The Dodge Charger is no longer the coupe that was introduced to compete in the Muscle Car genre of the mid-1960s. Despite the efforts of the legendary Carroll Shelby, that incarnation went out of production following the 1987 model year.
The Charger Dodge brought back 19 years later was a four-door model, upsetting to hard-core MoPar fans, but it is no sedate sedan version of the car the company once took into NASCAR to challenge the then-dominance of Ford in the era.
Especially with one of two versions of the famous HEMI V8 under the hood in place of the base V6, the 2013 Dodge Charger can get out and run with the best of them.
The 5.7-liter HEMI in R/T models is rated at 370 horsepower and a whopping 295 pound-feet of torque. Not enough for you? With its 6.4-liter V8, the SRT8 boosts those figures to 470 in both horsepower and torque.
Even the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 in SE and SXT trim is no slouch, delivering 292 hp. and 260 lb.-ft. of torque to its rear wheels. (AWD is available as an option.)
Even with this power, fuel mileage is not as bad you might think. It may not please the greenies of the world, but the V6, which is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with Chrysler’s Auto Stick for manual gear selection, gets 19 miles-per-gallon city, 31 highway with RWD, 18/27 with AWD. It is standard on SXT and SXT Plus models.
Mileage with the five-speed tranny, standard on the SE, R/T and SRT8 models is not as good, but not disastrous.
The V6 SE is rated at 18/27. The HEMI V8 in the R/T is rated at 16/25 (RWD) and 15/23 (AWD), and the larger V8 in the SRT8 is a thirstier 14/23.
If the numbers don’t impress you, at least be fair about your criticism. The Charger is a full-size sedan that provides a good allotment of space for five adult passengers, even in the backseat.
You won’t be confusing the Charger’s interior with luxury imports from Europe or Asia, but the embarrassing plasticity of past Chrysler products is long gone. Cloth seats are standard on the SE and SXT models, and leather, some with suede seat centers, is standard on others.
A six-way power driver’s seat is standard on the SE, but all the others get a 12-way power adjustable driver’s seat with four-way adjustable lumbar support.
You can upgrade the Charger with several stand-alone options or packages, including a navigation system that features a nice, clear 8.4-inch monitor. Many functions for audio, climate and other systems also operate off the screen. It’s a very intuitive system.
The Charger’s ride is about what you would expect from a vehicle of its size. It’s a good highway cruiser, and either V8 will provide more than enough power for the average driver. The V6 compensates for what it may lack in straight-line pickup with the improved fuel economy, and the eight-speed transmission is a nice benefit.
When it comes to pricing, you can get into the base Charger SE for around $26,990, including destination and delivery, and the top-of-the-line SRT8 adds nearly $20,000 to that price tag. The SXT is under $30,000, the R/T in the low $30,000 range, and the SRT8 Superbee, which is essentially an SRT8 without some of the trimmings, is around $43,000.
Of course, options can run those totals up considerably.
Choices really are kind of few when it comes to getting a full-size sedan that is both fun to drive and relatively easy on the pocketbook. That is not what birthed the Charger back in the ’60s but would seem to be its mission now.