The naysayers and critics of the U.S. auto industry have to stay silent when it comes to vehicles like the Dodge Charger. The Charger offers a roomy interior and smooth ride. And with big engine upgrades and an available ultra-high-performance SRT8 model, the Charger is a serious alternative to many luxury sports sedans that cost nearly twice as much.
The Charger now comes with a 2.7-liter V6 as its base engine.
The 3.5-liter V6 and the 5.7-liter V8 are other choices. The latter comes with multi-displacement technology that shuts down four of the eight cylinders when full power is not needed, to slightly improve fuel economy. The high-performance SRT8 is again available this year, and comes with a monster 6.1-liter V8. With 425 horsepower, it muscles its way to a 0-60-mph time under 6 seconds, which is remarkable for such a heavy car.
While a coupe body style would have been a nice nod to the past, you can't beat a sedan with a usable interior and lots of standard features. While competitors like the Honda Accord are reliable and come in performance-oriented trim levels, there is simply no substitute for rear-wheel-drive, V8-powered fun.
The Charger sedan comes in three main trim levels: SE (base), R/T and SRT8. The SE rear-wheel-drive model comes standard with 17-inch steel wheels, cloth seats, a CD player with an auxiliary input jack, a tilt and telescoping steering column and full power accessories.
It's also available with several optional features. Most notable is the SXT package that offers a more powerful V6 engine, alloy wheels, a power driver seat, a 60/40-split rear seat and a Boston Acoustics audio system.
Other options for the SE or SXT include 18-inch alloy wheels, heated leather seats, automatic dual-zone climate control, power-adjustable pedals, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, upgraded audio systems, a navigation system and a sunroof.
Charger R/Ts generally have the same equipment as the lower trims but add the V8 engine, leather seating and power adjustable pedals as standard. There are also some R/T-specific packages. The Enhanced R/T Performance Group includes suede-trimmed heated seats, 20-inch chrome wheels, performance-oriented tires and a sport-tuned suspension and steering rack.
It also features an exhaust system that adds 10 extra horsepower to the V8's performance in the rear-wheel-drive car. The Daytona Package adds to the Enhanced R/T Performance Group by offering unique decals, paint colors and instrument panel customization.
The SRT8 comes standard with special hardware and unique interior and exterior trim to distinguish it as the high-performance model. These include a larger V8, a sport-tuned suspension, 20-inch forged wheels, more powerful brakes and sport seats.
The SRT is the most well-equipped Charger of the lineup, though features like navigation and the rear entertainment system are still optional. The SRT8 Super Bee special-edition package adds unique graphics and a black/yellow color theme.
The Charger has three engine options. The 2.7-liter V6 produces 190 hp and 190 pounds-feet of torque and comes with a four-speed automatic transmission. The upgraded 3.5-liter V6 is good for 250 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. The 5.7-liter V8 delivers 340 hp and 390 lb-ft of torque, and delivers a 0-60-mph time of approximately 6 seconds.
It also comes with a multi-displacement system that shuts down four of the eight cylinders when full power is not needed. Both the larger V6 and the V8 come with a standard five-speed automatic transmission.
The SRT8's 6.1-liter V8 is good for 425 hp and propels the car to a 0-60-mph time in the low 5-second range. A five-speed automatic transmission with a specially calibrated AutoStick automanual mode is standard.
Thanks to the Charger's long wheelbase, the interior is spacious and the backseat is particularly generous. The interior styling is nothing to write home about, but does make the effort to look attractive and sporty with a two-tone color scheme, silver accents and white-faced gauges.
The SRT8 features red accent stitching and sport seats that hold you snug in the turns.
With some serious torque and rear-wheel-drive power to the pavement, the V8-powered Charger R/T provides great fun for driving enthusiasts who appreciate the extra space. It's also comfortable as a daily driver and for picking the kids up from school. With its precise handling, head-turning color schemes and decals, not to mention that rip-roaring exhaust, the Charger Daytona is a clear winner. For those on a budget, the 3.5-liter V6 is still a decent choice, as it provides adequate power. As for the SRT8, it takes the rear-wheel-drive V8-powered family sedan to a whole new level.
Who says one car can't be everything to everyone?