Deciding whether a Charger is a sports car or a muscle car can be a difficult task. During our research for this question, we learned that both terms are quite subjective. Also, this car has so many different versions that there are big differences between generations and even within generations. Let’s start with a quick answer:
Dodge Chargers produced between 1965 – 1972 are considered classic muscle cars because of the big-block V8 and rear-wheel drive system. Chargers produced between 1972 – 1978 and 2005 – present that have a small-block V8 are considered to be pony cars. All other Chargers can be classified as sports cars.
However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. In the text below, we’ve outlined the different characteristics of sports, pony, and muscle cars and compared which area the Charger fits best. We’ll discuss the different engine types, the design of the car, the weight, and the drive system that it uses. Read on!
Also read: The Expected Mileage Of A Dodge Charger
One of the main differences between a muscle car and a sports car is the type of engine that the car has. As a general rule of thumb, muscle cars have a powerful V8 engine that weighs a lot. On the other hand, sports cars can have all kinds of different engines. However, the engine of a sports car is typically smaller (V6, Inline-6, Inline-4) because these weigh less and therefore provide better handling.
Below we’ve outlined all the different engines that have been used throughout the years for the Dodge Charger. What becomes clear here is that the Dodge Charger is a mixed bag in terms of engines.
First, we can see that almost all generations of the Charger have a V8 engine, which is a muscle car trait. However, there are also some models with a V6, I6, or I4 engine, which we can’t consider to be muscle cars.
- 1965 – 1968: 5.2 V8, 5.9 V8, 6.3 V8, 7.0 V8
- 1968 – 1970: 3.7 I6, 5.3 V8, 6.3 V8, 7.2 V8
- 1971 – 1972: 3.7 I6, 5.2 V8, 5.9 V8, 6.3 V8, 6.5 V8, 7.0 V8, 7.2 V8
- 1974 – 1978: 3.7 I6, 5.2 V8, 5.9 V8, 6.5 V8
- 1981 – 1987: 1.6 I4, 1.7 I4, 2.2 I4
- 2005 – 2010: 2.7 V6, 3.5 V6, 5.6 V8
- 2010 – 2015: 3.6 V6, 5.7 V8
- 2015 – present: 3.6 V6, 5.7 V8
Furthermore, it’s also good to know that not all muscle cars are considered the same. Muscle cars generally have a big-block V8 engine. As the name suggests, these are absolutely massive V8 engines. On the other hand, there are also small-block V8 engines. Cars that have these engines are considered to be so-called ‘pony cars.’
Chrysler, the company that owns Dodge, only made big-block V8’s between 1958 and 1971. This means that the two earlier generations of the Dodge Charger do indeed have big-block V8’s which makes them classic muscle cars.
However, after 1971 Chrysler only made us of small-block V8’s which means that most Dodge Chargers produced after that period are officially considered to be pony cars (purely looking at the engine, that is).
But what about the Chargers with a V6, I6, or I4 engine? Officially the cars with an I6 or I4 don’t fit the muscle car or pony car criteria. For this reason, we would consider these Chargers to be closer to a sports car than anything else. The ones that have a V6 can still be considered a pony car.
Also read: 19 Common Problems Of A Dodge Charger
Design is also an important feature to consider to know if a car is a muscle car or a sports car. In general, it can be said that classic muscle cars have two doors. Furthermore, they normally have big grills on the front of the car, allowing maximum airflow to cool the engine.
On the other hand, sports cars also have two doors. However, their design is focused more on handling and aerodynamics. This means the car looks ‘fast’ and generally sits low to the ground (which gives better handling in corners).
In terms of design, we think certain elements of the car are considered to be ‘muscle’ territory, whereas there are some elements that make it more of a sports car. First of all, we think there’s very little doubt about the fact that most Chargers look like a muscle car. The big grill on the front is a particular design feature that fits the muscle car criteria.
However, looking at the different generations, we would consider the 1981 – 1987 generation more of a sports car. This is because the car doesn’t have a big grill and has a low center of gravity, which does put it more into the sports car camp than the muscle car camp.
Finally, the whole discussion became even more complicated when Dodge introduced the 4-door Charger in 2005 (which is the one that’s still produced today). Adding 4-doors makes the car less of a classic muscle car and not really a pony or sports car.
Dodge themselves started calling the 2005 – present-day Charger a four-door coupe/sedan. Looking at its characteristics that are probably the best way to consider it. However, we would still consider it to look the most like a pony car when we consider the engine.
Also read: Is The Dodge Avenger A Sports Car?
Another important difference to consider is the weight of the car. In general, we would say that a typical sports car weighs anything in the neighborhood of 3,000 pounds. Sports cars are normally lighter cars which allow for better handling.
On the other hand, muscle/pony cars are heavier cars designed for straight-line speed. Let’s say that would be anything from 4,000 pounds or higher.
In an earlier article, we outlined the exact curb weight of a 2006 – present-day American/Canadian-made Dodge Charger. What became clear there is that the 2006 – 2021 Dodge Charger has a curb weight of 3,727 – 4,291 for most trim levels, excluding the Scat Pack and the Hellcat. The Dodge Charger Scat Pack has a curb weight of 4,385 – 4,400 pounds, and the Hellcat has a curb weight of 4,575 – 4,586 pounds.
Looking at these numbers, we think it’s safe to say that the Charger is definitely more of a pony/muscle car than a sports car. This is not a car that’s made for agility. Especially the Scat Pack and the Hellcat are just made for straight-line speed.
The drive system is also an important point to discuss when we discuss whether the Charger is a muscle car or a sports car. In general, the rule here is that muscle cars will always be cars that have rear-wheel drive. On the other hand, sports cars normally also have rear-wheel drive. However, they can also be front-wheel or all-wheel drive.
When we look at the Dodge Charger, it once again becomes clear that there’s no straight answer here. Most early day models of the Charger (produced between 1965 – 1987) all have rear-wheel drive. When the Charger was re-introduced in 2005, Dodge also added an all-wheel-drive version which means the modern generations of the Charger have both AWD and RWD. Want to know more about the drive system of a Charger? Read this blog: Which Dodge Charger Has AWD, RWD Or FWD?
In this case, we would say that the drive system is not the leading factor but rather a supplement to deciding what category a car belongs to. If the Charger has a big-block V8 with rear-wheel drive, it’s probably best to be classified as a muscle car. If it has rear-wheel drive but has a small-block V8 or V6, it’s a pony car, and the rest can just be considered sports cars or sporty cars.
Is The Dodge Charger Considered To Be A Sports Car For Insurance Purposes?
If you’re in the market for a Dodge Charger, it’s also important to know if the Charger is considered a sports car for insurance purposes. Especially if insurance costs are a major factor for you, this question needs to be answered.
In general, we would indeed say a Dodge Charger is a sports car for insurance purposes. However, there are clear differences between different model years and within different generations. There’s no clear definition of what a sports car is in the insurance world, and insurance companies will consider all different factors about the car to come up with the rate they charge.
Let it be clear that insuring a 3.6 V6 will be cheaper than insuring a 5.7 V8 Hellcat. Of course, a car with more power will be involved in more accidents and can also create more damage.
Using Valuepenguin.com, we found that insuring a Dodge Charger costs between $4,011 – 4,792 per year. However, these rates are, of course, subject to many different factors. According to this website, Allstate offers the cheapest insurance for the Dodge Charger, so we highly recommend checking the rate here on the website of Allstate.
Hi! My name is Stefan; I’m the owner and lead writer at TheDriverAdviser.com.
I’m an active writer on this blog myself, as well as a novice car mechanic. For the really technical stuff, I find writers with experience as a mechanic or who have studied mechanical engineering.
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