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When it comes to American muscle cars, two models stand above the rest: the Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang. They’ve been among the most popular sports cars for years and have seen many changes over their decades in production.

Here’s a look at the states where the Challenger and Mustang reign supreme. We’ll also explore why these iconic cars are perennial bestsellers.

The Dodge Challenger and Ford Mustang have become synonymous with American power and performance. Both cars offer a thrilling driving experience, aggressive styling, and a rich heritage that appeals to a wide range of car enthusiasts. Their popularity can be attributed to a few factors:

  1. Heritage and legacy: Introduced in 1964, the Mustang was the first pony car, kick-starting a revolution in the automotive industry. This muscle car’s long history and unmistakable design have created a loyal following, and consumers return year after year for each new iteration. Similarly, the Challenger has a strong heritage, debuting in the 1970s and making a comeback in 2008. These cars are a testament to American muscle and carry a sense of nostalgia for many enthusiasts.
  2. Performance and power: The Challenger and Mustang are renowned for their exceptional performance capabilities. They offer a range of potent engine options, giving even supercars stiff competition. The engines produce impressive horsepower and torque, starting at 310 hp and 350 lb-ft for the Mustang and 303 hp and 268 lb-ft of torque for the Challenger, depending on the configuration.
  3. Affordability: Pound for pound, the Mustang and Challenger remain unmatched as the most affordable thrill rides. Compared to cars with similar capabilities, such as the Corvette, the Challenger and Mustang are much more affordable. A new Vette will set you back about $65,000 to over $100,000, whereas a new Challenger or Mustang cost an average of $30,000 to $50,000. 

The Challenger stole sales from the Mustang in the past year

The Dodge Challenger is the most popular sports car in 36 states
Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack Shaker | Stellantis

In a 2022 iSeeCars study, the Mustang was the most popular sports car in 40 states, and the Challenger wore the crown in the remaining 10. However, iSeeCars’ 2023 study reveals a shift. The Dodge Challenger now leads in 36 states and the Ford Mustang leads in 14.

In this year’s study, the Challenger is the most popular sports car in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Meanwhile, the Mustang is the best-selling sports car in Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Washington.

“The Dodge Challenger is one of the only sports cars to offer all-wheel drive and is the most popular sports car mainly among Northern and mountainous states,” iSeeCars notes.

The Challenger and Mustang are more popular in some states than others. For instance, Nevada, Arizona, California, Florida, and Texas consistently rank among the states with the most sports cars because of their large populations, car culture, and favorable weather for convertible driving. On the other hand, states with harsher climates and less car-centric cultures have fewer sports cars.

The Mustang and Challenger’s shift in popularity can be attributed to various factors, such as evolving consumer preferences, marketing strategies, and the release of updated models. In addition, Dodge announced last year it would discontinue the Challenger as we know it after 2023, so that has likely boosted its sales.

To determine the most popular sports cars, the folks at iSeeCars analyzed over 200,000 used vehicles from model years 2018 to 2022 sold from May 2022 through April 2023 across the 50 U.S. states. They calculated the share of sports car sales for each model within each state, relative to the total sports car sales in that state. This methodology provides a comprehensive and data-driven approach to evaluating popularity.

The Dodge Challenger and the Ford Mustang have been the most popular sports cars in the United States owing to their American heritage, affordability, and power. Their popularity varies across states, with iSeeCars’ latest study showing the Challenger leading in 36 states, overturning the Mustang’s 40-state dominance in the 2022 study.

The Challenger-versus-Mustang battle continues to captivate car enthusiasts. Regardless of which model leads in sales, both embody the spirit of American muscle.