Road Test Review: The 2023 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Swinger "Last Call" Says So Long To A Modern Muscle Car Icon (2024)

  • Story By
    Benjamin Hunting

How do you celebrate the end of an era—particularly one that extends well past the sunsetting of a single model? If you’re Dodge, you go all-out celebrating the final year of production of the popular Challenger, a vehicle whose impending disappearance from the muscle car scene sends it into the same void that has also swallowed the Chevrolet Camaro, leaving only the Ford Mustang holding the torch for the popular performance car segment.

Road Test Review: The 2023 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Swinger "Last Call" Says So Long To A Modern Muscle Car Icon (1)

Dodge’s 2023 Challenger parade consists of no less than 7 special editions meant to soften the blow of its departure from the tire-smoking scene. Surprisingly, while some of these “Last Call” cars celebrate the more over-the-top aspects of the Challenger’s cultural impact (with drag-focused Demon 170 and track-ready Hellcat Widebody badges on the list), Dodge has also sought to underscore the Challenger’s status as a design icon. After all, the coupe is one of the most successful of the retro-themed machines to have emerged over the past 15 years or so from Detroit’s rearward-looking sheet metal studios.

Road Test Review: The 2023 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Swinger "Last Call" Says So Long To A Modern Muscle Car Icon (2)

Of these efforts, perhaps the most intriguing is the Swinger. Harkening back to the same-name package that was found on 1970s Mopar luminaries like the Dart, the Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Swinger (as its exhausting full title makes clear) marries the largest-displacement V8 in the stable to a slick-looking visual package that celebrates the heritage embodied in the package’s name. After sampling the Swinger first hand, I can confidently state that selecting style over high horsepower substance is an inspired decision when pondering which Last Call Challenger should be in your own personal garage.

More Than Enough “Go”

That’s not to say that the 6.4L Hemi engine under the (Shaker-wearing) hood of the Challenger Swinger is a slouch in the speed department. With 485 hp on tap, backed with 475 lb-ft of torque, the Dodge’s drivetrain emits a stentorian rumble on cold start, warning the world around it that something wicked this way comes. Match that output with either a six-speed manual gearbox (as found in my tester), or an excellent ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic, and the functional air scoop sitting between the front fenders is easy to keep busy while running up to redline.

Road Test Review: The 2023 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Swinger "Last Call" Says So Long To A Modern Muscle Car Icon (3)

That being said, the reason the Scat Pack has always been my favorite of the seemingly-endless Challenger iterations is because it so expertly straddles that border between good time and on-time from a performance perspective. This Dodge is big, heavy, and not always rewarding as an track-day dance partner, which can make it unwieldy for some drivers when found in full-force Hellcat trim. The Scat Pack recognizes that cruising with menace can be as emotionally rewarding as turning in a fast lap, and so it prioritizes real-world speed (with a 0-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds) and a suitably salacious soundtrack. It’s easy enough to break the rear end of the car out at will, but that raucous character is attenuated by a somewhat stiff suspension tune that occasionally complains as its hustled through corners, suggesting that perhaps a straight cruise to the local burger and shake joint would be a more enjoyable shared activity.

Swinger Steps Up

Where the Swinger succeeds is by underscoring the Scat Pack’s beefy, but relaxed personality with choice old school flair. Dark green paint is matched with gold accents and lighter green striping, doing a great job of visually distracting from the car’s flared fenders while still allowing for the extra grip provided by its wider stance. Inside, there’s Nappa leather, wood grain if you squint at the Challenger’s dash and console, and acres of cabin space you won’t find in any of its rivals.

Road Test Review: The 2023 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Swinger "Last Call" Says So Long To A Modern Muscle Car Icon (4)

“Gold School” wheels are a little bit much in 20-inch size—I’d have preferred a slightly smaller diameter to improve ride quality on rough roads—but there’s no denying that the badging, stickers, and of course the scoop do an excellent job enhancing the already latent cool factor of the Challenger shape, which has remarkably remained at the top of the muscle car class despite being by far the oldest platform on the market.

Funeral For A Friend

I’ve coerced Redeyes through the corners at Sonoma and Club Motorsports, crested 160 mph in straight-line Hellcat desert runs, and slid all-wheel drive GTs sideways through snow-covered autocross courses. And yet, spending my final week behind the wheel of the less focused and more friendly Swinger felt like a fitting farewell compared to revisiting past episodes of white line fever.

Road Test Review: The 2023 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Swinger "Last Call" Says So Long To A Modern Muscle Car Icon (5)

Personality is one of the most difficult X-factors to design into any machine, and automobiles are no exception. While the Camaro might have been a sharper razor when slicing apexes, and the Mustang continues to deliver a higher tech experience that bridges old school and new for the muscle set, the Challenger has always had appeal well beyond what its gaudy horsepower numbers had to offer. The designers behind the Swinger clearly understand that aspect of the car, and it’s a testament to Dodge’s marketing team that they were allowed to exercise their imaginations without being forced to tinker with the power or process of what is already an enjoyable automobile to drive.

Road Test Review: The 2023 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Swinger "Last Call" Says So Long To A Modern Muscle Car Icon (6)

Gregarious, garrulous and occasionally gauche from a modern perspective, the Challenger’s character never once deviated from the promise of a good time, regardless of whether you were sitting in the staging lane or carrying out the quickest of grocery runs. The Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Swinger “Last Call” might have a name that’s a little too long to fit comfortably on a tombstone, but its verbosity is nothing compared to the sheer length of the eulogy the Dodge’s departure deserves.

More From Driving Line

  • Test Drive Review: 2022 Dodge Challenger Scat Pack Widebody Says A Big, Loud Goodbye
  • Track Tested: Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye vs. Challenger R/T Scat Pack Widebody
  • What's It Like To Daily Drive 797 Horsepower? 6 Lessons From The 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye
Road Test Review: The 2023 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Swinger "Last Call" Says So Long To A Modern Muscle Car Icon (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Msgr. Benton Quitzon

Last Updated:

Views: 6285

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (43 voted)

Reviews: 82% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Msgr. Benton Quitzon

Birthday: 2001-08-13

Address: 96487 Kris Cliff, Teresiafurt, WI 95201

Phone: +9418513585781

Job: Senior Designer

Hobby: Calligraphy, Rowing, Vacation, Geocaching, Web surfing, Electronics, Electronics

Introduction: My name is Msgr. Benton Quitzon, I am a comfortable, charming, thankful, happy, adventurous, handsome, precious person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.