2005 Dodge Charger Review

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High Gear Media Staff High Gear Media Staff  
October 3, 2004

Dodge is revving up an all-new Charger for next spring, the latest in a series of high-profile revivals from Detroit, following the return of the Pontiac GTO and the new-is-old, retro-styled Mustang.

The Charger, which was shown in concept form at last January’s Detroit Auto Show, aims to capture the hearts of Baby Boomers and younger drivers alike who relish a return to the era of the muscle car. And though a relatively tame version of the ’06 Charger will be offered with a 3.5-liter V-6, the emphasis will be on performance.

Expect Chrysler to focus its marketing campaign on the 5.7-liter HEMI-powered version. And well-placed sources hint that the even more beefy 6.1-liter, 400-horsepower HEMI is a “natural” to follow, though probably not immediately after the car’s spring ’05 launch.

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The original Charger, introduced in 1966, went through a series of changes — and powertrains, including the original, 426-cubic-inch Hemi V-8 that was one of the fastest street-legal engines ever sold in the United States. Like other American muscle cars, the Charger didn’t survive the oil shocks of the 1970s, at least not in its original form. In the 1980s, Lee Iacocca’s struggling Chrysler rolled out the Charger badge in an effort to attach some appeal to a series of beefed up subcompacts.

If past is prologue, Dodge is likely also to follow up with an array of accessories, from appearance packages to performance parts. The automaker has already begun making forays into the profitable aftermarket for other models in its line-up, and it would be natural to appeal to this need-for-speed with the reborn muscle car.

Indeed, officials at DaimlerChrysler’s Chrysler Group are confirming plans to take the Charger to the track next February. A NASCAR version will make its tire-spinning debut at the series-opening race in Daytona.

Meanwhile, the new Charger is expected to make an appearance in the upcoming remake of the old TV series, The Dukes of Hazzard. But the good ol’ boy Duke brothers are still expected to drive around in the original Dodge muscle car.

The concept version shown in Detroit last winter kicked off a fair share of controversy, especially among those hoping for a more retro-looking design, in line with what Ford has done with the restyled, ’05 Mustang. But Chrysler officials decided to go for a look representing what they felt was where the Charger would have evolved today.

General Motors adopted a similar strategy when it revived the Pontiac GTO last year. But while fans heralded the Australian-made muscle car’s performance, they lamented its lackluster styling. GM insiders report they are working on a significant re-skinning of the GTO that could hit the streets by 2007.

Dodge planners haven’t finalized pricing on the ’06 Charger, though sources suggest the new car should stay in line with the division’s new Magnum. The HEMI version of that wagon goes for around $30,000, or $3000 less than the Chrysler division charges for its big V-8-powered 300C sedan.

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