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2018 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Review – A car I wanted to hate, but couldn’t

Sometimes it just takes trying something to realize that it’s not as bad as you thought it was, and that’s what exactly happened during my day with this 2018 Dodge Challenger R/T. You should know by now that I am a Mustang guy (I’ve owned three of them so far – a 1996 GT, a 1997 GT, and a 2012 GT), and the third generation Challenger has never been a car that I’ve been interested in. From a distance, it just seemed far too big and bulky for me and to be honest I didn’t even like styling that much.

But that all changed on a beautiful crisp and cool February day in Phoenix Arizona. Crazy as it sounds, I flew to Phoenix specifically to drive this car – but only because I found an insanely good deal on airfare on cheapair.com. Flights are usually the most expensive part about trips, but since I saved a ton of money there it was OK to splurge a little bit on this Challenger.


This review begins by walking into the massive rental car center at the Phoenix International Airport (PHX). It’s one of the best rental car centers in United States in my humble opinion, but for the life of me I can’t figure out why they felt the need to build it as big as an entire airport. It’s huge. And it’s always empty. Seriously, every time I come here the place feels like a ghost town and I never have to wait in line very long to pick up a car. This isn’t a complaint though – as I said, it’s my favorite rental car for facility anywhere, so as long as it stays quiet and easy to use I’m going to be a happy customer.

 Phoenix airport rental car facility

Airport or rental car center? It’s actually a little bit of both, as this is the massive rental car facility at phoenix international airport.

 Phoenix airport rental car facility

It even looks like an airport on the inside. But instead of airlines, there are rental car companies.

So yeah – I have Hertz to think for putting me behind the wheel of this 2018 Dodge Challenger R/T with the horrific sounding “Scat Pack” option. What in the hell were they thinking when they came up with that name? Yes, I fully understand and appreciate the history of this car, but still – even back in the 1970s it had to have sounded a little bit weird and I wouldn’t be surprised if the marketing team did it as a joke (just to see if they can get away with it) and still snicker about it to this day.

2018 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack first impressions

As I stood there on the escalator heading down into the parking garage to pick up the car, I saw it there through the windows, ready and waiting for me. I guess that’s one of the perks of my American Express platinum card and the complementary Hertz Gold membership that comes along with it. They tend to be a little bit more friendly when you have status, and I was feeling pretty important even though I hadn’t even reached the car yet.

Once through the doors and standing next to this huge beast of a muscle car, I was actually getting pretty excited about driving it – even though this was a car I had never been interested in much over the years. Yeah, it seemed huge standing right there next to it, but I will admit that I thought it was beautifully designed and very sinister looking – just the way a probably muscle car should be.

2018 Dodge Challenger R/T scat pack

Behold the 2018 Dodge Challenger R/T with the unfortunate sounding scat pack option. I guess in the car world “Scat” is a good thing, but in the real world…

2018 Dodge Challenger R/T scat pack Hertz rental car

At least they were nice enough to park at front and center up here so I didn’t have to go wandering out into the parking garage to find it for myself.

2018 dodge challenger R/T side view

It looks even better out in the sunshine against that rugged brown Arizona landscape. If car porn was a thing, this would be the money shot.

2018 dodge challenger open doors

And I guess this would be the spread eagle…uh…ok, enough with the porn jokes. This is a family friendly blog after all!

2018 dodge challenger R/T scat pack grille

So much cool detail in the grill of this car.

2018 dodge challenger scat pack fender badge

The Scat Pack fender badge. So cool that I’m tempted to rip the 5.0 badges off my Mustang and slap these on instead.

2018 dodge challenger diffuser protector

At first I thought these bright yellow diffuser corner protectors was Hertz’s way of saying “you drive like shit and we don’t trust you”, but I’ve seen these on a lot of civilian Dodge Challengers out in the wild as well. I think they look kind of cool and they go perfectly with this car!

2018 dodge challenger gas cap

More nice detail here with the gas cap. By the way, this is something you will become quite familiar with as an owner of a V8 Challenger. She’s a thirsty beast!

Despite being a diehard car guy, this was the first time that I actually had a chance to take the time to slowly walk around one of these big Dodge Challenger’s to appreciate how nicely designed they are. Yes, they look huge from a distance, but I’ve got to admit they look pretty sharp up close.

How did they manage to make the interior feel so sporty in such a big car?

Sitting down for the first time in this car was very enlightening experience for me and it was like I could hear my brain saying “oooooooh, now I understand why everybody likes these things!” I hate big cars, and I could never really understand what it was that made people decide to buy a challenger over a smaller Mustang or Camaro. But you know what? Sitting there, getting the feel of a Dodge Challenger for the first time, I had to admit that it felt incredibly sporty and a lot more interesting than the interior of the latest mustang GT.

2018 dodge challenger interior

The interior of the 2018 Dodge Challenger is impressive actually, and I’ve got to admit that I liked it just about as much as I did when driving a C7 Corvette for the first time.

2018 Dodge Challenger R/T scat pack Interior

Seats so deep and comfortable that I wanted to rip them out of the car and bring them home with me.

2018 Dodge Challenger R/T scat pack seat logo

I always thought that this was a Super Bee logo, but apparently it’s the defining mark of the Scat Pack option. That just goes to show you how little I know about the history of the Dodge Challenger.

2018 Dodge Challenger R/T scat pack gauges

Even the gauges are nicer than what you would find in the current generation Mustang. I hate to admit it, but I like everything about this car…

2018 dodge challenger real time performance data

Real time performance data with actual charts and graphs! OK, that’s it – my Mustang is for sale.

I guess I was expecting the guts of this car to feel as big as it would be standing in a huge aircraft hangar – I mean, it’s huge on the outside, so it only seems natural to me that it would be huge on the inside as well. But it’s not. It’s small, tight, and very sports car like. In comparison, it makes the interior of a Mustang GT feel as spacious (and bland) as an old Crown Victoria.

Is it fast?

Hell yes it is. And it’s got an amazing sound to go with it too. The 6.4L 392 cubic inch SRT HEMI V8 is a monster of an engine, as it should be with the car of this size. The laws of physics require a lot of engine to make something as fat as this to move so quickly, and I’m happy to report that it does the job very well -I found it irresistible to keep my foot from smashing the gas pedal through the firewall at every stoplight.

 2018 Dodge Challenger R/T V8

Pop open the hood to reveal the mighty 392 HEMI SRT 6.4 L V8, and you may shed tear as you see all that dust and realize that this is just yet another totally neglected rental car.

Accelerating from a stop light at an irresponsible velocity is a ton of fun in this 2018 Challenger, but in my opinion, high speed acceleration is where the R/T shines. There is an insane amount of pull at nearly any speed all the way up to redline, with tons of grunt that will pin you back in the seat no matter what the speedometer says. 475HP and 470 lb-ft of torque tends to feel that way (and a glorious feeling it is).

 Driving a 2018 dodge challenger R/T scat pack

Is there nothing better than ripping away from a stop light in a big American muscle car?

I should also note that the 8-speed automatic transmission is lightning quick and did a really good job of handling the power and weight of the Challenger.

2018 dodge challenger automatic transmission

Just like every other rental car in America, this one was an automatic.

I am a manual transmission guy through and through, but I think I could be very happy daily driving this car with the automatic.

Does it have the same cornering characteristics as an oceangoing container ship?

I’ll admit that I was a lousy student in school, and physics was probably my worst subject ever, but before driving this car I was completely convinced that it was going to have the handling characteristics of a 5000 pound SUV. It just had to. An upgraded suspension or not, I just didn’t think it would be possible to make a car this big go around corners so well.

2018 dodge challenger 20 inch wheels

You wouldn’t think that big 20-inch wheels strapped to a huge muscle car like this would do anything to improve the handling, but this car stuck to the road and went around corners very well actually.

DriveAndReview selfie 2018 dodge challenger

This is my “HOLY CRAP I love this car” face. Huge amounts of power and sharp handling makes me a very happy guy – even though my face doesn’t really show It.

The verdict? I don’t know how the Dodge engineers did it, but I spent all day driving this car and I never once felt like it was a fat pig that couldn’t turn worth a damn. It felt really light and nimble, which completely blew my mind and convinced me that there’s so little that I know about quality automotive engineering. There goes a career in that field…

Final thoughts on the 2018 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack

I put about 200 miles on this car over the course of the day, most of it being highway driving up to the mountains north of Phoenix. It’s a really nice highway cruiser (not as nice as the C7 Corvette though), and I actually felt sad as I was driving back to Phoenix to hand this car back to Hertz. I didn’t think I was going to like it at all, but it grew on me really fast and it almost made me feel like I should consider one as my next “fun” car.

 Cruising in the 2018 dodge challenger R/T

If you’re looking for a comfy cruiser that will melt your face off accelerating from stop lights, the 2018 Dodge Challenger R/T with the Scat Pack option is the car for you.

2018 dodge challenger R/T scat pack silver

It was really difficult not to stop and get out of the car every mile and take pics. The 2018 Dodge Challenger R/T is very photogenic, that’s for darn sure.

My favorite part of the Challenger R/T with the Scat Pack (I still can’t say that without wrinkling my nose) has to be the interior. It has a very upscale and sporty feel to it and I am really amazed at how they managed to make it feel so small and sporty in what is essentially a boat of a car. Everything is perfectly positioned and right where it should be, which made me feel a bit let down after I got home and got back into my 2012 5.0 Mustang GT.

DriveAndReview selfie 2018 dodge challenger

So what do you think? Does it look good on me?

I never would’ve thought that I could admit it, but Dodge has got a winner on their hands with the Challenger R/T. If you’ve never been a fan of this car, you owe it to yourself to take one out for an extended drive and let it show you how refined (and brutally fast) it is. You might be surprised.

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