Skip to main content

Dodge Challenger Sales Continue to Grow as the Segment Declines

Although the muscle car segment is amidst a steady decline, the Dodge Challenger is the only vehicle in the trio to continue to post year-over-year sales growth – and we can expect this trend to continue through the rest of 2018 and into 2019.


While some people will argue that the modern muscle cars should be called something different, the most popular segment of performance-minded cars in the United States is comprised of the Ford Mustang, the Dodge Challenger and the Chevrolet Camaro. Some people call them muscle cars, some people call them pony cars, some people call them sports cars and some people call them all different things. But semantics aside, these three cars have been duking it out for the title of America’s most popular performance car since the Camaro returned to the Chevy lineup back in 2009.

Muscle Car Sales Segment Slide
Over the past few years, the muscle car segment has seen a steady decline in overall sales volume. For example, first quarter sales in 2016 of 64,756 dropped to 53,487 in 2017 and in the first three months of 2018, only 48,064 examples of these cars were sold in the US. The second quarter of the past three years follows a similar pattern, going from 69,650 in 2016 to 63,598 in 2017 to 56,571 in 2018.

Check out the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Pricing Information, covered by Torque News.

Some quick math reveals that first quarter muscle car sales have declined by about 25% over the past three years while second quarter sales have dropped by about 19%. In total, sales of the Mustang, Camaro and Challenger are down a combined 22% during the first half of 2018 when compared to the first half of 2016.

The Chevrolet Camaro plays the biggest role in the decline of the segment, as sales of the GM muscle car were down 30% in the first half of 2018 from the first two quarters of 2016. The Mustang is down by almost 33% in the first quarter from 2018 to 2016, but Ford’s main decline came from 2016 to 2017, as the Mustang is only down 4% through the first half of 2018 when compared 2017 while the Camaro has posted steadily-decreasing numbers over the past few years.

Here are the all sorts of improvements that Dodge Challenger will get in 2019.

Meanwhile, as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro try to stop their downward slide, the Dodge Challenger continues to post year-over-year sales growth.

Challenger Continues to Shine
The Dodge Challenger is frequently slighted by the critics for being a “very old car” by modern standards. Although the Mopar muscle car was heavily refreshed for the 2015 model year, the car is more or less the same machine that was introduced back in 2008. That makes this Challenger about 11 years old and in the auto industry, that is ancient.

In most cases, a car that has gotten that old in a segment where the competition generally updates their vehicles every few years would be dying a slow, painful death, but that isn’t the case with the Challenger.

During the first half of 2018, the Dodge Challenger moved 37,367 units, up 4% from the same period in 2017.When you compare the 2018 numbers to 2016, the Challenger is up 8%, and while 4-8% growth isn’t anything fantastic, we have to keep in mind that in the same period where the Dodge Challenger grew by 8%, both of its key competitors saw a decline in sales of more than 30%.

So, while the Challenger is still trailing the Mustang in the 2018 annual sales race, it is doing considerably better than either of the competitors in the grand scheme of things – posting solid growth while the competition is way down.

The best news for FCA, Dodge and fans of the brand is that with the introduction of the expanded Scat Pack lineup, 10 more horsepower from the Hellcat and the new 797-horsepower Redeye edition, the Challenger is guaranteed to see continued strong sales through 2018 into 2019.

Also see: How Ford Might Sell a Million F-Series Trucks This Year.


Grant Green (not verified)    July 5, 2018 - 9:17PM

The Challenger is doing well because Dodge refuses to constantly change the body style, they know the retro muscle car look works. Ford's sales have fallen because the front of the Mustang has lost the retro look. GM has done what they always do... create something great, and then choose to not leave well enough alone. The Camaro has totally lost its' retro appeal. This is due to GM CONSTANTLY making changes to the design. What's funny is the Camaro is actually the best overall performance car for the money, but the design is not appealing. Also the Challenger is the only car of the 3 that seats 5 people... Husbands dont have to fight with their wives when it comes time to purchase it. I saw a guy at the sub shop with a SRT and he said his wife loved the retro design, and the fact he could fit his 3 small sons in the back.

Jeremiah McKenna (not verified)    July 6, 2018 - 1:48PM

It has a lot to do with marketing. Dodge has been ramping up their exposure with exciting campaigns, while GM is showing one very boring commercial about a history lesson. And I can't remember the last time u saw a Ford Mustang commercial.

Even though the Camaro is one of the better all around performers both on the streets, track and sales numbers, it isn't exciting any more. They need a model with T- tops.

They should actually make another movie like Smokey and the Bandit and feature the car as the main attraction.
Heck, they could make another Cannonball Run and feature all three cars.

Jeremiah McKenna (not verified)    July 7, 2018 - 12:45AM

In reply to by billy (not verified)

Too young to remember? I owned a Road Runner in the early 80's. But I was not old enough to have a license, so I flipped it to someone that hot rodded it and literally flipped it in a corn field when he didn't slow down enough to make the curve.

But in your all knowing wisdom, please enlighten me on your reason for not building T-Tops?

Donald Hayes (not verified)    July 8, 2018 - 11:18PM

In reply to by Jeremiah McKenna (not verified)

Why do you think that Plymouth didn't put T-Tops in the Roadrunner? Opening the top creates body flex, especially with a big body car.

T Tops leaked and weaken the car's structure. Then Porsche used the Targa top. T-Tops came into use in the 70s when the government was pondering doing away with convertibles, thus the T-Top we're offered. When the convertible issue didn't happen, the decision was made to offer sun roofs and convertibles. The car's structure was in improved making the convertible a safer better handling car. Today's convertibles are solid without body flex. If you want to remove the roof. Buy a convertible or a full glass Vista roof which is available in most sedans, SUV's and even pick up trucks. With todays body lines and in most cars the roof is a large part of the rigidity of the car. I don't see T-Tops ever becoming an option. My SUV has a full glass roof that gives me the feeling of open air with the push of a button but still has roof rails outlining the opening.

Jeremiah McKenna (not verified)    July 9, 2018 - 10:53PM

In reply to by Donald Hayes (not verified)

Ah, the ole' body flex and leaking roof myth. The T-Top was actually put in place because of the rigidity it had when compared to the vehicle when they cut the top off.
Yes, the first example that was put in aftermarket did leak, however the second iteration did not leak due to installation, but rather operator/owner error. I had an '81 Z-28 with T-Tops and the only reason one of the leaked was because the previous owner(s) broke one of the slots that the trim tab went into. But a little J/B Weld and sand paper and it was repaired just like new and never leaked again.

Why didn't Chrysler Corp put T-tops in their cars? Because the engineers could not figure out how to cut the car and keep it the same weight. Heck, even the ones that were convertibles needed too much steel to keep the cars from flexing, and all of them needed even more added after market in order to keep the car together. It was well over 600 pounds more in a convertible than a hard top. That's like having three buddies in the car, before you actually put your three buddies in the car...

It can be done in new Camaro's, I have seen them all over the place. They receive the same bracing as the convertible, but they are not as heavy as a convertible because you don't have the heavy top, frame and motor. And their performance is not compromised.

Can the moon roof open and close? Absolutely, but you know it's not the same.

Donald Hayes (not verified)    July 9, 2018 - 11:25PM

In reply to by Jeremiah McKenna (not verified)

My older Vettes with T-Tops always leaked, even when they were new. I will admit at that time they were nice to have with top storage being in the rear under the back window. I just doubt if you'll ever see T-Tops as an option in the new cars. The manufacturer gives you three options. Hard top, convertible or a panaramic roof. Like I mentioned. My SUV has the latter and I like that I can open the entire roof, or shut the blind when it's to hot. It's also a hit with the rear passengers. I don't think you'll ever see the Camaro or a Mustang offered with T's. My guess it's expensive to add and they figure most customers who want open air will buy a convertible. I guess time will tell.

Kit (not verified)    July 7, 2018 - 8:04AM

In reply to by Jeremiah McKenna (not verified)

Jeremiah, you the ball on the head with marketing playing a factor. Chevy advertises sensible "Real People" commercials featuring people who are Wowed that the car syncs with their iPhone. Dodge features burnouts and the "Brotherhood of Muscle." That's why people drive these cars; for excitement, not sensibility.

Jeremiah McKenna (not verified)    July 7, 2018 - 11:29AM

In reply to by Kit (not verified)

Don't get me wrong, I like to see that there is heritage and history when it comes to the Camaro commercial. But the Dodge commercial(s) show their history, AND the excitement of driving the cars. Yes, the Camaro commercial shows them on the road or track, but in a subdued manner.

Victoria Rubio (not verified)    July 6, 2018 - 1:49PM

I miss theee old style of the charger of the body ...not THAT slit crap on the doors..needs it fully body back better headlights

Donald Hayes (not verified)    July 6, 2018 - 4:31PM

FCA is spending no money in R&D on the Challenger or Charger. They tweek the suspension and add bigger breaks. Drop in large V8's and call it a Hemi. Add large tires and rims with a few scoops and decals. Then run commercials of Challengers & Chargers smoking the tires. Bang. They sell old technology at a high price to the age group looking for this type of tire smoking car. Great marketing with I'm guessing high profit margins. It would be interesting to know the age demographics for the buyers of these vehicles. I noticed at my local Chrysler dealer. The 300 sets even with as much as $8000 off MSRP. The Dodge Charger SRT seem to move slow with V6 power as does the Challenger. The models (RT and up) with the V8's are faster off the lot. As long as FCA keeps dropping the V8's in these cars. At least for now. They will continue to sell. Again. Smart marketing without all the development costs.

Judy Zimmerman… (not verified)    July 7, 2018 - 7:37AM

In reply to by Donald Hayes (not verified)

I am a wife, mom , grandma, business owner (auto service and sales) and just bought a 2016 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack. Love it. I guess you could say it is my mid life crisis car. We have had many Mopar muscle cars throughout the years. I drove many vans and station wagons since starting our family in 82. When my Magnum became of age, we pulled the trigger back to a retro muscle car. This car screams and I love it. I may have grey hair (when I let it show) but, I still know how to drive the power. Come on out to Chryslers at Carlisle. My car will be there. Mopars still rule on our side of town.

Mike (not verified)    July 7, 2018 - 9:40AM

In reply to by Judy Zimmerman… (not verified)

I'am old enough remember challengers of 70's, that is why I like Challenger, really like the Hellcat Challenger.
Owner of our company just took Delivery of a purple Dodge Demon, what A sharp car. Owner drag raced for years professional.
Lady that works in our office has a Challenger Hellcat, took car to track 11.1 second quarter mile, 127 miles per hour, had drag radials.
She had drag radials.

Jeremiah McKenna (not verified)    July 7, 2018 - 1:11AM

I did a little searching and found out what may be driving the sales in the different corals. Even though GM is selling more than the others, it appears that Dodge is now giving a little more in rebates as well as easier financing acceptance. So naturally their sales will increase.

All three have decent lease and financing options to choose from though.
But I can also see why their overall sales numbers are slowing. They start out in the $25 - $27k range and go up from there. So in this day and age of increasing MSRP's I see a lot more slowing of new car purchases across the board, especially since the loans are now averaging 84 months, when a few years ago, an 84 month loan was rarely used on an average priced vehicle, and that number was used for luxury vehicles. So a lot of people are trying to trade in their car and finding out that they are not only upside down today, they will be upside down for another four years or more.

But again, the entry MSRP for a Challenger is in the $25k range, but there is a nice $2,500 rebate on top of the dealer discounts and several other financing rates and options. Apparently the Camaro is selling just fine so that GM doesn't need to offer a lot of enticements other than a $2,000 rebate and 9.9% financing and a minimum FICO score of 670 to qualify. for has their 6.9% at 84 months or a measly $1,000 if you pay cash.

Car prices are getting too high.