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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dodge Charger

The Dodge Charger is a mid-size four-door sedan, and its mainstay in the family-sedan wars as well as the basis for its exciting SRT edition. Sharing running gear and its platform with the Chrysler 300 and the Dodge Challenger, today's Charger is powered by either a V-6 or a V-8 engine, and is rear-wheel drive, with an all-wheel-drive option. Its rivals include the Ford Taurus, Nissan Maxima, and the Chevrolet Impala--but when it's fitted with a V-8 engine, it drifts well up the performance and price spectrum, overlapping some German sedans and creating a niche all its own.

The original Dodge Charger was built in 1965 as an option package for the Dart GT, then from 1966 to 1978 as a rear-wheel drive, two-door muscle car. It was built in four generations over the 12-year run, though the second-generation car, built from 1968-1970 is probably the most recognizable. This version was, and still is for many, the iconic Charger. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Charger was available with the same engines as the Challenger, including the 426 cubic-inch HEMI, the 440 Magnum and 440 Six-Pack. From 1983 to 1987 the Charger was re-envisioned as a compact hatchback. From the end of that model's run, the Charger name was put on ice until it returned in 2006.

Based on the same platform as the Dodge Challenger muscle car, the Charger sedan made legitimate claims to the Charger heritage, with design cues that reinforce those ties. In base SE form it featured a not-so-muscular 2.7-liter V-6 engine paired to a four-speed automatic, but still delivers the size and comfort of a large sedan. The SXT trim level substituted a 3.5-liter V-6 and adds Sirius Satellite Radio, traction and stability control, plus a power driver's seat among other options. The R/T package added a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine rated at 368 horsepower, and a special AutoStick automatic transmission, a performance exhaust, plus steering wheel-mounted audio controls, power/heated front seats, and power heated folding side mirrors. The range-topping SRT8 featured a 6.1-liter HEMI V-8 and 425 horsepower output, capable of hauling the big sedan to 60 mph in the low-five-second range.

More power, better handling thanks to a revised suspension setup, and much more aggressive looks make the SRT8 a very different car than the base SE. Both the R/T and SXT models can be fitted with all-wheel drive, making them better-suited to colder climates and all-weather driving.

For 2011, Dodge gave the Charger a redesign, with a more modern take on the exterior styling, combined with a more modern and contemporary interior that felt far better detailed that the old interior, which felt too plasticky for some of the Charger's more expensive models especially. Chrysler's Pentastar V-6 was introduced as the base engine, making 292 horsepower, while HEMI-powered models were bumped up to 370 hp and the top SRT8 was boosted to 6.4 liters and 470 hp. The Charger also became more tech-proficient, with a new Garmin navigation system, an in-car WiFi system (using USB dongles), and got some safety-related systems like active cruise control and blind-spot monitoring.

For those considering the V-6 Charger, 2012 or newer are the model years to get; that's when Dodge introduced a new eight-speed automatic transmission that gave the base SE and SXT models a far more refined feel, as well as improved performance and highway fuel economy of up to 31 mpg. In 2013, the Rallye Appearance Group and Blacktop Package upped V-6 output to 300 hp with a cold-air intake and performance exhaust. Also a Beats by Dr. Dre audio system was introduced, a new pitch-black roof option could be specified, and the Garmin navigation features were improved.

For 2013, a new Charger AWD Sport edition has become available on either the V-6 or V-8 (non-SRT) versions, with added power on the six-cylinder car and 19-inch wheels and tires. Dodge also launched the 2013 Charger Daytona edition with new graphics, a more aggressive exterior look, and small tweaks to gearing and suspension for sharper performance.

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