Exterior Design: *****
From that mean n' nasty front end that's slung so low to the ground your sister could use it to press her garters, over the hood scoop and all the way back to the tips of the dual-exhausts, you either love it or you hate it. We love it.
Interior Design: ***
Crap plastic. Lots and lots of crap plastic. And can we talk about how boring and straight that dash is? We'd give it one star were it not for two outstanding design elements: the performance suede seats and the white-as-the-moon instrument dials.
Power in spades. Put foot to gas and the blacktop scrolls by like projector reels from "Dirty Mary Crazy Larry." Simply put, the 3.06 axle ratio matched to the big, 6.1-liter Hemi makes it brilliantly quick. You bolt off the line at a stop light, realize you're going faster than everyone else, then realize you've barely got the pedal down.
As lightning quick as the acceleration may be, those big Brembo calipers slow you down just as quick. One star withheld for the cost associated with replacing brake pads every thousand miles from overuse. If you know what I'm saying.
The ride's pretty stiff and sometimes a rough n' tumble. It lacks the refinement of, say, the Cadillac CTS-V. Then again, such minutia ceases to matter when you hit the accelerator.
Oh how we love RWD four-door sedans — but we love them all the more when they come with 425 hp and let us use our right foot to do the steering. Just make sure the traction control is turned all the way off (for those not in the know, come to a complete stop and depress the traction control button for five seconds until you hear a beep). Dodge loses a star for the intrusive stability control system.
The gears shift just fine on their own. For total control, the manumatic is no replacement for a DSG box with paddle shifters or, say, a real, live manual.
Eleven Kicker SRT speakers, a 276-watt amp and a 200-watt subwoofer can handily elevate your tunes (or favorite Sirius channel) above the Charger's own soundtrack. There's no rear-seat DVD, and the SRT-branded headrests look a bit small for dropping in an aftermarket kit, so away goes a star.
There's some cool stuff here: the uConnect hands-free communication system works well, the sound system's superb and the power adjustable pedals are a helpful feature for the very short of stature. Still, it's bugging us that Chrysler deletes the aux input jack from upgraded stereos.
The trunk's already plenty big. Extra star applied for the fold-almost-flat split rear seats, which free up enough space for two friends and their golf clubs.
No vehicle offers so much power at such a low price-point. Fully loaded, this son of a whatever tops out at $45K.
Accleration, speed, hoonage and handling — off the shelf, at a price under $45K. True, some cars offer better interiors, others more power (stop snickering, Cadillac STS-V). But at the price — the Charger SRT8 is a pure American muscle sedan that's completely without rival.
[By Ray Wert]
Jalopnik Reviews: 2006 Dodge Charger SRT8, Part 1 [internal]