C/D Road Test - 2006 Dodge Charger R/T

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Jul 15, 2005.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    This one's a keeper. Please don't paint a Confederate flag on its roof.

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    BY JOHN PHILLIPS
    PHOTOGRAPHY BY TOM DREW
    August 2005

    In 1844, Alexandre Dumas wrote Les Trois Mousquetaires. The best-known of the protagonists was D'Artagnan. Then there was, uh, Porthos. And finally came Curly. Maybe it was Annette. In like fashion, DaimlerChrysler has trotted out its own trio of swarthy swordsmen, led initially by the popular and potent Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum and followed now by the Charger. All three benefit from the same 120.0-inch Mercedes-Benz- derived chassis, and not surprisingly, all three drive similarly. What is surprising is that the Charger shares not a single body panel with its brother mousquetaires and is most obviously differentiated from the 300 by its rear-three-quarter haunches—"kangaroo hips," as one onlooker called them—and by a grille that doesn't so earnestly mimic Jay Leno's chin. The Dodge guys insist that the four round taillamps recollect those on a 1968 Charger. See 'em? No? That's because the lamps are hidden beneath lenses apparently plucked from a Stratus. In fact, if you recognize any familiar Charger styling cues, give us a shout.

    There are, incredibly, five Charger chargé d'affaires. The bottom-feeder SE ($22,295) features a 250-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 and includes a ton of stuff—17-inch tires, traction control, ABS, a CD player, stability control. It's more fun to drive than a V-6 Toyota Camry and is a lot rarer, although that may change if Dodge achieves its goal of selling a quarter of all Chargers to fleets—among them fuzz fleets, so commit this car's grille to memory now. There's another V-6 iteration, the SXT ($25,995), with lots more stuff standard. Next comes the R/T, with leather seats and the multidisplacement 340-horse Hemi ($29,995). Let us pause, here, to repeat that—a 340-hp rear-drive sedan for 30 grand, the sort of fun-to-dollar ratio that recollects, say, a Mustang GT, whose two doors remind us that the original Charger, alas, was also a coupe. For an extra $1600, you can order your R/T with the Road/Track Performance Group—no Car and Driver option was even considered, the jerks—which includes firmer self-leveling shocks, 18-inch Michelins, tighter "9-land" steering (our guess is that it's the G7 nations plus Alabama and Arkansas), beefier seat bolsters, and an extra 10 ponies summoned mostly via a center muffler with a straighter pass-through and a huskier singing voice. That's the car we selected for this test—an R/T with R/T, as it were. Next comes the Charger Daytona R/T ($32,495), identical to our tester except for a Pep Boys decklid spoiler and the billboard-size words "HEMI" and "DAYTONA" reversed out of flat-black paint, demonstrating to passing constables that you are a person of limited judgment and excess cash. And later this fall will come the SRT8 with a 425-hp Hemi—the ultimate Charger—whose price has yet to be fixed. No all-wheel-drive Charger will be offered.

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    All five include a Mercedes-designed five-speed automatic with a slick manumatic that is perfectly positioned and quick to respond—bump left for downshifts, right for upshifts. During our tests, the transmission seemed telepathic about summoning the correct gear and snicked off seamless WOT upshifts. Our lone beef was one of those Are-you-sure-you-want-to-do-this? pauses before kickdowns from fifth.

    Mercedes likewise penned the steering rack, and it's a beaut.
    On freeways, the front tires evince fierce dedication to straight-ahead, and the slight on-center slack you notice in a 300C, which we drove back-to-back, has been eliminated. For the most part, effort is on the high side—and we'd have preferred to feel a little more road texture—but the heaviness disappears at parking speeds. In any event, the wheel itself is NASCAR large, so there's no trouble deriving leverage.

    We hammered our Charger around Virginia International Raceway and were surprised at the car's balance and general neutrality. It's difficult to rotate the tail—the stability control can't be completely disabled and is not enamored of power oversteer—but you can slide the car in modest but controllable drifts that would have amused even Mel Kenyon.

    Brake feel is terrific and allows your foot to reliably sense the transition to anti-lock. Better still is the 169-foot stopping distance, impressive for a two-ton anything. The R/T's rotors are big (13.6 inches fore, 12.6 inches aft), and we noticed virtually no fade, even at the racetrack.

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    Throughout, the Charger's body motions remained as studiously supervised as a Vassar faculty party.
    The firmer optional dampers eliminated even the minor dive and squat we've noticed in the 300C. In fact, during an 800-mile two-stop blast from VIR to Detroit, the ride-and-handling trade-off proved nothing short of miraculous until we encountered Michigan's Baghdad-quality potholes. Even then, the platform held as firmly and shiver-free as a bridge abutment, and no subassemblies rattled or squeaked. Nevertheless, if you dwell in a frost-heave state and want to ensure that your Charger remains an all-star long-distance cruiser, you may want to dial back to the standard R/T suspension. At least sample it.

    Our 350-hp Hemi delivered 60 mph in a stunning 5.6 seconds—1.3 seconds quicker than a Pontiac Bonneville GXP V-8, 0.4 second ahead of a Cadillac STS V-8. At the drag strip, the Charger was within 2 mph of a Mustang GT's trap speed, should you wish to compare apples and avocados. Throttle tip-in was as smooth as new vinyl siding (although the idle remains a little lumpy), and the stability control even permitted us to smoke the rear Michelins for three or so feet—just enough to let the neighbors know that, yes, we're driving a practical sedan, but no, it ain't no Camry.

    Speaking of practicality, the trunk is flat-floored and as big as an Audi A6's, and the rear seats fold flat in a 60/40 split. Two adults can ride comfortably in the rear, in part because there's room to nestle your feet beneath the front seats. But the driveshaft hump is 10 inches wide and 8 inches tall, transforming the rear center rider not so much into Hump Boy as the Hunchback of Notre Dame.

    The cluster's four huge gauges are the essence of clarity, with black numerals on white faces. The Mercedes-sourced cruise control locks on with the dedication of Republicans on a St. Andrew's golf junket, and that big ol' baseball bat of a Benz turn-signal/wiper stalk is a paradigm of ergonomic grace. In fact, all the secondary controls are intuitive, unless you order the nav system, which scatters the radio controls to the four winds and adds a sedimentary layer of complexity.

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    Almost everyone carped about the Charger's funereal black-and-gray interior, cheapened by rock-hard armrests and a crinkly dashboard vinyl that would have been more appropriate in a mud-splattered Dakota. And of course the Charger shares its stubby windshield with the turret-topped 300, meaning you'll have to crouch to view stoplights. It's like having a cowboy hat pulled down around your ears.

    Nearly 40 years have passed since Dodge first struck a batch of Charger Hemi badges, spawning a legend that quickly morphed into a flaccid luxo-coupe, then into a Bo and Luke Duke stunt-car joke, then into a disposable front-drive L-car. Chrysler now appears serious about repairing that sad legacy, having invested $1 billion on the first two mousquetaires and a bonus $125 million for assembly-line mods for the third. Right out of the gate, the Charger has made a name for itself by earning a five-star NHTSA rating for frontal impacts, even as Kasey Kahne scored the model's first NASCAR victory since 1977.

    Of les trois mousquetaires, the Charger R/T is the most fun. It's a notch more visceral—more connected and direct than its brothers—and is the only family member to feel poised on a racetrack. Too bad the Dodge engineers couldn't shear a couple-hundred pounds from the Charger's 4141-pound waistline, which would have altered its personality even more. Chrysler had hoped this 145-mph stroll down memory lane might recollect the Charger's roots as a hippie-era muscle-car coupe, but that didn't happen. Instead, the car more closely recollects the original Road Runner, delivering a decidedly full-size-sedan feel—tall, slab-sided, wide—and only rarely feeling awkward or heavy on its feet, a car made nimble through the miracle of horsepower.

    Its styling may not inspire, but the Charger R/T is what to buy if your spouse says a Mustang is too impractical.

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    THE VERDICT

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    Highs: Humongous Hemi power, poised suspension, able brakes.

    Lows: Dour and cheap interior surfaces, gun-slit windows, four doors instead of two.

    The Verdict: More visceral and direct than the 300C and Magnum R/T—also cheaper and more fun.


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    COUNTERPOINT

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    STEVE SPENCE
    I don't wish to sound disappointed, but I feel like the Charger and I are experiencing Chrysler 300C Hemi déjà vu. Don't get me wrong—it's a terrific car—but the first time I got in, I knew I'd been there before. What's happened here is the Magnum sheetmetal has been reworked, the racy Recaro-style front seats have been bolted in, there's a tremulous burble from the exhaust and a revised suspension, and yes, the whole package is a straight-ahead missile. But it's also a sedan, two tons and change, and makes me think that a Sebring-sized car, with its own personality instead of the 300's, would have made a more fitting Charger, and one that would have come with a smaller sticker price, too.

    DAVE VANDERWERP
    The best thing about the Charger is that it's the cheapest way to get the 340-hp Hemi in anything but a pickup. Other than that, I'm a little underwhelmed. Its interior is nearly indistinguishable from the inside of a Magnum or 300. And despite corporate officials promoting its "coupe-like" styling, this supposedly sporty Dodge is a massively huge and heavy sedan—longer and wider than either the 300 or Magnum. There's no manual transmission in sight, and any handling improvement netted by adding the optional suspension and tires doesn't justify the significant ride degradation. Why do the Magnum, 300, and Charger all have to be family haulers?

    LARRY WEBSTER
    You can't argue with a car that delivers a 340-hp V-8 and a roomy rear-drive body for less than $30,000. The Charger goes one better than simply being a good deal because it feels tight and composed and goes down the road beautifully. It has everything we love about its mechanical twin, the Chrysler 300C, but costs a few grand less. Whereas the 300 looks cool, though, the Charger looks, well, goofy. It seems to me that Dodge uglified the car with those rear fender humps simply so it could find some connection to the original Charger and then justify tacking on the Charger badge. Sure, I admire the old Charger, but this new car is good enough to deserve its own name.

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    DODGE CHARGER R/T

    Vehicle type: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive, 5-passenger, 4-door sedan

    Price as tested: $35,565

    Price and option breakdown: base Dodge Charger R/T (includes $675 freight), $29,995; Road/Track Performance Group (includes performance seats, steering, and suspension; P235/55R-18 tires; 7.5-by-18-inch aluminum wheels; load-leveling and height control; heated power front seats; and power-adjustable pedals), $1600; navigation system, $1495; power sunroof, $950; Electronics Convenience Group (includes temperature and compass gauge, vehicle-information center, trip computer, security alarm, steering-wheel audio controls), $630; Sound Group II (includes 6 Boston Acoustics speakers, 322-watt amplifier, 6-CD changer with MP3 capability), $535; UConnect hands-free communication and auto-dimming rearview mirror, $360

    Major standard accessories: power windows, driver seat, and locks; remote locking; A/C; cruise control; tilting and telescoping steering wheel; rear defroster

    Sound system: Dodge AM-FM radio/CD changer, 6 speakers

    ENGINE
    Type: V-8, iron block and aluminum heads
    Bore x stroke: 3.92 x 3.58 in, 99.5 x 90.9mm
    Displacement: 345 cu in, 5654cc
    Compression ratio: 9.6: 1
    Fuel-delivery system: port injection
    Valve gear: pushrods, 2 valves per cylinder, hydraulic lifters
    Power (SAE net): 350 bhp @ 5000 rpm
    Torque (SAE net): 390 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm
    Redline: 5750 rpm


    DRIVETRAIN
    Transmission: 5-speed automatic with manumatic shifting
    Final-drive ratio: 2.82: 1
    Gear, Ratio, Mph/1000 rpm, Max test speed
    I, 3.58, 8.1, 47 mph (5750 rpm)
    II, 2.19, 13.2, 76 mph (5750 rpm)
    III, 1.41, 20.6, 118 mph (5750 rpm)
    IV, 1.00, 29.0, 145 mph (5000 rpm)
    V, 0.83, 34.9, 145 mph (4150 rpm)

    DIMENSIONS
    Wheelbase: 120.0 in
    Track, front/rear: 63.0/63.1 in
    Length/width/height: 198.0/74.4/58.2 in
    Ground clearance: 5.1 in
    Drag area, Cd (0.35) x frontal area (25.4 sq ft): 8.9 sq ft
    Curb weight: 4141 lb
    Weight distribution, F/R: 53.5/46.5%

    Curb weight per horsepower: 11.8 lb
    Fuel capacity: 20.1 gal

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    CHASSIS/BODY
    Type: unit construction
    Body material: welded steel and aluminum stampings

    INTERIOR
    SAE volume, front seat: 56 cu ft
    rear seat: 49 cu ft
    luggage: 16 cu ft
    Front-seat adjustments: fore-and-aft, seatback angle, front height, rear height, lumbar support
    Restraint systems, front: manual 3-point belts, driver and passenger front airbags
    rear: manual 3-point belts

    SUSPENSION
    Front: ind; 1 upper control arm, 1 lateral link, and 1 diagonal link per side; coil springs; anti-roll bar
    Rear: ind; 2 lateral links, 1 diagonal link, and 1 toe-control link per side; coil springs; anti-roll bar

    STEERING
    Type: rack-and-pinion with hydraulic power assist
    Steering ratio: 16.1: 1
    Turns lock-to-lock: 2.8
    Turning circle curb-to-curb: 38.9 ft

    BRAKES
    Type: hydraulic with vacuum power assist, anti-lock
    control, and electronic panic assist
    Front: 13.6 x 1.1-in vented disc
    Rear: 12.6 x 0.9-in vented disc

    WHEELS AND TIRES
    Wheel size/type: 7.5 x 18 in/cast aluminum
    Tires: Michelin Pilot HX MXM4 Radial XSE,
    P235/55R-18 99V M+S
    Test inflation pressures, F/R: 32/32 psi
    Spare: high-pressure compact

    C/D TEST RESULTS
    ACCELERATION: Seconds
    Zero to 30 mph: 2.2
    40 mph: 3.1
    50 mph: 4.3
    60 mph: 5.6
    70 mph: 7.1
    80 mph: 9.2
    90 mph: 11.4
    100 mph: 13.9
    110 mph: 16.7
    120 mph: 20.8
    130 mph: 26.0
    140 mph: 32.6
    Street start, 5-60 mph: 5.8
    Top-gear acceleration, 30-50 mph: 2.8
    50-70 mph: 3.5
    Standing 1/4-mile: 14.2 sec @ 101 mph
    Top speed (governor limited): 145 mph


    BRAKING
    70-0 mph @ impending lockup: 169 ft

    HANDLING
    Roadholding, 300-ft-dia skidpad: 0.78 g
    Understeer: minimal


    FUEL ECONOMY
    EPA city driving: 17 mpg
    EPA highway driving: 25 mpg
    C/D-observed: 19 mpg

    INTERIOR SOUND LEVEL
    Idle: 45 dBA
    Full-throttle acceleration: 78 dBA
    70-mph cruising: 66 dBA

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  2. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Stats for comparison,

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  3. P-chan

    P-chan New Member

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    IBYeeeeeehaw!
     
  4. DMClark

    DMClark Active Member

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    So, are you still just dreaming about this.. or GTO?
     
  5. ZoominRex

    ZoominRex New Member

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    When is the SRT version coming out?
     
  6. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Order now, have it by the beginning of October.
     
  7. CopenKagan

    CopenKagan OT Supporter

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    I'd take the Marauder over any of the cars listed in this thread.
     
  8. The Green Bastard

    The Green Bastard Click click click bang

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    I was masturbating while reading that.
     
  9. ZoominRex

    ZoominRex New Member

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    engine? In its current state the R/T is overmatched by the GTO and even Mustang GT. I'm sure the SRT version will blow them away though.
     
  10. Shockticus

    Shockticus I remember having one more drink at the bar... OT Supporter

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    :wavey: Hey man.
     
  11. Demon Of Dreams

    Demon Of Dreams Feed me with lies and hate, and from that, I will

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    some fucking cock almost hit me in one of those a few days ago :mad: i have a new dislike for them :(
     
  12. DSHR

    DSHR Well-Known Member

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    I'd like to test drive one :dunno:.
     
  13. Shockticus

    Shockticus I remember having one more drink at the bar... OT Supporter

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    I've detailed one. Might have been an '05 though.
     
  14. CopenKagan

    CopenKagan OT Supporter

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    Guaranteed it wasn't an '05.
     
  15. Pvt. Joker

    Pvt. Joker RIP Nigger Jim OT Supporter

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    rather have a 400hp ls2 gto
     
  16. Bloke

    Bloke Banned

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    im with you
     
  17. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    Bolicious messed his undies. :cool:
     
  18. N8

    N8 This fucking guy.

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    I'd give it far more consideration if it was available in a manual. :hsd:
     
  19. pappa want one...
     
  20. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    m0rning crew
     

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