Dodge's Charger is an anachronism; a throwback to the days when big sedans with big V8s were the norm. Now, amongst a sea of FWD economy cars it stands out like a mushroom cloud in the Nevada desert. (the Daytona Blue paint helps here) Dodge hasn't offered a Daytona package on the Charger since 2009, but now it's available for an additional $2,500 over the cost of a Charger R/T. This limited edition trim level will only see 2,500 copies made for 2013 and all will come with satin black hood stripes, black roof wrap and R/T spoiler rolling on 20" painted & polished wheels. Four colors are offered: black, white, silver or blue.
The Daytona Charger has one engine option, the 5.7 liter hemi V8 rated at 370hp and 39lb-ft torque. To get more power means moving up to the Charger SRT with its 470hp 6.4 liter Hemi with its attending price bump of almost $8000. Power is routed to the rear wheels (AWD is available) through a 5-speed automatic and a limited slip 3.06 axle. Base price for the Charger R/T is $29,995; the test car had the Road & Track package and had a total MSRP of $41,645. Major options included the Daytona Edition Group for $2,500, the Driver Confidence Group for $995, Adaptive Cruise Control for $925, Navigation with rear back-up camera for $995 and sunroof for $840.
The combination of Hemi power and performance axle nets a 5.5 second 0-60 time and comes with an EPA rating of 16/25 with 19 combined. The highway rating is helped by Dodge's Fuel Saver which cuts out four cylinders under low-load conditions to improve efficiency and save fuel. On the road, the Daytona impresses with its quiet ride - surprisingly smooth for a car with sporty intent. The suspension tweaks allow for surprising handling prowess, aided by 245/45-20 Eagle F1 all-season performance tires. At over 4,200lb it's no lightweight, but responds well to being thrown into turns at higher than average speeds. The test car included paddle shifters, a performance exhaust sytem, performance rear axle ratio and 3-mode traction and stability control. Heavy-duty brakes, performance steering and suspension round out the Daytona options list.
The total package works well, with the suspension nearly eliminating body roll, dive and squat. Wind noise is evident above 60mph but not intrusive; most drivers might simply turn up the volume on the excellent Beats audio system to mask any unwanted road noise. The biggest squawk is the lazy action of the 5-speed transmission which sometimes hunts for the proper gear, and is somewhat slow to downshift without flooring the accelerator. The rumored addition of Chrysler's new 8-speed ZF autobox to the 5.7 Hemi should fix any problems the current 5-speed transmission has now in addition to improving fuel economy. Right behind this complaint is the exhaust's noise level; essentially it's too quiet. The only time the exhaust can be heard is during full-throttle acceleration. A little more rumble at idle would add to the car's character.
The roomy interior includes comfortable Nappa leather and suede covered seats (heated and ventilated) with blue stitching. The optional 10-speaker 552-watt Beats Audio system has impressive clarity and the subwoofer delivers bone-shaking bass. A large 8.4" touchscreen integrates the Garmin navigation system with AM/FM and Satellite radio and is simple and intuitive to use. Pairing a cell phone took a little more patience, but once that was accomplished making and receiving calls was easy.
The Charger is an excellent blend of musclecar and family sedan; easy to live with for daily driving but with enough power and a competent suspension to keep the ride fun and the driver smiling.