By on January 5, 2009

My remedy for advanced bailout fatigue (and looming cold December): two weeks in Hawaii. I decided to leave the choice of rental cars in the hands of the island gods. And they spoke, with more wisdom and prescience than I might have imagined. Turns out that escape from the bitter truth about The Big 2.8’s death rattles is impossible, even on the most remote islands on the globe. How else could I be comparing a Dodge Charger with a fifteen-year old Toyota Camry?

For our first week on the Big Island, I made a reservation with Thrifty for the “wild car” option. My teenage son’s imagination ran wild; I harbored dread. The outcome fulfilled both of our expectations: he imagined our Charger to be a snorting, bitchin’ beast. I didn’t. Despite my relief at having escaped the Sebring bullet.

Our “wild car” was anything but. The 190hp 2.7-liter V6 and four-speed automatic was completely overwhelmed by the Charger’s 4,000lbs of pretense. Rarely has a car suffered from such a profound personality disorder: all show and no go. Under the hood of this vehicular version of “The Hulk”: the same sort of crude engine and spastic transmission as my former 1992 Grand Caravan. But nothing to show for all the noise and fuss.

Whereas the minivan and the Charger have the same horsepower-to-weight ratio, the 3.3-liter Caravan had a much better torque-to-weight ratio. It felt a lot quicker than the Charger, and didn’t need to grab two gears on every downshift.

It’s utterly inconceivable that Chrysler would build a 2.7 equipped Charger– let alone that anyone would actually buy one. Apparently rental companies are the obvious exception. Chrysler’s torquey 3.8 pushrod V6 would have been a much better choice for an entry/rental-level Charger, and undoubtedly cheaper to build than the DOHC 2.7.

The stalactite-hard, all-black cave of an interior and the gun-slit windows soon had me wishing I had scored a PT Cruiser. After all, we were here for the sight-seeing, not spelunking. The jail-cell windowed back seat is undoubtedly perfect for a police cruiser, right down to the already-broken kiddie-door lock that had my family banging on the window at every stop for release from the Charger’s clutches.

On the slow and narrow island roads populated with the locals’ Toyota 4×4 pickups and Corollas, the beamy Charger felt as out of place (and welcome) as Captain Cook’s three-masted brig, The Endeavor. Only at the big resort parking lots did the Charger feel at home, among the other Chrysler rental jetsam that had washed upon the islands.

The Charger is emblematic of everything that went wrong at Chrysler. Sure, a HEMI Charger RT is a trifling amusement. But a V6 Charger is essentially useless as a practical every-day car. I desperately searched for some remnant of the DNA that made the W-124 Benz such a perfect sedan, but to no avail. The Charger merely is a pathetic mutation, a gutless Frankenstein.

Since rental rates on the small island of Kauai were three times higher than on the Big Island, a web search led me to Island Rentals. The tiny operation’s motto is “don’t look like a tourist.” I was more than ready for that. Our serendipitous ride for $28/day (cash or check only): a somewhat clapped-out 1993 Camry V6 with 174k miles. The radio was MIA, and one door panel was attached with dry-wall screws. We were definitely going to fit in with the locals.

The Camry instantly impressed us with its laid-back island personality. The ride was as smooth as a well-made Mai Tai, the seats as comfy and relaxing as a hammock, and the silky engine inaudible over the warm breezes and crashing surf. But the 185hp 3.0-liter V6 was deceptively quick; the svelte 2900lb. Camry could easily have run rings around the (non) Charger.

The exquisite refinement of the Toyota’s engine and transmission, the brick-shithouse solidity of the aged and abused body structure, and the quality of the interior materials (no hard plastics) were still enhancing the reputation for this particular generation of Camry as the “Lexus of mid-size cars.” No wonder they’re such sought-after used cars, and still earning their keep as rentals on distant tropical islands.

And where will our rental V6 Charger be in fifteen years? On the ash heap of history, along with the (once proud) company that made it. To pawn off this larger-than-life sized Hot Wheels toy with a feeble old K-car drive train and a taxi-cab interior on today’s hotly-contested mid-large sized sedan market is (was?) utter suicide.

Exploring Hawaii was an exquisite escape from winter’s dismal grip and the relentless rattling of The Big 2.8’s begging bowls. But unless you’re among the few remaining naked hippie cave dwellers in remote Waipi’o Valley, the truth about cars is inescapable.

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79 Comments on “Review: 2008 Dodge Charger V6 vs. 1993 Toyota Camry...”

  • avatar
    Jordan Tenenbaum

    My friend recently rented an ’08 Charger, optioned the same way as yours. The engine was exceptionally bad; I actually think my Volvo is quicker. The thing that bothered me the most, was just how uncomfortable the seats were. They were flat as can be, my butt was constantly going numb.

    It was also extremely oafish, he was constantly having issues driving it in Philly and NYC. It didn’t seem to fit anywhere.

    The only thing that made the car worse was the droves of racers who kept trying to race him. That got old quick.

  • avatar

    The Charger is one of the few products Chrysler makes that I would buy. Just not the rental car versions they sell to Thrifty of course like Edward drove.

    The car is all about the HEMI, the performance and the style. The V6s are for girls and airports. No different than the Mustang except this is a muscle car that can haul your whole family and all of their stuff. I can’t fault Chrysler for it, it fits the mold and it’s a distinctly American car which I appreciate when most American cars have been neutered of their style and heritage or built to try and me-too the Japanese. All wrong IMO.

    A complete redesign has been under way for many years now. Whether or not Chrysler will survive to produce it is another story but I hope they do.

  • avatar

    The only Charger to get is a black SRT8 with the Hemi. The black nicely hides the ugly sheetmetal and obviously the Hemi isn’t overly burdened by the weight.

    If you visit the island of Maui, I think you’ll see that the Ford Ranger rules. And appliance-grade Toyotas, of course.

  • avatar
    Dave Skinner


    You seemed to like the Camry that Island Rentals provided you, how was the customer service? I was just looking online for a cheaper rental alternative during my Kauia vacation, and Island Rentals appears to be a good choice. It’s serendipitous that you’ve provided feedback on the rental vehicles I was just considering.

  • avatar

    I have always thought that Chrysler would be well served to dump its mid level V6 as it offers nothing to the lineup. I suspect its only real purpose, aside from plaguing unsuspecting rental customers, is to keep the lights on at an unnecessary assembly plant rather than pay the cost to idle the workers who build it.

  • avatar

    Was this an extra cost “wild car” option? If so, I’d have asked for the extra back.

    The Charger might actually make it 15 years, since it was engineered for police duty. Well, most of the car anyway. I’m not sure about the 2.7, which the cops are spared. And I’d have more faith in the five-speed auto that attends the V8 and AWD V6.

    Not that I have much cause for concern in the data. The 2005 LXs had a somewhat rough first year or so. But recently the 2005, 2006, and 2007 have all had roughly average repair rates in TrueDelta’s Vehicle Reliability Survey. (Not enough participants with the 2008 and 2009 yet–not as many enthusiastic owners online now that the new is gone.)

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    TriShield: Check the first name there. I’ve never been to Hawaii, nor rented a Charger.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Dave Skinner, Island Rentals treated us just fine. It’s very small. They picked us up at the airport in our rental Camry, and we dropped their driver off at the their office/shop nearby.

    Michael Karesh: no extra cost.

  • avatar

    I encourage every TTAC’er to read the Mary Walton book CAR, where the author was given inside access and documented the development of the 1996 Taurus. There is a chapter devoted to the project manager’s first drive of the then new 1992 Camry and his realization that the Toyota is big trouble for the Taurus four years away. The conclusion is that Ford was simply unable to produce a car as good as the Camry for various reasons – it seems that may still be true today for some of the Detroit 3.

  • avatar

    The 2.7 is in no way related to the 3.3. The 2.7 is an overhead cam engine, while the 3.3 is pushrod.

  • avatar

    Sorry, I’m guilty of skimming the article while at work. My apologies. It also wouldn’t let me edit my first comment.

  • avatar

    The stalactite-hard, all-black cave of an interior and the gun-slit windows quickly had me wishing I had scored a PT Cruiser. After all, we were here for the sight-seeing, not spelunking.

    Fun review. Loved this line in particular. I hate those gun-slit windows. What a stupid design.

  • avatar

    This Dodge Charger is the spiritual successor to the Blues Brothers’ 1974 “Shitbox Dodge” Monaco. For that reason only, I allow it to survive. Just not with the 2.7, with only belongs in the Avenger – which should be dead. Yuck.

  • avatar

    Buying any Chrysler Co. product built since 2004 without a HEMI, Cummins, SRT, Stow-n-Go, or Trail Rated badge is not a great idea.

    However, buying the base version of any Chrysler product is totally insane.

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    Droid800: Paul-
    The 2.7 is in no way related to the 3.3. The 2.7 is an overhead cam engine, while the 3.3 is pushrod.

    According to, the 2.7, 3.2 and 3.5 were developed as a higher output family of the 3.3 V6, and that the 3.3 was a starting point in the development process. Exactly what aspects survived, I’m not sure. But in any case, the 2.7 sure sounds like the 3.3, and it has a peakier torque curve.

  • avatar

    Was this based on the W124 they stopped building in the US in 1995, or the W210/211?

  • avatar

    The rental chargers are putrid – we had one in LA, and while I still like the looks, siting inside the car was sad (and even more so because the sheet metal is semi exciting…)

    These cars belong 5 years from now, with Large hemi engines supercharged within an inch of their life (after the depreciation has taken the teeth out of voiding any kind of factory warranty.)

  • avatar

    My company car is a 2008 Charger 3.5 plus with 4 speed automatic. After 10000 miles, I am getting really tired of the small windows. Going to the drive in window at a bank is a chore. Visibility out of the windshield is horrible. The car is too wide and I am still getting used to parking it in tight spots. The trunk opening is worthless for carrying anything of size. Most of my driving is on interstates in TN, IL and MO so it is not bad on open stretches of road, but it is really clumsy in urban traffic, slow to respond to steering and the accelerator at lower speeds. On the contrary my wife’s 04 Taurus SEL with the 24V v6 has great visibilty, feels much lighter on its feet, great trunk and rear seat access and has a better ride. The Charger is very stiff at speeds under 70-75 mph. Yes I know the Taurus is old but it looks and drives better than this Charger. I am still scratching my head over why the company chose this over a 2008 Taurus with the same MSRP.

  • avatar

    Not fair man – the 93 Camry was a ringer. Even against a modern-day Camry. :)

    The Charger becomes merely adequate with the 3.5L V6 in SXT trim (you can at least smoke spin tires), although the Auto-Stick slushbox is just as schizo. The 2.7L and steelies with plastic caps is about as demoralizing as a Dodge gets… unless you’re in a Caliber of course. I’m sorry for your pain.

  • avatar

    “And where will our rental V6 Charger be in fifteen years?”

    In the junkyard, partially stripped out, piled into a giant row of Chargers just like it.

    And in the import section, there sits 10 Sonatas and two Camrys.

  • avatar


    That V6 has no business being in a Charger :(

    OTH, I drove 3000 miles in my Daytona (5.7L Hemi) over the holiday, with a stuffed trunk, two adults, two teens and two drop kick dogs. Oh, and I have the Predator PCM tuner installed. Not only did we ride in comfort, but got 25mph at 80 mph, and the best part, I can smoke the tires from a 20 roll :) Try that in your rental Camry :)

  • avatar
    Paul Niedermeyer

    doctorno, strictly speaking, the LX cars received some components from the MB W210. Of course there was still a lot of W124 DNA in the W210, especially the multi-link rear suspension.

  • avatar

    I got stuck with a Dodge Magnum in Vegas a while back (I had reserved a compact and was “upgraded”). I couldn’t stand the visibility in that thing. I can only imagine how bad a Dodge Nitro is. I never even thought of trying to push its “capabilities” as I was certain it had none. By the end of the first day, I was wishing we had tried to trade with a family of four that had been given an “upgrade” to a Jeep Wrangler. It was obvious that there was not nearly enough room for them and their luggage in that vehicle; so, we might have been able to get them and the rental company to go for it.

  • avatar

    Was this based on the W124 they stopped building in the US in 1995, or the W210/211?

    It has a transmission (the five-speed), and a few rear suspension bits, from W210/211. That’s it. The “rebadged E-Class” is a meme started by lazy auto journalists and repeated throughout the internet—and it could die any time, thanks.

    The LX cars were more or less already done when the merger happened and share only a few components that were cheaper to obtain from Daimler (because they are old) than to engineer from scratch. They’re used as a way to say “Look, Mercedes did right by Chrysler” when in fact the Chrysler products that Daimler had the most say in were the Compass, Patriot and Caliber.

  • avatar

    If it (or any car) is available with a stonking great V8, then in my mind there is no V6 variant. I simply will it out of existence, my mind blocking out the lower price tag and presence of ex-rental shitboxes in the classifieds. I do the same with 4 cyl midsize cars, or non-turbo VWs and Subarus. See no evil, hear no evil, buy no evil.

    With 10K or less Hemis on the used market (you’d be clinically insane to pay MSRP and buy one of these new), why on god’s green earth would you even acknowledge the existence of a V6 Charger/300/Magnum/Challenger etc. ?

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    (after the depreciation has taken the teeth out of voiding any kind of factory warranty.)

    Driving it off the lot will do that job.

  • avatar

    While I find the Charger abhorrent, it’s not fair to accuse it of ungainliness relative to a car that doesn’t meet existing federal regulations.

  • avatar


    As the former driver of an Eagle Talon Tsi AWD and current driver of a Magnum R/T I couldn’t have said it better myself.


    Isn’t variable displacement great? I get about 24-25 mpg on the highway no problem. That’s the same number I used to get with my 1998 Subaru Forester S.

  • avatar

    @ Paul

    No, its not.

    The 2.7, 3.2, and 3.5 were all new designs. The development designs WERE based on the 3.3, but Chrysler did not use them for the production engines.

  • avatar

    I’d like to know where these “10K or less Hemis” are. Because they’re not on AutoTrader
    I’d be tempted to get a used V6 Charger if the price were right. I’d like a larger car than I have now someday.

  • avatar

    plee : Taurus is old but it looks and drives better than this Charger. I am still scratching my head over why the company chose this over a 2008 Taurus with the same MSRP.

    That’s because the old, beancounted-to-death, Taurus came from the Mary Walton Book, when Ford tried to have the kinds of goodies that was offered in the Camry. And your company probably bought the Charger over the new Taurus because Chrysler dug deeper into their profit margin just to dump the things.

    And for everyone who says the Charger is much more acceptable with a HEMI, an engine does not make a car. The motor is great, but its still wrapped around an LX-car.

  • avatar

    … an engine does not make a car. The motor is great, but its still wrapped around an LX-car.

    I personally disagree.

    For me, the engine is the biggest factor in why I buy a vehicle. It might be a stupid way to purchase a car, but I would take a Charger R/T over something like the Sable Premier every time.

  • avatar

    I’d pick the Five Hundred/Montego/Taurus/Sable over any of the LX cars. I said that back in 2005 even when the Five Hundred had its 3.0L V6 and CVT trans

  • avatar

    A couple of comments:

    * The 1993 Camry was a much better car than the 2008 Camry *is*. It was possibly the best Toyota vehicle ever produced that didn’t feature an instant-rust pickup bed.

    * Two posters have referred the Mary Walton book. It’s worth noting that the end of the book arrives as the highly-contented, art-car, $20,800 Taurus GL prepares to face off against the newly-decontented crapmobile $15,990 ’95 Camry. We all remember how that story ended. Ford was too ambitious and paid for it with their marketshare.

    * Remember, everyone, the V6 Camry was the hot rod of the day, and the 2.7 Charger is the cheapest/slowest variant possible. If you inflation-correct a ’93 Camry XLE V6, that money buys you a Charger R/T, which utterly and completely rapes this or any other Camry in history in a straight line.

  • avatar

    Chrysler’s 2.7L? Oh God, that thing should have been killed years ago. That’s the infamous sludging engine in old Intrepids/Concordes. I am pretty sure the only reason it still exists is because it is Flexfuel compatible (Read: CAFE credits)

    On Chrysler’s V6 lineup: In the beginning (1990), there was the 3.3L, 3.5L, and 3.8L. They were used in the LH cars (Intrepid/Concorde) and the minivans. The 3.5L no longer exists, but a severely updated version of the 3.3L and 3.8L soldiers on in the minivans and the Wrangler (I don’t know either). They’ve got timing chains and are OHV. Nothing fancy, no doubt, but easy to maintain.

    The 2.7L, 3.2L, and 3.5L were designed to REPLACE the old V6’s. They didn’t come from the old 3.3L/3.8L any more than any other manufacturer probably reuses designs from their old engines in their new one. The 2.7L, yeah, generally sucks. It’s not big enough for the LX cars (300/Charger), and used to have sludging issues. Apparently it’s a good option in the Sebring/Avenger because it offers a good fuel economy/power balance, and since World Engines suck, it’s probably a good option. The 4.0L V6 that’s in the minivans and the Nitro is also based off this series, but for whatever reason production of this engine is very, very limited, hence why we have seen so little of it. Sucks, because it’s probably Chrysler’s best V6 too.

    Have a blast.

  • avatar

    * The 1993 Camry was a much better car than the 2008 Camry *is*. It was possibly the best Toyota vehicle ever produced that didn’t feature an instant-rust pickup bed.

    I was really surprised by this too. Toyota and honda especially jumped the car during the late 90’s. Instead of making their midsize cars into cheap eurocars, they turned into reliable buicks.

    It’d be interesting for TTAC to do new vs old model comparison. Kind of like motivemag, but in the take-no-prisoners TTAC style.

  • avatar

    If you inflation-correct a ‘93 Camry XLE V6, that money buys you a Charger R/T, which utterly and completely rapes this or any other Camry in history in a straight line.
    – Jack Baruth
    That’s great! If I drag strip enough stop lights on the way home I can stay late to collect the overtime and pay off the extra cost of gas, and still get home in time to shampoo my chest hair!

  • avatar

    If it (or any car) is available with a stonking great V8, then in my mind there is no V6 variant.…

    There is a very good reason for these V6 variants. Fifteen years from now when its time to restore that HEMI Charger, the garden variety variants provide a great source of cheap body parts. Option laden six cylinder cars are like hitting paydirt.

  • avatar

    Too bad it wasn’t possible to nominate a specific model/engine combination for the 10 Worst list. The Charger 2.7L would have made it as it seems to be a fleet/rental special that no one in their right mind would ever want to actually own/drive for any length of time, i.e., one of those vehicles that are only bought by people for someone else to drive (like that Chevy Express 3500 commercial van that was reviewed a while ago).

    It would be interesting if Chrysler decides to come out with a Challenger 2.7L, a la the old slant-six, E-body “Deputy’ model.

  • avatar

    Anything is better than the Avenger.

  • avatar

    ajla : However, buying the base version of any Chrysler product is totally insane.

    So true, so true. Learned the hard way for me.

  • avatar

    doktorno :
    Was this based on the W124 they stopped building in the US in 1995, or the W210/211?

    Yes, the W124 was the 1986-1995 E-Class.

    The W210 came along next, and that was the basis for the current 300/Charger.

  • avatar

    Thought I would share…

    I have a 2004 A6 2.7T S-Line. Some middle-age former mullet wearer tried to drag race me off the line at a light in a shiny new Charger R/T. I beat him, by god knows how much. I know he tried because his tires were SQUEALING like pigs…and there was all the posturing, reving and grinning at the light. Lets assume that conditions were perfect and he got a run like consumerguide auto gets. 0-60 in 5.8 seconds. I have seen an avg 0-60 of 6.3 seconds for the A6 2.7T S-Line. Audi says its 6.0 flat…and I have no problem believing them. So 5.7 liters of displacement in the charger vs 2.7 liters in the Audi = a 0-60 time difference of less than half a second? They both weight 3000 pounds and the Audi has an AWD system on top of that which can lower the 0-60 time.

    Yeah, there IS a replacement for displacement. It’s called good engineering. The modern muscle cars are such a bore.

  • avatar
    Michael Ayoub

    AWD often helps 0-60 times.

    And the best is displacement with good engineering. :)

  • avatar

    AWD often helps 0-60 times.

    Not really. It’s not just the extra weight, but also worrying about the drivetrain when you dump the clutch/mash the gas/etc.

    And the replacement for displacement? It’s called forced induction …

  • avatar

    Your 6 cyl red Charger reminds me of an earlier experience of underpowered Chargers. In about 1978, my best friend’s dad found a 4 yr old red 74 Charger with only 10k miles on it. This was the last year of the real muscle Charger (to the extent such a thing still existed in 74). The catch: It was totally base. 225 ci slant 6, 3 on the tree, no radio, rubber floors, bench seat and fixed rear side windows. Heater. That was it. This was the most miserable old mopar I ever drove (and I LOVED old mopars). The poor engine was completely overmatched by the weight of the car and the too-tall gearing. Trying to get away from a stoplight without killing the car was a tough job. The car also cried out for power steering. This was the car that had muscular college students grunting with wide eyes while trying to park it. Miserable, miserable car. But drop dead reliable, which I suspect is the only significant difference with your test subject.

  • avatar

    I saw a green ’93 Camry (V6, leather, alloys, etc.) over the weekend, that looked like it had just rolled off of the assembly line. I almost wanted to carjack the guy to get that car. I’ve pondered buying one of those to replace my 13mpg pickup, but of course I’d miss being able to haul stuff.

    The last time I looked, older used Camrys were actually selling for less than comparable year Corollas.

  • avatar

    My dad drives a Camry of this vintage and I must say for what it is, it’s an excellent car. Easily over 150k miles on the clock and the only sign of its age is some slight fade in the paint and some chassis fatigue. The engine is still golden, unbelievably. I think this car was the tipping point for Toyota in the US, it hasn’t looked back since.

    As for the charger, I didn’t even know they came with a 2.7. I’ve only seen them with 3.5’s. In fact, I can’t believe they come with 2.7’s because the 3.5 isn’t exactly a hard charger (haw haw). I can only imagine how excremental the 2.7 must be.

    Well written, btw

  • avatar

    The 2.7 V6 is fleet only
    CommanderFish- Any reason why the 2.4L GEMA engine “sucks”? It’s numbers seem to be as good as any other 4 cylinder DOHC VVT engine.
    The 93 Gen Camry was the last wagon sold in the US too.

  • avatar

    I test drove a 94 Camry wagon a couple years back. It had the 3.0L V6 and gold trim. I forget how many miles were on it. It was up there, but not excessive. The car was really nice and would scoot like a scalded cat. Factory radio was utter garbage though.

  • avatar

    The 93 Camry is a great car. My dad still has one that is running.

  • avatar

    RE: 10K Hemis –

    Lately I’ve been perusing the used market for options for my next car. I’m sticking to a 10K ceiling, and for that I can get a lot of stuff – the most recent being just about any Chrysler product. They are hovering around the 10-15K range for Hemi items in good shape. Example – there was a loaded 300C on a dealer lot for less than 13K, and that was slightly high (on the same lot a 3.5L Magnum was 8500). None of them crack 15 if the sellers follow the market properly. Did I mention I’m Canadian? That’s right, those bargain prices are in Canadian dollars.

    RE: Apparent slowness of the Hemi

    I can’t agree more. My father drives a 03 G35, I drive a 91 Q45. Hopping from Dad’s G into a Challenger R/T was a surprise – the thing wasn’t any quicker than the old G with 260hp (the G with auto does 0-60 in 6 flat, about a tenth slower than the Challenger R/T with auto). It makes a shedload of grunt above 3 grand and feels pretty strong (big wave of power feeling, the hand of god as I like to imagine it, though it is suprisingly lacking in bottom end torque), but it has too much weight to move around to be seriously fast. I think the manual package with lowered final drive on the Challenger would fix that problem, but on the other Hemis you are stuck with the auto and the average performance.

  • avatar

    Massachusetts State Police and local law enforcers use the Dodge Charger.

    I think it looks fast and it is really fast.
    What is the purpose of a HEMI engine if Toyota Camry is faster?

  • avatar

    I suspect the Hemi equipped sedans as “slow” has more to do with feel than actual numbers. The weight to power ratio of the Chryslers is 11-1 or lower, so they should be pretty quick.

  • avatar

    So what is the point of the smaller engine? Better fuel mileage?

    Sounds to me like they should have stuck with one engine across the line like Honda did with the 1st Gen CR-V. You get the basic version with the basic necessities and if you want the fancy one you get ABS, better trim, better audio, etc.

    Oh wait – they made a four door didn’t they??? Wonder why they made a four door muscle car wannabe??? VBG!

    Anyhow one engine and make it a damn good engine…

  • avatar

    Those older 92-96 Camrys were better IMO than what they are offering today. You could get a wagon body style, they weighted 3000 LBS or less, had decent interior build quality and the trannys actually shifted properly. I rarely ever see one on the road as they have all rusted out in the salt belt of Upstate, NY but they were pretty good cars in there day. The 97 and up versions got progressively worse with no wagon style, sludging 4 and 6 cylinder engine problems, floaty mushy handling, bland styling and cheap interiors with a lack of colors other than boring gray or tan. That theme has continued to todays Camry which is a very mixed bag with numerous complaints on hesitating or failing trannys, to cheap interiors with poor fit and finish to electrical gremlins, troublesome radar cruise control, mushy handling, gas mileage that was under what the ratings claimed and lackluster 4 cylinder performance. Exterior styling is not very noteworthy either with a very plain exterior with no trim or sparkle, rental spec wheel covers, even on mid level LE V6 versions and that pig like front end treatment. It’s no wonder as 8 times out of ten there is a little old lady driving one of the current gen Camrys because the one they had years ago was reliable.
    As for the Charger, it was a valient attempt by Chrysler to introduce something other than the rental spec cookie cutter look alike generic FWD sedans we are plagued with today. Along with the 300C, the Charger offers a very bold and American sedan with plenty of interior room and a very smooth well controlled ride and available Hemi power that will blow the doors off most any Asian FWD sedan today and still get mid to high 20’s MPG in highway driving. The small windows are a bother to some and the seats could use a tad more padding but overall these are decent cars that seem to be holding up quite well at the law enforcement agencies. The 2.7 liter V6 has actually been downrated to 178 HP @5500 RPM’s for 2008 and 2009 so it went from bad to worse. The 3.5 liter V6 is way better but sadly is only available with the 5 speed auto on AWD only. RWD models must make due with the old 4 speed automatic.

  • avatar

    Maybe I can make this simple;

    1) With Chrysler in the trouble it is in now, is there not a greater risk in buying one, no matter what third party warranty you are sold

    2) As someone said, choosing the rental engine option on a performance car means you are brain dead

    3) The 93 Camry was soul and body, the 08 Camry has the soul part removed

    4) The R/T Charger is all about the perception of power, forget how it is delivered or packaged. If you cared about these why buy any Chrysler.

    5) Almost everyone would agree that comparing a V6 classic to a V6 toad, is a foregone conclusion

    I would rather have seen an article comparing the 93 Camry to the gutless wonder that Toyota produces today and what happened to Toyota in between. As far as 6cyl Charger of the muscle car era, to one of today, both bad, and we all know what happened inbetween at Chrysler, more bad.

  • avatar

    My main problem with the Hemi power is the lack of low end torque – an engine with more than 4 litres of displacement has no right to be sluggish at low revs. Especially a pushrod two valve per cylinder, something with that configuration should be a torque monster. They do make nice midrange and top end power, however. But then again I’m spoiled, I’ve driven a lot of good powerful cars over the years and ride a sportbike daily.

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    Too much damn weight today. End of story.

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    Entertaining review. Charger’s a fug.

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    What a great comparo! My thought was “exactly”.

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    Very interesting review.

    Speaking on the 2.7 V6 I can still remember Dodge’s early commercials regarding “cab forward design” and how their then spokesman Edward Herrmann lauded how they were able extract “200hp from a mere 2.7 liters.”

    Boy have times changed.

    Not surprising the much older Camry beat out the Charger. My mother has owned nothing but Toyotas (mostly Camrys…or Camries?). Her previous Camry was a 1995 LE I4 model and it ran great for over 200k miles. And even then it still rode and sounded like a Lexus (even being deceptively quick) and the interior/exterior materials held up well, even after my kid brother used it for college.

  • avatar

    these are really pretty cars, even the lowly ones. I dont need such a vehicle, so i cant tell you from personal experience what its like to drive one. However, it brings up a conundrum that I have been dealing with for a while. DO you buy a car for what it looks like on the outside, or what it looks like when u are driving it, including driving dynamics.

    I ask this becuse I drive a Golf, which has wonderful driving dynamics, is perfectly sized and useful to boot. However, it is not the prettiest car I have ever seen.

    Mustangs are sexy, this car is too. Lotus, ahhh. A few others. But is it better to be in a car that actually fits what you need and let the outside styling be second place, or do you buy the charger or the mustang, and look cool.


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    I never understand the claims that if you by a Chrysler product it’s such a great risk. I can see not liking their cars but if you do like them and bought one there’s no risk at all.
    They’re not out of business.
    Any mechanic can fix a car, you don’t need the dealer, you don’t even need the dealer for warranty work.
    I remember getting parts for Peugeots from the former dealer with a friend after they left the US. That was in 1996, Peugeot left the US in 1991.
    I’m sure if Chrysler goes belly up there will be plenty of service places for decades after they sell their last vehicle.
    jerseydevil- lucky the sexy cars are still pretty good. Unless there’s something you specifically desire, like say you’re a “dash stroker” and you want top grade interior materials or you want a car with great visibility or 50 MPG or blah,blah then go for a “hot” car

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    ———–But a V6 Charger is essentially useless as a practical every-day car. I desperately searched for some remnant of the DNA that made the W-124 Benz such a perfect sedan, but to no avail. The Charger merely is a pathetic mutation, a gutless Frankenstein.———

    I object to you putting the 2.7L charger against the Camry.

    First of all, the 2.7 is obviously a gas miser – Its designed for maximum fuel consumption. I know cause I own an S550 and a 2.7 Chrysler 300. The 300 and the Charger are the same virtually.

    In my city (NYC) where there is maximum traffic, you aren’t racing anywhere. Getting on the highways, the car is slow up until 4000RPM and then it is fast enough to 65mph (the speed limit) to be ok. My only problem is the transmission which feels unrefined.

    I think Chrysler should have skipped the 2.7 altogether and gone for the 3.5 and up.

    Thus far, my 300 has been a solid car and when I get rid of it in a few years for the new E-class, I will miss it.

    You compared a Charger to a Japanese econobox?

    The interior space of this car ALONE is enough to make me take it over the Toyota.



    I even put 22’s on my 300 to make it EVEN SLOWER HAHAHAHAHA

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    My issue with the Charger is it should have had another name. DCC was going to bring back the name of the Charger, and we get a four-door sedan that ends up a rental car? Sure the version of the SRT is a cool option, but why not as a two-door?

    At least they did the Challenger justice as I know that they realized their mistake with the Charger.

    Oh, the last car I rented was a strip down Mustang. While some young male family members thought it was cool, being strip down it was not at all what Ford should have built!

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    “The 93 Camry was soul and body, the 08 Camry has the soul part removed” The fact that you believed that the Camry had soul tells me how old you are. Toyota has always made the Camry especially starting in 93 faster than its counterparts and it still is. However 0-60 does not a soul make. Drive it again people. the fade in the brakes were horrible and mushy like they are today. Dont even get me started on steering feel cause there aint none now and wasnt any then. Does the 2.7 suck…yesss. Does a 4 speed stick sound old in 2009..Yeessss. so to me the article makes no sense. Compare the old Camry to the new one next time or not at all since no one in their right mind wants a 93 Camry now anyway. Next time just rent a car you can park.

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    Well, not as old as you think. I drive a Honda Accord V6 Manual Coupe, not a real mover, but has a tiny bit of soul. The 93 Camry has less soul, but having driven my friends 08 V6 Camry frequently it has, IMHO as much soul as a Buick. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and the Camry does not do it for me.

    As far a not wanting a 93 Camry, college kids still buy them

  • avatar

    joeaverage – That’s what Chrysler’s going towards. One V6 line of 4 different engine sizes is going to replace the current three V6 lines with 6 different engine sizes.

    Old Chrysler V6’s


    Phoenix / New Chrysler V6’s


    3.0L is for export only (markets with displacement tax), 3.3L is for passenger cars and minivans, 3.6L is for just about anything bigger than D-segment. As of right now, the 4.0L is only rumored for marine use… Very strange.

    Here’s the full list and page with info:

  • avatar

    Lichtronamo :
    January 5th, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    I encourage every TTAC’er to read the Mary Walton book CAR, where the author was given inside access and documented the development of the 1996 Taurus.

    An excellent book on development of a significant / important product, similair in tone to Kidder’s “The Soul of a New Machine.”

    For me, the ominous moment in Walton’s book was when the man responsible for the Taurus had to first fight for space for his team, and ended refinishing old basement offices. This for the vital revision of the car that saved Ford’s bacon in the 80s. Do you think the project manager for the Camry had to go and find office space? Or do you think they gave him keys to the executive washroom and said, “Succeed or we’ll take these away.”

    All that said, the second generation Ford Taurus was frankly a success and, as my kids approach driving, age, I can see myself with a small fleet of wagons purtchased at a whopping 2k each and with parts both plenty and cheap in supply. Quality can be judged in different ways. For effective transportation (not car lust), it’s either frequency of breakdown or cost to repair if breaks down. One hopes the imports don’t breakdown; one expects the american cars to. But a Taurus will be cheap to keep going.

    This from a guy who has both ends of the spectrum- A Chevy Venture people hauler (five kids) and an Audi A8. $50 to fix a busted power window in the Chevy, and I pray the power windows don’t go in the Audi.

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    Paul Niedermeyer
    the Charger’s 4,000lbs of pretense

    The base Charger clocks in at 3,727 lbs.

    Let’s try and be a little accurate.

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    I have been in a 1993 toyota camry and all i have found is shiny, hard plastics. The same stands true for a 2003 avalon. Yet i still have a 1996 blue park avenue, with 250,000 miles on it might i add, that could well be confused for a new car in terms of solidity and no real signs of wear and tear. and i feel the plastics in it are better than any toyota i have ever been in.

  • avatar
    Mr. Gray

    The Charger’s beefcake appearence screams “My driver has issues with the size of his thingie.” A Dodge Charger without a powerful engine is almost the most poser-ish thing I can imagine.

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    The 2.7 Charger is pathetically underpowered. The 2.7 is a pretty smooth engine, but not up to the task of hauling a car that heavy.

    W-124 DNA in the Charger? Yes. The triple-flashing turn signals and the cruise control that will downshift the transmission on downhill grades. Unfortunately, three flashes aren’t nearly enough for changing lanes with the poor visibility in the Charger. But, there’s no ABS, no side airbags, and no skid control.

  • avatar

    I rented a V-6 Charger in the DC area and made two trips to Norfolk, one including an incredibly nice state hwy with modest turns and corresponding scenery. I felt this car was one of the best Big-Three autos I have driven lately. A hot rod sports sedan it is not, but I felt its ride and noise levels were good, as was its fit and finish. Its acceleration was excellent for a large car that got about 30 MPG Hwy. My “driving” background includes a ’66 427 Vette and its slower brothers of the 70s — and even Navy Jets. But, I cannot see the sense in driving in mundane commuter routes with a 0-60 in under 6 seconds rocket. I would put this car against anything ‘practical’ we are forced to drive these days for the every day, bumper to bumper, slightly faster than moving parking lot driving to which most of us are sentenced these days.

  • avatar

    You are very very off my friend and clueless. The 2.7 liter motor is underpowered and available for fleet vehicles hence rental cars. The 3.5 liter motor is 250 hp and I own one. The 2.7 liter is 190 hp. I bought one because it was the only American car that was worth buying in 2006. Foreign is way too expensive and not worth the it. The trunk of the Charger is huge. The seats are comfortable and it is the best car for the money. Not had a problem and it looks great. Make your own assessment of the car test drive one off a dealer lot and you will see what I mean. A lot more car for the money than that piece of crap Camry (do they even make that car anymore? – hope not).

  • avatar

    Hah. It isn’t too often that two ideas spinning in my head come together as they have on this forum. I’m the proud owner of an I4 95 Camry with 200,000 miles that I’ve had for just over 6 years. No problems with the brakes or handling, not with the performance upgrades. I also upgraded the exhaust with a typical domestic set-up because I got tired of dozing off at the stoplights. Averaging 25.5 mpg city and 35 mpg on the hwy on a 800 mile trip to Yellowstone — with a roof-rack on top and at 70-80mph.

    Ironically, it was in Hawaii when I first saw the gen 3-3.5 Camry. Looked like a much more expensive vehicle than the $21,000 tag indicated.

    Not to forget the Charger, I find this argument kind of funny — comparing the old with the new, specifically these two cars. I am a fan of the new Charger, didn’t have a big problem with the 2.7 rental I drove a few years ago. I never dreamed that a Chrysler product would grab me that much. There is something a little desparate about this car and the 300 as being too little too late — as if Chrysler is trying to reward us for being patient for all those years but still not committing to making these cars their flagships.

    I wonder why they didn’t go all the way with a turbo-diesel, considering the German side of this car’s heritage?

    Anyway, I do agree about the reference to comparing the 93 Camry to the current models. The older Camry could steal the ES300’s thunder. The new one aspires to be an upscale Corolla. Too much plastic, no personality.

    I’ve gone around to a few “Sunday Sales” new and used lots just to check up on some of the Chargers, Challengers and Lexus out there. Then I look at my car as if it was one of the bunch. and ask if I would buy this car if I didn’t know the owner and saw it on the lot.

  • avatar

    I totally forgot that sitting in my mom’s garage in So Calif. is a gold 1993 Camry LE I4/automatic with about 36,000 miles on it. She stopped driving about five years ago (she’s now 86) but once a week she goes out, opens the garage door, and runs the engine for 15 minutes or so to keep the juices flowing. I drive it when I go visit and usually take it to the car wash for a bath. It’s like a time capsule car. Even though it just sits there and she still pays the tags and insurance, she refuses to let it go.

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