Exterior Design: ***
The Charger s sheet metal sits somewhere between the suppository-shaped nouveaux GTO and the re-imagined Mustang GT. If it weren t for the Dodge s fastback rear, the Charger wouldn t even rate a single star. If you re looking for the real deal(ish), it s best to wait; the hood scooped and bespoilered Charger SRT-8 is The One.
Like its sister-under-the-skin, the Chrysler 300, the Dodge Charger is a supremely comfortable place in which to smoke Honduran cigars with your crew or take the kids to school. That said, the Charger s rent-a-car cabin lacks the slightest hint of spizzarkle. Aftermarket aggression is a must.
The Little Engine that Could (save a Detroit automaker) stumps-up enough shove to make this 4000lbs. sedan get up and move. Never has so much neck snappage been available to so many for so little.
No complaints here: great feel, massive retardation from big discs and stiffened aluminum calipers. If a car is only as good as its breaks, the Charger R/T is as good as it gets.
We re talking Old School dynamics: a fundamentally floaty-drifty suspension with only a distant thunder peal letting you know the eighteens have lost contact with the pavement. Really cavernous concrete brings out the Charger R/T s inner Batman: bang, crash, wallop!
Safe, predictable, controllable. How exciting is that? Still, the Dodge Boys have done their level best to keep the Charger at its level best— but the old E-Class underpinnings do not/can not a BMW make. There s only one thing for it: switch off the handling Nanny, goose the gas and steer with your right foot. Now that s what I call fun!
Under light loads, shifts are satisfyingly seamless. Give the Charger s go-pedal a proper pasting and the five-speed gearbox is easily flummoxed: kickdown is neither smooth nor instant. Note to DCX: it s time to make Merc s seven-speed box standard across the range.
Mr. Boombastic will be pleased with the Boston Acoustics 276 watt ICE, but anyone looking for a little Mozart with their muscle will soon find themselves in a sonic muddle. The Charger s headrests are the perfect size for video monitors, but that s more bling than bad ass, yes?
The optional DVD-nav with MP3 will set you back a cool $1800, and kinda ruins the whole muscle car gestalt. What we really need are some more gauges, or built-in timing gear. Something. Anything.
If the trunk was any more capacious, the Charger would have to be a hatchback.
Overall rating: ****
Summary tommorrow. [by Robert Farago]