DETROIT — Dodge is making some noise with its roaring engines before transitioning to more eco-friendly electrified performance.
The muscle brand on Monday said it will bring back the Durango Hellcat for the 2023 model year and release seven tribute Challenger and Charger models that pay homage to the nameplates’ history. It’s also reviving several heritage colors for the 2023 Challenger and Charger and making it easier for Challenger buyers to turn their coupes into convertibles through a partnership with Drop Top Customs in Florida that offers expedited shipment.
Time is short for this generation of the speedy Challenger and Charger, which ushered in the Hellcat era that offered more than 700-hp engines straight from the factory. They’re slated to go out of production at the end of 2023. The Brampton Assembly Plant in Ontario has built more than 3 million since 2005, when the modern-day Charger was launched.
Before these powerful cars give way to electric successors, Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis said the brand wanted to celebrate them.
“Three million cars, a billion horsepower and a lot of really happy customers that helped build our brand,” Kuniskis said. “We’re going to make sure that we do that right.”
Each 2023 Charger and Challenger will have a “Last Call” underhood plaque with the vehicle name and silhouette showing their origin as “Designed in Auburn Hills” and “Assembled in Brampton.”
All 2023 Charger and Challenger models will be allocated to dealerships at once, which Dodge says will help customers identify and secure them more easily. Dodge will provide customers a guide for locating their preferred vehicles at dodgegarage.com. The site will include information on available inventory at each dealership.
Dodge is reintroducing heritage colors called B5 Blue, Plum Crazy purple and Sublime green as well the modern Destroyer Grey. In addition, the R/T variants of the Charger and Challenger will feature new “345” fender badging, “a callout to the 345-cubic-inch Hemi engine under the hood,” the brand said.
Dodge is expanding the reach of its SRT Jailbreak models that were introduced this year for the 807-hp Charger and Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Widebody editions, which unlocked color combinations that were previously restricted from ordering while boosting power and adding new factory-custom options. For 2023, the Jailbreak models also will be available for the 717-hp Challenger and Charger SRT Hellcat, a move that Dodge says will offer more customers the ability to configure their own “one-of-a-kind” vehicles.
The announcements came on the first day of Dodge’s Speed Week schedule at the M1 Concourse in suburban Detroit that will detail the direction of the brand. Monday focused on the “current muscle” theme for its existing lineup, while Tuesday and Wednesday will reveal more pieces of its two-year Never Lift business plan.
For those looking to turn their Challengers into convertibles, Dodge is making the process more seamless.
The brand said dealers will arrange shipping of customer Challenger orders directly from Brampton Assembly to Drop Top Customs to shorten the process. Drop Top Customs will then ship the convertibles to dealers when modifications are done.
Orders open at participating U.S. Dodge dealerships Tuesday. The expedited shipment option is available for 2022 and 2023 Dodge Challenger R/T, R/T Scat Pack and all Challenger SRT models. The convertible conversions will be available for $25,999, with final vehicle pricing negotiated and confirmed with the dealership.
The beastly 2021 Durango Hellcat was supposed to have a one-year run. But after a hiatus for the 2022 model year, Dodge is bringing back the blistering Hellcat variant for 2023 in response to enthusiast demand.
The model doesn’t lose anything from the previous version, with the same 710 hp and 645 pound-feet of torque that made the original such a standout in the three-row utility segment.
Customers can begin ordering them in September.
The Durango won’t be the only Dodge utility vehicle getting the spotlight this week. The Hornet crossover, Dodge’s first plug-in hybrid, is expected to debut.
In a nod to its past, Dodge is building seven “heritage-influenced” Challenger and Charger models that the brand says will each “share a connection to an iconic Dodge model from the past, reaching back to the dawn of the muscle-car era in the 1960s and 1970s.”
Dodge gave a limited look at six of the vehicles Monday, with only graphics on the covers giving clues to what they will be. More details will be shared later this year.
Dodge says the seventh model will be the last of its kind and be revealed in November at the Specialty Equipment Market Association show in Las Vegas.
On the parts side, Dodge is updating its Direct Connection lineup with the Challenger Mopar Drag Pak Rolling Chassis for “grassroots drag racers,” a Dodge Challenger body-in-white kit, Direct Connection-licensed carbon-fiber SpeedKore parts and a licensed vintage Dodge Charger carbon-fiber body from Finale Speed.
The Direct Connection parts are available through Dodge’s Power Brokers network of dealerships. Consumers can order these parts and have them installed at a Power Brokers store without breaking the warranty.
The Direct Connection program, Kuniskis said, is a way for Dodge to generate revenue for its dealer base.
“The aftermarket industry, the tuning industry, all of this stuff that you’d say is the SEMA stuff, is a $23 billion industry,” Kuniskis said. “It’s a massive, massive industry. And, quite frankly, we were not getting our fair share of that.”