Tips, Tricks & Trends

The Dodge Challenger Continues To Be Home To a Dying Feature

The details are out, and fans are excited to get behind the wheel of the 2021 Dodge Challenger. Dodge knows how to keep this popular, two-door muscle car relevant even into its 14th production year, too. The Challenger continues to dominate the class with larger than life horsepower options and evolves again this year with other new upgrades and enhancements.

But one Dodge Challenger feature, available in some packages, is considered to be a dying option within the auto industry. What once was a standard add-on to almost every car is now a rarity and fading from many automaker lineups. So, why would Dodge continue to offer this dinosaur feature?

A Dodge Challenger on display at an auto show
A 2020 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye | Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

A few Dodge Challenger trims still offer manual transmission

Some car enthusiasts will say buying a muscle car with an automatic transmission is just blasphemy. And that may be why Dodge continues to offer a manual transmission option within a few of its packages for the 2021 Dodge Challenger.

Motor Trend points out the Challenger R/T, the Challenger R/T Scat Pack, and the Challenger SRT Hellcat all present an available option for a six-speed stick shift.

For those who need the feel of a shifter in the palm and the clutch pedal underfoot, these options are a relief, considering so many automakers are abandoning the manual transmission variations altogether.

The Dodge Challenger exudes performance

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Edmunds breaks down the five primary trim levels for the 2021 Dodge Challenger that may appeal to the masses in terms of performance, features, and price points.

Choose from the SXT, GT, R/T, R/T Scat Pack, and the SRT Hellcat. But you’ll also have your choice of V8 engines, and even the base model comes with a robust 3.6-liter V6 and 303 horsepower.

Harness up to 797 hp if you can handle the upgraded 6.2-liter V8 or an even further upgraded version, capable of 807 horsepower. Motor Authority thinks you’ll enjoy an additional 3.5-inches in the wide-body design and 20×11-inch wheels, as well. But is anyone really still interested in adding the manual transmission to this muscle car?

A feature that seems to be fading into obscurity

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Fewer and fewer models are offering a manual transmission option these days. Automakers are making these decisions based on sales and consumer preference.

Trends indicate, more people prefer the ease and convenience of an automatic transmission. The few models that still offer optional stick shifts are doing so in part to satisfy the needs of those few remaining consumers who still like to use their clutch foot.

Why some think manual transmissions might soon be gone for good

The popularity of manual transmission has really dwindled over the years. It used to be that cars with stick shifts would achieve better fuel economy. Buying a stick shift over an automatic is typically the cheaper buy, too.

Other performance-based rides would offer manual transmissions as a control feature for the driver to manage RPMs and driving dynamics from behind the wheel.

But today’s vehicles, with all the increased technology, are more fuel-efficient and feature powertrain designs that do the engine optimization automatically. Without a real need for the manual transmission, it’s possible the feature will disappear from new vehicle lineups sooner than later.

The 2021 Dodge Challenger isn’t ready to get rid of the manual transmission just yet. And there may be some muscle car enthusiasts out there who still prefer the handling and control that a stick shift offers.

Manual transmissions might be fading from the options lists for other automakers. But Dodge recognizes there are still car buyers out there who prefer the connection of a manual transmission with their Dodge Challengers.