Until 1966, Dodge’s
The introduction of the Charger marked a new era. In 1964 Chrysler had come out with a 7.0-liter V-8 engine that was also used by Dodge; the powerplant was enormously popular with street and drag racers, but in Dodge’s square-bodied lineup, it didn’t draw many stares. The ’66 Charger changed all that: its fastback styling fitted neatly in the muscle-car craze, while its V-8 Hemi engine put the Charger in the racing history books.
The return of the Charger nameplate in 2006 has had a similar effect for the Dodge brand of today. Built on the Chrysler 300/Dodge Magnum platform, the modern Charger looks like a coupe, but has four doors. Those extra doors have been controversial from day one, but Dodge seems to have gotten it right enough for buyers. The proof? The Charger has logged some 159,000 sales since it hit the road in July of 2005.
Maybe that has something to do with the TV effect. Dodge says that more than 65 percent of Americans recognized the Charger name before it was reintroduced. That’s most likely, we think, because the Charger played a major part in The Dukes of Hazzard TV series, which ran from 1979 until 1985, and was reborn last year on film.
Without the help of Daisy Duke or her cousins, we drove the newest edition of the Charger, the Daytona R/T. And even in these days of rising gas prices, the joy of tooling around in an R/T overrode the pain at the pumps.
With a length of
200.1 inches, and a wheelbase of
2007 Dodge Charger
Even a year after the Charger hit the market, it still drew eyeballs by the dozens, with its blacked-out decklid, Daytona lettering, and the black rear spoiler. It didn’t turn heads on looks alone, though. What’s more recognizable than a real V-8 rumble? The Charger’s engine note could have been taken right out of the muscle car era, which shows that the engineers did a great job in sound tuning.
Our exhaust note came courtesy of the Customer Preferred Package 28V. The package also includes an upgraded suspension with self-adjusting shock absorbers and 235/55R All Season Performance Tires for the standard 18-inch aluminium wheels. Outside, it adds the trunk lid spoiler, R/T badge, painted HEMI engine cover, and HEMI decal on the hood. For the new model year, 20-inch wheels with 245/445ZR20 rubber are available for the Daytona R/T.
The interior of the Daytona R/T gets the perforated seats with leather/suede covering, heated and power front seats and power adjustable pedals. Pity though, that the well-designed interior gets no upgrades in this version: everything is the same material as in the base model.
All about the engine
The engine is why you want to drive a Daytona Charger – why everyone else craves a turn at the wheel. The 340-hp, 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 that powers the Charger Daytona R/T drives the rear wheels to blazing, thrilling speeds, with a soundtrack fitting the Sixties.
You can drive the Daytona R/T the way it looks, enthusiastically and sporty. Even so, it’s more comfortable than the muscle cars of the past and the cockpit looks and feels contemporary too. An ideal seating position behind the steering wheel is easily found with its tilt/telescoping feature, while the leather/suede bucket seats holds you nicely in place.
2007 Dodge Charger
Although the steering is not as sharp as it could be, it is obedient and precise, if not too quick. The suspension is really nicely tuned: it is firm, but also very forgiving. On a twisty road at a higher speed, the Charger never felt like we were overdoing it. And when you reach its limits, the car warns you with a bit of movement of its tail that is easily corrected.
Even with the five-speed automatic transmission, it’s easy to use all the engine power and more important, to spin the wheels at stop signs. The AutoStick transmission downshifts quickly and does not require a heavy foot to do so.
It’s a good thing the HEMI
comes with MDS, Chrysler’s Multi-Displacement System that seamlessly deactivates
four cylinders in a blink of the eye to improve fuel economy when power is not
needed. (Chrysler claims a 20-percent improvement.) So you can have it both
ways: accelerating from 0-
But you’re not buying a Charger, much less a HEMI, with gas prices in mind. You can drive this Charger for your daily commute, but it’s best approached as the reincarnation of the muscle cars that beguiled a generation.
You can always buy the V-6, right? Wrong.
2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T
Base price: $30,890
Engine: 5.7-liter V-8, 340 hp/390 lb-ft
Transmissions: Five-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Length x width x height: 200.1 x 74.4 x 58.2 in
Wheel base: 120.0 in
Curb weight: 4031 lb
Fuel economy (EPA city/hwy): 17/25 mpg
Safety equipment: Dual front airbags; anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control
Major standard equipment: Air conditioning; power windows/locks/mirrors; AM/FM/CD/Sirius; eight-way power front seats; power adjustable pedals
Warranty: Three years/36,000 miles
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