If there ever was a contemporary slab of America that can dismiss the adage about old dogs not being able to learn new tricks, that’s the Dodge Challenger. Introduced for 2008, the Mopar coupe managed to one-up its Mustang and Camaro rivals in the 2021 sales race, despite the last two having received an extra generation meanwhile. Not much has changed for the 2022 Challenger range, but with the six-speed manual currently missing from the Hellcat official configurator, we contacted Dodge to ask if the removal is permanent—it isn’t.
The Dodge online configurator still lists both the 2021 and 2022 Challenger range. And, even if configuring a 2021 model online is a symbolic action at this point, you can still rely on the tool for comparisons, not that we could ever forget the Hellcat used to be offered in standard with a Tremec six-speed manual, while the ZF eight-speed automatic came as an option (listed for $2,995 in 2021, the price of the auto hasn’t changed).
Now, a Dodge spokesperson has confirmed to us via email that while the absence of the stick shift is real (read: not a configurator error), this is temporary. However, we were not given a clear time for the return of the clutch.
Why is the 2022 Dodge Challenger Hellcat six-speed manual unavailable at the moment?
For starters, we can tell you this isn’t one of those situations where enthusiasts only wish to #savethemanuals online, while hitting dealerships and only paying for the automatics.
Over the years, the stick shift has been a popular option among buyers of the 700+ horsepower Hellcat. And while there’s no manufacturer-provided data on this, various unofficial reports mention that about 40% of the 2015MY Hellcats (this was the first model year) came with a manual, while the value sat at over 30% for the 2016 model.
With the supply issues the car industry has faced in recent times, be they pandemic-related or not, this could be the cause for the six-speed manual missing from the Challenger Hellcat configurator.
For one, the other Challenger models that used to come with a manual, which feature the N/A 5.7L (R/T) and 6.4L HEMIs (R/T Scat Pack and Widebody) have maintained the feature for 2022. Note that the 797 hp Hellcat Redeye was never offered with a third pedal.
While both the said N/A models and the supercharged 6.2L Hellcat/ Hellcat Widebody make use of Tremec’s TR6060 six-speed manual, there are certain differences between their transmissions. As such, the blower models come with different gear ratios, a clutch that can handle the extra torque, and superior cooling.
For the record, if we take a look at how the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) rates the Hellcats, we notice that both the manual and the automatic come with 13 MPG for city driving, the stick shift is listed at 21 MPG for the highway, while the auto sits slightly higher, at 22 MPG.
The torque converter unit also offers better acceleration times compared to the manual, but if we turn to the subjective metric that is the driving experience, the clutch sees the one behind the wheel being even more engaged.
What’s new for the 2022 Challenger range?
As the Challenger approaches retirement and with the coupe having received the SRT Super Stock (think: halfway between Redeye and Demon) for the previous model year, the changes for 2022 are limited, at least when it comes to the standard model (more on this below).
The Deluxe Security Alarm is now standard on the R/T Scat Pack, SRT Hellcat, SRT Hellcat Redeye, and SRT Super Stock models, while the rest of the lineup sees this being included in the Driver Convenience Group.
Speaking of colors, Gold Rush is out—it has been introduced for the 2020 Dodge Challenger R/T 50th Commemorative Edition, but stuck for a while. And while the configurator doesn’t mention anything about a replacement right now, various unofficial sources talk about Dodge introducing Stinger Yellow in its place. And here’s to hoping this High Impact shade makes a full comeback rather than being confined to the new Jailbreak personalization bonanza—we’ll detail this in a moment— or the Hellcats.
As for the pricing, this has gone up. For instance, if we compare the 2021 and 2022 models in the configurator, we end up with a $3,475 premium for the Hellcat (this doesn’t include the said $2,995 cost for the automatic). And the figure climbs to $4,175 for the Hellcat Widebody.
The 2022MY saw Dodge introduce the Jailbreak personalization options for the Hellcat Redeye Widebody Challenger and Charger, which cover exterior colors, badges, and accessories (e.g. boot lid spoiler, exhaust tips, etc.), as well as cabin trim. There are pre-designed proposals or you can mix your own, but keep in mind that entering this club means getting engine calibration that pushes the high-output version of the 6.2L HEMI to the 807 hp spec of the Super Stock.
Dodge Direct Connection brings extra power and more, all with a warranty
In addition, Dodge has revived the Direct Connection in-house upgrades, a program that was born back in 1974 but hasn’t been a constant presence. The performance upgrades involve factory parts and performance kits that are emission-compliant and keep the warranty intact when installed by an approved dealer.
For the record, while the initial fall 2021 announcement only targeted the Challenger, the Charger Hellcat has also been included. No, you still can’t have the four-door with a manual, but Direct Connection does bring a lot to the table.
Targeting the powertrain, drivetrain, and suspension, these packages are currently split between Pre Stage, Stage 1 and Stage 2 and can be had via select dealers labeled as Dodge Power Brokers.
Dodge keeps adding details to the program, but, for now, the 2022 Direct Connection Challenger targets the Challenger R/T Scat Pack, Hellcat and Hellcat Redeye, as well as the Super Stock and the Demon. Plus the Charger R/T Scat Pack, Hellcat, and Hellcat Redeye.
And, in case you own one of the early Hellcats (Dodge separates these in 2015-2018 and 2019-2022 models), you’ll be thrilled to find out your car is also on the list.
The Hellcat lives on for 2023, but Dodge also announced 2024 plans
Dodge CEO Tim Kuniskis has previously stated that Hellcat production will only continue through 2023—keep in mind that the carmaker has to buy emission credits in order to offset the effect these supercharged beasts have on its average fleet emission levels.
However, the head honcho has mentioned we’ll get a concept for an electric muscle car this year, with the production model set to arrive for 2024. This is expected to ride on parent company Stellantis (the FCA-PSA merger) STLA Medium or Large platform.
In addition, the CEO stated that 2022 will also see Dodge introducing an all-new plug-in hybrid not based on a current model, which could be the purportedly leaked Dodge Hornet incarnation of the Alfa Romeo Tonale small crossover.
The Italian model is available with a plug-in hybrid powertrain mixing a turbocharged 1.3L four-cylinder feeding the front wheels via a six-speed automatic, while the rear wheels get power from an electric motor. The combined output sits at 272 hp, while the 15.5 kWh battery means the official EV range is 30 miles.
Stellantis’ twin-turbo 3.0L Tornado straight-six
Kuniskis also spoke of a third project not linked to the ones mentioned above coming in 2022, albeit while offering no details on the matter.
However, the announcement has fueled rumors about a next-generation muscle car that would take the Challenger/Charger name forward or revive iconic nameplates such as the Barracuda.
With the Giorgio architecture that serves multiple Alfa Romeo models having been adapted for the 2021+ Jeep Grand Cherokee, this could also be used to keep Dodge’s traditional muscle alive for at least one more generation.
As for motivation, various unofficial reports mention Stellantis’ upcoming 3.0L twin-turbo straight-six. Codenamed “Tornado”, this is expected to be an all-new motor that would initially be offered alongside the trustworthy HEMI V8s for models coming from Dodge, Jeep, and Ram.