2012 Dodge Charger
Starting MSRP $25,595–$45,925
Being a stay-at-home mom who's in charge of the family budget, I sometimes let my practicality get in the way of enjoyment. Considering that the 2012 Dodge Charger is better known for its performance than its fuel efficiency, I automatically put this muscle car into the impractical category. After my weeklong test drive, I learned that it can be a practical choice for a family of four.
The 2012 Dodge Charger, a full-size sedan, is exciting to drive and suited my entire family, which includes two kids in child-safety seats.
With just its base V-6 engine, the Charger is fun to drive, and its fuel-economy numbers or price don't suck all the joy out of owning it. Accelerating was effortless, and thanks to the performance suspension, I rarely noticed the bumps in the road. It was so comfortable that I found myself taking the long way to Target just so I could spend more time testing it out.
The 2012 Dodge Charger comes in four trim levels. The base SE has a starting price of $26,590 including a $995 destination charge, and the top-of-the-line SRT8 comes in at a whopping $46,920. My tester was a midlevel SXT Plus. Once the long list of added features such as power seats with leather and heated/cooled front console cupholders were added to the list, my test car came in at $34,010.
The Charger was redesigned in 2011, giving it a strong, chiseled look. Its sloping roofline coupled with the rear spoiler make for a sleek profile. Thanks to the Rallye Appearance package ($1,295) on my test car, 20-inch aluminum chrome-clad wheels gave this masculine-looking car a little sparkle. However, I appreciated that its tough-guy styling didn't scream, "I have kids in the backseat."
The sedan's step-in height was low enough that my 3-year-old could climb in unassisted, and I didn't have to lift up my toddler too much to get her settled into her child-safety seat.
The trunk was able to swallow my double stroller without any problems, though I'd have to drop off the stroller at home before going to any warehouse stores.
The Charger SXT has the base engine, a 292-horsepower, 3.6-liter V-6 that's paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. I averaged 22.4 mpg on my weeklong test drive; officially, the Charger gets an EPA-estimated 19/31 mpg city/highway. The Charger uses regular fuel. A 370-hp, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 is available.
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Groove-On
With a bright red leather interior and a taller-than-normal dash, the Charger's interior is no wallflower. While tomato-hued interiors may not be everyone's cup of tea, I enjoyed a break from the standard gray or beige interiors that most sedans sport. Although I should note that the red leather is specific to the Rallye Appearance package with SXT Plus, if you prefer a more subdued palette, it's available.
The 2012 Charger usually features an impressive 8.4-inch touch-screen, but due to a parts shortage, my tester had a 4.3-inch display (not pictured). Despite the smaller size, Dodge's Uconnect multimedia system was surprisingly easy to use. The Uconnect system controls the stereo system, climate system, and vehicle and navigation information with an easy-to-use touch-screen. Too often when all systems are combined on one touch-screen it becomes more of a nuisance than a help to access anything, especially while driving. Thankfully this wasn't the case when it came to the Charger. For those who would prefer to not fiddle with a touch-screen, every function is duplicated in old-fashioned knob form.
My family of four fit easily into this muscle car, which with two kids in child-safety seats is no easy task. The sporty leather seats were surprisingly plush, and at one point we left the kids at home with a sitter and effortlessly squeezed four grown adults into this sedan.
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Fair
The 2012 Dodge Charger has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It earned the top score of Good in front, side, rear and roof-strength crash tests. It also received the highest overall crash-test score of five stars from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It earned five stars out of five in side and rollover crash tests and four stars of five in the front crash test.
There are three sets of lower Latch anchors in the Charger's backseat. Both of my child-safety seats fit well, and my toddler's rear-facing seat left a comfortable amount of legroom for the front passenger. Also, the seat belt buckles were on sturdy bases, ensuring that my preschooler could buckle herself up without assistance. Find out how the 2012 Charger performed in Cars.com's Car Seat Check.
The 2012 Charger has standard rear-wheel drive, four-wheel-disc antilock brakes with brake assist, an electronic stability system with traction control, active front head restraints and seven airbags, including a driver's knee airbag and side curtains for both rows.
Optional features include all-wheel drive, a blind sport monitoring system with rear cross-path detection, a collision warning system and a backup camera with rear parking sensors.
Get more safety information about the 2012 Dodge Charger here.
People Who Viewed This Car Also Viewed
Closest Dealers Listing this Car
Featured Services for the Dodge Charger
- Sell your current car quickly and easily on Cars.com.