Dodge may now be just one of the many motor manufacturers which make up the giant Fiat Chrysler auto corporation, but once upon a time the company was a name in its own right – and even as part of a huge multinational, Dodge still manages to create interesting and eye-catching cars which can also offer motorists great value for money.
Founded by brothers John and Horace Dodge in their home city of Detroit, Michigan in 1900, opening a new factory in Hamtramck in 1910, which was where Dodge vehicles were made until 1979. Both Dodge brothers tragically passed in 1920, and it was only a few years before their family business was acquired by the much bigger Chrysler corporation, which itself was bought by Fiat in 2009 after filing for completely broke.
Dodge has always had a reputation for making quality vehicles at reasonable prices, and even their sporty muscle cars are well within the financial reach of ordinary motorists. From roadsters to pickups, Dodge vehicles cover the whole range – but as with much of the US automotive industry, the company hit a bit of a slump in the 1980s and 1990s, both in terms of sales and in terms of the quality of cars they were making.
Check out which of the cars in the Dodge stable are worth every penny, as well as some that you would be wise to avoid buying.
The Dodge Challenger is just one of the company’s successful muscle cars, first built between 1970 and 1974 and then relaunched in 2008. Vintage models are highly sought-after collectors’ items, but brand new Dodge Challengers can be picked up for a very reasonable $28,000 if you’re willing to make do with the most basic model on the market.
Even the top-of-the-range Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye, which advertises itself as the “most powerful, quickest and fastest muscle car”, will only set you back around $70,000. A very reasonable price for such a fine piece of powerful and stylish automotive engineering.
The Dodge Magnum is a name that has been used throughout the company’s history for a number of different vehicles, including a two-door coupe that was popular in both the US and Brazil in the 1970s and 1980s. However, it is the Dodge Magnum station wagon, in production between 2004 and 2008, which is the model which qualifies for this list of value-for-money Dodge cars.
The Magnum was a re-engineered version of the Chrysler 300 luxury car, which offered more space and a lower price tag for families, with the most basic Dodge Magnum model only setting you back $24,000 in 2008.
There are some motorists out there who might know the Dodge Neon by another name; parent company Chrysler also sold the same vehicle under the Neon nameplate, while the Plymouth Neon, another Chrysler subsidiary, was also on the market for a while. The Dodge Neon is perhaps the best known of all its incarnations, however, and this sedan has been a success since its relaunch in 2016, as a replacement for the Dodge Dart.
Previously in production between 1993 and 2005, there are plenty of second-hand models out there of motorists are looking for a bargain, but even brand new models will only cost $16,000.
Think of the Dodge Daytona, and the first image that comes to mind is the model from the 1970s, with its over-sized but somehow unforgettable spoiler. While these vintage models don’t come cheap – a 1969 Dodge Daytona sold for $900,000 at auction in 2015 – they are not the only options on the market.
While the Dayton may be linked to the 1970s, the company also produced a sport compact under the same name between 1984 and 1993, which is a much cheaper option; the original sticker price in 1993 was just $10,000, while second-hand models will set you back just a few thousand dollars, depending on its condition.
Dodge doesn’t just make stylish sports cars and powerful muscle cars, however. The company also has a reputation for creating rough and ready pickups thanks to the Dodge Ram full-size truck, which has been in constant production since 1981. It may not have the luxurious interior offered by some modern trucks, which are more like crossover SUVs with a pickup bed added as an afterthought, but if you need a truck for towing and transporting, the Dodge Ram is a dependable option.
At $30,000 for a brand new pickup, the Ram is not the cheapest truck on the market, but it still offers motorists great value for money.
The Dodge SRT-4 may look familiar to eagle-eyed readers; that’s because it is a special sport compact version of the Dodge Neon which was built by the company between 2003 and 2005. It offered the same great features as the original Dodge Neon, only they were all wrapped up in a more stylish and attractive package!
The SRT-4 was very much aimed at the younger market and was priced accordingly, at just $20,000 for the most basic model. That may seem expensive compared to the brand new standard Dodge Neon, but many drivers were happy to pay extra for a little bit of flair.
When it comes to Dodge and muscle cars, there are two names that stand out from the crowd; the Challenger and the Charger. Neither are cheap cars by general standards, but they are good value for money when it comes to classic muscle cars. The Dodge Charger, which in its present incarnation has been on sale since 2005, has been in and out of production since it first roared onto the scene back in 1966.
Even the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat, which is the most powerful sedan on the market, only costs $68,000, while the most basic model is a bargain at $30,000.
The Dodge Dart compact sedan is about as far as you can get from the raw power of the Dodge Charger. And yet it is still popular with motorists around the world - the Dart is sold as the Fiat Viaggio in China - who are looking for a stylish and reliable family car that is not going to break the bank.
Launched in 2012, the Dart was in production for four years before being replaced by the Dodge Neon, but there are still plenty of second-hand models if you are on the lookout for a real bargain; even brand new, the Dart would only have cost around $17,000, and owners would say it is definitely worth every penny.
Having started life as a mid-size sports car which neither looked or performed like a sports car, it was inevitable that the Dodge Avenger was going to have to undergo a major redesign if it was going to win over the driving public.
In 2008, the Avenger name was recycled for a sophisticated mid-size sedan, with some luxury features designed to attract high-end customers. However, if you wanted to stick to the basic model, the Dodge Avenger was a bit of a bargain for drivers looking for a larger family car. New models in 2014, the last year the Dodge Avenger was in production, would have set you back just $20,000.
Dodge isn't just known for its classic muscle cars or its functional family cars. The company also makes one of the most iconic sports cars of all time; the Dodge Viper. The Viper first rolled off the production line in 1991 and continued to push the envelope when it came to both design and engineering until it was withdrawn in 2017.
The top-of-the-range Dodge Viper SRT had a top speed of 206 mph - more than fast enough to compete with its European rivals - and though it also had a price tag of $87,000 that actually represented good value for money when you compared it with similar vehicles from around the world.
If the Dodge Viper represents the best in US automotive design, then the Dodge Nitro could be said to represent one of the worst examples. This boxy SUV looks like an off-roading jeep, with a few bells and whistles added in an effort to appeal to motorists; and the vehicle actually shares its platform with the Jeep Liberty, which goes a long way towards explaining that ugly appearance.
The Nitro was in production for five years, between 2007 and 2012, and there are still too many hanging about as used car lots. Even the cheap price tag, as new, of $14,000 couldn't save this Dodge from being a waste of money.
The Dodge Journey mid-size crossover SUV may share a platform with the Dodge Avenger sedan, but that's where the similarities end. The Journey may have been created by Fiat Chrysler's chief designer Ryan Nagode, but all this means is that the SUV version is more style over substance.
Dodge launched the Journey in 2009, but there were already signs that the vehicle was struggling to make an impact when it was given an upgrade just two years later. At $26,000 it is on the expensive side for a regular SUV, which has few of the luxury features drivers have come to expect.
Collectors are always interested in classic Dodge vehicles from the 50s, 60s, and 70s, but there is one Dodge retro car in particular that sells for a lot of money, despite its very obvious flaws. The Dodge LaFemme, as the name suggests, was a car designed especially for female motorists, right down to the pink paintwork, the pink upholstery, and fake gold design touches.
The LaFemme was a flop, and it is thought that fewer than 2,500 were ever made, which also means that they don't come up for sale very often. Whatever a collector pays for a Dodge LaFemme, however, is probably several thousand dollars too much.
From a Dodge flop of the 1950s to one from the 1990s - though the Dodge Grand Caravan actually sold quite well when it was first launched in 1983 and is still in production today, though it is sold under a number of different names in different regions.
The Grand Caravan was Dodge's bid to secure a share of the lucrative minivan market - an automotive idea which certainly didn't create good-looking vehicles. Even the modern incarnation of the Dodge Grand Caravan is lacking in style, and while its $26,000 seems reasonable, you still end up driving a minivan off the lot at the end of the day.
It doesn’t take a genius to see what the problem is with the Dodge Colt. This cheaply-made and cheaply-sold compact car may look like a bargain at first glance, but owners have reported a litany of problems with the vehicle over the years. Is a car really a bargain if you end up spending thousands of dollars in repairs over the years?
To be fair to Dodge, they don’t even make the Dodge Colt, but they were happy enough to put their name on the Mitsubishi Mirage, and pretend that it was their own work! The last new “Dodge Colt” went on sale in 1994 and would have cost motorists just $9,000.
Built between 2007 and 2012, the Dodge Caliber five-door hatchback was a pretty uninspiring family car. While style may not be the number one thing that motorists look for in a family car, safety and comfort are usually high on the list of priorities, and the Caliber doesn’t exactly score highly in those departments either.
Sales started to slump within a couple of years of the Dodge Caliber going on the market – a sure sign that the company had missed the mark. Despite the relatively cheap $17,000 price tag, the Dodge Caliber just doesn’t offer motorists great value for money.
Production on the Dodge Intrepid sedan came to an end in 2004 after 12 years on the market, when a new model would have set you back $18,000 – the equivalent of about $25,000 in today’s money. This makes it a pretty expensive for a sedan, especially when you take into consideration the Intrepid’ s bland and insipid design features and the vehicle’s poor performance.
Manufacturing standards were clearly not very high either, as the Intrepid had to be recalled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration because of failings in the original headlights installed by Dodge at their US and Canada plants.
The Dodge Nitro isn’t the only boxy SUV on the company’s books. The Dodge Durango has a few curves to boast of, but it is still chunky enough to make it awkward and stiff to drive. Like the Nitro, the Durango is also built on a Jeep platform – the Jeep Grand Cherokee – and has enjoyed healthy sales in the US since its relaunch in 2011; although given that Dodge only sold 572 Durango models in 2010, that was hardly difficult!
A number of safety recalls also hit the reputation of the Dodge Durango, making its $30,000 cost seem a little over-priced.
When it comes to Dodge pickup trucks, there is no contest between the best-selling Dodge Ram and the rather ramshackle Dodge Dakota alternative. The Dakota enjoyed a long production run between 1987 and 2011, and was not only smaller than the Dodge Ram but also lacked much of its big brother’s stylish design.
The Dodge Dakota went the way of many compact trucks, as consumers started to buy more and more full-size pickups instead, and given that the 2011 model cost $22,000 – only a few thousand dollars less than the much more powerful Dodge Ram – it wasn’t a great buy for motorists.
If there was to be one car that summed up the dullness of automotive design in the 1990s, then the Dodge Stratus sedan would definitely be in with a shout of winning the top prize. It may have been cheap and functional, but there was little to excite motorists when it came to the Stratus, either in the way it looked or in the way it performed.
Dodge didn’t stick with the Stratus for long, ending production in 2005, despite the fact that it was still surprisingly popular with the public – who didn’t seem to be put off by the over-expensive $20,000 sticker price.
Sources - Dodge, Cars, ABC News, Auto Guide