I loved the ads when the Dodge Charger first came out: There's a guy cruising down his suburban street to a rendition of Nazareth's "Hair of the Dog" ("Now you're messin' with a ... a son of a b*h"). It's true, from time to time I think I've forgotten my roots. No, I'm not talking about my hair, but rather my younger days when I "discovered" classic rock as a teen. While I could stand to get my highlights touched up, my bigger concern is that some things in my past may now seem unworthy of my affection. Especially when I test-drive new cars on a regular basis, my affinity for all things new and shiny tends to blur everything in my rearview mirror.
Then I test-drove the 2007 Dodge Charger SRT8 and received my comeuppance. No, the Charger is not "green," nor is it all tight and Euro-feeling. It's not even new - it's a total throwback to the 1970s Charger. It's a whole lot of power, rumble and machismo, with a strong steak-and-potatoes vibe. I listened to more classic rock in the week I had this car than I had in the 10 before it because, well, this car is just too much for overly sensitive music. It's been a blast. I think I have insight now into what it was like to be a 17-year-old guy in 1976. And no, I didn't test the backseat for anything other than car seats, you sickos.
But since you mentioned it, the backseat was kind of tough on the kids. The bench is sculpted, so the boosters didn't fit well; they kept scooting around and toppling over. On the plus side, the seat belt receptors were easy for both kids to use, taking me one more blissful step up the automotive Zen ladder. Of course, the high doors and narrow windows make viewing difficult for anyone of kid-like stature, which drops me back down a rung. A convertible seat using Latch connectors would be ideal, giving the youngsters a safer ride and a better view, but for some reason I don't think they had booster seats in mind when they designed the Charger.
They also didn't have itty-bitty garages in mind. This car is long, people. You may want to drive it home and check if it'll fit in your garage before you buy one. OK, maybe not, but it is big, and it drinks a lot of gas. So much, in fact, that it comes with a $2,100 gas-guzzler tax. Don't say you weren't warned. The noise is also immense. I love it when driving, but idling in the carpool lane or drive-through was kind of obnoxious. Of course, maybe that's more my problem than the Charger's.
In spite of those non-P.C. factors, I happened to enjoy this test because it reminded me that sedans shouldn't be ruled out as family cars. I guess that's part of remembering our roots. Didn't a lot of us grow up in sedans as family cars? Learn to drive in them? Discover Led Zeppelin on their eight-tracks? Maybe if a sedan is souped-up enough it can remind us they're still here, fully functioning as family trucksters.
The Charger has loads of trunk space and decent cupholders. The glove compartment is fine, but what really makes me happy is the center console. It's big and full of space that can be manipulated to fit whatever I need to put in there. There are a couple of sections, creating smaller, more specific spaces for CDs or the usual junk. There's a power source in it, too, which I always love.
I enjoyed my trip down memory lane during a fast week in the faster Charger (even though I get that song stuck in my head every time I drive it). The rumble of the engine reminded me I'm actually driving a car, not some futuristic machine full of computer chips that just happens to have wheels on it. I do love the car; it made me feel fast, loud and a little crazy. Kind of like way back when...
*For more information on the 2007 Dodge Charger and its safety features, visit Cars.com. With questions or comments regarding this review, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LET'S TALK NUMBERS
Latch Connectors: 2
Seating Capacity (includes driver): 5
IT'S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT
Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
SENSE AND STYLE
Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Fair - Great
Fun Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove On): Groove On
Base price: $36,045
Price as tested: $42,125
Engine: 425-hp, 6.1-liter V-8
Fuel: 14/20 mpg
Ground Clearance: 5.1"
Turning Radius: 19.4'
Cargo space: 16.2 cu. ft.
NHTSA Crash-Test Ratings
Driver's side: 5 Stars
Passenger's side: 5 Stars
Front occupant: 4 Stars
Rear occupant: 5 Stars
Rollover resistance: 4 Stars