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Here’s an interesting question: What’s the cheapest way to get into a HEMI V8-powered vehicle? Is it more budget-friendly to opt for a Dodge muscle car or a Ram truck that shares the same HEMI V8 engine? You might assume a bigger truck will be more expensive than a car. But the truth is that Dodge doesn’t offer V8s in its cheapest trim levels. The lowest dollar way to get a HEMI is to choose Ram’s cheapest work truck, then pay for the upgrade to the 5.7-liter HEMI V8.

What’s the cheapest Dodge car with a HEMI V8?

Every engine available in a Dodge muscle car or SUV comes with a different trim level. For example, the R/T trim Charger, Durango, and Challenger feature a 5.7-liter HEMI V8. At $39,780, the Challenger R/T is the cheapest V8 Dodge you can buy.

A 2023 Dodge Challenger Widebody looks like a heavy car, like this one showing off its flared fenders and wide tires.
R/T Scat Pack Widebody | Stellantis

Dodge advertises the base MSRP of a Challenger coupe as $30,940. This actually makes it competitive with the cheapest, two-door Ram 1500 pickup truck. Both vehicles come with a 3.4-liter Pentastar V6 that makes 300+ horsepower. But to get a different engine in the Challenger, you must upgrade to an entirely different trim level.

You can also choose an R/T trim level of a Charger or Durango. Both of these options also come with the 5.7-liter HEMI V8. The four-door Charger R/T starts at $42,789. The V8-powered, R/T version of the Durango SUV has an MSRP of $51,595.

Dodge’s other engines also require a trim level upgrade. If you’re looking for the HEMI “392,” which is a 6.4-liter V8, you’ll need to select a Scat Pack trim of the Charger or Challenger. You can get the same engine in the 2023 Durango SRT, or even a heavy-duty Ram 2500.

Finally, the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that Dodge’s SRT division engineered to make 700 horsepower only comes in “Hellcat” level Chargers and Challengers. This includes the Super Stock and Jailbreak. You can also get this 700+ horsepower engine in the Ram 1500 TRX.

What’s the cheapest Ram truck with a HEMI V8?

The cheapest Ram truck is the half-ton Ram 1500 “Classic.” The 2023 Ram Classic starts at $30,695. This MSRP is for a two-door, 2WD work truck with a V6 engine. But you can upgrade it with a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 for an extra $2,495.

White Ram 1500 "Classic" V8 pickup truck.
2022 Ram 1500 Classic | Stellantis

When Ram redesigned its half-ton pickup truck for the 2019 model year, it did away with the two-door “regular cab” configuration. It also rolled out much better interior materials. The result is that a 2023 Ram 1500 has an MSRP of $37,410. The automaker knew this would be a bit steep for fleet truck owners and some budget-minded drivers, so it builds brand-new fourth-generation trucks badged as the Ram 1500 Classic.

Therefore, the absolute cheapest HEMI-powered vehicle available in 2023 is a Ram 1500 “Classic” pickup truck with 2WD and the two-door regular cab, with the V8 upgrade, coming in at $33,190. Don’t forget that this is before the $1,895 destination charge that you’ll pay at any Ram dealership. Some dealerships will also have additional fees, and you’ll need to pay registration as well.

Is the Ram 1500 Classic a good option for an affordable HEMI V8?

There may not be many people cross-shopping Dodge Challengers and Ram 1500 Classic pickup trucks. But in case you are considering both, here’s what you should know. The Challenger is obviously a two-door coupe. The regular cab Ram Classic also has two doors, but no back seat. You can upgrade this two a four-door for a cost.

Promo photo of a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 crate engine.
5.7-liter Crate HEMI V8 | Stellantis

You can currently buy a Dodge Challenger with a manual transmission, but this is not an option in any full-size Ram truck sold in the U.S. You’ll have to buy a Mexican-market Ram for that option.

Finally, you might think the Challenger is a lot lighter. But it is only a bit lighter. The 2023 Dodge Challenger weighs between 3,841 and 4,415 pounds. The lightest Ram Classic comes in at 4,693 pounds.

Next, see all the cheapest full-size V8 pickup trucks available in 2023.


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