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Who Needs a Scat Pack? The 5.7 Liter Challenger R/T is the Best Bargain in Modern Muscle

One of the best things about the modern Dodge Challenger is the vast number of powertrain options available.

From a base V6 with AWD to a screaming Hellcat Redeye, there’s something to fit just about any type of budget or goal. But this also means it’s easy to overlook certain versions of the car.

Dodge Challenger R/T Burnout Red

And perhaps the most under-appreciated Challenger model is the base R/T with the 5.7 liter Hemi V8 engine. Because what it lacks in outright horsepower it makes up for in affordability and fun—especially on the secondhand market.

Here are a few reasons why:

A Unique, Mid-Level Option

One of the most interesting things about the 2009-2021 Challenger R/T is that it’s a pretty rare for modern muscle cars to have an entry level V8 option.

Challenger R/T Red Stripes

The Camaro and Mustang go straight from four and six cylinder versions to V8s making 450 horsepower or more. The Challenger also has a base V6 engine, and 6.4 liter and 6.2 supercharged options, but in between those sits the humble 5.7 Hemi.

Dodge Challenger 5.7 Hemi V8

From its introduction for the ‘09 model year up until now, the 5.7 liter Challenger R/T has made about 370 horsepower, leading it to be overshadowed by both its own larger displacement siblings and its Ford & GM competition. But viewed on its own terms the R/T can be a great choice.

V8 Value

And one of the biggest reasons why is its price. When first introduced for 2009, the R/T occupied the sweet spot between the base V6 and the more expensive SRT-8 models and that earned it plenty of takers looking for the middle ground.

2009 Dodge Challenger R/T Blue

In 2015 Dodge Introduced the Scat Pack model, which brought the larger 6.4 liter Hemi from the SRT Challenger but with the less expensive appointments of the R/T. And while many buyers gravitated toward the Scat Pack, the 5.7 R/T is still offered as a budget V8 option.

Dodge Challenger R/T Grille

Looking at the used market, an older model Challenger R/T has a lot of bang for the buck—and even in today’s inflated car market they’ve depreciated a lot quicker than used Scat Packs.

2009 Dodge Challenger Interior

Looking around the classified sites, one can find an early base R/T 5.7 for under $15,000 while lower mileage or better equipped examples climb into the low 20s—quite reasonable for what you get.

A Six-Speed Stick

And one of the best things about the Challenger R/T is that it could be optioned with the beefy Tremec six-speed manual transmission.

Dodge Challenger R/T Manual Transmission

Automatics are going to be much more common, and likely quicker in acceleration (especially the newer cars with the eight-speed ZF auto), but the fun factor of the stick shift will be unmatched.

Dodge Challenger 5.7 Hemi V8

Real Muscle Car Character

And it’s really that fun factor that the Challenger R/T does best. If you are looking for to get maximum horsepower and performance from your Challenger, you’ll be better off skipping the 5.7 and going straight to a 6.4 or Hellcat.

Dodge Challenger R/T Black

Yes, the 5.7 Hemi has plenty of aftermarket potential with both naturally aspirated and supercharger options, but if your goal is maximizing power—you’ll still probably want to start off with one of the larger Hemis. 

Dodge Challenger T/A on Nitto NT555 G2 tires

But if you are fine with the 5.7's slightly more modest performance, you can still get the classic Challenger look, Hemi power, the classic V8 sound and even a manual gearbox—all for a relative bargain price.

Before you think about settling for a four-cylinder or V6, consider the under-appreciated "small" Hemi Challenger. 

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