The Dodge Charger SRT8 reflects the proud performance heritage from the 1960s, yet it is a thoroughly modern muscle car in the way it combines a sophisticated interior with power and handling.
The 425-horsepower, 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 is packed with power. Stabbing the throttle is like tickling a tiger – you’d better be ready for a quick response. The muted exhaust contains distant echoes of NASCAR. The SRT8 accelerates to 60 miles per hour in about five seconds. The transmission’s AutoStick function allows the driver to change gears manually with just a tug on the gear lever.
The Charger shares its basic chassis and powertrain with the Chrysler 300. Both use numerous pieces from Mercedes-Benz .
The SRT8’s base price of $38,095 makes it a laudable performance-per-dollar value.
Dodge designers sculpted a car that reflects traditional American muscle-car values. The upright, bold nose definitely says Dodge, and the sloping roofline makes the Charger look more like a coupe than a sedan. The tapered roof hinders rear-seat headroom, however.
A long character line defines the front corners and runs back to the rear door where it kicks up and over a large rear fender to emphasize the car’s rear-wheel-drive configuration.
The high beltline and narrow side windows are not as exaggerated as those of the Chrysler 300.
With the longest wheelbase in its class, the Dodge Charger offers a spacious and refined interior. The rear seat has plenty of legroom for adults. The sloping roof encroaches on rear-seat headroom. The Charger’s seating position is more than two inches higher than the previous-generation Dodge sedan, and it gives a comfortable command-of-the-road view.
The SRT8’s seats are firm, supportive and comfortable. The cabin is well conceived, comfortable and cozy. The selection of materials is nicer than in previous Dodges, and all interior surfaces look rich. The instrument panel is covered with a heavy, low-gloss texture that resembles real leather. The center stack contains large, easy-to-grip climate-control knobs. Fit and finish is outstanding.
White-faced gauges are rimmed by brushed silver trim. The gearshift lever, topped by a large shift knob, moves through a notched shift gate like that of a European sedan.
Handling is an important element of the Charger, and like the Chrysler 300, it acquits itself very well on the road. Rear-wheel drive creates good balance and a near 50/50 weight distribution. Traction control and anti-lock brakes make rear-wheel drive much more tractable in winter driving.
The SRT8 rides on 20-inch wheels and high-performance tires. The ride is a tad harsh at times, but the great handling is well worth the slight loss of comfort.
The SRT8 has standard electronic vehicle stability, anti-lock brakes, traction control and brake assist. The test car had the optional side-curtain airbags.
The test car’s base price was $38,095, including a $2,100 gas-guzzler tax. Options included dual-zone air conditioning, heated front seats, upgraded stereo, satellite radio with navigation system and side-curtain airbags. The sticker price was $43,730.
Three years or 36,000 miles.
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