DFP Review - 2006 Dodge Charger

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, May 27, 2005.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    2006 Dodge Charger overachieves in its class

    BY MARK PHELAN
    FREE PRESS COLUMNIST
    May 26, 2005

    DURHAM, N.C. -- So lost that we weren't even on the map Dodge had provided, AutoPacific analyst Stephanie Brinley and I pulled the 2006 Charger into a truck stop in southern Virginia.

    When we asked for directions to Virginia International Raceway, construction worker Derek Hawker slammed his iced tea down on the picnic table.

    "I'm going with them," he called out to his boss, general contractor Donnie Yeatts, who had stopped for lunch on the way to a building site.

    Yeatts talked him out of it, but they both wanted to know all about the powerful-looking sedan as Yeatts sketched a map to the track, where we put the Charger through its paces and drove competing sedans on neighboring public roads.

    The 2006 Charger is the kind of car that makes you want to blow off work and go for a spin. Even better, while it has the looks and the muscle to inspire a skip day, it's also a practical and affordable sedan that can easily carry a family and its luggage.

    Despite sharing its venerable name with several powerful coupes from the 1960s and '70s, there's nothing retro about the sleek new sedan, which offers 104.2 cubic feet of passenger space and safety features including standard antilock brakes and stability control and optional side curtain air bags.

    The Charger is good enough that I had to compare it to cars costing far more than the base SE model's $22,320 price to conjure up any shortcomings in the muscular big sedan.

    I logged about 1,000 miles on a wide variety of roads between Durham and Detroit in two well-equipped Chargers
    : an SXT with a sticker price of $27,860 and an R/T priced at $34,600. (All prices exclude destination charges.)

    The new Charger comes with two engine choices: a 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 in the SE and SXT and a 340-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V8 in the R/T.

    Both engines are mated to a very good five-speed automatic that provides excellent acceleration and smooth shifts. That transmission also has a manual mode
    , but no traditional manual gearbox is available.

    The R/T I drove from Virginia to Detroit got 21.8 m.p.g. in a day of fast driving on Interstate highways and an impressive 19.8 m.p.g. in several hours' drive on twisting, mountainous state roads. The V8 model has a 17/27 city/highway EPA fuel economy rating, the V6 a 19/27.

    The Charger is the first Chrysler Group vehicle to combine the company's 3.5-liter V6 with the five-speed automatic. The same engine is mated to four-speed automatic V6 models of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum, which share the Charger's basic structure.

    Offering the five-speed with the 3.5-liter V6 gives the Charger a brief advantage in performance and fuel economy over the 300 and Magnum, although those models will also get the more sophisticated and efficient gearbox this fall.

    A 350-horsepower Daytona model with racy paint, a spoiler and special wheels and tires goes on sale for $32,495 this fall. A 425-horsepower SRT8 model with a 6.1-liter Hemi also debuts this fall. Dodge hasn't announced the SRT8's price.

    While the Charger is based on the same LX platform as the acclaimed 300, it does not share a single exterior panel with the Chrysler and presents a menacing counterpoint to the Chrysler's classy looks.

    The Charger's interior is smaller than the Chevrolet Impala, Ford Five Hundred and Toyota Avalon, but bigger than the Honda Accord, Nissan Maxima and Toyota Camry.

    The Charger's trunk measures 16.2 cubic feet, smaller than Camry, Five Hundred and Impala but larger than the Accord, Avalon and Maxima.

    To suggest the Charger is all about interior space, however, is like saying that Ingrid Bergman took your breath away because she wore nice shoes. They're both beautiful, but their appeal is more than skin deep.

    The Charger is a far more satisfying car to drive than any of its front-wheel-drive competitors.

    In fact, as I pushed the Charger R/T up a long twisty stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia, it begged to be compared to sport sedans costing thousands of dollars more.

    By the standards of the BMW 5-series, Cadillac STS and Mercedes-Benz E-class, the Charger could use more responsive steering, a firmer suspension and more sculpted seats to hug you in quick corners.

    In addition to sportier handling and more supportive seats, my brief wish list for the Charger includes memory for the power seats and mirrors, twilight-sensing headlights and less ambiguous directions from the optional navigation system.

    Once I descended from the heights and took to sweeping Interstate highways, however, I was reminded that the Charger is far more car for the money than the family sedans it competes with.

    The independent suspension clung to curves and smothered bumps in jagged construction zones, the interior was remarkably quiet at high speeds, the steering was smooth and predictable and the disc brakes stopped the 4,031-pound car with assurance.

    The interior materials look and feel good, with a restrained two-tone color scheme and satin-finish silver accents.

    Like Derek and Donnie, you might not be able to skip an afternoon's work in the Charger, but the car will make the drive home feel like a day at the track.

    Rating: FOUR STARS (out of four stars)

    Reasons to buy: Looks; power; value


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  2. CrosseyeLion

    CrosseyeLion delight in our youth...

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    :cool:

    Not sure if the online article showed the pics, but in the paper yesterday they had a pic taking up almost the entire front page of the section of the Charger.
     

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