Buying a Dodge Charger is one of the least-expensive ways to get rear-wheel drive performance with four doors, five seats, and a large trunk. Whether it’s the mainstream V6 version or one of the thunderous V8 models, all have ample space for people (or car seats); but the looks shout “muscle car.”
If you’re tempted by one of the more powerful variants, from rational R/T to over-the-top Hellcat, performance when pushing the pedal will live up to the Charger’s heritage, dating back to the Sixties.
What's New for 2016
Both the SRT 392 and the 707-horsepower Hellcat now are upholstered in Laguna leather, also adding Uconnect navigation and HD radio. Dodge also is expected to make more Hellcats available, due to surprising first-year popularity. Plum Crazy, a color choice first used for 1970 Charger, is a new option for 2016 models. A Super Track Pak with chassis upgrades goes into SXT models. The 8.4-inch touchscreen adds a drag-and-drop menu bar.
Choosing Your Dodge Charger
Like the comparable two-door Challenger coupe, Dodge offers the Charger sedan in a variety of engine and trim configurations.
Most buyers opt for an SE or SXT with a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 292 horsepower.
R/T models get a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that produces 370 horsepower.
A 485-horsepower 6.4-liter V8 goes into the R/T Scat Pack and SRT 392 models.
Going all the way, we have the fire-snorting Hellcat and its 707-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V8.
All Chargers have a standard eight-speed automatic transmission.
Logic and common sense suggests picking the fine V6 and its reasonably good efficiency. (All-wheel drive would be a bonus in snowbelt states.) But if you’re logically minded, a Charger probably isn't the car you're craving. Opting for an R/T gives you plenty of performance for a tolerable amount of cash. Or, maybe you’re ready to go all-in with one of the bigger V8s for acceleration (but not refinement) comparable to a BMW M5. For the purely irrational, we have the Hellcat.
Dodge’s largest sedan, the Charger, continues to operate in a unique sphere, offering standard rear-wheel drive, where front-wheel drive is nearly universal. All-wheel drive and an assortment of souped up models, including the bellwether Hellcat, keeps the Dodge Charger on top.
Pricing and Equipment
The 2016 Charger starts at $27,995 (plus a $995 destination charge) for the base rear-wheel drive SE edition powered by a 3.6-liter V6 making 292 horsepower and paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. Six other editions are available, including the SRT Hellcat with a starting price of $67,645. The SRT Hellcat is powered by a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 making 707 horsepower and is paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
Standard equipment for the model tested included:
Wraparound headlamps and racetrack design tail lamps
Seventeen-inch painted cast aluminum wheels
Power side mirrors
Keyless entry and pushbutton start
A tilt-and-telescopic steering column
A six-way power driver's seat
An eight-speed automatic transmission
A six-speaker audio system with a 5-inch color display
I found the standard V-6 engine surprisingly competent, offering ample off-the-start power and sufficient passing performance. Its 31 mpg highway rating is exceptional.
Dodge's ZF-supplied eight-speed transmission shifts seamlessly between the gears with shifts matching revs up and down the power band.
V8-powered Chargers come drive-mode equipped with the UConnect color display panel controlling same.
The Dodge Charger is a heavy car and is larger than most vehicles in its class. Opting for a larger engine provides outstanding performance, but with a corresponding loss in fuel efficiency.
All-wheel drive is available only with V6 models. The improved handling this option affords cannot be experienced by V8 owners.
With 120.2 inches between the wheels, the Dodge Charger offers room for five. The drivetrain hump compromises legroom for the center-seated rear passenger. The sloping roofline means tall people’s heads may touch the rear glass.
The base seats are very comfortable and bolstered.
The 60-40 split-folding rear seat expands storage capacity of the 16.5 cubic-foot trunk.
The sedan’s high beltline impedes outward visibility. Maneuvering such a large vehicle may prove challenging for some drivers.
The standard 5-inch color display is small and not easy to read. However, models equipped with the 8.4-inch color display are easy to decipher.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
The possibility of purchasing a vehicle as stylish and as large as this sedan for under $30,000 should be a dealmaker for some. At the same time, there are multiple V8 choices to consider too.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
Popular safety features such as a blind spot monitor and rear cross traffic alert are not available on the base model. We’ve already noted the visibility challenges of this sedan. To overcome it, you’ll have to opt for a higher end model and pay for the technology package upgrade, adding thousands of dollars to your price.
The Bottom Line
Among large sedans, there is nothing quite like the Dodge Charger except for the Chrysler 300. Where its competitors rely on four- and six-cylinder engines, the Charger is equipped with a standard V6 and an assortment of V8 choices. If you prefer a large, traditional rear-wheel drive sedan, the Charger offers a tempting throwback with modern touches and available blistering performance.