April 12, 2017

Big Dodge Charges On

Big Dodge Charges On

I have no idea how long Dodge might keep building the Charger, but after a decade of production, there seems to be plenty of life left in the big sedan.  It looks like the car Bo and Luke Duke would buy after children, but handles like the big German car on which it is based.  Giving it an efficient V6 engine and all-wheel-drive seems quite smart.  Let’s go for a drive.

Go Mango Orange

A big sedan in “Go Mango” orange paint certainly draws attention to itself – even more so with HID projector headlamps, gloss black facia applique, and satin black rear spoiler.  Add the Blacktop Appearance Group with 19-inch Hyperblack alloy wheels.  Lay down the widest tread.  Park the General Lee next to the Charger, and you’d notice a resemblance with side sculpting, long hood, and rear roofline.  It’s just the new Charger carries a couple of extra doors for offspring, friends, or extended family.

Slide through the side windows to be greeted with leather seats – heated/ventilated and front, heated in the rear – that grip your sides.  A heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, dual-zone automatic climate control, and thumping Alpine audio add comfort.  Chrysler Group’s touchscreen with icons for audio, climate, phone, and navigation is way too easy to use, but if you prefer other methods, command it with voice or redundant buttons and knobs below.  A reconfigurable instrument screen, back-up camera, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto step up the tech.

In the old days, a Charger would have needed a HEMI V8 to put power to pavement, but we’re living in the next century and you don’t need eight cylinders to move out in a hurry.  Under the Charger SXT’s hood is a 3.6-liter V6 delivering 292 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque.  All of that power flows through the TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel-drive.  Fuel economy rates 18/27-MPG city/hwy.

Rally Ready

You can flat rally race this car down dirt roads, but it’s also composed over snow, rain-slicked roads, and while soaking up rough pavement like an iron sponge.  It’s based on the late-'90s Mercedes-Benz E-Class, so its heavy and safe feel is no surprise.  But, this big car can also dance.  I found myself hustling it down narrow two-lane roads like I would a sport coupe.  Precise steering and athletic suspension like to play.  On the highway, point the long nose to the horizon and stomp on it.

I don’t know how long Dodge will keep building the Charger, but I hope it stays for many more years.  With German road manners, classic styling, all-wheel-drive, and efficient V6 power, it’s a tour de force of competence.  Load it up with four passengers and all of their luggage to get away for weeks.  A day will come when Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will try to place the Charger on some Alfa Romeo architecture, but let’s hope that’s a long way in the future.

Charger starts at just $27,995, but our test car came to $38,070.  Competitors include the Chevy Impala, Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus, and Kia Cadenza.

Storm Forward!

2017 Dodge Charger SXT

  • Five-passenger, AWD Sedan
  • Powertrain: 292hp 3.6-liter V6, 8-speed auto trans
  • Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind
  • Wheels f/r: 19”/19” alloy
  • Brakes f/r: disc/disc
  • Must-have features: Style, Performance
  • Fuel economy: 18/27 mpg city/hwy
  • Assembly: Brampton, ON
  • Base/as-tested price: $27,995/38,070
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