The Dodge Charger hit the scene back in 2005 and made quite a splash. That splash was two fold: firstly the fact that many people were less then thrilled that the Charger name was applied to a four door sedan. If you remember, the original Dodge Charger was a 2 door. The second part was the bold and in your face styling, which was fresh and really spoke to many people. The Charger has now been on the market since 2005 with only a few major changes (depending on how you look at it). So lets dive in and see how this once-popular muscle car has fared.
The Charger has a bold styling that can be described as chunky by some. The SRT8 kicks it up a notch, but in a subtle way. The hood has an integrated scoop that is functional, funneling outside air into the engine bay to keep that large engine nice and cool. The front end is lower to the ground and slightly more aggressive. There is a belt line that runs from the top of the headlights down the side into the rear “haunches” that begin at the rear of the back doors. These haunches go over the rear wheels and into the tail lights. The tail lights are one piece but they have been refreshed and now have four (two on each side) circles. The trunk has a small but raised spoiler. It is tasteful, but I still wonder if I would want it on my SRT8. The spoiler is attached by four bolts and I think it could be removed (not that I tried). The wheels are 20-inches, and ride on low profile tires. My favorite line on the whole car is the intersection of the belt line and the shoulders in the rear. It almost looks like a lightning bolt.
The interior was originally a horrible mess. The materials when the car launched were all hard plastic. I am not talking about just any plastic. We are talking about plastic that even Lego would reject for quality control. Back in 2008, a mild refresh fixed that, and everything you touch and even most things you do not are now soft touch. Very little hard plastic is still left. The belt line is high, which makes it feel smaller then it really is. Sight lines are surprisingly good. The interior has tons of space both in the front and back. The rear seats fold down almost flat – the bolsters prevent them from being perfectly flat. That said, it is nice to see that they are able to fold. This increases functionality for hauling large items. The seats were very well bolstered and more then comfortable. The bolsters are leather and the center of the seat is a suede-like material that keeps you from sliding when driving aggressively.
The SRT8 is powered by not just any HEMI but the HEMI. The 6.1 liter HEMI puts out 425 horsepower and 420 pound feet to the rear wheels. The power is channeled through a one-choice five-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting capabilities. No manual is offered, though how cool would it be if they offered the pistol grip six-speed from the Challenger? This engine just sounds terrific. You literally just want to slam the gas to hear it over and over again. Of course you would expect with this amount of power this car has, mileage suffers- -and you would be correct. It is rated by the EPA at 13/19 mpg, I saw an average of 14.3 mpg with a mix of city and suburb driving.
This car drives like a big sports car. Wait – well not like just any sports car. This is not a Porsche, rather this is a large car. It will push in the corners and you will feel its weight. That said, it is very composed. It drives European-like which should be no surprise, because the basic frame and transmission is a hand-me-down from the 1999 generation Mercedes Benz E Class (W210).
I actually was moving when the Charger SRT8 was in my possession. I used this vehicle to see just how practical it was in daily service. The seats folding down helped and the trunk swallowed a surprisingly large amount of boxes. The subwoofer in the corner of the trunk did eat into some of the cargo space, but that is minimal. The practicality of this vehicle was demonstrated in spades.
Alright so what do we have here? Well, it is practical for a sports car. A large trunk and large interior while still going like a bat out of hell. I already know what you are going to say – but Joel it gets crappy gas mileage. To that I say this – it gets no worse then my Jeep and many other SUV’s that Americans love, yet it is a heck of a lot more fun to drive. This Charger SRT8 was fully loaded and had a sticker price of $43,730 and that is a lot of coin. You can get any of the other new muscle cars such as the new Chevrolet Camaro SS or Ford Mustang GT with just as much power, better fuel economy and for a lot less coin. But they do not have four doors. It is all about what you need and or want. I would say this is a great family sedan for the guy that simply wants fast but can not compromise and get a two door. With the Pontiac G8 GXP now dead and gone, this is one of the cheapest four-door sports sedans that houses over 400 hp.
Full Disclosure- The review vehicle was provided by Chrysler