1972 Dodge Challenger

13 Boring Challenger Models That Even Die-Hard Fans Can’t Rally Behind

The Dodge Challenger is rightfully one of the muscle car greats. Dodge’s cessation of production has left a significant gap in the segment, but we still have classic models to look back on.

While it is a great muscle car, only some Challenger versions have been a winner. Plenty missed the mark due to poor reliability, a lack of power, or other issues.

This list will chart 15 of the worst Challengers that nobody wants to remember. These examples of the Dodge muscle car are best left in the past.

2011-2013 Dodge Challengers

2013 Dodge Challenger
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

While not quite a true classic, the 2011-2013 Challengers are over 20 years old. However, it is also a generation of the Challenger with plenty of reliability issues, with websites like Car Complaints recording the problems.

One of the most common is that the alternator could fail across all three years mentioned above. Electrical issues are the most common problem with these model years of muscle cars, and the most complaints occurred in 2012.

1982 Dodge Challenger

1982 Dodge Challenger
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Out of all the bad Dodge Challengers over the years, the 1982 model is the worst. Dodge phased the original Challenger out in 1974, but Chrysler decided it was time to bring it back four years later. To do this, the company worked closely with Mitsubishi to create the new generation Challenger.

However, they produced a shadow of the original car, and the 1982 Challenger was the nadir of this. Under the hood were two pathetic engines: a 1.6- or 2.6-liter four-cylinder with no more than 100 hp and 137 lb-ft of torque. The new Challenger was just a Mitsubishi Galant coupe with Dodge Challenger badging, and thankfully, Dodge phased the car out in 1983.

1972 Dodge Challenger

1972 Dodge Challenger
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

When Dodge introduced the Challenger in 1970, muscle car sales declined thanks to the gas crisis. Things got worse for 1972, as Dodge cut back massively on options for the muscle in terms of appearance and the car’s performance.

The big-block engine options for the muscle car were gone. Dodge replaced the R/T series with the Challenger Rallye series. Horsepower figures were also down, although they were nowhere near the levels of the 1982 Challenger. Three engine options were available: the 3.7-liter slant-six and the 5.2 and 5.6-liter V8s, all of which Dodge detuned to reduce power and lower compression ratios.

Second-Generation Dodge Challenger

1978 Dodge Challenger
Image Credit: YouTube/MiniTruckin 133

While the 1982 model, in particular, was terrible, the entire second generation of the muscle car deserves a mention. Dodge hoped they could get away with relaunching the muscle car as a rebadged Mitsubishi Gallant, but the reality was far from that.

The new Challenger was also marketed as the Plymouth Sapporo, further confusing the consumer. A rebadged version was then sold overseas as the Mitsubishi Sapporo/Scorpion. Even more confusingly, the new Challenger was first sold as the Dodge Colt Challenger. With no V8s available and just inline fours under the hood, it’s no wonder this generation was never popular.

2010 Dodge Challenger

2010 Dodge Challenger RT Classic
Image Credit: MercurySable99/WikiCommons.

The 2010 model year was the second for the new, third-generation Challenger, and plenty of people expected vital upgrades. However, there was disappointment when Dodge unveiled a few minor feature and option changes for the new model year.

Some of the upgrades were positive. Electronic stability control was now available across the Challenger line, while the R/T models would also gain features such as automatic headlamps. However, LED-lit cupholders and door handle lights differed from what muscle car fans had in mind regarding upgrades. The 2010 Challenger slightly missed the mark regarding improving the car.

1974 Dodge Challenger

1974 Dodge Challenger
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Prospects for muscle cars looked bleak in the mid-1970s. The 1974 model year was the final for the first-generation Dodge Challenger, and poor sales meant it would be a sad end to the muscle car.

Dodge attempted to drum up sales before ceasing production. In 1974, the 340 ci 5.6-liter V8 engine was out, replaced by a bigger 360 ci 5.9-liter engine to entice more consumers into buying the Challenger. But the 245 hp V8 wasn’t enough, and Dodge would soon have to admit defeat. The next Challenge, the 1978 model, marked the beginning of the terrible second generation.

Plymouth/Mitsubishi Sapporo

Mitsubishi Galant Lambda
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

While not officially a Dodge Challenger, this was another name carried by the muscle car’s second generation. The Sapporo name was what Chrysler used from 1978 to 1984 on export versions of the Challenger. In Japan, the car was the Mitsubishi Galant Lambda, but in America, you could find the Sapporo as a Plymouth.

The name changes typified everything that was wrong with this new-generation Challenger. Rebranding it highlighted that it was not a true muscle car and a far cry from the original Challenger of the early 1970s. Thankfully, Dodge and Chrysler learned from their mistake, and the third-generation Challenger had no such problems.

2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8

2008 Dodge Challenger SRT8
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

One of the biggest problems with any muscle car is weight. These are not agile, track-bred machines. But they are high-power, high-octane quarter-mile monsters that are at their best when going in a straight line.

However, the 2008 Challenger SRT8 probably took the weight game too far. A Motor Trend article charting the history of the Challenger says the 2008 SRT8 weighs in at more than 4,100 lbs. To put that into context, that is just as heavy as many SUVs. Even though cornering is not their specialty, a lumbering Challenger in the corners is perhaps not the most fun.

2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170

2023 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon 170
Image Credit: Dodge.

First, we stress that the SRT Demon 170 is an excellent version of the Challenger. But, the muscle car that Dodge says is the most powerful in the world is the one that brings the curtain down on the Challenger, making this an unfortunate muscle car.

However, the figures behind the Demon 170 are very impressive. Thanks to a supercharger on the 6.2-liter V8 engine, horsepower stands at 1,025 hp on E85 fuel. On regular 91-octane pump gas, the muscle car will still produce 900 hp and 810 lb-ft of torque. But while it is a great car, it does mark the end of an era.

2012 Dodge Challenger

2012 challenger
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Highlighting the worst of the 2011-2013 Challengers is only fair after we singled out the 1982 Challenger. Out of those three model years, the 2012 Challenger has the most problems.

The Car Complaints website lists 398 complaints and six recalls for the 2012 Challenger, making it one of the most problematic muscle car versions. The alternator received 14 written complaints alone, and the model year is a significant blot on the muscle car’s copybook. Amazingly, the early 2010s stack up poorly for the Challenger.

2014 Dodge Challenger

2014 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The 2014 Dodge Challenger has fewer complaints than the 2010 and 2012 models at 229, but CarComplaints still says there are five recalls for the model. Worryingly, the severity of the issues facing the 2014 Challenger are pretty severe.

One of the most troublesome is the constant ticking noises from the engine, which comes across as a loud valve train ticking or a loud chattering sound. Again, the alternator issues rear their ugly head in the 2014 Challenger, and faulty electrics can cause owners’ speedometers to drop from their driving speed to zero, which isn’t very helpful.

2015-2017 Dodge Challenger Hellcats

2017 challenger
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

Dodge steadily expanded the range of the Challenger, with one of them being the Hellcat version. Users on the Challenger Talk forums have noted problems with these Hellcats, which are well documented in a lot of detail on other sites.

Fast Car says a recall occurred for the 2017 models due to a problem with the engine oil cooler hoses. These were prone to failure and could spread oil around the engine bay and windshield. This posed a fire risk; it could blind the driver and lead to the car sliding on its own oil.

2016 Dodge Challenger Hellcat

2016 Dodge Challenger Hellcat
Image Credit: WikiCommons.

The 2016 Challenger Hellcat also had its problems. Some users on the SRT Hellcat forum state that the tires could go bald at just 2,000 miles, while Challenger Talk users say bad blower bearings were another major problem.

One of the most significant issues with the 2016 Hellcat is that some drivers can become overconfident behind the wheel, causing them to lose control and crash. One HP Tuners Bulletin Board owner listed their own odd problem when the car would stall at random even with enough power applied.

Henry Kelsall

Author: Henry Kelsall

Title: Writer

Bio:

Henry has freelanced for over eight years now, mostly in automotive matters, but he has also dabbled in other forms of writing too. He has a lot of love for Japanese classics and American muscle cars, in particular the Honda NSX and first-generation Ford Mustang. When not writing, Henry is often found at classic car events or watching motorsports at home, but he also has a curious passion for steam trains.

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