Anyone thinking the American sedan isn?t on par with the highly touted imports should spend some time in the 2013 Dodge Charger.
It had been a while since we?ve driven the Charger, so we?d forgotten how large the taunt muscular body really is. We have a large garage and it took a big chunk of the available real estate. There was also a very pleasant surprise when we drove it. The Charger is a very impressive road car that happens to be roomy and comfortable, too.
Dodge makes nine different Charger models, and our SXT AWD test car was just one-step up from the basic SE ($26,990 including the destination charge). Nevertheless, it seemed to have an abundance of special features like push button start, power seats and windows, Uconnect communication system with 8.4-inch full color screen, Bluetooth, SiriusXM satellite radio, remote start, HomeLink? and even heated front seats ? all standard at a base price of $32,290. The frosting on the cake was about $4,000 in options, which added the special Redline Pearl paint, a wonderful navigation system, backup camera, RealTime Traffic and an all-wheel drive appearance package, which included 19-inch aluminum wheels, a slightly more powerful engine, paddle shifters, several cosmetic tweaks and a 552-Watt Dr. Dre audio system.
The muscular styling of the 2013 Dodge Charger has a contemporary flare that sets it apart from other cars. The sides have a dramatic sculpting that makes the Charger look in motion, even in the driveway. As part of the Sport package, the large grille on our test car was blacked out giving the car a more sinister look and the headlights were like eyes. One of the option packages added a low, full width spoiler across the trunk, but for our taste, that could have been left off.
The driver-oriented interior includes large buttons and knobs for maximum convenience. There are none of the trendy touch and slide controls that we often have trouble operating. The 8.4-inch navigation and Uconnect touch screen is one of the largest in the industry and it has to be one of the fastest, too. Touch an icon and the system jumps to the next screen and that makes it very user friendly. The large icons are simple and clearly defined even to non-techie users.
The dash surfaces are a quality soft touch material and the dash is accented with tasteful metallic-look trims. The interior is spacious and comfortable seats five adults. Trunk space is about average for a car this size at 16.5 cubic feet, and the 60/40 split rear seat backs fold to expand cargo space when needed.
The all-wheel drive Charger rides on a touring-tuned four-wheel independent suspension with front and rear stabilizer bars. The AWD is great for slippery surfaces, but it also improves handling and traction on dry paved surfaces. The AWD is unique because when AWD is not needed the system automatically disconnects the front axle, thereby improving the fuel economy while maintaining the desirable rear-wheel drive performance advantage.
On a curvy mountain road, the Charger has a solid road feel with every nuance of the handling transferred to the driver. The electro hydraulic assist rack and pinion steering offers a comfortable assist, excellent feedback and a tight 38.7-foot turning radius ? that?s unusually tight for an AWD vehicle. Brakes are large four-wheel discs with the latest electronic assists including features like stability control, traction control and rain brake support to keep the discs ready to stop quickly in the rain. It even has hill start assist to keep the car from rolling back when starting out on a hill.
With its neck-snapping acceleration, the Hemi V-8 is the big draw for the Charger, but we were amazed by the performance and economy of the basic 3.6-liter V-6 engine. The new Pentastar V-6 is rated at 292 horsepower. Chargers with certain sporty packages have a cold air induction system that boosts the horsepower to 300. The SE version has a five-speed automatic transmission, but the SXT has the new eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. The V-6 with the eight-speed accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 6.7 seconds. EPA fuel economy estimates are 18 mpg city, 27 mpg highway and 21mpg combined making it a class leader. We actually averaged 22.0 mpg during the week we lived with the 2013 Dodge Charger.
Stepping up from the SXT to the R/T takes the 2013 Dodge Charger into the next performance echelon with the famous Hemi V-8 under the hood. There are five R/T versions powered by the 370-hp 5.7-liter V-8 with a five-speed automatic transmission. Rear wheel drive is standard, but AWD is available on most versions. The Hemi accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and has an EPA fuel economy rating of 16/25 mpg. You will know it?s a Hemi from its deep throaty exhaust note. The Hemi engine has Dodge?s Fuel Saver Technology that shuts down four cylinders when the car is in a coasting or low load mode. Pricing ranges from $30,990 for the R/T up to the fully loaded Charger R/T Max with AWD, which is priced at $39,990.
The top two 2013 Dodge Charger models wear an SRT8? badge, which is the Dodge equivalent of the BMW M cars or Mercedes-Benz AMG models. The most significant difference is under the hood where a 470-hp, 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 resides. The two SRT8 versions, the Super Bee and the SRT8? are priced at $44,245 and $47,245 respectively.
The Max and the SRT8 have some of the most advanced features available including adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, blind spot monitoring and Rear Cross Path Detection. To make these two top models even more special, they have other standard features like heated and ventilated seats, heated steering wheel, power adjustable pedals with memory, ParkSense Rear Park Assist, SmartBeam? headlights, rain sensing wipers and much more.
After some quality time behind the wheel, it became obvious to us that American ingenuity, craftsmanship and value is alive and well in the 2013 Dodge Charger.