2018 Dodge Charger
Inspired by the original Dodge Charger coupe of the 1960s, the Charger is a full-size sedan with muscle-car styling and a trio of gutsy powertrain options. It's also more sophisticated than its looks would suggest, offering a well-appointed interior, responsive handling and up to 31 mpg on the highway.
Outside, the Charger makes its sporting intentions known with an aggressive-looking front fascia and a coupe-like roofline. Another distinctive feature is the car's full-width tail lamp arrangement, which visually links it both with past Dodge models and the current Challenger muscle car. Dodge calls the tail lamps a "racetrack" graphic.
The interior - a point of contention for many Chrysler products in recent years - features upgraded materials and more cosmetically appealing designs, as well as optional Garmin navigation with Sirius Travel Link and the meaty corporate-wide three-spoke steering wheel that has arrived on nearly every new Chrysler product.
The Charger can be spec'd with Chrysler's Uconnect Access infotainment system. Generally regarded as one of the more user-friendly infotainment setups on the market, Uconnect Access 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.
The charger's standard 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine delivers 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, though all-wheel drive is offered at an extra cost. The Pentastar returns 19 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway.
The aforementioned all-wheel drive system brings a segment-exclusive active transfer case with front axle disconnect. Dodge says the front axle disconnect helps save five percent on fuel economy by utilizing only rear-wheel-drive unless additional traction is needed. All-wheel drive is only available on V6-powered Chargers, and it lowers gas mileage to 18 mpg in the city and 27 mpg on the highway.
Stepping up to the Charger R/T brings a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with an output of 370 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque. Bolted to an eight-speed automatic transmission, the V8 returns 16 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway. Rear-wheel drive is the only configuration offered.
Range-topping models come with a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 that provides 485 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 475 pound-feet of torque at 4,100 rpm. It's the same engine found in the basic, non-Hellcat version of the Challenger SRT. Also bolted to an eight-speed automatic transmission, it returns 15 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway.
Although the Charger still rides on a Mercedes-Benz-derived platform, Dodge says that the architecture has been re-engineered so much that it now considers it its "second-generation" E-segment platform.
The Charger is offered in eight trim levels: SXT, SXT Plus, GT, GT Plus, R/T, Daytona, Daytona 392, and R/T Scat Pack.
SXT models come standard with the V6 engine, a remote engine starter, cruise control, a push-button ignition, a power-operated trunk lid, body-colored door handles, a cap-less fuel filler, tinted windows, automatic halogen headlights, LED daytime running lights, manually-folding mirrors, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone manual climate control, illuminated front cup holders, cloth upholstery, a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a leather-wrapped shift knob, a leather-wrapped multi-function steering wheel, a six-speaker sound system, a seven-inch screen for the infotainment system, remote key-less entry, and rear parking sensors.
SXT Plus adds a bigger alternator, LED fog lights, heated door mirrors, all-season tires, 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, model-specific trim inside, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, bucket seats, an eight-way power-adjustable driver's seat, heated front seats, a universal garage door opener, a premium sound system, and an 8.4-inch display for the infotainment system.
The GT trim comes with all-wheel drive. IT also adds upgraded brakes, gloss black trim on the grille, a body-colored spoiler, and 19-inch alloy wheels.
Also all-wheel drive-only, the GT Plus trim includes HID headlights, the same seats as the SXT Plus model, adaptive cruise control, and a heated steering wheel.
The R/T trim offers the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, a model-specific exhaust system, a sport suspension, and 20-inch alloy wheels.
Daytona models get a three-mode electronic stability control system, a cold air induction system, a performance suspension, a black grille, projector LED fog lights, an aluminum hood, a matte black rear spoiler, bright pedals, nicer floor mats, specific trim in the cabin, overhead LED lighting, a memory function for the driver's seat, the radio, and the mirrors, leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, and a power tilt/telescoping steering column.
The R/T Scat Pack gains the 6.4-liter V8 engine while losing a lot of creature comforts. You'll find basic interior accents and cloth seats, for example.
Finally, the Daytona 392 adds Brembo brakes, an upgraded cooling system, a high-performance suspension, specific 20-inch alloy wheels, illuminated rear cup holders, and LED ambient lighting.
The list of options includes an upgraded sound system made by Beats, a spare tire on models not equipped with one, a sunroof, navigation, and an appearance package named Blacktop which gives the Charger a blacked-out look.
Every Charger comes standard with dual front, front side and front and rear curtain airbags in addition to a driver knee airbag. Traction and stability control systems are also fitted.
The Charger can be ordered with a number of electronic driving aids including adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning, a blind spot monitoring with rear cross path protection and a rear backup camera with grid lines.
The only similarly-sized rear-wheel-drive rival to Charger in the same pricing ballpark is the Hyundai Genesis, which is slightly more expensive and puts an emphasis on luxury over performance.
If front-wheel-drive isn't a deal breaker, full-size sedans like the Hyundai Azera, Ford Taurus and Toyota Avalon also merit consideration.
The V8-powered model might be the performance bargain of the century. It's also in a class of its own now that Chevrolet deep-sixed the SS.