The high-performance model in Dodge's full-size Charger sedan lineup, the Charger SRT8, is a blast from the past that also happens to include a dose of modern refinement. Muscle-car styling, a mighty 6.4-liter HEMI V8 and rear-wheel-drive all hearken back to the Motown glory days of the 1960s, while a high-tech adjustable suspension and upscale interior plant the Charger SRT8 firmly in the 21st century.
After gaining an entry-level Super Bee model and standard launch control for the previous model year, the Charger SRT8 lineup sees no significant updates this year.
Lurking in the engine bay of this digitally remastered muscle sedan is a 392 cubic-inch V8 that produces 470 horsepower and 470 lb-ft of torque. That's enough power to scoot the big four-door from zero-to-60 mph in the mid four-second range. The quarter-mile flashes by in under 13 seconds, and top speed is a claimed 175 mph.
A five-speed automatic with paddle shifters sends power to the rear wheels, while a cylinder deactivation system can shut down half of the V8's cylinders in cruising situations to save fuel. The EPA rates gas mileage at 14 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway.
Four-piston Brembo calipers and vented and slotted rotors measuring 14.2-inches up front and 13.8-inches in the rear help bring the action to a halt.
To help the SRT8 fly through the turns, Dodge offers the sedan with an adaptive damping suspension that measures a number of inputs such as vehicle speed, steering angle, steering speed, brake torque, throttle position and lateral acceleration to automatically tune and adjust the suspension for optimal handling on the fly. For added control, drivers can also pre-select from either "Auto," "Sport" or "track" modes, which quickly adjust the vehicle to pre-set conditions based on driver demands.
Dodge recently updated the SRT8 with a launch-control system that spins the engine to optimal launch rpms, then manages wheelspin once underway for the quickest acceleration possible.
A full-length front grille with a black trim, a unique, vented hood, side sills and dual four-inch exhaust pipes distinguish the exterior of the SRT8 from normal Charger models.
The SRT8's sporty style continues in the cabin with race-inspired touches such as a leather-wrapped, SRT-exclusive steering wheel with a flat bottom design and SRT logo. The high-performance look and feel is furthered by carbon-weave, fiber aluminum interior trim pieces that are integrated into the instrument panel and shifter bezel. The front seats have aggressive bolstering and perforated suede insert fabric to help keep the driver and passengers planted firmly in the available heated and ventilated seats during spirited driving.
On the infotainment front, the SRT8 can be spec'd with Chrysler's Uconnect Access system. It integrates most of the sedan's audio, navigation and climate control functions into one unit. An 8.4-inch touchscreen mounted on the dashboard is the central component of the system, but redundant buttons and knobs for climate and audio volume and tuning are also included.
Uconnect Access features a voice command system that allows the driver to place phone calls, use the sound system, input navigation destinations and more without taking his or her hands off the wheel. Other notable aspects of the system include the ability to function as a Wi-Fi hotspot over a 3G network - for an additional monthly fee - and downloadable applications such as Bing search.
The SRT8's instrument panel display can be customized to view driver preferences and expanded to include instant feedback on steering input measurements, horsepower, torque, expanded engine information, along with zero-to-60 times, 60-to-zero braking, g-forces and one-eighth mile and quarter-mile times.
Standard and Optional Features
The highest-performance member of the Charger family is offered in two forms - SRT8 Super Bee and SRT8.
The SRT8 Super Bee recently joined the lineup as a value-oriented model that ditches some of the SRT8's standard features in favor of a lower price. It's easily distinguishable due to a front grille with a special 3D helmeted bee logo, fender-mounted "392 HEMI" badges and 20-inch wheels with black painted pockets. The cabin features a host of Super Bee logos along with yellow and silver seat stitching.
Standard features include dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, a proximity key, a six-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with a 4.3-inch touchscreen display along with AUX and USB jacks, voice command functionality, fog lights, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob, and 20-inch alloy wheels.
To those items, the SRT8 adds Uconnect Access with a navigation system and an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, a nine-speaker, 506-watt AM/FM/CD/SiriusXM audio system, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, a heated steering wheel, a proximity key, Bluetooth connectivity, remote start, leather and suede upholstery, adaptive dampers and 20-inch aluminum wheels.
Options include the a blind-spot warning system, a rear cross path system that alerts the driver of approaching traffic when backing out of a parking spot, a 19-speaker, 900-watt Harmon Kardon premium audio system and an adaptive cruise control system.
All Charger SRT8 models are fitted as standard with dual front, front side and full-length side-curtain airbags in addition to traction and stability control systems.
The optional Driver Confidence Group brings a blind spot monitor with cross path detection (senses cross traffic when backing up). It also includes automatic high-beam control, power heated multi-function mirrors and rain sensitive windshield wipers.
Buyers can also add the Adaptive Cruise Control Group, which, in addition to its eponymous feature, also garners a Forward Collision Warning system that alerts the driver to impending frontal crashes.
Rivals to the Charger SRT8 include the Ford Taurus SHO and the Hyundai Genesis 5.0 R-Spec as well as more expensive luxury machines like the BMW 550i and Mercedes-Benz E550.