By on April 1, 2012

A month ago, I reviewed the 470-horsepower, 470-pound-feet Chrysler 300C SRT8. Today, we have a much milder 2012 Dodge Charger SXT Plus with the 292-horsepower, 260-pound-feet V6 and Rallye Appearance Group. I enjoyed driving the weaker car more. This is where you note the date of publication. But I’m not foolin.

Chrysler’s new corporate V6 is “best in class” in some segments, but “worst in class” among V6-powered rear-wheel-drive sedans, where Hyundai’s revised 3.8 leads the pack. Blame the lack of direct injection. Better yet, forget the numbers. The V6 might give up 31 foot-pounds of torque to the Genesis and over 200 to the SRT mill, but it still feels plenty torquey in typical driving. No, it can’t break the rear tires loose at 35 miles-per-hour, but it can and will shove you into the seat when called upon to do so. In this application, the new corporate engine also sounds more like a good ol’ American V8 than any DOHC six has a right to, fitting the character of this 21st-century muscle car. Throttle-induced oversteer remains a very real possibility, and with fewer pound-feet in play it’s easier to modulate. In default mode the stability control, though better than most, kills the joy. Hit a button on the center console to raise its threshold to a more appropriate level.

The V6’s low-rpm grunt came as a surprise, as the same engine feels soft at low rpm in the Dodge Durango and Jeep Grand Cherokee. Credit two substantial differences. First, the Charger, at 3,996 pounds, checks in nearly a half-ton below the all-wheel-drive SUVs.

Second, the Charger is the first corporate application of a new eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. Compared to the old five-speed automatic (which remains standard in the base Charger), the new one’s ratios start lower (12.48 vs. 10.99 overall) and top out higher (1.78 vs. 2.54), enabling both better performance and better fuel economy. Anyone who’s been thinking that five or six ratios is plenty—this transmission will change your mind. BMW uses a related transmission in its cars, but the Dodge variant actually shifts more smoothly. Compared to the old five-speed, the new transmission is much smoother, much more responsive, and smarter. It’s quick to upshift, but also quick to downshift when summoned by your right foot.

Want to select and hold a specific gear? We’ve debated whether, with a manumatic, it makes more sense to push forward or pull backward for a downshift. Chrysler, the first automaker to offer a manually-shiftable automatic in a mainstream car, went the road less traveled: side-to-side. With the new transmission, they’ve eliminated the ability to shift via the shifter altogether. Instead, the Rallye Appearance Group includes well-designed die-cast magnesium paddle shifters. Jaguars should (but don’t) come with paddles as nice as these.

A monostatic shifter (which, like a computer joystick, returns to center each time after being pushed or pulled) attends the new transmission. You’ll find these in nearly all current two-pedal BMWs, but the Chrysler/Dodge implementation is different. The Pentastar bunch (like the Audi A8 team) must have decided that BMW’s system–pushing a button to engage Park and pushing forward for Reverse—strays too far from long-established convention. So P-R-N-D remain in their usual order. The downside of this arrangement: the system must intuit from the distance of your pull whether you’re seeking Reverse or Drive, and the detents are nearly imperceptible. Too often the system, uncertain of your request, decides that the best action is no action at all. It sometimes took me three or four attempts to engage Drive—usually when I was most in a hurry to do so. Calmly and firmly pull back on the T-handle WHILE depressing the button on top of it, and you’ll get Drive (nearly) every time. Chrysler has done such a good job with the touch and voice controls of the car’s uconnect infotainment system, how could they botch something as simple as a shifter?

Pulling back on the Charger’s shifter once in D engages Sport mode. Pull back on the shifter again to revert to D. I didn’t notice a large difference in transmission behavior between the two—the transmission’s shifts become a little quicker and its shifting strategy becomes a little more aggressive. The biggest difference between the modes: if you use the paddles in S, the transmission won’t override your gear selection. I actually preferred D. The car takes corners well in second, which is six paddle pulls down from top gear in S-manual mode. But manually shift the car in D, then prod the accelerator, and you get second or third right away. The transmission will then hold until you approach the redline or request an upshift. (To exit manual mode hold down on the upshift paddle for a few seconds or toggle between S and D.)

Fuel economy? The new transmission bumps the Charger’s EPA ratings from 18 city, 27 highway to 19/31. The trip computer reported averages between 19 and 25 in typical suburban driving, dependent on the number of red lights and the aggressiveness of my right foot, with the average usually in the low 20s. On a 78-mph light-footed cruise to the airport it reported 31.5.

In any iteration the Dodge Charger and the closely related Chrysler 300 feel like the big, heavy cars they are. But the V6-powered car feels significantly lighter and better balanced than the SRT. Perhaps because it is. Three-quarters of the SRT8’s 369 additional pounds sit over the front wheels. Even 100 extra pounds in the nose can affect a car’s handling. Nearly three times this amount can be counted on to substantially change the character of a car. Where the SRT’s responses to steering inputs are deliberate, the V6 car feels almost chuckable. If the lighter car still isn’t rotating quickly enough for you, dip into the throttle to nudge the rear end around. Not looking to drive a big sedan like you stole it? Even in casual driving the lighter car simply feels better. The V6’s electro-hydraulic steering is at least as direct and communicative as the (not exactly chatty) belt-driven system in the SRT8. The weak link lies elsewhere: the 245/45VR20 Firestone Firehawk GTV tires lack grip despite their large contact patches and squeal loudly the moment they start to slip.

With the Rallye Appearance Group’s “performance suspension” (similar in tuning to the V8-powered R/T), the Charger sometimes rides a little lumpy and thumpy. Some will prefer the more relaxed tuning of the standard suspension. But the car glides down most roads smoothly and quietly. Add in the large, comfortable sport bucket seats, and the Charger proves exceedingly pleasant both around town and on the highway.

Luxury cues are mixed. The warmly hued Nappa leather upholstery looks and feels upscale, but the coarse texture of the black instrument panel and upper doors successfully disguises their soft-touch composition. Not that the Charger’s “modern day muscle car” exterior promises any luxury within. For those seeking more upscale styling (but the same texture to the black interior bits) Chrysler offers the 300.

The tested car (with most but not all options—no nav or adaptive cruise present) listed for $35,510. But the new powertrain can be had for much less if you’re willing to do without leather, sunroof, dubs, and such. A Charger SE with the optional ($1,000 well spent) 8-speed automatic lists for $27,420. A strongly recommended deletion even for those who like their cars loaded: do without the rear spoiler and save $225. Dropping the red tri-coat paint can save another $500, bringing the price to $34,785.

A Chrysler 300S equipped like the tested car lists for $41,460. It does include nearly $2,000 in additional content (based on TrueDelta’s car price comparison tool), most notably a larger sunroof and adaptive cruise control (also available on the Dodge), but this still leaves a gap of about $4,750. Suddenly I find myself warming to the Dodge’s styling. Only Hyundai (yes, Hyundai) offers another large rear-wheel-drive sedan in this price range, and that only if “this price range” extends all the way to $43,850. A nearly $2,500 feature adjustment in the Korean cruiser’s favor still leaves the Dodge with a roughly $6,600 price advantage. In this context, the tested car’s mid-thirties price seems a bargain.

With gas prices once again hovering around $4, and perhaps headed even higher, you’d think that a two-ton, 200-inch rear-wheel-drive sedan would make about as much sense as seat heaters in Miami. But, thanks to a new engine and transmission, the big Dodge’s EPA numbers are competitive with those of the much smaller, much lighter Accord and Camry V6s. Yet you don’t have to sacrifice performance. The powertrain provides plenty of thrust and its relatively low weight actually enables better handling than is possible with a massive HEMI pushing down on the front treads. Even more than the SRT8, the V6 car simply feels right. Add in a relatively low price, oversteer-on-demand, big comfy seats, and the ability to effortlessly devour miles by the hundreds, and (with assists from a German transmission, Canadian factory workers, and Italian overlords), the Charger successfully sustains the tradition of the big American sedan.

Dodge provided the car with insurance and a tank of gas.

Michael Karesh operates TrueDelta.com, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.

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68 Comments on “Review: 2012 Dodge Charger SXT Plus...”


  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Interesting. Still want to see a test of the cheapest full size cars Ford, Chevrolet (GM), and Dodge (Chrysler) make. Hope there will actually be some lightly optioned Chargers on dealer lots. Really just need the 8-speed and not much else.

    • 0 avatar

      I haven’t driven an Impala in ages. Unless it has improved a lot, I’d place it well behind the Taurus. And the Dodge is much more fun to drive than either of them.

      The base car won’t handle as well, as it has a softer suspension, no rear stabilizer bar, and non-performance tires. It should be easy and fairly cheap to at least add the stabilizer bar. Also no shift paddles. Get a black or white car, throw on some black steelies, and I suspect people will magically get out of your way.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        You can get the rear stabilizer bar and better tires as an option on the SE.

        You’ll be stuck without paddles and with softer shocks unless you pay for the Rallye or Blacktop packages on the SXT though.

      • 0 avatar

        You’re right, ajla, I hadn’t noticed that they recently added a $695 “Sport Appearance Group” with these items plus a (larger?) compact spare and rear spoiler. Shame about the last–each time I caught it in the rearview mirror I momentarily thought someone was tailgating me.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        My good friend rented a 2012 Impala LT for the weekend and we both walked away surprised at the difference in feel between that car and my 2008 3900 LT. Yes the appearance and interior bits are similar but the car feels considerably different going down the road, is quieter, has sportier steering feel and much improved handling, the brakes are far superior in repeated stops and seem almost fade resistant and the powertrain was a gem. Even the seats felt more comfortable with noticeably more padding in the middle. The biggest let downs were the radio which is Camry grade poor, the lack of some expected modern day features like automatic climate control, telescoping wheel, rear camera and a USB port to name a few and the rather cheap looking dash with too much hard plastic. In all fairness though my 2008 interior has held up remarkably well with no squeaks or rattles, nothing has failed and all the switches and controls all operate smoothly. If I detail the inside it could easily pass for a 30k mile car not 100K miles like mine now has. It’s also interesting to note that this very same 2012 LT can be bought brand new for a hair over 22K which is a bargain for the performance/fuel economy level this car offers and the simplicity is very appealing for someone like me that keeps there cars well over 100K.

    • 0 avatar
      chip81

      I’m 30 years old and just bought a Chrysler 200 V6…283 hp…$21000 after all said and done. When I was 16 I bought a new Honda Civic EX with 127 hp… for about $16000 and it seemed fast. All I know that this is a great time to love fast cars and also be alive. Mustangs make >400hp and supercars make >700hp. Today, “family cars” with modern V6 engines make upwards up 300hp.

      Nuff said.

  • avatar
    supremebrougham

    While not a car for me, I’m glad a car of this type is available. I do like the looks of them and I enjoy seeing them on the road. And those tail lights! They make for interesting driving at night when one is in front of you, I love ‘em!

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      Ditto that! Just like you KNOW when a Mustang is behind you in the dark… you just KNOW when you’re behind a Charger. It’s a nice touch when a car can be recognized just by its lights.

    • 0 avatar
      Zarba

      I was born in ’61, and it was a point of pride for me to be able to ID nearly any car by its lights at night.

      Back then, it was easy…

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        Is it bad that when I was young(er), child in the 90s, I could still ID most cars by their lights? Now it’s practically impossible. My dad always prided himself on being able to tell what year a car was by subtle styling cues.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I love this car, I’m glad to see there’s still an american manufacturer in the rear wheel drive classic american sedan game, I’ll take my in blacktop edition please!

  • avatar
    gslippy

    I have never warmed to the Charger’s looks, but I’m impressed with this review. How might a similarly-equipped Challenger do?

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve never driven a Challenger. It gets a 305-horsepower variant of the new V6, but also the old automatic. It also wasn’t included in the 2011 redesign, so it likely drives more like the first-generation Charger.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      The basic Challenger SXT has the same size sway bars and brakes as the basic Charger SXT, but the shocks are stiffer on the Challenger.

      The Challenger SXT Sport Group has larger sway bars and stiffer shocks than the Charger SXT Rallye/Blacktop, but they both have the same size brakes. Both also have paddle shifters.

      The extra gears in the Charger should give it better fuel economy.

      The Challenger has a higher limited top speed.

      The 3.06 final drive option on the Challenger V6 is the most necessary $100 option that ever existed.

      Personally, I liked the Challenger SXT 3.6L more than the Charger SE 3.6L 5-speed. However, I wouldn’t buy either one over their respective V8 versions.

      • 0 avatar
        Tomguy

        The Charger SRT has the stiffest suspension – not the Challenger SRT – So I’d imagine SXT and R/T versions of each to be similar. I’d expect a Challenger SXT to be “Squishier” although it did get a suspension refresh for 2011 compared to earlier ones.
        Reminder: Higher number means more pounds to compress one inch, which is stiffer.
        http://www.lxforums.com/board/f350/srt-engineers-roundtable-07-21-10-a-222592/index5.html#post3069596
        The 300 is the “Softest” Which also explains why in this review it feels washy. The 300SRT is a riding / cruising car. The Charger SRT is the track car. The Challenger SRT is the in-between. Same for SXT and R/T for each.

  • avatar
    lilpoindexter

    “the tested car’s mid-thirties price seems a bargain.” …Not to me.

    • 0 avatar

      Given that I’ve never paid more than $18,000 for a car, me either in an absolute sense. Hence the qualifier “in this context.” If the equivalent Hyundai is thousands more, your price much be pretty low.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      Sticker isn’t price.

      With invoice as your starting point, a $2,000 customer rebate on the hood, and at least another grand of dealer incentives on top of that, talk of mid thirties anything is a bit far fetched.

  • avatar
    Shipwright

    I’m not a fan of Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep products but I must admit that the new V6 seems to be a gem, and the styling of the rear on the new Charger is very well done.

  • avatar
    texan01

    I iike the car, but that shifter is putting me off. Give me a solid feeling lever, rather than a video game shifter.

    • 0 avatar

      They give you solid-feeling paddles instead.

      • 0 avatar
        texan01

        true, but I’ve never developed a taste for flappy paddles. Frankly 99% of the time my cars stay in D unless I’ve driven it to the mountains and need some engine braking power. I’d rather drive the car, than play video game racer.

        I guess I must be turning into an old man.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t often use the paddles myself, except I found myself using them much more than I usually do in the Charger. Partly because I couldn’t shift using the shifter, but also because Chrysler has executed them well.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      Agreed. I’ve driven the current 300 with both transmissions, and though the 8 speed is a huge improvement, the conventional shifter on the 5 speed is preferable.

      The most frustrating thing to me was needing to press the button on the joystick to go from R to D. I’ve seen cars with mechanical shifters that required that, but on those, the lever doesn’t move unless you press the button. The button on these is electronic, so the lever moves, but doesn’t put you in D.

      Strongly prefer a real shift lever, even if it is just a fancy switch. Otherwise — just use push buttons, or a Jag-style dial, or anything else that doesn’t trick my hand into thinking it knows how it works.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    Cool beans. I might look into one of these when it comes time to replace my dull-as-white-toast-accord, which gets similar mileage with two fewer cylinders and over 100 less horsepower.

  • avatar
    kkop

    I rent a full-sized car every month for a week for work. Two 4 to 5hr drives during that week. Full sized at (my local) Avis means Dodge Charger, Chevy Impala, Mazda 6.

    Of all these (and some SUVs I sometimes get ‘upgraded’ to), the Charger is my favorite by far. Very far.

    The Mazda feels like a cheap 9/10ths size car compared to the Charger, seats are terrible (very flat).

    Impala is a distant second to the Charger. Uncomfortable seats (who designs the lumbar support’s shape at GM anyway), and wobbly handling, combined with the worst designed HVAC controls ever.

    The Charger is very spacious, even for my 6’4″ frame. Interior looks a little cheesy, but it works very well together, and has just the right amount of electronic bells and whistles. V-6 engine is fine for a car the Charger’s size (my rentals had the 5-speed). It gets me through my long drives with comfort, and in style :-)

    The Charger rentals were my first encounter with Dodge after abandoning them for Honda and Nissan in 2001. I was very impressed with the quality and comfort of the Chargers. Some of them had a lot of rentals miles on them, and still worked well, and rattle-free.

    I know fleet sales are frowned upon here at TTAC, but in my case it worked out for Dodge: based on my positive experience with the Chargers, we recently bought a Challenger R/T.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      I’m renting a car this weekend – since I’m going National (with the Emerald Aisle), I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for one of these – as it is, I love the styling, and the interior’s not bad.

  • avatar
    derek17005

    IMO, one of the sexiest looking cars on the road. I’m starting to see a ton of these on the road here in Oklahoma. I’m glad they’re starting to get the recognition they deserve as well.

    Long live the RWD sedan

  • avatar
    Acd

    I’ve rented a couple of Chrysler 300′s with the new V6 and on a 500 mile highway trip was able to average 31 mpg while driving between 70 & 85 the whole way–and that was with the old 5 speed transmission. Not bad for a big comfortable car with almost 300 horsepower. If you can do without leather and a sunroof these cars look like a bargain.

    • 0 avatar

      Wait till you get one with the new transmission! Judging from tests elsewhere, it cuts about 8/10 of a second from the 0 to 60, to 6.6 or so. And it should do a few MPG better on the highway–though my real-world numbers only match yours. Any chance you had a tailwind?

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Still way nervous about Chrysler transmissions and there are reports of servere teething problems with this ZF unit. Wonder what an out of warranty eight-speed transmission overhaul would cost.

    • 0 avatar

      Chrysler will eventually manufacture this transmission in an Indiana plant, but for now they’re being imported from a German ZF plant. Either way they aren’t a Chrysler design. Cost of an overhaul? Could be ugly, especially if its close to the cost of overhauling a BMW’s transmission.

      What sort of teething problems have you been reading about? There aren’t enough of these enrolled in TrueDelta’s survey yet, so I’m personally in the dark. If they concern the frustrating shifter, that’s software, not the transmission itself.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Minor nitpick, but I believe that ZF is building (or has already built) its new transmission plant in Greenville, SC:

        http://www.greenville.com/news/zf0710.html

        Chrysler has been making transmissions in Kokomo, IN for decades (I lived there for a couple of years back in the 1980s) but I don’t think that any ZF units are built there:

        http://www.allpar.com/mopar/transmissions/ZF8.html

    • 0 avatar
      SportyClassic

      Never heard this in fact the unit is a zero service one meaning no maintenance needed under normal service duty.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Hate to put a wet blanket on this love-in. Still way nervous about Chrysler transmissions. There are reports of severe teething problems with this ZF unit. Wonder what an out of warranty eight-speed transmission overhaul would cost.

  • avatar
    mike978

    Michael – nice review. My question is that when you previously reviewed a Charger R/T you were not that happy with it. It was basically compared against a CTS-V and was found to be less than half the car for half the price. You explain why the lighter V6 powered model is better to drive (and has the 8 speed transmission). You explained it was the best for driving dynamics in the large car category (Taurus, Avalon etc). How does it compare against mid-size sedans that can cost close to it’s price – like a Fusion Sport, a Camry SE V6 etc.

    • 0 avatar

      With a more responsive transmission and less weight over the front wheels, the V6 car just feels a lot more manageable than the R/T with the five-speed automatic. I felt I was in much more direct control of the V6 car, and could more precisely modulate its responses.

      But even with the V6 the Charger delivers a very different driving experience from smaller front-wheel-drive sedans. It feels larger and more massive. And it has the dynamics of a rear-wheel-drive chassis with a nearly balanced weight distribution (52/48). People who like large sedans should really like this one, while those who don’t like large sedans will still be happier in something smaller.

  • avatar
    ppxhbqt

    “Under the influence of Mercedes, Auburn Hills had dodged the question by opting for side-to-side.”

    Uhm, the very first Chrysler products with a manumatic transmission used side-to-side shifting. M-B’s only post-merger contribution was doing away with a separate gate for it.

    • 0 avatar

      I feared this might be the case–couldn’t quite recall when Autostick was introduced. Just did what I should have done earlier and looked it up–1996 model year, so a couple years before the merger, and development had to have begun before that. Review corrected, thanks.

      • 0 avatar
        Mark45

        In 1973 the Plymouth Roadrunner had a manual shift automatic called Slap Stick. You could pull it down to low and slap it forward to shift one gear at a time.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Anybody notice that mileage across the board for almost all cars out there has risen quite a bit without a penalty (at least for now) in performance? I would assume this is because of the looming increase in mileage standards…I guess the carmakers needed a little incentive to get their a$$ in gear.

  • avatar
    pb35

    I like the new Charger so much that I am considering a Road and Track R/T to replace my aging G35. I emailed the internet manager last week at one of my local dealers and let’s just say that I haven’t made a purchase yet.

    First, the only R&T R/T they have on their website is silver. I don’t want silver and I tell the guy this. He emails me back and says “we have more than silver in stock.” I ask what colors they have and he won’t tell me; red flag. He just wants to get me in the door.

    I make my way to the dealer on my day off last Friday. My salesman isn’t around so they page him. No response. I exit the showroom and take a stroll around the lot. Every other car has a paint/fabric protection package for $2495(!). Who would pay for that anyway? Talk about a deal breaker. There is an SRT8 Grand Cherokee with a $10k market adjustment. There is a V8 300C that says “37 MPG” in shoe polish on the windshield (with no window sticker). I find one other R/T in red. It is a beautiful, metallic red but not my thing. I can’t buy a red car at my age, people would talk. Back to the showroom to try and find my guy. They page him again, nothing. I split. I will try another local dealer sometime. Oh and later that day, I receive an email thanking me for submitting my credit application.

    As someone who grew up in a Mopar family, I really want Chrysler to succeed. If they do, it will be in spite of dealers like this one. It really left a bad taste in my mouth. I can’t imagine that the sales or service experience would be any better.

    Great review, Mike. Thanks for taking the time. Sorry if I went OT here but I had to vent.

    • 0 avatar

      No problem, I love reading accounts like yours. Any other dealers in the area? Way too many warning signals with this one. As you might have gathered from the review I’d suggest driving both the V6 and V8 car (if you haven’t already) to make sure that the latter is the way to go for you.

      • 0 avatar
        pb35

        Yeah, there is another dealer that is a little further away but I will check them out now. Thanks for the tip, I will certainly drive a V6 Blacktop. Love the way it looks and that powertrain is getting some great reviews. One of the car mags has one as a long-term tester. I am interested to see how it holds up over a year.

    • 0 avatar
      SportyClassic

      Check out my Charger in silver http://www.autos.ca/car-test-drives/quick-spin-2013-dodge-charger-sxt-plus-blacktop/2/

      Just wanted you to see the silver. You might find that most if not all desingers work with a silver color so they can simulate the look of metal. I think silver is the best looking color on the charger as it really shows it’s sculpted lines. The wheels weigh around 30 or so lbs, very light for a 20 and I don’t drive on bumpy roads much so I would not trade off the performace of the larger contact patch for a softer/less controlled ride. The blacktop has the higher shock rebound? not sure which gives it a firmer ride. The seats are great so it doesn’t bother me and I like the control. Good luck on your search for a new Charger!

  • avatar
    PenguinBoy

    Amazing to see not only a positive review of a Dodge on TTAC, but also a fair number of positive comments from the B&B. And I realize it is April 1, but I think at least ~some~ of the posiive comments are serious…

    Who would have predicted this a couple of short years ago?

  • avatar
    Junebug

    I detail cars as a second job and I get to sample-test drive if you will lots of stuff. Most of the time it’s big SUVs and 3/4 ton trucks that have proved too much for their owners to clean. But, every now and then I get something like a G35 or Charger – WOW!! Not just because they’re not ball busters like a minivan with 3 child seats, but because they’re fun to drive. There was this one gray Charger that was a blast, folks thought I was the po po and got out of the way, you should see them gawk when a fat balding redneck went by with a sh!t eating grin on his face.

    I like the new Charger and if I had the money I would sure trade my little GTI in on one.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Good review on a great distinctive car. We drove a 2011 with the Rallye group and 20″ chromes and really like the car overall save the 20″ tires which were a bit noisy and thumpy and over sized. The 5 speed does sap some low end punch out of these engines so the 8 speed is welcome. Too bad about the silly shifter. The fact that one can pick up a SE with leather wheel/u-connect group and 8 speed tranny for around 24K is another plus.

  • avatar
    billfrombuckhead

    Give Ralph Gilles credit for an almost great 2011 Charger but give Sergio credit for waving the ZF transmission magic wand that changed the 2 worst things about the car into 2 of the best things. Now instead of having the worst transmission and gas mileage, for the first time in forever Chrysler has the best transmission and gas mileage. These must be good transmissions if Honda is copying Chrysler and switching to ZF.

    • 0 avatar

      Missed that bit of news about Honda, thanks for the tip.

      If Honda is going with ZF, it’s because they’ve figured out that they can no longer financially justify rolling their own. Also, they’ve gotten bitten pretty badly by their own transmissions–now they’ll have someone else to blame.

  • avatar

    “Chrysler has done such a good job with the touch and voice controls of the car’s uconnect infotainment system, how could they botch something as simple as a shifter?”

    I’m guessing the ZF Transmission here can only be used with an electronic shifter and Chrysler didn’t have much of a choice?

    I love the 5-speed (5G-Tronic) in my SRT8 and I’m thinking the outcry from SRT lovers will keep Chrysler from using the 8speed in it with this shifter – especially since it can’t hold gears without the paddles being used.

    I have not had a SINGLE transmission problem in my car and it’s almost to 55,000 miles.

    • 0 avatar
      outback_ute

      Shifters have been electronic for years, so I doubt that’s it.

      I wonder if you can use the IP display to see when you’ve reached R, N or D?

      • 0 avatar

        YES YOU CAN!

      • 0 avatar
        outback_ute

        Thought so (should have said “I assume you can”) – but comments on how hard it is to shift (also in Autoblog podcast) make you wonder! Why try to do it by feel when there is a display to tell you when you are in gear?

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        @outback_ute: Why learn to touch type when you can just look at the letter on each key?

        Seriously, though, the shifter is a gimmick. It takes an interface — a traditional shift lever — that has worked perfectly for ages, and changes it for no good reason. If you’re going to change something, the replacement should be better; this isn’t.

      • 0 avatar
        outback_ute

        @dtremit – I agree with you. Also a good correlation to touch screen controls vs actual buttons/knobs.

        FWIW I can think of a couple of vehicles with the opposite scenarios to this, where the shift points and indicator were out of alignment and you had to move the lever by feel and ignore what ‘position’ it ended up in. One was a worn column auto, the other had had an engine/trans swap.

      • 0 avatar

        When I was taught to drive, and as I perfected my overly aggressive bad driving… I learned to know what gear the car was in just by feeling the click of the shifter and the car’s reaction to the gear shift lever.

        NOW…they’ve taken away the tactile feel of the traditional shifter.

        This is why I complain.

        I also hate push-to-start buttons.

  • avatar
    Liger

    I had a 2011 Dodge Charger V6 as a rental car when my fit was totaled. I loved it! Very comfortable, intimidating looks, 23 mpg overall. And of course since it was a rental car, I did drive it like I stole it. And it gave me the absolute best rental car burnout I’ve ever performed.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    Great review, I may have to look at one of these. Nice work invoking the old Hyundai slogan, too.

  • avatar
    ggale

    After much research, I bought a new, black se with the v6, 8 speed and sport package. (only options) Pitch black. Out the door, a little over 26k. Have had it a month and he all I can say is, WOW! For those who like to question the shifter, you get use to it real quick. IMO they tried to make an electronic shifter similar to what we are use to. Its not all that different. Not having to use a key takes longer for me. (keyless entry/push button start) Great review and right on. I took a chance in a relatively new powertrain set up, but also did so with my Dakota in 2000. (the then new 4.7 and 45rfe trans) 12 years later it runs and handles just like the day I bought it new. Chrysler corp quality seems to be improving each year.

  • avatar

    Great review as always! How does the Charger NVH compare next to the 300? I heard that the spring and damp rates ares stiffer in the Charger, but I can’t find any information about whether the Charger has the same noise levels as the very quiet 300. With the number of incentives on the hood, this is probably the first time I’ve become interested in buying a new car,

  • avatar
    Aleister Crowley

    Great review. I wish you would do a video review of the current model year car. It’s much better than I thought.

  • avatar
    340-4

    I keep coming back to this review.

    And I bought a ’14 SXT 3.6 AWD on Saturday!

    An amazing car. The AWD is just great in snow and ice. Low 30′s on the highway thanks to the 8A transmission. And heated. Cloth. Seats.

    The biggest barrier to better sales of the Charger, IMHO and experience, is the dealerships. They order fully loaded hemi’s…. and RWD’s…

    Here in the snow belt every Dodge dealer should have a nice row of AWD Chargers of various trims.

    • 0 avatar
      TXCOMT

      That’s a great plan, 340-4…when we lived in Montana, the only Chargers we saw belonged to police…and there weren’t many of ‘em. I’m thinking an AWD version would be the perfect replacement for all those boring Buick sedans folks still insist on driving up there!


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