The Truth About Cars » dodge charger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 14:03:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » dodge charger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Confirmed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/dodge-charger-srt-hellcat-confirmed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/dodge-charger-srt-hellcat-confirmed/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 15:16:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=873290 2015 Dodge Challenger SRT with the HEMI® Hellcat

Road & Track has found evidence, courtesy of an SAE paper, that the 6.2L supercharged V8 from the Challenger SRT Hellcat, will make its way into the Charger.

The SAE has apparently certified the engine’s output for both the Challenger and Charger, but R&T is left wondering whether the 6-speed manual will be an option in the Charger, when it has traditionally been automatic only.

Even so, the new ZF 8-speed auto, with launch control and thoroughly modern guts, is nothing like the automatics of yesteryear. A stick shift would be nice to have, but the Hellcat seems to get its best drag strip performance when equipped with the automatic. After experiencing the 8-speed in the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT, my own desire for a manual Hellcat is actually somewhat diminished.

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Reader Review: 2014 Dodge Charger R/T http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-review-2014-dodge-charger-rt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/reader-review-2014-dodge-charger-rt/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 20:55:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=838729 ChargerFront

TTAC reader and contributor Rich Murdocco sends us his review of his brand new 2014 Dodge Charger R/T

In the middle of the harsh winter of 2013, the lease on my beloved Ford Mustang was coming to an end. That car had a special place in my heart – The 305 horsepower power plant whisked me to my first  “big boy job”, my first date with a new girlfriend, the birth of my niece and was right there as I got down on one knee and proposed to that aforementioned girlfriend. I was faced with the difficult decision every leasee faces: Do I stick around, or see what else was out there?

Sunset Logo

I had my heart set on another Mustang. Myself, uncle and cousin walked into the Ford Dealer, priced out a GT (if it wasn’t an upgrade, what’s the point?) and left satisfied. The car I had in my head – a 2014 Ford Mustang GT in dark silver, complete with the beating 5.0 Coyote heart and sense of condescension towards Camaros. As we were driving home, my uncle casually suggested we look at the Dodge dealer down the road. I’ve always been intrigued by Dodge’s offerings, and was impressed by the then-freshly redesigned Journey’s build quality when my Uncle had one on loaner. Halfheartedly we pulled in and strolled around the lot. “There is nothing you want here, is there?” I shook my head no, and that’s when my cousin called me over to come see something he found – a Charger R/T

Sitting in the car, it didn’t feel like a Dodge. The panels fit well together. There wasn’t a rattle. What felt like metal, was in fact, metal. The chunky steering wheel’s leather was soft, flanked by paddle shifters that allow your index finger to comfortable slip between them. I pressed the push-button ignition and with the soft burble of the exhaust, I was sold. It was black, brash and just plain mean looking – in a way, it reminded me of a Buick GNX.

HEMI

Before I knew it, I was handed a surprisingly quality key fob to my new 2014 Dodge Charger R/T with the new Blacktop package. The RWD (as God intended) car is powered by the 5.7 liter HEMI, has the 8.4 inch touchscreen with navigation and a 3:06 gear ratio setup.

The supportive yet comfortable seats are cloth, the HID headlights are automatic, and the sunroof is large. In fact, everything in this vehicle is large. It’s built for a supersize generation, of which my five foot seven inch height appreciates. My fiancée, who is a tiny little lady, disappears into the passenger seat, but when she drove it the power driver’s seat and adjustable steering wheel accommodated her just fine. The car’s dimensions are substantial.

At work, I’ve parked next to a BMW 5-series and dwarfed it. The Charger’s lines in the recent redesign added character to the slab-like sheet metal of the first new generation, with the most distinctive addition being the racetrack LED lights on the read end. Now, the Charger looks like well…a Charger (the odd looking 1980’s model notwithstanding). This isn’t a car for blending into the commuter pool. Even in the V6 guise, this car looks aggressive. It looks like it wants to kick puppies and wear fingerless gloves while smoke cigarettes like Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club.

Charger flag

Recently, when picking up my college roommate from the train, he said he found me by walking towards the “most obnoxiously angry looking car in the lot.” The attitude exerted by the sheet metal is only matched by its presence on the street. On Long Island, police of different stripes use the Charger Pursuit paired with their fleet of SHO’s. With the Blacktop package, you’re getting black 20’’ wheels that make many other drivers think you’re a cop. This is both awesome (when others let you pass) and annoying (people slam on their brakes to go the speed limit frequently). In my Mustang, few people ever wanted to rev their engines at me. In this, BMW’s especially, always want to start something – there are worse problems to have.

ChargerRear

Coming from a Mustang, pretty much anything would look spacious, but the Charger’s trunk truly eats whatever you put in it. I recently bought a rather large A/C unit and the trunk swallowed it up. I bet if I tried, I can fit my Marshall half-stack in the car, with a guitar, with no problems. The back seat is roomy, with three of my friends in the back sitting comfortably on the two-hour trek to New Jersey when I first got it. My buddy’s girlfriend is five foot nine, and had room to spare.  The nav is simple, while the radio, “powered by Beats Audio”, is pretty punchy, with more than enough bang for an automotive system. To be honest, I don’t use the audio to its full potential, because I prefer the sound of the HEMI. The voice recognition isn’t as intuitive as my Mustang’s SYNC, but it gets the job done. If the Chrysler UConnect system and SYNC had a baby, it would be the perfect infotainment unit. One quirk that my Charger has is the placement of Sport mode. It’s accessed via the UConnect system on the same screen as the front and passenger heated seats. “Hold on Camaro… We shall duel our automobiles shortly. Please wait while I activate Sport mode!” The difference in the transmission is marked when sport mode is activated, with the aggressive upshifts quickly snapping into the next gear.

Sport Mode

Smooth. That’s the word passengers I’ve had thus far have used to describe the ride. The Mercedes sourced 5-speed gets complaints from automotive journalists, but the transmission feels pretty rock solid. It seems that the German’s leftovers have worked wonders for the brand. With decently aggressive driving, I average 16.7 miles to the gallon of mid-grade fuel, and it costs roughly $55-60 per fill up here on Long Island. The transmission would benefit from an extra gear or two, but in 2015 Chrysler is putting in their popular 8-speed which should soothe the naysayers. In manumatic mode, the paddle shifters or console shifter allows for some spirited red-line hitting runs, but the electrical nannies prevent any significant overrevving and overly aggressive downshifting. One of my newfound joys is cruising in 5th, drop it to 3rd to pass. The whole experience is very gratifying.

The HEMI provides more than enough get up and go, but acceleration is never violent like it is in my cousin’s 2013 Mustang GT. It’s a smooth crescendo mostly. Passengers will be taken by surprise, and sometimes, during a boring morning’s drive, it’s fun to plant your foot to wake up both yourself, and the car. It’s powerful, and the engine, which is typically library quiet at cruising, comes to life under hard acceleration. One complaint is that it may be too quiet. For its brash looks, you’d hope it will shoot flames from the twin exhaust. In reality, the acceleration is more than entertaining enough, but isn’t as brutal as you think it would be given the specs. It does however turn heads if you drive by a group of people at full blast. It sounds proper, especially in a tunnel, and allows for acceleration to 60 in the low to mid-fives. My brother, who passed the love of cars into his younger brother, was impressed at the Charger’s throttle response and handling as he took a sweeping turn at unmentionable speeds for taking such a turn. For a heavy sedan whose trunk can eat a 12,000 BTU AC unit while seating two in the back, it’s impressive. The car feels planted at 30 mph, 60 mph and beyond 100 mph. With the Blacktop package you get a “high speed engine controller” up to 149 mph, but good luck safely and legally hitting anywhere close to those speeds on Long Island.

One of the many surprises of the car I found was that it doesn’t handle like you expect it to. During my first test drive, I was picturing similarities to my grandma’s old Grand Marquis, but it drives very similarly to my Mustang. It’s eager on turn in, and handles the curves without too much drama. The turning radius is a bit wider, but not by as much as you’d think. My fiancée’s 2010 Accord is like turning the Queen Elizabeth compared to the Charger.

This car is unapologetically American (despite the fact that shhh…it’s made in Canada). It’s big, rear-wheel driven, and powered by a big ol’ V8 up front. The interior is made of quality materials with fit and finish that was unheard of even five years ago. The street presence is ample. The fuel economy isn’t as bad as you’d think it would be given the power and weight stats. The Dodge Charger may have four doors, but it has the soul of the old Charger, and thanks to the HEMI, the heart of one as well. So far, I do not regret my decision to jump ship from Ford to MOPAR. In the future I may return, but as of right now, I’m more than content with the Charger.

MurdoccoCharger

On the web I’ve read comments such as the following: “it’s a pig…”, “it’s too fat”, “UGH A FAMILY CAR! It NEEDs TWO DOORS”, “It needs a manual transmission.” I’d answer these naysayers, but I’m too busy doing burnouts in the angriest looking family sedan on the road.  Long live the four-door, American muscle car.

ChargerFront HEMI Charger flag Sport Mode MurdoccoCharger Sunset Logo Hemi+Badge ChargerRear ]]>
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New York 2014: 2015 Dodge Charger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-dodge-charger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/new-york-2014-2015-dodge-charger/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 12:56:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=801562 2015 Dodge Charger R/T

Although the 2015 Dodge Charger is largely unchanged mechanically, it gets a whole new look.

SXT V6 models equipped with Rallye Appearance Group gets a power bump to 300 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque due to a cold air intake, an upgraded exhaust and a tweaked ECU. Aside from that, the changes are mostly cosmetic.

2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T 2015 Dodge Charger R/T

 

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Review: 2013 Charger SE Pentastar 5AT — Two Countries And Two Thousand Miles In Four Days http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/review-2013-charger-se-pentastar-5at-two-countries-and-two-thousand-miles-in-four-days/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/08/review-2013-charger-se-pentastar-5at-two-countries-and-two-thousand-miles-in-four-days/#comments Tue, 20 Aug 2013 13:15:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=500109 charger1

The scheme was both ridiculous and somewhat unlikely to succeed as written. Drive from Columbus, Ohio to Toronto for the John Mayer concert. Turn immediately around and drive home. Go to work for a day, go to sleep. Wake up and drive from Columbus to Charlotte, NC via Lexington, KY. Play three sets with Bark M. at a rooftop party chock-full of impossibly gorgeous women and free Tito’s vodka. Sleep. Drive home. Do not damage car, do not play an Em7 when a Emaj7 is called for, do not short my brother on the “A” section in the middle of his solo, do not attempt to crash bachelorette party in the next room.

We needed room for equipment and people, the ability to hit 110 mph on hilly freeways in order to make soundcheck on time, a boomin’ system, and the maximum possible fuel economy. The car had to be spacious enough for three people to travel and/or take roadside naps in while being small enough to fit in a downtown parking garage spot. Most of all, it had to be relaxing on the freeway, because I’d be doing almost all the driving on low or no sleep, but not so relaxing that I fell asleep behind the wheel.

In other words, what I needed was what your parents or grandparents might have called a grown man’s car. I love the Camry and I respect the Altima, but with a task like this ahead, only one rental ride would do. Mr. Charger, step forward.

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Much hay’s being made of the new eight-speed transmission in Pentastar Chargers, but if you take the base “SE” model, which retails for just over $27K, you’ll get the NAG1 Benz unit that has appeared, with various parts swapped out, everywhere from the Maybach 62 to the pre-PDK Porsche 997 Turbo. I don’t know that this is such a bad thing. The transmission is well-understood and many places can fix it. If you were looking to run a Charger for a long time or under severe conditions, it might well be a better choice than the octo-box. It certainly doesn’t hobble the car the way the cheapo four-speed did its entry-level predecessors.

We’ll follow the example of the Greek playwrights and provide some of the conclusion of this review right here in the fifth paragraph. This is not a full-sized car, not in the way that a Panther is a full-sized car or even in the way that the Avalon is a full-sized car. If you’re looking to get the most metal for your money, this isn’t for you. Get a slightly used or dealership-remainder W-body Impala. Nor is the Charger a “value” in the traditional sense. The Camry SE has it matched for feature count at an MSRP five grand beneath that of the Dodge, plus it will probably be worth more when you trade it in five years from now. Nor is it an SRT-8 on a budget; the Pentastar is massively strong and it handles okay but there’s a tangible universe of difference in the way an SE goes down the road and the way the big-bore model rips the asphalt off it.

So. Not a value, not a big car, not a sports car. What is it? Why, it’s nothing more — and nothing less — than the perfection of the Mopar M-body. I realized it as I was casually bopping across a set of raised train tracks near my neighborhood at eighty-five miles per hour. Of all the cars I’ve driven around here, only my Town Car pulls that same trick off with aplomb. Most mass-market sedans, even high-priced ones, produce a Suspension Death Rattle(tm) at about fifty mph, but I’d somehow just naturally assumed that the Charger could do it. This is a proper heavy-duty automobile. I don’t mean to imply that it will last forever or that every part on the thing is built to MIL-SPEC. Far from it. But the bones of the thing are pure, sheer, bad ass. It has the power-to-weight ratio of the original BMW 750il but returned nearly 32 miles per gallon in long-distance freeway usage. Twenty-seven thousand dollars would get you “more car” in a Camry or a Malibu but that really means more gingerbread, more shine slathered on a sixteen-grand metal box that accepts its entire powertrain in a single unit from beneath on the factory line like a working girl nonchalantly descending upon two customers at once. Just to speed the process. To save the client money. The bones of the Charger aren’t really from a Mercedes-Benz, no matter how much the car’s champions and critics wish it to be so, but they are thoroughbred, heavy-duty, worthy of mention along with the everlasting Fifth Avenue or Gran Fury. Under the skin, the Charger is an expensive automobile.

No surprise, then, that the rest of it’s depressingly cheap and crappy. Get in the car and suddenly it’s 1998 all over again at Chrysler. The flat black plastic interior would barely have passed muster in my old Neon. There’s an odd sort of fascia laid over the driver’s side of the thing. I know it’s real metal because it retains heat and cold but it doesn’t look very nice. Ten minutes in the thing and you’re ready to buy a Chrysler 300 without regard for the additional cost. Just to see some color and design, you know? It’s not very good. The Avenger interior is kind of better and the Grand Caravan interior is considerably superior. The instrument panel is laughably bad. It’s the lowest-contrast set of gauges I’ve ever seen on a production automobile. Grey and dark red on black. Learn to change the center display to show your speed. You’ll need to in order to avoid tickets. At twilight the dashboard is all but invisible. This is damned near unacceptable in 2013 and I don’t care that it looks cool in a mega-watt-lit showroom.

It doesn’t help that after the airy, well-lit environment of my cream-interior Town Car the Charger’s cockpit feels like falling into a well. The doors are so high and visibility is indifferent to the rear and sides. It took me all of LJK Setright’s one hundred miles for me to get over it. If I could wave a wand and change one thing about the Charger, it would be to drop the beltline four or five inches. I don’t want to hide in the car.

This particular fault is in no way unique to Chrysler LX sedans, however. Everybody runs the beltline high now. It’s not worth bitching about. I just wish this car had an M-body’s worth of glass around me. Wish in one hand, grab the Charger’s shifter in the other, throw it across the strangely vacant pattern down to “D”, stomp the throttle, achieve redemption. My hand to God, this has to be the best big-inch V-6 available. No, it doesn’t have a VQ37′s worth of raw horsepower but it just revs and sounds great and exudes willingness at all times. Car and Driver says it’s noticeably slower than the V-6 front-wheel-drivers and they have numbers to prove it. In the real world, however, the Charger has traction and composure the Accord and Camry can’t match. You can drive this thing full-throttle all the time if you want and your license has the points to spare. The old Impala can probably walk it but you’d need to be on the freeway because everywhere there’s broken pavement or camber problems the Dodge is unstoppable. Like I said. Heavy duty.

The Toronto leg of my trip passed without incident, the trip computer reporting more than thirty miles per gallon even once I hit the city’s infamous Gardiner Expressway. Once on the surface streets the Mopar displayed its big-wheeled indifference to potholes under full throttle and I took spot after spot away from slower, less certain traffic. On the drive home I had to stop and take a nap. Turns out I’m no longer superhuman at the age of forty-one and after thirty-six hours and seven hundred miles I need a rest. Two hours reclined in the mouse-fur seat was easy as pie then it was back to the road. This is a highway car. It doesn’t stress you on the six-lane the way the lighter, tidier competition does. It doesn’t transmit those fatiguing vibrations to your hands and it doesn’t wander and it isn’t sensitive to wind. Only an oddly spooky noise from the trunk area betrays the presence of serious cross-breeze. There’s only one real annoyance in the car, and it’s not going to affect everyone, but from what I’ve researched it’s not unique to my tester, so I’ll mention it. The mini-screen uConnect system plays individual albums from iPods in alphabetical order. This, as I’m sure you all know, places “Friends, Lovers, or Nothing” right after “Edge of Desire”. I don’t mind that, but try listening to Contra that way. Starting with “A-Punk” instead of “Mansard Roof”? Bitch pleeeeeeeeease.

Prepping for the second leg of my trip revealed another less-than-stellar aspect of the Charger: the trunk isn’t full-sized either. I ended up taking one amplifier (a Roland VGA-5, hedging my bet with solid-state electronics for a long trip) instead of two, and two guitars instead of three. The Town Car is so far beyond the Charger in trunk space it’s not funny. And don’t forget that if you decide you want the nice interior and the hip look of the Chrysler 300 — it has less trunk than this. Ridiculous. They should make a long-trunk 300C and call it the Newport. It would look nice in my driveway. I don’t recall the M-body having much of a trunk so I suppose they’re staying on-message here.

I handed the wheel over to Bark for the second half of the Lexington-to-Charlotte leg and he dropped my average mileage right down to twenty-four and a half by lead-footing a hundred miles of mountain freeway and rarely dipping beneath ninety miles per hour. He said we were going to miss soundcheck if he didn’t drive like a crazy person. Turns out we missed soundcheck anyway, mostly because he wanted to iron the shirt he had tailored in Toulouse last week for this gig. Oh well.

After an utterly fascinating gig beneath a steel tent and a furious amount of rain (if you’re interested in what we were playing and with whom, I’ll tell you) it was time to retire to my room. The bachelorette party next door proved to be a totally lame group of girls with husbands. Who brings husbands to a bachelorette party? Six hours and sleep then back on the road. My goal was to restore the Charger’s 30-mpg honor in the five-hundred-plus miles to come but at some point I forgot about that and accidentally decided to test the car’s top-speed limiter. It has one. Final stats:

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Thirty miles per gallon in a car that leaps for triple digits and smokes back tires and holds four people. Hell yes. I was charged five days for the rental because I brought it back a trifle late. It would have been a bargain at twice the price. Listen. I cannot recommend the Charger over the Camry to you, the TTAC reader. It costs more. It will probably break more often and retain less value and if you’re driving in the city the mileage really can’t hang with the four-cylinder cars. In the winter it really, really needs snow tires and I know you never buy them, even though I always do, even for Audis. This isn’t the interior you want. You really want at least a 300 Luxury Edition and that’s real money and the trunk is smaller. The smart thing to do at that point is to buy an ES350 anyway.

But there are a few of you out there who will love the Charger, as I do. Because it’s a road warrior, because the bones of it feel heavy, because you can throw the tail out on rainy city streets, because it looks like Mike Tyson in some sucker’s rearview mirror, because it’s a man’s car in an era where just writing “man’s car” in this review will upset some people and probably rightly so, I can’t apologize for how I was raised and what I believe. I suppose a woman could own and love it but she’d have to be a bad-ass herself, Anne Hathaway in a black leather outfit or that one girl from Sleater-Kinney who screams all the time. This Canadian automobile is meant to serve a declining number of traditional Americans, that cool dad who swears at dinner then winks at you and who owns Snap-On tools and who holds the door for old people and who has a preference between Ozzy and Dio. If you’ve ever seriously thought about font choice or identity politics for more than thirty seconds, this may not be the car for you. But if you want the toughest car twenty-seven grand can buy, if you want to know what it was like to open the throttle on a 360-powered Fifth Avenue in an era of ninety-horsepower Accords, step right up. It won’t be here forever. I promise you that.

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Chevrolet SS Only $7,525 Less Than A Corvette http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/chevrolet-ss-only-7525-less-than-a-corvette/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/06/chevrolet-ss-only-7525-less-than-a-corvette/#comments Tue, 04 Jun 2013 17:03:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=490810 2014-chevrolet-ss

$44,470 will buy you a Chevrolet SS when it goes on sale later this year. That’s about $7,500 less than a base model, no-options C7 Corvette Stingray $5300 less than a Chrysler 300C SRT8 and $2995 less than a Dodge Charger SRT8. The SRT8 cars have more power, but the SS does have a couple advantages; it’s more subdued looking than the overwrought Charger.

 

Word around TTAC is that the 300C in SRT trim is a monster of a machine, and adding a supercharger makes it an unbeatable weapon when street racing lesser machines. Personally, I have a major issue with all of those cars; no manual transmission. I’d much rather take this gently used C6 Corvette Grand Sport for the same money. Because, like all real enthusiasts, I buy used. And I’m poor.

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Cop Drives Cop Car: 2012 Dodge Charger Pursuit http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/cop-drives-cop-car-2012-dodge-charger-pursuit/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/04/cop-drives-cop-car-2012-dodge-charger-pursuit/#comments Sat, 06 Apr 2013 18:54:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=483788

My takedown of the Ford Police Interceptor Sedan Taurus generated almost two hundred comments. Having recognized what the people want, I immediately began scheming for rides in the Ford’s two major competitors in order to give it to them. An E-mail, followed by a visit to the municipal sales manager at Lexington’s Freedom Dodge- Chrysler- Jeep- Fiat and I was provided with a 2012 Dodge Charger Pursuit for a weekend evaluation.

Mr. Jim Sawrie is the cop car guy at Freedom Dodge and generally keeps a demonstration unit on hand equipped with a center console, protective barrier, and a lightbar. He stripes his demo cars up in various ways, even aping the decal package Lexington PD uses a couple of years ago. He gave his current model a pretty basic decal job, plain enough that you wouldn’t think it would ever be mistaken for a real police car. So, of course, when I stopped to take photos of the car near downtown Lexington I was approached by a guy who wanted to know which Federal alphabet agency was represented by the acronym DEMO.

“DEMO? Why, that’s the Department of Energy Military Operations Command. The “C” is silent and for your safety and in the interest of National Security, you need to move along…”

I can’t really blame the citizen for his concern. Even in refrigerator white and with minimal markings the Charger screams “Official Government Business” as loudly as the Crown Vic ever did. “Beautiful and intimidating,” was how the supervisor in charge of the fleet of Chargers being run by a neighboring agency described it when I called to get his views on the Dodge’s long term durability.  Compared to the plain- Jane styling of the Caprice and the bulbous, dog-with-it’s-butt-in-the-air look of the Taurus, the Charger’s long, low, and wide profile definitely has the most character.

That exterior design helps make the Charger’s interior a much more comfortable place to get to the business of police work, especially compared to the Taurus. I donned my gunbelt and spent much of a Saturday morning driving around with it on. The center console Mr. Sawrie had chosen to install in the car was fairly wide, starting at 11 inches wide at the base of the center stack and tapering to 9 inches wide by the time it reached the area of the seatbelt buckles. Even with a full gunbelt, I had plenty of room without the console pressing in on me, although a slightly narrower console wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Note to equipment vendors: Just because you have the space doesn’t mean you have to fill it.

The extra space makes entering and exiting the front seats of the car very easy, particularly when doing so quickly. Both the front and rear doors open 90 degrees, further than the doors on a Crown Vic and much further than on the Taurus with it’s nylon retntion strap that retards the opening of the front doors. Getting into the backseat is very tight, particularly for a prisoner with his hands secured behind his back. The Dodge’s low roofline is the main culprit here, particularly the way it slopes sharply back towards the “C” pillar. The routine admonition given to prisoners by cops all over the world to “Watch your head and knees” becomes more meaningful when herding perps in and out of a Charger instead of a Crown Vic. Seriously, jailbirds. Watch your heads.

The interior was quieter than I expected, even at highway speeds when air turbulence around the exterior spotlight mounted on the “A” pillar and around the lightbar tends to create a lot of wind noise in marked police vehicles. I was also surprised by the visibility. I had expected that the Charger’s low slung roofline would create a driving experience similar to that of the Taurus. That wasn’t the case at all. While blindspots still existed, particularly with a protective barrier installed, I never felt closed in and blind the way I did when driving the Taurus. Parallel parking, even without the benefit of a rearview camera, was fine.

Controls for the HVAC and stereo were handled primarily through the Uconnect touchscreen, although there were redundant controls for both mounted below. A USB outlet and auxillary port are standard. I found Uconnect to be easy to learn without resorting to the owner’s manual. The car was equipped with optional Bluetooth and paired quickly and easily with my Samsung phone. An option like Bluetooth is probably not taken up by most departments, but perhaps more of them should consider it. Like it or not, fair or unfair, the simple reality is that the cellphone is a vital tool to most patrol officers and one that will be used while driving. The nature of the job will simply require a certain number of distractions to the driver and any technology that can reduce those should be embraced, even if it costs a bit more per unit.

The car I drove was equipped with the 5.7 L Hemi V-8 and included cylinder deactivation. If anything the cylinder deactivation programming is over- aggressive. It seemed as if everytime I glanced at the instrument cluster, the computer was advising me that I was in ECO mode. The transition between four and eight-cylinder operation was relatively seemless and definitely makes a huge difference in fuel consumption. I averaged 15 mpg over 168 miles of driving. (I simulated the time spent idling in a normal patrol shift by leaving the engine running every time I got out to take photos of the car.)

That’s actually pretty good for a police car, particularly one with the 370 horsepower of the Charger’s Hemi V-8. Put your foot in it and all attempts at ECO management vanish with a roar. Testing by the Michigan State Police recorded a top speed of 152 mph. I believe it. In fact, the Hemi might be too much. Had I been given a Charger instead of a Crown Vic when I first hit the streets at age 22, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be here to write these articles today.  For most departments the 292 horsepower 3.7 L V-6 and a top speed of 141 mph would probably be a better choice.

Power is routed to the rear wheels through a 5 speed automatic, which includes Chrysler’s Autostick system. A column mounted gear selection lever is a welcome touch although it makes using Autostick almost impossible. The selection buttons for up and down shifting are mounted on the shift lever, which puts them in an awkward position for use during performance driving. I tried Autostick out on a twisty road near my home and found it nearly impossible to use while maintaining control of the wheel.

Control is definitely something you want to maintain. Overall the Charger is incredibly stable, but the Hemi will sneak up on you. The Crown Vic doesn’t particularly like to be hustled through the curves and responds with a certain amount of float and instability. Consequently you’re more aware of your speed as you approach corners in a Crown Vic.

The Charger hugs the road much better and builds your confidence until you glance down at the digital speedo readout as you enter a curve and HOLY CRAP THAT’S TOO FAST! I can report that the brakes  and the traction control work very well and kept me from having to have any awkward conversations with Bertel and Mr. Sawrie.

At least the bill wouldn’t have been too high. Fleet price for a Hemi powered Charger Pursuit starts at $23,585. For reference the most comparable civilian trim level, the Charger R/T, has a base MSRP of $29,995. For the budget minded municipal fleet manager, the V-6 powered Charger Pursuit starts at $21,949, undercutting the price of the cheapest Ford by $790.

Cheap is not usually considered a compliment and Dodge has a reputation, probably undeserved, for poor quality. My own agency’s experiences with Pentastar products has been negative. We were all issued Fords when I started in 1997, but the last of the old Diplomats had only been retired a couple of years before. No one I know who had the misfortune to have been issued one has anything good to say about them. When the previous generation of police Chargers hit the streets in 2006, we actually bought a few of them for use by detectives. Three out of eight developed transmission problems in the first two years of service.

Kentucky Law Enforcement Memorial

With that track record in mind, I called a nearby agecy that has switched exclusively to Chargers and asked how their cars have held up. The sergeant in charge of the fleet, Mister “beautiful and intimidating,” reported that their experience has generally been positive. One unit had gone through three motor mounts in six months, but my source felt that was more an issue of operator error than a failure of the car. Front ends tend to need replacing around 75,000 miles. Unlike Lexington’s experience he’d only had to have two transmissions rebuilt and both of those were in cars that had done over 120,000 miles. He only had one of the new generation of Charger in his fleet, but it seemed to be holding up as well or better than the older cars.

His major complaint was that the Chargers cost more to repair than the Crown Vics did. That’s probably going to be a complaint with all of the new generation cop cars, however. The second-best thing about the Crown Vic, after it’s size, was it’s simplicity. In a fleet maintenance situation simplicity usually equates to “cheap to fix.”  All of the new models are significantly more complex.

Still, Dodge’s quality problems seemed to have mostly been resolved, at least in my source’s experience. The testimony of one fleet manager may not be evidence of a turnaround in and of itself, but it appears that the Charger has made significant inroads into the police market in Central Kentucky.

The introduction of the first generation of Charger was the first real challenge to Ford’s domination of the police market in a decade. The second generation appears to be better than the first, while still undercutting the price of the Taurus. I concluded my review of the Taurus by noting that the competition was nipping at Ford’s heels. I was wrong. With the new Charger, Dodge has passed them.

Freedom Dodge of Lexington, KY provided the vehicle and one tank of gas for this review.

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Chart Of The Day: Full-Size Sedan Freefall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/chart-of-the-day-full-size-sedan-freefall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/03/chart-of-the-day-full-size-sedan-freefall/#comments Thu, 21 Mar 2013 15:43:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=481933

Recent talk of Chevrolet attempting to convert the 2014 Impala from 75 percent fleet sales to 70 percent retail sales seemed like an improbable figure. Judging the success of any new car is a crapshoot for most of us, but one thing is for sure; the full-size sedan segment as a whole, is declining.

Over the past half decade, the full-size segment as a whole has been in serious decline. The number of product offerings for sale has been cut in half, from 15 to 7. IHS Automotive, an independent research firm, reports that full-size car sales have declined by 42 percent since 2006.

From a peak of 311,128 units in 2007, Impala sales have nearly been cut in half – and the fleet mix numbers suggest that Chevrolet is only selling about 50,000 units at retail. At the other end of the spectrum, the Hyundai Azera is barely moving the needle, consistently selling below 10,000 unts over the past few years. Impala sales will undoubtedly decline with the introduction of the 2014 model – there’s no way that Chevrolet can sustain current volumes if they plan to sell 70 percent of cars to retail customers. But even with sales of 100,000 units, it would still be the segment leader – though the Dodge Charger would be nipping at its heels.

However, an almost-certain reduction in government fleet spending could put a dent in the sales of both models. Sources in D.C. tell us that this could be as much as a 20 percent cutback, or about 100,00-120,000 vehicles. The current Impala, along with the Chrysler LX cars and the Taurus, are darlings of government fleets, and stand to lose the most from this sort of reduction. Meanwhile, the same source tells us that Chrysler is ramping up promotion of its fleet program, with Ram trucks and the LX cars as its main focus.

For many potential large car buyers (whether retail, government or private fleets), a CUV is a much more attractive vehicle, with similar fuel economy and comparable interior volume. For consumers, a CUV is often more appealing to their emotional side, while daily rental fleets can charge more for than a comparable sedan. In other cases, the CUV has a similar footprint but also offers a third row of seats and more cargo room. It’s not a coincidence that some major police departments, like the California Highway Patrol, are opting for the Ford Explorer-based Police Interceptor rather than the Taurus variant.

Speaking of the Taurus, another rumor making the rounds right now is that the Taurus won’t be back after this generation. Poor margins and difficulties during the development process meant that the Taurus has been scrapped part way through the development process, and Ford is content with the Fusion acting as its flagship sedan. If this situation holds true, that leaves Chevrolet and Chrysler as the vanguards of the large American sedan.

Even though rear-drive sedans have fallen out of fashion with most of Detroit, Chrysler seems to have made a business case for the continuation of the rear-drive platform. With Alfa, Chrysler and possibly Maserati sharing the next generation large rear-drive platform, Chrysler and Fiat will have both economies of scale and some high margin luxury vehicles on the same platform.

Previously, Chrysler had little exposure to Europe, Asia and other markets where big engines and a big footprint are seen as negatives. This allowed them to go it alone with the LX chassis and their larger V6 and V8 engines, since their main focus was the United States. Without Fiat, it would have been tough to continue down this road, but now that they can spread the technology across multiple brands and price points, the future of at least one family of full-size sedans is secure.

Furthermore, Chrysler could be in a good position to absorb the rear-drive sedan segment in Australia if GM and Ford walk away from their offerings. The rear-drive Ford Falcon has become a victim of the One Ford policy  while the Holden Commodore will apparently adopt the front-drive Epsilon II platform for its next iteration. The 300C and its SRT8 version are gaining a bit of a following in Australia, which is also becoming one of the SRT brand’s hottest markets. Despite the declining sales of the Falcon and Commodore, it would be nothing short of amazing to see both GM and Ford cede that market to a relative upstart that had almost zero presence in Australia just a decade ago.

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Dodge Charger Rentals Facing Rash Of Thefts In Hawaii http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/dodge-charger-rentals-facing-rash-of-thefts-in-hawaii/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/10/dodge-charger-rentals-facing-rash-of-thefts-in-hawaii/#comments Tue, 16 Oct 2012 15:34:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=463833

An interesting story out of Hawaii, where Dodge Charger rental cars are being targeted by thieves due to the ease of which they can be broken into – and officials are aware of the matter, with little action being taken.

The Honolulu Civil Beat has reported on the matter, claiming that thieves can break into the Charger by inserting a flat-head screwdriver into the door lock. The Civil Beat even interviewed one tourism official who copped to knowing about the matter

“VASH (Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii) president Jessica Rich is well aware of the Dodge Charger issue and has already met with the Car and Truck Renting and Leasing Association (CATRALA) and HPD to brainstorm how they can partner up with rental car agencies to get the word out to tourists.

“Most of the car break-ins we see with our visitors do involve Dodge Chargers,” Rich said. “We’ve been aware of this problem for several years now…We’re very concerned. It’s a serious problem. We’re working on it.”

Despite being “aware of this problem now for several years”, nothing has been done about it, and countless thefts have occurred. The Charger’s lack of theft security is compounded by its popularity as a rental. There is a growing push to warn tourists against renting Chargers, and having them decline the vehicles at the counter.

Thanks to reader Jeff Lesperance for the tip

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Chrysler’s “Wildcard” In Labor Talks: Marchionne http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/chryslers-wildcard-in-labor-talks-marchionne/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/chryslers-wildcard-in-labor-talks-marchionne/#comments Thu, 23 Aug 2012 17:13:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=457665

Chrysler is coming off a strong year sales-wise, but negotiations with the Canadian Auto Workers will force the company to make a tactical decision; should Chrysler take a tough line in an effort to reduce costs, or look for a quick settlement in order to hold off a strike, maintaining their sales hot streak.

All of Chrysler’s minivans and rear-drive cars (such as the Chrysler 300, Dodge Charger and Dodge Challenger) are built in Canadian plants/ With 27 percent of its vehicles made in Canada, a strike would have serious ramifications. In its native market, the Dodge Grand Caravan is a top-selling nameplate,while in the U.S., Chrysler’s double-digit sales gain could be in jeopardy.  Chrysler is thought to be the automaker being target for a strike by the CAW, but other observers feel that the company will take a hard line in negotiations.

Chrysler’s potential “wildcard” (as industry observer put it) is CEO Sergio Marchionne. A report in The Globe and Mail claims that

Mr. Marchionne has been vocal about how wage rates at Chrysler’s Canadian operations are uncompetitive and how Canadian workers need to accept so-called two-tiered wages that provide new workers with pay that’s about half of what established workers earn. The $7-an-hour gap between Chrysler’s Canadian and American plants arises mainly from the wage structure in its U.S. factories. Newly-hired Chrysler workers in that country will earn between $15.78 (U.S.) and $19.28 an hour between 2011 and 2015, compared with $29.11 for established workers…The Canadian plants of the Detroit Three also pay lower wages to new employees, but after six years, those workers are brought up to regular union rates.

Chrysler’s Canadian operations are expected to deliver nearly a third of the company’s $3 billion profit in 2012 alone. Aside from vehicle assembly, a strike at the Toronto-area casting plant would put a major crimp in the company’s production pipeline. But with Chrysler looking to cut labor costs while getting workers to accept a profit sharing deal, it’s tough to predict how the showdown between Marchionne and CAW President Ken Lewenza will go down. If Chrysler is the first automaker to negotiate, the deal will likely set a precedent for future negotiations with the other two domestic automakers.

 

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Report: CAW Will Target Chrysler For Strike http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/report-caw-will-target-chrysler-for-strike/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/report-caw-will-target-chrysler-for-strike/#comments Fri, 17 Aug 2012 14:22:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=457214

The Canadian Auto Workers union is expected to target Chrysler in the event of a strike, but will reportedly wait until Labor Day before taking action.

CTV News reports that

Tony Faria, an automotive expert at the University of Windsor, predicted Chrysler will be chosen because it has the largest Canadian footprint of the Detroit Three and therefore has the most at stake. “They can least afford a shutdown of operations in Canada, so they’re the most vulnerable in terms of a strike threat,” Faria said Wednesday. “But even though Chrysler is not pushing for two-tiered wages, Chrysler is going to push hard for lower starting wages.”

Canada is home to the plants that build some of Chrysler’s key products, including the Chrysler/Dodge minivans, the Chrysler 300/Dodge Charger and the Dodge Challenger. Canadian sales would be especially impacted in the event of a strike, since Canada is a key market for the Dodge Caravan.

CTV News quotes Faria as saying that Chrysler will probably ask for a further reduction in the starting wage, and an increase in the time it takes workers to reach the maximum wage (from six years to eight years).

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Junkyard Find: 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/junkyard-find-1985-dodge-shelby-charger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/05/junkyard-find-1985-dodge-shelby-charger/#comments Fri, 25 May 2012 13:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=445925 Most folks think of Cobras or Mustangs when they think of the late Carroll Shelby, but don’t forget the Shelby Chryslers of the 1980s! Shelby cranked out a run of turbocharged front-drive Dodges that delivered amazing-for-their-time bang-for-buck performance, and they’ve remained quite affordable. So affordable, in fact, that Shelby Dodges are not uncommon sights in self-service junkyards; just in the last couple of years, I’ve found this Daytona Shelby Z, this Omni GLH, and this Shelby Charger awaiting their appointments with The Crusher. Last week, I spotted another one in a Denver yard.
Yes, this car was based on a platform designed in France by Simca, and it’s true that the L-bodies were flimsy throwaway cars that tended to disintegrate in a hurry, but so what? 146 horsepower in a 2,350-pound car was ridiculous in 1985!
The Omni GLH and the Shelby Charger were more or less the same car beneath the skin, with the same 2.2 liter turbocharged engine under the hood.
This example is pretty much a thrashed-to-death basket case, though it doesn’t seem to be rusty. Will beat examples of Shelby Chargers ever be worth enough to be restorable?

17 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden 01 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden 02 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden 03 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden 04 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden 05 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden 06 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden 07 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden 08 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden 09 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden 10 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden 11 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden 12 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden 13 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden 14 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden 15 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden 16 - 1985 Dodge Shelby Charger Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Phil Greden Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]>
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Review: 2012 Dodge Charger SXT Plus http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/review-2012-dodge-charger-sxt-plus/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/04/review-2012-dodge-charger-sxt-plus/#comments Sun, 01 Apr 2012 18:25:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=437430

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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The MetaCars Week In Review http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/the-metacars-week-in-review-5/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/02/the-metacars-week-in-review-5/#comments Sun, 07 Feb 2010 23:12:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=344535

Company No One’s Ever Heard of To Tune Exotic Car With Ugly Body Kit and Ostensibly More Horsepower

A company that no one’s ever heard of, but which claims to have 40 years of experience tuning the most exotic sports cars, plans to tune an extremely expensive, high tech exotic sports car with an ugly body kit and theoretically additional horsepower. While the original car’s engine was developed on the Formula 1 racetrack after hours and hours of race testing, and the body was honed in a wind tunnel and then refined on the same F1 track, the tuner company actually knows better.

“You see, we do what the manufacturer of that $500,000 exotic car was unable to do, as a result of limited budgets and engineering restrictions,” said a spokesman for the tuning company. “We know way more than the car’s nerdy original engineers how much horsepower the body can tolerate, and we’ll achieve that horsepower by using a carefully installed supercharger from the eBay.” Additionally, the spokesman told MetaCars, “Carbon fiber is light and really expensive. How could it be wrong to replace body panels on the exotic sports car with carbon fiber. One step: lighter, just as strong. Must make it better.”

In announcing that it will be tuning this particular high-end exotic sports car, he tuning company joins the ranks of the legendary Wald, Gemballa, Ruf, Brabus, Lorinser, Carlsson, Alpina, Novitec Rosso, Hamann, Koenig, Wimmer, and Edo Competition, all of whom have said they too have tuned it already. The car goes on sale from the manufacturer next year. The tuning company says its work will cost $200,000 in addition to a donor car. They also ask us to point out that the photos included here, which came with their press kit, are photoshops.

Economists: Toyota May Need 2 Entire Months to Be Beating the Crap Out of Everyone Else in Sales Again

Toyota may take as many as two months to regain its posture of beating the crap out of everyone else in sales again, according to Nobel Laureate in Economics Doug Gilmour.

“We’re projecting up to eight weeks where crazy incentives from competitors, Toyota’s sales hiatus, and some cautious people shopping elsewhere,” said Gilmour. “After that though, Toyota will resume its posture of just selling shit tons of cars.”

Gilmour was inconclusive whether this two month period where Toyota looks vulnerable will actually be the end of the world. “It’s tough to say. We survived the Large Hadron Collider, so I suspect we’ll get past ToyotaPedalScandalGate.”

Area Man Plans to Buy Next Dodge Charger Now that He’s Seen Partial Interior Spy Shot

A local man plans to buy the next Dodge Charger after having a good look at a spy picture partially showing the upgraded interior.The man, Chris Fryman, 34, says “now that I’ve checked out the inside of the Dodge Charger as they plan to redo it, I’m pretty sure I’ll buy one once my current lease is up. That was the main thing holding me back before. But from what I can see, it’s really hot now.”

This was a fast decision for Fryman, as the spy photo only surfaced today.

While the refreshed car won’t go on sale for another year Fryman tells MetaCars he is sure that the Charger is the one for him. “Well previously I was thinking you know, I should get that new Mustang when the 5.0 V8 comes out. Or maybe the new powerful V6 with the stick.”

UPDATE: Area man now says, having seen the aggressive pricing of the Hyundai Sonata and option of a manual transmission, he is positive he will get that instead of the Charger later this year.

Electric Cars to Cause Extension Cord Shortage, Potato Chip Surplus?

We have to face the incontrovertible truth: every car on the road will be an electric car as of next year. And with that, lots of stuff we don’t even think about now is going to change.

“America is going to experience a severe extension cord crisis in 2011,” says University of Oregon economics professor Bill Neihaus. “At the moment, the going rate for an extension cord might be 10 bucks. But in January 2011, that same extension cord will cost at least 13 chickens.”

Many are forecasting that the domination of electric cars will also mean the death of the potato chip industry. Potato chip lobbyist Sam Woland tells MetaCars that “at present, 99% of potato chips are sold in gas stations. When the gas stations close because everyone has an electric car, those impulse potato chip purchases won’t be made anymore. We’ll become a nation that only eats french fries and baked potatoes.”

Is this all fact? Absurd speculation? One thing’s for sure: it’s all just absurd speculation.

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Autoblog Kicks SEMA Ass and Forgets to Name Names http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/autoblog-kicks-sema-ass-and-forgets-to-name-names/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/autoblog-kicks-sema-ass-and-forgets-to-name-names/#comments Mon, 09 Nov 2009 16:23:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=334554 (courtesy autoblog.com and . . . someone)

It’s not every day that our friends over at Autoblog rip someone, anyone, a new NSFW. In fact, have they ever done it? Well, now they have. “SEMA 2009 Worst of Show: This Car Stinks” tears into a modded Dodge Charger with scissor doors like nothing I’ve ever read on the Gray Lady of autoblogs. “The why and the how of this particular example of aftermarket hubris and wretched, mindless – and let’s not forget pointless – excess don’t really matter now, as the poor thing will spend the next 15 years quietly rotting in the side yard of some shop in Joliet, Illinois waiting to either shrug off this mortal coil or get turned into a fine LeMons car right around 2025 – whichever comes first.” Looks like Mr. Lieberman is channeling his inner TTAC. Oh wait; he cut his teeth on this very website. So, to thine own TTAC be true? Yes, BUT—who built the cat piss special? On this point, Mr. Lieberman and/or his editors are not-so-surprisingly silent. So I turn to our Best and Brightest to answer two simple questions. First, why is this car any worse than the other abominations cluttering the SEMA ho’ down? Second, who done done it?

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