The Car Connection Dodge Charger Overview
The Dodge Charger is a four-door throwback—a V-6- or V-8-powered sedan with rear- or all-wheel drive. Related to the softer Chrysler 300 sedan and burnout-hero Dodge Challenger, the Charger is the most practical of the bunch—maybe.
With the SRT Hellcat model, the Charger has staked its claim as the fastest four-door in the world. Powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 making an astronomical 707 horsepower, the Hellcat is capable of topping 200 mph. Thanks to its superior aerodynamics, the Charger SRT Hellcat is faster even than its Challenger Hellcat sibling, even though the Challenger is a somewhat lighter car.
Dodge also offers the 485-hp, 6.4-liter normally aspirated SRT engine in the Charger SRT 392 and R/T Scat Pack models, the 370-hp 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 in other R/T models, and a 3.6-liter V-6 with as much as 300 horsepower in SE and SXT models. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and V-6 models can be ordered with all-wheel drive.
For 2018, Dodge created new model lines, SXT Plus and GT Plus, but didn't make major mechanical changes.
MORE: Read our 2018 Dodge Charger review
Today's Dodge Charger
After a major refresh for 2015, the latest Charger rolls with a new version of its Uconnect infotainment system, one that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Changes were more substantial in 2016, when the Super Track Pack became available for V-6 models, a new Plum Crazy "heritage" color was added, a revived Blacktop Appearance package returned, additional equipment was added on the SRT 392 model, and some new tech features like Siri Eyes Free arrived.
The Charger SRT Hellcat was 2015's big news and it continues to draw admiration today. With a supercharged V-8 under the hood, the Hellcat accelerates from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds, officially, on its way to a top speed of 204 mph.
The Charger SRT Hellcat has a Drive Modes feature, with Sport, Track, Default, and Eco settings that alter transmission shift points, paddle-shifter behavior, traction controls, and suspension. It also comes with a red and black keyfobs, with the black one offering reduced engine output to a mere 500 horses. There's also a Valet Mode, as there should be for a sedan priced over $60,000.
The Charger SRT 392 and R/T Scat Pack are no slouches, either, with a 0 to 60 mph time around four seconds. The SRT 392 also benefits from some of the upgrades made for the Hellcat version, while the Scat Pack gets big brakes and a starting price around $40,000.
The 2015 model year also brought revised styling inside and out to all Chargers, SRT or otherwise. Dodge managed to make a pretty significant change to the Charger's look without touching the middle of the car. The doors and body shell carried over, while the front and rear saw big modifications. The exterior is a combination of classic and modern influences, with elements from the Dodge Dart's styling. The interior features quality materials, and a fresh, modern look.
For 2017, the Charger added a Hellcat-inspired Daytona package and underwent a number of major infotainment updates like the addition of Apple CarPlay.
Dodge Charger history
The Charger name is steeped in history, though it was attached to performance two-door models for much of its past. The original Dodge Charger was built in 1965 as an option package for the Dart GT, then from 1966 to 1978 as a rear-wheel-drive, two-door muscle car. It was built in four generations over that 12-year run, though the second-generation car, built from 1968 to 1970 is the most recognizable. This version was, and still is for many, the iconic Charger. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Charger was available with the same engines as the Challenger, including the 426 cubic-inch Hemi, the 440 Magnum, and the 440 Six-Pack V-8s.
From 1983 to 1987, the Charger was re-envisioned as a compact hatchback, a popular seller spun off from Mitsubishi mechanicals. Whether or not it was a true Charger is still up for debate. From the end of that model's run, the Charger name was put on ice until it returned in 2006.
Based on the same platform as the Dodge Challenger muscle car, the 2006 Charger sedan made legitimate claims to the Charger heritage, with design cues that reinforce those ties. In base SE form it featured a not-so-muscular 2.7-liter V-6 engine paired to a 4-speed automatic, but still delivered the size and comfort of a large sedan. The SXT trim level substituted a 3.5-liter V-6 and added satellite radio, traction and stability control, a power driver's seat, and other options. The R/T package added a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine rated at 368 horsepower, a special AutoStick automatic transmission, a performance exhaust, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, power/heated front seats, and power heated folding side mirrors. The range-topping SRT8 featured a 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 with output of 425 horsepower. It was capable of hauling the big sedan to 60 mph in the low-five-second range.
For 2011, Dodge gave the Charger a redesign, with a more outrageous take on the exterior styling, combined with a more modern and contemporary dash that felt far better detailed that the old interior. Chrysler's Pentastar V-6 was introduced as the base engine, making 292 hp, while Hemi-powered models were bumped up to 370 hp and the top SRT8 was boosted to 6.4 liters and 470 hp. The Charger also became more tech-proficient, with a new Garmin navigation system, an in-car wi-fi system (using USB dongles), and some new safety-related systems like active cruise control and blind-spot monitoring.
More powertrain changes came for 2012, with V-6 models switching to a much more tractable 8-speed automatic transmission. The gearbox not only aided refinement but boosted fuel economy compared to the five-speed unit it replaced, managing up to 31 mpg on the highway. For 2013, Dodge added Rallye and Blacktop appearance packages that also included a 300-hp version of the V-6. The extra power came by way of a performance exhaust and cold-air intake. The same year, a Beats by Dre sound system was made available as an option, as was a black-painted roof, and the Garmin-based navigation system received an enhanced feature set.
For 2013, a new Charger AWD Sport edition became available on both the V-6 and V-8 (non-SRT) versions, with added power for the V-6 car and 19-inch wheels and tires. Dodge also launched the 2013 Charger Daytona edition with new graphics, a more aggressive exterior look, and small tweaks to gearing and suspension for sharper performance.
For 2014, a new Redline Package emerged with a tuned version of the 3.6-liter V-6. It was packaged with a few styling tweaks and an upgraded audio system.