By on August 24, 2015

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At virtually every other automotive outlet for whom I’ve worked, the communication between writer and reader has been a one-way street. I give advice. The reader listens. Whether the reader acts on that advice is completely unknown. Also, the reader never gives advice to the writer.

Thankfully, TTAC is different and the Best & Brightest will drop a nugget of information in the comments that I can use not only in my professional life, but in my personal life as well.

And it’s on this advice that I drove 2 1/2 hours to Moncton to drive a 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Road and Track.

Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 12.08.08 PM

Thanks to BunkerMan’s information, I sent an email to Moncton Chrysler Jeep Dodge to make sure the car was in stock. It was. Within 30 minutes, my girlfriend and I planned a day trip to Moncton.

I know I can be long winded, so I am going to keep the rest of this short. Here were my impressions of the car and new-car shopping in general.

The Charger R/T sounds incredible, but the Road and Track package takes away a number of characteristics from the Charger SXT Rallye V6 AWD that made me fall in love with the LX-platformed four door.

  • The R/T Road and Track comes with 20 inch wheels as standard with minimal tire sidewall, hampering comfort.
  • “Sport Suspension” appears on the order sheet.
  • The plush seats are gone, replaced with sport buckets that mimic school bus benches in their comfortability. This is exacerbated by the fact I couldn’t get the power-adjustable seat low enough.
  • There’s not much more in the power department over the V-6, though there isn’t a massive jump in price either.

That said, there is a Scat Pack nearby now, but I’m fairly certain based on my test drive of the R/T Road and Track that the more performance-oriented model won’t be for me either. It looks like I’ll need to find a normal R/T before making any decisions.

Besides the car itself, the dealership itself turned me off from the whole car shopping experience. I don’t mean the salesman. Paul was a stellar guy and far from pushy. He knew I wouldn’t be buying that day but still catered to my needs. The dealership was holding a “sale weekend”, complete with plexiglass cash grab booth and a showroom floor — devoid of cars — covered in “free” household appliances.

I thought we were beyond this kind of sales gimmickry, but it looks like I was wrong.

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75 Comments on “In Which An Editor Goes Car Shopping...”


  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Reading between the lines, it sounds like you’re wavering on the Charger thing.

    A cash grab booth and appliances on the showroom floor? How ridiculous.

  • avatar
    BDT

    Mark, I think you and I are in the same boat: big, fast, comfortable cruiser that won’t batter you on the daily grind. I had suspicions about the Track Pack ruining the ride, and it sounds like that’s the case.

  • avatar
    FractureCritical

    have you even cross-shopped any other brands?
    I realize it’s not the brash muscle car that the Charger is, but a scat-pack Charger is a bit less in cost from an S4 or an A6 3.0T with the sport package, but’s only marginally quicker and you’ll be able to bargain from a stronger posture on the Audi than the Scat Pack. I also guarantee you that there won’t be any cash grab booths in the Audi dealer.

    • 0 avatar

      There are duties applied to non-NAFTA imports in Canada that can make the German options incredibly expensive.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Go from a Dodge Charger to an Audi? Geeze, thats a bit of a jump. Both have the potential to be troublesome in the long term, but at least the Charger will be cheap to fix.

      Besides, the whole reason he’s wanting a Charger is because how much he liked the car when he first drove it. Although that one was AWD, he was planning to go with RWD when buying one if Im not mistaken. Why then compare a FWD-based car? If he doesnt end up with a Charger (or other LX), Id consider a Mustang and Camaro before an Audi. The Audi is a square peg that doesnt fit the round hole he’s trying to fill (gigidy).

      • 0 avatar

        “(gigidy)”

        Giggidy, indeed.

        Two door cars are not an option. If it doesn’t work with the Charger, we (girlfriend and I) have a shortlist of other possibilities.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          Ahh, didnt realize that about the 4-door. Looks like a 300C in your future…

          • 0 avatar
            Lack Thereof

            A quick glimpse of the inventory-search widget shows that the v8 300 C has even worse availability than the basic Charger R/T.

            At least there’s ONE Charger R/T, even if it is loaded up with $10,000 of extra options, at a dealer an hour outside of Quebec City.

            The nearest V8/RWD 300 C isn’t even in Canada at all… it’s in Boston.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      If he finds the Track Pack too stiff, an S4 really won’t make him happy.

      The A6 3.0T is a lot more expensive than any Charger R/T.

    • 0 avatar
      johnny_5.0

      I don’t personally consider the $10K (25%) difference between the Scat Pack Charger and the S4 small. The Audi is also significantly slower from a roll without an AWD wonderclutch launch. It’s a fine car and quite the looker, just an odd comparison for so many reasons.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    Why not go for a 300, Mark?

  • avatar
    JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

    Same deal when I drove a Fusion Sport (prev gen, new at the time). The ride was stiff and choppy, which is great on smooth, winding roads but terrible everywhere else for someone like me with a bad back. I didnt drive a non-Sport to compare, but when I drove a first gen SEL V-6 previously, it was more comfortable and had a better ballance of ride and handling, much like my current Taurus (before they got all soft and squishy in the 4th generation, 3rd gen wasnt bad).

    I dont blame Ford (or, in your case, Dodge) for the stiff ride of the sporty versions. At least theyre trying to make the sporty trim more than an “apperance package” as has been the case with lots of cars over the years. Its just not for me.

    If I had my choice of LX cars, itd be the 300C. I know you said you prefer the styling of the Charger over it, but I bet it has a nice ride and a plush, comfortable interior while not being Avalon-like boring to drive.

    • 0 avatar

      I actually had a first-generation Fusion SE V6 AWD. It rode beautifully. Now, if I can just find that with a V-8.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        *Removed Mustang suggestion*

        I have not heard, but will the new Lincoln Continental be RWD? Even if it is, I doubt they’ll drop the Coyote in it. Would be pretty sweet, though.

        • 0 avatar

          Likely not. The Continental looks like it’s going to be on a transverse-engined platform, possibly an extended version of the CD4 architecture that underpins the Fusion and new Edge and MKX. It will probably also have the 2.7-liter turbo EcoBoost and the 3.5-liter EcoBoost for engine choices. That said, if it looks striking, has lots of space and drives well, I don’t see why that would be a problem. It could wind up being like the new XC90, a knockout and highly-desirable product from another troubled brand.

      • 0 avatar
        Giltibo

        Want a V8 Charger? TORONTO

        There’s about 20 in the GTA area. INCLUDING 5 392s and 2 Hellcats!

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Sporty doesn’t have to be stiff. This is a common misconception that has to die.

      Good handling comes from maximizing grip at all 4 corners all the time. This comes partially from a lower center of gravity and more resistance to roll and pitch that would come from stiffer springs. But IMO most of it comes from good damping. Damping controls the body motions as well as the wheel motions, maximizing grip during transitions and bumps.

      The best suspension I have ever experienced was on my first Accord. It had Neuspeed springs which were about ~15-20% stiffer than stock and about 1-1.5″ lower (not much on those cars). The biggie though was the Koni Yellow shocks, which were, to put it bluntly, divine. I lived in NYC at the time, and those shocks made the car ride like an old Cadillac and handle like a sports car with my stock sized Kuhmo Ecsta LEs. It all came down to those shocks. Car absorbed bumps beautifully, and took up load confidently and without fuss.

      So these big rubber band tires and stiff suspensions aren’t necessary IMO. It’s just a shame cars have become so big and slab sided. Sport package is needed to make a lot of them look half decent.

      • 0 avatar
        JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

        Funny you should use the Accord as an example, I found the ride in my stock 1995 Accord LX to be very stiff and a lot more punishing on rough roads, especially compared to my Taurus. Now, my particular Taurus needs struts and springs (theyre just worn out, not broken, but due to be replaced), but it has nicely weighted steering and corners pretty well, all things considered.

        I drove a 95 Taurus as a company car in the early 2000s with pretty low mileage (60k IIRC) and I found the ride and handling to be outstanding. Its one reason I drive one today, although as mentioned, its a bit more bouncy than it otherwise would be due to having 195K miles instead of 60k and being 20 years old instead of 5 or 6.

        My mom bought a 1997 Sable GS in 1998 with 26k on it. I drove that car A LOT. It rode much nicer than an Accord, and while not exactly a sports car, it handled well for what it was. Not a lot of body roll, very controlable at higher speeds.

        The Accord does have a handling advantage, but a much stiffer ride as a result. Its not really worth the trade off IMO. I find it ironic that you claim it as an example of a car that doesnt have to ride stiff to handle well, when I find the opposite to be true. Ive had several Accords, the 95 being the newest (though I did put like 10k miles on a 99 LX 5 speed sedan), found the same was true of all of them.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          You’re both hilarious & delusional.

          Even by internet standards, you’re the only “person” I’ve ever known of who would dare claim that era Ford Taurus is 1/10th the vehicle that era Accord was in any respect, whether in terms of reliability, durability, fit/finish, ride, handling, etc., etc., etc.

          Keep making us laugh!

          Sing the virtues of the Pinto, next!

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            1995 sales:

            Taurus, 366,266
            Accord, 341,384

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The third gen Taurus wasn’t a bad car. It was unfortunately styled and priced too high. It was designed by committee and it showed. Instead of being like Honda, who addressed concerns with the 9th gen Civic, Ford decontented the Taurus and made it worse.

            It didn’t help that the XV20 Camry and 6th gen Accord came out at about the same time. Both were priced less and built upon successful formulas.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            From ’99 to ’03 Taurus sold over 300,000/year but I haven’t yet found yearly breakdowns for ’96-’98.

            Anyway, the ’96 transition to the lozenge shape doesn’t seem to have screwed things up too much.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Retail sales were down after going to the oval version. They also had to throw a bunch of money on the hood and decontent the [email protected] out of the car in order to make money/move units. Then, they let it die on the vine by not really updating it until The Way Forward killed off Atlanta Assembly and the Taurus in 2006.

          • 0 avatar
            Lack Thereof

            The 92-95 Taurus was, unequivocally, the peak of the model. There were some areas where it absolutely beat the Accord. Comfort and cargo space, absolutely. There’s the powertrain as well… you couldn’t get a V-6 in an Accord for any price until ’95, and their automatic transmission in the early 90’s was neck-snapping garbage.

            But in every category that the 92-95 Taurus was beating the Accord, the Camry was beating them both.

          • 0 avatar
            Lack Thereof

            If you want a detailed postmortem of the ’96 Taurus redesign, read the book “Car”, by Mary Walton.

            The author was embedded in the DN101 project, from start to finish. It does not paint Ford management or accounting in a particularly positive light. The project benchmark was the new-at-the-time ’92 Camry, but the budget for it was not given. They were mandated to use huge amounts of sub-par carryover parts. Then, for updated components, they struggled getting parts from suppliers that even performed as well as the previous generation.

            The DN101 design strategy was to target import buyers, but management nixed every import-targeted ad campaign, and ended up marketing the car to the wrong demographics.

            The car was made longer to increase legroom and differentiate it from the Contour, and then told the body stylists to use every visual trick they knew to hide the extra length. The stylists did their jobs too well… market studies showed prospective customers actually thought it was SMALLER than the old Taurus, which scared away all the customers they were trying to attract with the extra length in the first place.

            The Taurus price went up quite a bit versus the previous generation, largely because they were forced to include some mammoth and much-deferred retooling costs in the DN101 budget. With $2000 per car rebates, they were able to maintain their best-seller lead over the Accord in 1996, but only for that one year. At the end of ’96, a refreshed Camry launched with minor changes, a newly decontented base-model, and a corresponding price drop. That was the end of the Taurus’s best-seller run.

          • 0 avatar
            BDT

            We get it: you don’t like domestic cars. Also, care to back up the “1/10th” claim with some data?

          • 0 avatar
            Dan

            I had one of those early 90s Accords. I’ll give you the durability, it was built like a million bucks in an era when domestics were built like Volkswagens but that was the only thing it had going for it. It was uncomfortable, gutless, harsh, and noisy. Any perceived sportiness was a combination of road noise and a seating position directly in the floor pan – you’d literally be eye to eye with an Nissan Z today. The modern Accord is 6″ higher.

            The Taurus was a Cadillac by comparison.

        • 0 avatar
          sportyaccordy

          Maybe it’s all relative. I have a preference for control over comfort, and for me the Accord struck that balance perfectly. Even out of the box it would trail brake and rotate off the throttle, while still being comfortable on NYC streets.

  • avatar
    Undefinition

    Take THAT, guys who told Mark to just order the car he wants, without a test drive.

    • 0 avatar

      Crazy people, right?

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      I was about to say the same thing. There are cars I thought Id love, but when I finally drove one, several issues made it something I couldnt see myself owning. Previous gen Mazda6 is an excellent example. Had one as a rental, it was awful. As much as I liked the Mazda3 I had rented previously, I figured Id love the 6. Not so. At least it wasnt a Corolla (my only other choice that day).

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        For me, that was the 2015 Renegade; it was many ways of disappointing once I actually drove it.

        I’ve had the opposite experience, too. My Leaf and the 05 Scion xB1 before it were more impressive on the test drive than I expected.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    You’ve driven the V6 AWD with the soft suspension, and the R/T with the Track Pack. Even if you haven’t driven an R/T with the soft suspension, it seems to me like those two drives would give you the information you need to decide if the car is right for you.

    It also seems to me like you might like the 300. I’ve driven both 300s and Chargers of the current generation and the 300 felt like the more refined car. I think part of that was sound deadening rather than suspension tuning, but even so I like the 300 better as a cruiser.

    • 0 avatar

      I need to do my homework and find out if the suspension in the SXT AWD is the same as that in the R/T. I’m guessing there will be differences, necessitating a test drive of the R/T.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        By all means do the research. But I suspect you’ll find that any difference between the SXT and base R/T suspensions is limited to small differences to account for the heavier engine in the R/T.

        I’ve never driven a V8 Charger but the V6 and V8 300s feel the same from behind the wheel except for the powertrains.

      • 0 avatar
        Lack Thereof

        (edited to correct USD-to-CAD price comparison)

        Mark, if what I’m reading on Dodge’s website is correct, EVERY R/T comes with the “sport” suspension, not just the R/T Road and Track. The car you want just isn’t made.

        The only way to get a Charger with a V8 and the comfort-tuned suspension is to buy a Chrysler 300 C… which will add only about $1000 to the sticker.

      • 0 avatar

        @dal and @Lack

        I got some clarity from Chrysler. The suspension on the R/T Road and Track and R/T are different.

        SE and SXT has a Touring suspension or AWD Touring suspension, depending on driveline.
        R/T has a Sport suspension. (opt on SXT)
        R/T Road and Track has the Super Track Pak suspension.
        Scat Pack has Performance suspension.
        Hellcat has SRT-tuned suspension.

        So there are six different suspensions for the Charger.

        Holy hell.

  • avatar
    omer333

    If you do get a Charger R/T, I really hope that you’ll be taken care of if something breaks and you have to go through the warranty process on things.

    I’m finally starting the buy-back process on my Dart and I’m really displeased by a few things that have happened, but at least I’ll be able to wash my hands of the thing.

    • 0 avatar

      Was this a lemon law buy back?

      • 0 avatar
        omer333

        No.

        FCA has a policy that if a car goes in to a dealership for a major warranty issue, in my case the oil cooler developed a leak which caused sludge to build up in the engine, if it sits un-repaired for 30 days from the day it was brought into the dealership, you can begin the process for FCA to buy the car back from you.

        I went this route because the engineers at Chrysler wanted the engine cleaned out of the sludge (which the technicians at the dealership complied, but they could not get the engine completely cleaned) before saying a replacement engine should be sourced for the vehicle. It took around a week or a little longer before Chrysler said they would get an engine for my car. As of right now, there is still no new engine for my car.

        And honestly, I liked my car. I thought it was a great car. I was just really let down by how Chrysler handled things. I understand wanting to do the most cost-effective repair, but I feel like they really dropped the ball with me as a customer. I actually had to make several phone calls to their customer service hotline, asking for a manager for them to even want to do the buy-back.

  • avatar
    NotFast

    What is a “Moncton”? Sounds like something from a grammar lesson.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’ve been critical of my car’s build quality issues, but the ride on my R/T with 18 inch wheels and the “sport” suspension is awesome. My favorite part of the car. I cross-shopped with a 300c & Genesis 5.0 but the Dodge didn’t give up anything to the more luxury-oriented cars in that department.

    Oh, how I wish you could get the 6.4 with the touring suspension and 18s.

    It looks like all V8 civilian Chargers come with 20s now, so they might all ride stiff. Maybe check out the 300 and Genesis?

    Also, the extra power on the 5.7 V8 over the Pentastar really only gets noticeable over 65 and on hills. I like the V6 offered, but this might have been my only chance to buy a brand new pushrod V8 RWD sedan so I went for it.

  • avatar
    tbp0701

    I’ll guess that any Chrysler/Dodge dealership’s salespeople are fairly used to selling Grand Caravans and Jeeps to people who will take 60-72 month loans, while selling a $40K+ car that even most enthusiasts will find hard to drive regularly is an anomaly. (And I’m sure a similar atmosphere exists at about any brand’s dealers). So, there are still gimmicks, especially ones designed to get people into the showroom instead of e-mailing to get the internet price.

    At any rate, when I car shopped in 2012 I found the full gamut exists. The scratch off tickets are common (and every ticket’s an entry winner!). One dealer had a section with a small circle, webcam and strobe lights. Whenever someone bought a car, s/he was asked to go to the circle and dance. When I test drove a used G35 (a sedan with a manual) at a Chevy dealer, the salesman told me he knew nothing about the car and spent the drive complaining about his job. Then there was a 2008 Acura TSX I nearly bought, until I told the salesman I’d take the night to consider it, after which he heavily went into the “buy today or a wholesaler’s getting it tonight” approach and insulted my then current car (I didn’t fall for it). And I saw the other-salesperson-come-for-the-keys assist to create urgency a couple of times. On the other hand, I also found that there are dealers who work without such gimmicks, have salespeople who will answer questions in a straight-forward manner, will not be pushy and even know quite a bit about what they’re selling. And after all the test drives and finally deciding what I wanted, I checked the website of the best dealer I found, saw they had what I wanted in inventory, e-mailed to get a price and bought the next day.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Mark, since you drove the Pentastar V6 Charger with AWD and really liked it, why not get that one or perhaps the 300S with AWD? Being in Canada, AWD seems to be the smarter choice for you.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    Yes, “comfortability” is a word, but if you want the noun form of comfortable, you can just say “comfort.” K.I.S.S.

  • avatar
    wmba

    Didn’t we have a QOTD article not too long ago about how we, as car enthusiasts, get asked about what car to buy by some general friend or family member?

    And they never listen, especially when you happen to diss the car they had already picked out. No, they wanted confirmation of their incredible choice, not intelligent advice.

    These days I am more than happy to let everyone make their own mistakes. Because, if a vehicle you recommended and they bought has any kind of a glitch whatsoever, even five years down the line, guess who gets to bear the blame? It’s not logical, but that is beside the point to someone who is trying to make their problem yours. The whole process is just a waste of time for all concerned. Ask me how I know.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Nice piece.

  • avatar
    SC5door

    With Chrysler cutting the warranty and with them not exactly in good standings in many publications I’d pass and go for a Genesis.

    Seems that you can get the 5.0 with HTRAC outside of the US only…. :o(

  • avatar
    brn

    “Within 30 minutes, my girlfriend and I planned a day trip to Moncton.”

    She’s a keeper!

  • avatar
    countymountie

    Good luck on your search. I flew from Denver to Oklahoma City to pick up a 2014 Charger RT Max. It has a great ride even with the 20″ wheels. It even floats a little bit like the old malaise era boats I love.

    Why the distance? I wanted RWD which is hard to find since everything in CO is AWD. I also wanted one with something other than an all black interior. The tan leather is a great color and the deal on the car was incredible, about 8k off sticker at the cost of a $125 plane ticket. I already knew what I wanted though since I previously owned a 2012 clone. Had a family member check it out in person though before I took the plunge.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    It kind of seems to be you are doing everything you can to avoid buying the Charger. If the suspension is too hard, order one with 18″ wheels and it will ride much softer. I find your comments about the power differences between the 3.6 V6 and 5.7 V8 to be, well, odd. I drive a V6 300 quite often, along with a 300C once in a while, and the difference is not minor in any way. Both cars have the 8 speed auto and have 20″ wheels. Maybe you needed to reset the adaptives? If the V8 was driven “like an old man”, it will not show what it’s really capable of.

    When I had my 2008 Charger R/T (Not a Road and Track) it rode pretty decently, but my 2010 Challenger R/T rides a LOT softer. I was kind of surprised, it’s almost as smooth riding as my Ex-GF’s 2011 300C.

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