Sometimes the talk of cars on the road today can be a little bit confusing. With Eco-boosts and hybrids and 1.4 liters that are optimized, V6’s that are electronically controlled to act and sound bigger, the old gear heads amongst us can forget about the beauty and simplicity that once existed in motoring. Back before all those things mattered; when anything without a V8 was looked upon with near distain.
Well thanks to Dodge, we have a reminder that good things can still come in large packages.
The Dodge Charger was once a staple of the American muscle car scene. In the 1960s and into the 1970s the Chargers were big ornery machines that loudly announced their arrival. To own one made a statement; that you wanted to wreck havoc on the roads while having enough room inside to enjoy the experience. Sadly in 1978 the final Chargers rolled off the assembly line and it looked as though one of the last vestiges of the era when love was free, music was loud and cars were fast, was over. A smaller version was brought back in 1983 and lasted until 1987, but let’s face it those were cars we’d rather forget.
In 2006 however, Dodge reintroduced the Charger to a new audience. The big machine was back and even us old gear heads could admit that what we saw was pleasing.
We didn’t have such a pleasant time with the new generation of Charger when we first tried it though. A few years ago covering NASCAR fulltime necessitated getting a new car, albeit a rental, for nearly every week of the 36 race schedule throughout the long season. One week the model was a Dodge Charger, at that time still relatively new to the market. Frankly it was downright embarrassing; sure it looked okay, but with a V6 it was akin to riding atop the back of a large Galapagos turtle… slow, painfully so. It was like seeing a pretty girl only to discover she had no teeth when she smiled; one who is was very, very lazy.
Fast forward a few years to current times. We were recently given the chance to spend a week with a 2013 Charger, the R/T Max all-wheel drive model to be exact. The first time we drove the Charger with the V6, we were blinded to whatever else the car had to offer. This go round the model had a V8 Hemi and boy were our eyes opened wide.
The Hemi V8 provides 370 horses under the smart looking duel scalloped hood while delivering 395 feet of torque to all four wheels via a five speed automatic transmission. Meanwhile the interior shows off the new Dodge philosophy that simpler is better. The gauges are well laid out and easy to read and the Dodge Unconnect system operated via an 8.4 inch touch screen is easily one of the best on the market containing a with a wealth of features and information. One of the better sound systems on the market provides excellent background music while on the road and the 8-way power seats with ventilation are more than comfortable for a trip of any length. The interior is roomy without being cavernous. There are enough features that will make you go, wow. Like the cup holders which not only keep your drink secure but that have modes to keep drinks warm and cool… really, seriously. A small lighted ring will glow red when they are heated and, you guessed it, blue when cooling.
The pedals adjust and the telescoping steering wheel does as well via mechanical controls as opposed to simply having a lever for up and down. In combination with the 8-way adjustable seats, we can honestly say that this is one of the rare cars where finding the perfect driving position is an easy task. On the road the Charger is simply a blast to drive. In everyday commuting it zips assertively through traffic with a view that gives confidence and assures you that you can see any trouble ahead.
If you are looking for a fuel saver, then you’ll need to move along there is nothing to see here, the ratings of 15 city and 23 highway aren’t all that impressive. But you don’t buy a Charger with the Hemi to save gas, you buy it for the pure enjoyment of having power under foot, enough room to be comfortable and a car with a look designed to turn heads.
With this Charger those of us who remember the big sedans with powerful V8 engines growling under the hood can revisit those days when these types of vehicles owned the road; a time when cars had less gadgets and more pure power…A time that many of us sorely miss; and a time that can now be reintroduced to an entirely new generation of drivers.
MSRP (as tested R/T MAX AWD) $41,490
Mileage (est.) 15MPG city 23MPG highway
Mileage (As tested mixed conditions) 20 MPG
Engine (as tested) 5.7-liter Hemi v-8 with four-cylinder mode fuel saver technology
Horsepower: 370 @ 5,250 rpm Torque: 395 lb.-ft. @ 4,200 rpm
Transmission (as tested): automatic five-speed overdrive with auto stick
Wheelbase 120.200 in
Length, Overall 200.300 in
Width, Max w/o mirrors 74.200 in
Height, Overall 58.200 in
Track Width, Front 63.400 in
Track Width, Rear 63.800 in
Min Ground Clearance 5.000 in
Passenger Capacity 5
Passenger Volume 104.700 ft
Front Head Room 38.600 in
Front Leg Room 41.800 in
Front Shoulder Room 59.500 in
Front Hip Room 56.200 in
Second Head Room 37.900 in
Second Leg Room 40.100 in
Second Shoulder Room 57.700 in
Second Hip Room 56.100 in
Base Curb Weight 3961 lbs
3-year / 36,000-mile Basic Limited Warrant
5-year / 100,000-mile Powertrain Limited Warranty
5-Year/100,000-Mile Roadside Assistance Service.