- Handles well for such a large car
- Raucous V-8 authority
- Muscle-car attitude
- Straightforward instruments and controls
- Thirsty V-8 engines
- Too-light steering
- Stiff ride
- No manual transmission, even for SRT8
Though it’s no longer fresh meat, the 2009 Dodge Charger sedan retains its stylish appeal for muscle-car enthusiasts—and the performance to match.
The Dodge Charger is entering its fourth year of production, yet it still sells well, and the styling looks both fresh and different than anything else. The 2009 Dodge Charger hasn't changed much on the outside, with just a new taillamp design and a move for the antenna to the rear window. Otherwise, the Charger keeps its sleek profile, which blends modern styling accents with traditional muscle-car details. The four-door sedan looks great from almost any angle.
The Dodge Charger comes with a wide range of engines and trim levels, and it appeals to a very wide audience. The base engine in this four-door sedan is a 2.7-liter, 178-horsepower V-6 that powers the Dodge Charger SE, while a 3.5-liter, 250-horse V-6 is optional for the SE and standard on the SXT.
The significantly more exciting Dodge Charger R/T comes with a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 that pumps out 368 hp and can hit 60 mph in just six seconds. New for 2009 is variable valve timing and a revised optional all-wheel-drive system for the Charger R/T that boosts fuel economy over last year's model.
For those with little regard for their rear tires, Dodge offers the Charger SRT8, with a pavement-pounding 6.1-liter HEMI V-8 that produces 425 hp. The SRT8, engineered by Chrysler's Street and Racing Technology (SRT) group, gets to 60 mph in about five seconds, yet—amazingly—still proves compliant in daily driving. The Dodge Charger SRT8 also gets a fuel economy boost for 2009.
The 2009 Dodge Charger comes well equipped, featuring standard air conditioning, traction and stability control with anti-lock brakes and Brake Assist, and a tilt/telescoping steering column. An AM/FM stereo is also standard, as well as a CD player and auxiliary iPod jack. For 2009, the Dodge Charger SE gets standard aluminum wheels and upgraded interior accents, such as illuminated front cup holders.
Inside, the materials were upgraded last year, and the redesigned center console wears well. Standard LED lighting for the cup holders provides extra illumination inside the cabin, while the SXT gets optional LED-illuminated door map pockets (which are standard on the Charger R/T).
The Dodge Charger looks good and has true muscle-car-like V-8 performance, but can it hold its own in the corners? The answer, based on repeated drives by TheCarConnection.com editors, is a resounding "yes." The Dodge Charger sits on top of a chassis that was developed when Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz were still together, and it serves quite well on the Charger. The Charger handles nicely and accelerates even better, with the Dodge Charger SRT8 offering sub-14-second quarter-mile times and a top speed of over 150 mph. Even with the base V-6 engine, performance is satisfying—though it’s not much more fuel-efficient than the V-8s. Steering isn’t the most communicative, but the Charger can be hustled around a hairpin corner with surprising ease.
The Dodge Charger lineup also boasts a filter for cabin air, heated front seats, a power passenger seat, full power accessories, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror. Expanded audio options for the Dodge Charger include the MyGIG hard-drive entertainment package and the superb Sirius Backseat TV system that brings live satellite TV into the Charger.
Safety remains an area where the 2009 Dodge Charger isn’t at the forefront. Electronic stability control is available or standard on every model of the Charger, but curiously side and side-curtain airbags remain optional on the base SE. Side impact remains an area of concern, with decent four-star results from the federal government, for front occupants but a "poor" rating from the IIHS.