Aging bones. Take a guess: how long has it been since the Dodge Charger had a full redesign? Add a few years. Then add a few more. The 2020 Dodge Charger marks the big sedan’s 15th year on the market in its current form. By modern standards, that’s ancient.
The Charger leans into its retro appeal, and its looks have aged well. Especially above the base trim, it looks surprisingly contemporary inside and out. An advantage of old designs is that they’ve had time to mature.
The Charger’s handling is one such virtue – although the big car will never be a lean athlete, it’s confident in the corners and more than worthy of the prodigious power of the larger engines.
If there’s one place where the Charger shows its age, it’s the weight. Those hulking shoulders hide a mass nearly equivalent to a midsize crossover. The Charger has plenty of presence on the road, but all that weight cuts into agility and efficiency.
Good old-fashioned grunt. Muscle cars are all about what’s under the hood. The Charger offers a variety of engines, starting with a V6 and finishing with a trio of V8s.
All of them are fairly good. Purists will want a V8, but the base V6 is well-behaved and uses the same responsive eight-speed automatic transmission as the rest of the lineup. With a simple rear-wheel-drive layout, it’s a familiar and charming drive.
The V8s range from exciting to bonkers. None take more than six seconds to do the 0-60 mph sprint, and the SRT Hellcat’s 707 horsepower will burn through a warehouse of tires. R/T Scat Pack and SRT Hellcat models get stiffer suspension tunes to match the power, which improves the Charger’s corner-carving ability but can ding ride quality. In most guises, however, the Charger can pull reasonable double duty between highway cruising and drag-strip shenanigans.
As you’d expect, all that power and weight don’t come without a cost. None of the V8s break out of the teens in combined miles per gallon and even the V6 only manages 23 mpg combined, according to the EPA.
But let’s be real: no one is coming to a muscle car for its efficiency. The Charger looks the part and sounds it too.
Large and in charge. The Charger’s size isn’t all about style, and it pays off reasonably well in passenger comfort. Front seats are spacious and supportive, and the cabin is quieter than you’d expect for such spirited engines.
Passengers in the second row get enough legroom, but not quite as much space as other full-size sedans. Especially in the headroom department, the Charger is adequate but not exceptional.
It is exceptional behind the seats, where a wide trunk holds 16.5 cubic feet of cargo. That’s strong for a sedan and excellent for one with a performance pedigree.
One area where we’d advise against getting too large is the wheels. The base models 17-inch rims ride nicely, but the 20-inchers on upper trims have tires with less sidewall. They look flashy but make for a bumpier ride.
Keeping up appearances. To keep up with the market, Dodge has outfitted the Charger with modern infotainment and a solid set of features. Like any good muscle car, it’s a respectable value.
The base SXT trim wears a plainer exterior but gets the same 7-inch infotainment screen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. It also gets power lumbar support and rear parking sensors, which help its case as a comfortable cruiser. Interior materials in the base trim could be better, but they improve through the range.
Enthusiasts could do much worse than the Scat Pack, which gets a 485-hp V8, a sport suspension, and an aluminum hood for weight savings, all for not much past $40,000.
Not all symptoms of age can be erased, and the Charger struggles to match modern safety standards. Upper trims can have features like automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control, but only through extra-cost packages, and many trims go without. The IIHS had a mixed opinion on the Charger’s crashworthiness, especially in small overlap testing.
Final thoughts. For a car rooted so deeply in the past, the 2020 Dodge Charger keeps up well. Interior space and road manners are welcome highlights, and V8 power never goes out of style.
The Charger isn't without its vices, notably the lack of efficiency and modern safety. For buyers interested in muscle and style, these are also likely to be low on the list of priorities. Modern sedans must distinguish themselves against the utility of crossovers, and the Charger still has personality in spades.
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