platform being developed for the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept is also being tooled for a gasoline engine, but after Kuniskis stated that the new Charger would be an EV-only affair, it seems unlikely that Dodge would have both electric- and gasoline-powered next generation Chargers when they reach showrooms, as that would undoubtedly hurt Dodge EV sales. It would make more sense for the new chassis being developed for a gasoline engine to apply to the next generation Challenger, as that would allow the brand to differentiate more clearly between the two cars.

ZF 8HP Transmission

 

Finally, we know that back when Stellantis was FCA, the company made a huge deal to buy a large number of next generation 8HP transmissions from ZF. The key difference between the 8HP transmissions in the current Challenger and Charger and the next gen 8HP is that the next generation ZF transmission has integrated hybrid technology. This transmission only works with rear-drive and rear-drive-based models, so while it could be used in Jeep SUVs and Ram pickups, it could also lead to a hybrid Dodge muscle car.

In theory, the next generation Dodge Charger would be similar to the Dodge Charger Daytona SRT Concept, featuring all-electric power and two doors, but interior space of a four-door sedan. The next generation Challenger would be slightly smaller, hopefully with a convertible option, and powered by the Hurricane inline-six engine family possibly mated to the next generation ZF 8-speed transmission with an integrated hybrid motor.

Based on the Hurricane 510 in the Jeep Grand Wagoneer, a Challenger with the inline-six could comfortably offer more than 500 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque while offering better fuel economy than the 392 Hemi that it replaced (in the Grand Wagoneer). When coupled with an integrated hybrid transmission, the Hurricane engine could deliver well over 500 horsepower and 500 lb-ft of torque with better fuel economy than any of the current models.

When Will the Next Dodge Challenger Arrive?

The current era of the Dodge Charger was introduced in 2005 for the 2006 model year while the current era of the Challenger debuted in 2007 for the 2008 model year. The next Charger should be the introduction of Dodge’s introduction into the all-electric world and that is a big deal; big enough that I don’t expect the brand to debut to all-new cars in the same model year. Dodge plans to launch the BEV Charger for the 2024 model year and if that is the case, they are going to have their hands full. With that in mind, I expect that the next generation Challenger would debut at least a year later.

Dodge Challenger Holy Guacamole Concept: SEMA 2021

A 2025 or 2026 Dodge Challenger would allow the brand to focus on the launch of the new electric Charger and once those cars have been in dealerships and on the road for a few months, Dodge can stay atop the automotive headlines by introducing the next generation Challenger.

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The thing about Dodge is they’re the most unique of all of the American brands in the fact that they offer alot of muscle along with practicality in most aspects. Power aside, the Current Challenger and Charger offer muscle cars that are fairly easy to live with in every day life. The Challenger and Charger are both large, comfortable vehicles that in some trims even offer AWD, something the Camaro and mustang lack. Not only that, they offer larger cargo & passenger space to go along with power. In that sense, there is no real competition for the Mopar muscle cars on the market today. With this new Charger focusing on not only performance, but passenger space and utility, it becomes even more of a standout in that segment. To me, the move for Dodge would be to drop the Challenger completely, let this new Charger fill that void, put the Durango on the same platform (like the Jeep Grand Cherokee) offer all of the same powertrains that the Charger would have both ICE and EV which should include the 2.0L 4xE, the 3.0L S.O, the 3.0L High Output, a 3.0L Cat-3 High Output, a 3.0L High Output Hybrid and then the 340KW electric powertrain with stage kits, the 440KW electric powertrain w/ stage kits and an 800V electric powertrain with stage kits. Let that fill the shoes of both the Charger and the Durango and go from there. Let the STLA medium focus on cars that will face off with contenders such as the Mustang, the Supra and the Nissan 400Z. The 2.0L 4xE with 375hp/470 can easily handle the 2.3L Ecoboost and the 4-cylinder Supra while the 3.0L H.O can take down the Black Horse Mustang, the Supra TT and the 400Z Nismo. It would be a great place to bring back the Cuda name as a modern day fastback/hatchback coupe. It should still offer more space than a Mustang on the inside though and should have a 426KW (571hp) “426-Cuda” EV option. If the brand is dead-set on bringing back GLH, then bring back cars like the Shelby Lancer, the Shadow CSX-VNT, the Daytona-Z and the Dakota Shelby. Even if Dodge Drops the Shelby name and just goes with GLH, having a plethora of enthusiast vehicles like that would work in this eco-friendly, non-V8 future we are hurdling towards. Having STLA medium EVs and Hybrids that can fill the SRT4 void as small-medium size performance crossovers and hatchbacks would allow the brand to continue offering what Dodge is known for and it would actually truly allow Dodge to have the space to have cars like a big 2-door Charger and the STLA large Durango.

To say the ICE variant of whatever this new vehicle will be will hurt the sales of the EV variant really doesn’t make sense. While both under the same umbrella, EVs and ICE customers are two totally different animals. Performance be darned for a moment, if a person is looking for an ICE vehicle, that’s what they’re going to buy, if they’re looking for an EV that’s what they’re going to buy. No different than a person looking to buy a mustang vs a camaro. It’s preference. The person looking to buy the EV version has their sights set on just that. They want an EV that stands out from the rest, makes great noise and has power, the person who buys the ICE version is looking for a gas powered vehicle that fulfills their needs. It’s kind of like the person who buys a Challenger vs a Cuda or a Charger vs a Coronet or Roadrunner. Same car, slightly different personality. I feel like this new “Charger” will actually take the place of both vehicles and then some. What Dodge is doing is giving their customers something that seems to be dying in this world, and that is the freedom of choice. If a customer wants to buy a Daytona 340 or Daytona 440 or Daytona Banshee with whatever stage kits they want, then they can do that. If they want to buy the gas powered version of the same car, they can do that as well. With that, we can now also talk power. The Charger Daytona 340 starts at 440hp and we dont know what torque. That’s almost Scat pack hp and I’m sure the car will out performance a scat pack Charger or Challenger in almost every single aspect. Then you get into the two stage kits for the Daytona EV and you’re already well above the Scat Pack-392 cars and that’s before getting to the 590hp Daytona-440EV with power levels that can take it up to 670hp. That’s nearly Hellcat numbers and with it being an EV, you’re already out-performance the entry level 6.2L Supercharged V8’s 717hp rating and that’s before getting into the 800v Banshee powertrain system, which may put out anywhere from 750hp up to let’s say 1,320hp so in that aspect, Dodge has the EV game covered. As far as the ICE powered side, Dodge can offer an entry level 2.0L Hybrid Turbo-4 as their base model powertrain. Keep in mind that this powertrain in the Jeep Wrangler 4XE puts down 370hp and 470lb-ft of torque. That’s 5.7L Hemi Horsepower and 6.4L Hemi torque from a 4-cylinder which means the base model car can outpower the current R/T level cars with relative ease. Stepping up to the 3.0L Hurricane, thats 420hp and 468lb-ft of torque, and while that is nearly equal in torque to the 3.0L Hybrid, the extra horsepower and reduced weight from the lack of the hybrid system would make this a quicker vehicle, stepping up to the 3.0L Hurricane High output engine, that’s 510hp and 500lb-ft of torque making it definitely more powerful than the 392ci V8 that powers the current scat pack cars and with the Hurricane 3.0L Cat-3 those numbers jump to 550hp and 531lb-ft of torque, which puts it far above even the 3.5L HO Ecoboost from Ford, making it more powerful than a BMW M4 Competition 3.0L Twin Turbo I-6. That’s without adding a hybrid system to it. While my numbers may be off, just taking the gains the 4xE has over the regular 2.0L Jeep I-4 Turbo, that would put a Cat-3 Hurricane 3.0L HO at roughly 655hp and 706lb-ft of torque. Just for perspective the original hellcats had something like 707hp and maybe 650lb-ft of torque. That’s plenty of power for both ICE and EV variants to enjoy.
I also feel like the new “Charger” may get a few pieces of the Challenger’s styling cues such as the rear spoilers, hoods, and other things. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Hellcat style hoods, widebody cars or Jailbreaks and that goes for both ICE and EV variants. There is way too much still left on the table for both platforms and honestly, all of it would work great on this car. To be honest, the car doesn’t need to directly compete with the Mustang or the Camaro, why? Because the Charger and Challenger never directly competed with them in the first place. The Challenger Competed with the the Mercury Cougar in 1970 along with the Pontiac Firebird as they were heavier, more luxurious version of the Pony Car. The car that competed with the Mustang and Camaro was the Cuda and it more directly competed with the Camaro than the Mustang as both cars were designed to be able to handle any engine that was available from the brand both big block and small block, whereas the Mustang was really designed to handle a small block and factory modifications were necessary for the Mustang to be able to accomodate a big block and big block Mustangs (over 390ci) suffered greatly in performance due to so much weight in the front end of the car with a car that wasn’t really meant for that kind of setup. So, in essence, If Dodge were to actually bring back something to compete with the Mustang, then the Cuda name would be more inline to do so. But, if the brand was really going to do that, would the STLA large platform really be the platform to do that with, since the Mustang is not a large vehicle? As it stands, the Challenger dwarfs the Mustang so would the STLA Large platform really work for a Mustang competitor or would the STLA medium platform be a better platform to make a CUDA on? An AWD Coupe with a 2.0L 4XE system giving the base car a 375hp/470tq entry level car that would destroy the Ecoboost mustang while offering a 420hp 3.0L Midrange and a 510hp top end variant that would lay waste to the Dark Horse Mustang would defintely be a welcomed vehicle, with even an AAR-340 and AAR-440 EV family that could handle the power of their respective Stage kits. That would be my thought.

This could happen, but not my thinking. Charger will be larger, with four doors in a fastback/ hatchback configuration. Challenger will be a tad smaller, wider tread spacing, but will retain much of its successful larger interior dimensions. Two door and convertible are offered. Both cars have ICE and electric option power, Charger all electric, Challenger hybrid. Both will offer all wheel drive. My guess.