2010 Dodge Charger Review

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The Car Connection
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The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Bengt Halvorson Bengt Halvorson Deputy Editor
March 9, 2010

The 2010 Dodge Charger is starting to show its age against many of its rivals, but its muscle-car appeal and low pricing will never get old.

TheCarConnection.com has read a wide range of reviews that evaluate the 2010 Dodge Charger, then handpicked highlights for this conclusive full review. TheCarConnection.com's editors have also driven several versions of the Dodge Charger, including the HEMI-powered Dodge Charger SRT8, to provide you with a definitive Bottom Line opinion of this reinvented muscle car.

The latest incarnation of the Charger is entering its fourth year of production, though lack of sales is not something Dodge is worried about. This can be attributed to its unique styling, which still looks fresh after all these years. The 2010 Dodge Charger has hardly changed, maintaining its sleek profile, which blends modern sedan styling accents with a traditional muscle-car appearance.

The Dodge Charger is offered 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 moves the SE model, while a 3.5-liter, 250-horsepower V-6 is optional for the SE and standard on the SXT. For those who are a little more performance minded, the Dodge Charger R/T comes with a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 that pumps out 368 horsepower and can rocket the car from 0-60 mph in just six seconds. Last year saw the introduction of variable valve timing and a revised optional all-wheel-drive system for the Charger R/T that helps boost fuel economy. As the ultimate edition of the Dodge Charger, the SRT8 is offered with a pavement-pounding 6.1-liter HEMI V-8 that produces 425 horsepower. Engineered by Chrysler's Street and Racing Technology (SRT) group, the STR8 gets to 60 mph in about five seconds, while still being complacent enough to be used as a daily driver. Last year, Dodge boosted the fuel economy of the model.

Against the decades-old heritage of American muscle cars, the Dodge Charger is surprisingly good at going around corners—just one of the many points it has to boast about. It sits on top of a chassis that was developed when Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz were still together, which serves the Charger well, offering good handling and acceleration. The Dodge Charger SRT8, for example, has a sub-14-second quarter-mile time and a top speed in excess of 150 mph. Performance is adequate with even the base V-6 engine, though it’s really not that much more fuel-efficient than the bigger V-8s.

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Anti-lock disc brakes and stability control are standard on all Chargers except for the base SE, which has them as options. Side curtain airbags have been made standard for 2010, but front-seat side airbags are no longer available for 2010. The Charger has a mix of good and bad crash-test ratings; it's been rated "good" for frontal impact but only "moderate" for side impact from the IIHS. However, the federal government gives it five stars in all frontal and side tests.

The 2010 Dodge Charger is equipped decently but not lavishly. Standard features include air conditioning, a tilt/telescoping steering column, and a sound system with CD player and auxiliary iPod jack. The Dodge Charger SE also gets standard aluminum wheels and upgraded interior accents. Standard LED lighting for the cup holders provide extra illumination inside the cabin, while the SXT gets optional LED illuminated door map pockets (these pockets are standard on the Charger R/T).

Among the available features offered by the Dodge Charger lineup are heated seats, the MyGIG hard-drive entertainment package, and the superb Sirius Backseat TV system that brings live satellite television into the Charger.

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2010 Dodge Charger

Styling

The 2010 Dodge Charger matches its daring exterior with a dashing interior.

Reviews read by TheCarConnection.com show that this retro-styled four-door sedan is still a hit after four years on the market. The Dodge Charger was one of Detroit's first modern reincarnations of the late 1960s muscle cars that scorched drag strips so many decades ago. The nostalgic appeal of the Charger runs deep and is only boosted by the tasteful modern styling updates.

There’s no doubt that the 2010 Dodge Charger is bulky. Edmunds explains that it’s "based on the same Mercedes-derived platform used for the Chrysler 300 and [now discontinued] Dodge Magnum. As such, the Charger has four doors and is a bit larger than the average midsize sedan." According to Edmunds, the Charger is available in several varieties, which lists the available trims as "base SE, well-equipped SXT, the performance-themed R/T and the powerhouse SRT8." The exteriors of the first three trims are largely the same, though Cars.com finds that the Dodge Charger SRT8 is distinguished by "a hood scoop and a more aggressively styled lower bumper with air inlets"—styling cues that "makes it look angry." Car and Driver reviewers contend that the Dodge Charger features "polarizing styling," while Autoblog claims that "the look has grown on people over the years and remains fairly unique." It's similar to the rest of the Chrysler range, though Edmunds reviewers point out that "its front-end styling is much more aggressive than that of its siblings, and the rear roof line slopes downward in a coupe-like fashion."

Despite all the power offered on old muscle cars, much thought was rarely given to their interiors. In this latest incarnation, Chrysler knows that in order to move the 2010 Dodge Charger off dealer lots, they have to feature a well-planned, attractive interior. Across the board it seems that they've managed it, with Autoblog reviewers lauding the "design and control layout, which was straightforward and functional." ConsumerGuide also likes the interior, highlighting that the "instruments are large and easy to read, but the steering-wheel rim cuts into view of turn-signal arrows and gauges for fuel and temperature." Car and Driver reviewers also hail the "easy-to-use controls" and note that "cup-holder lighting" is maintained. Motor Trend reviewers stretch it a little, claiming that the 2010 Dodge Charger's "interior provides the feeling of a sophisticated fighter plane cockpit," right down to the instrument cluster and shifter knob that "resembles a fighter pilot's joystick."

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2010 Dodge Charger

Performance

Performance is only worthwhile with the V-8s, but the handling is sharp, considering it's a muscle car.

The 2010 Dodge Charger is relatively docile in V-6 form despite its strong muscle-car looks. For a proper muscle-car driving experience—like the one in "The Dukes of Hazzard"—you will need to get either the R/T or SRT8 versions.

The 2010 Dodge Charger offers four very distinguishable engines. TheCarConnection.com is unimpressed with the V-6s through its research and driving experiences, though they find that the V-8s offer enough kick. ConsumerGuide states that the “SE models have a 178 horsepower 2.7-liter V-6 engine," while "optional on SE and standard on SXT is a 250 horsepower 3.5-liter V-6." Looking at the V-8 models, ConsumerGuide tells us that the "R/T models get a new version of Chrysler's 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with 370 horsepower, an increase of 30 horsepower over 2008 models," and the Dodge Chrysler "SRT8 has a 425-hp 6.1-liter Hemi V-8." Cars.com agrees with them, highlighting that "the SRT8 is never at a loss for power, and Dodge claims that it can run from zero to 60 mph in a little more than 5 seconds." Car and Driver says that "acceleration with the 2.7-liter is tepid, as the engine works hard to move the Charger," though Autoblog finds that "the 3.5-liter provided perfectly adequate acceleration." Car and Driver notes that "the larger V-6 moves the Charger with much more spirit than the base engine, but it will seem a bit slow if one samples the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8."

The benefit of all-wheel drive on a mid-size sedan is not lost upon reviewers when looking at the 2010 Dodge Charger. ConsumerGuide reviewers report that the base V-6s come with "a four-speed automatic transmission...while all-wheel drive versions have a five-speed." Cars.com is a fan of the V-8 transmission, hailing it a "cooperative five-speed automatic transmission that features Dodge's AutoStick clutchless-manual mode." On the other hand, they also find that "while the response is quicker than what you might find in a model of lesser performance, there's still too much shift lag." Automobile Magazine concurs, claiming that "the only real letdown is the five-speed automatic, which has a limited, awkward manumatic function and no sport mode. If only we could order this beast with the Challenger R/T's six-speed manual."

Fuel economy is where the Dodge Charger really lets everyone down; even though there are many modern updates on this latest model, fuel economy is still abysmal. The rear-wheel-drive 3.5-liter V-6 gets an estimated 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, which is the same as the V-8-powered Dodge Challenger. All-wheel-drive versions of the Charger suffer from even worse fuel economy.

It’s widely known in automotive circles that muscle cars lack the refined handling of German sports cars. The 2010 Dodge Charger does not conform to the heritage of muscle cars and wins over reviewers with impressive handling. ConsumerGuide finds that "these big cars aren't nimble in quick direction changes, but they have fine balance and grip in turns." ConsumerGuide is a fan of the ride, calling it "generally smooth and composed," whereas Automobile Magazine deems it "rough, but never unbearably harsh." Cars.com is a bigger fan with the Dodge Charger featuring "a more comfortable ride than expected—even on older, worn-out roads." Autoblog contends that "the only real complaint would be the no-feedback steering," whose "weighting seems entirely relative to the steering angle and not the cornering force." In terms of braking power, Cars.com is pleased to report that "these performance brakes shed speed quickly at the lightest touch of the brake pedal."

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2010 Dodge Charger

Comfort & Quality

The 2010 Dodge Charger offer materials that are worthy of a car in this segment.

TheCarConnection.com finds the 2010 Dodge Charger features an interior that’s highlighted by comfortable seats and an impressive level of quality from the designers at Chrysler.

Reviewers on the whole are generally quite impressed with the seating arrangement inside the 2010 Dodge Charger. The vehicle is capable of seating five with Cars.com, claiming that "the seats have power adjustments and are quite comfortable." ConsumerGuide concurs, giving the Dodge Charger high marks for its "spacious" front seats, with "ample headroom and legroom" and "generously sized seats." The rear seats aren’t bad, with Autoblog noting that "the Charger's long 120-inch wheelbase means that back seat passengers have ample leg room and can stretch out in comfort. The only downside is that the sloping roofline may cut into some occupants head room compared to a 300." Autoblog observes that "for those whose proportions of leg-to-arm length might not match whatever standard size the interior designers selected, there is also switch on the side of the driver's seat that allows the entire pedal cluster to be adjusted for distance from the seat."

The 2010 Dodge Charger also allows for quite a bit of storage space because of its large design, especially compared to some big-name competitors. Cars.com says that "if you need room to carry large items, the Charger also has a standard 60/40-split folding backseat, a feature that's less common in large cars than it is in compact and midsize models." ConsumerGuide is of the mind that the Dodge "Charger's trunk is usefully sized and shaped, but a relatively small opening complicates loading bulky objects. The standard split-folding 60/40 rear seatbacks enhance versatility, though they don't lay completely flat."

Chrysler cars are usually not the hallmark of interior materials though the 2010 Dodge Charger does dissipate that belief. Cars.com claims that the "Charger has one of Dodge's better interiors in terms of materials quality, panel fit and refinement of the controls." There’s disparity between reviewers, however, as Automobile Magazine argues the SRT8's interior is not "as good as it should be for $44,000," but ConsumerGuide finds the materials "are appropriate for these prices, with solid feel and a nice array of padded surfaces." Autoblog sorts it out, casting its vote in favor of appropriate quality by insisting that "the materials on the dashboard are now soft touch with a more appealing texture. There are no more visible edges with unfinished parting lines from the molds. We're still not talking Lexus or Infiniti here, but this is a Dodge at a Dodge price point.”

The 2010 Dodge Charger deals with interior noise well. Cars.com finds that it is "rather quiet in the cabin, with only a hint of wind noise," whereas ConsumerGuide claims that "wind rush [is] evident at highway speeds."

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2010 Dodge Charger

Safety

For its size and posture, the 2010 Dodge Charger does not have reassuring safety.

Anti-lock disc brakes and stability control are standard on all Chargers except for the base SE, which has them as options. Side curtain airbags are made standard for 2010.

The Charger has a mix of good and bad crash-test ratings; it's rated "good" for frontal impact but only "moderate" for side impact from the IIHS, but in NHTSA crash tests, the 2010 Dodge Charger shines. According to TheCarConnection.com's research, in federal government tests, the 2010 Dodge Charger earns perfect five-star ratings in both of the front impact tests, as well as five stars for side rear passenger impacts.

In terms of safety equipment, the Dodge Charger does bring forward some worthwhile features as standard on the high-performance models. Cars.com finds that the "Charger SRT8 has standard antilock brakes and an electronic stability system (they're a $1,025 option for the base Charger). Side-impact airbags for the front seats and side curtain airbags are grouped together as an option too." Reviewers on the whole like the stability system, as Autoblog claims that it "actually lets the rear end slide out just a bit around corners before gently nudging it back without ever jerking the chassis around," allowing for a little winter-time fun.

A main factor that detrimentally influences the Dodge Charger in the safety category is driver visibility. The reviews read by TheCarConnection.com point out that from the driver’s seat, there are various problem spots. Cars.com finds that "the position of the rearview mirror and the car's upright A-pillars impede visibility when you're driving on curvy roads." Autoblog states that "the relatively upright windshield means the leading edge of the roof extends forward quite a bit. If you are at an intersection where the stoplights hang over the center, you may need to lean forward to see them," whereas ConsumerGuide notes that the "thick front roof pillars obscure [the] view to front corners."

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2010 Dodge Charger

Features

The wide range of options offered on the 2010 Dodge Charger makes a huge difference to the price of the car, which could possibly run over $40,000.

The 2010 Dodge Charger, like most new Chrysler vehicles, is packed with standard features. However, it must be noted that options are also vast enough to significantly affect the price of the car.

ConsumerGuide finds that all versions of the 2010 Dodge Charger get features like "air conditioning, interior air filter, tilt/telescopic steering wheel, cruise control...AM/FM/CD/MP3 player," and full power accessories. Cars.com says that with the Dodge Charger SXT, a "Boston Acoustics speaker system" is standard, while the Dodge Charger R/T and SRT8 get "heated front seats [and] a power passenger seat," states ConsumerGuide.

One could spend a while on the options brochures. Cars.com notes the availability of "an optional entertainment and navigation system," while Autoblog highlights "the navigation system in the Charger [is] also equipped with Sirius traffic information." ConsumerGuide claims "newly available on the 2009 Dodge Charger is Chrysler's uconnect multimedia suite, which can include a wireless cell phone link, 30-gigabyte hard drive for storing digital music and picture files, and a navigation system with real-time traffic information." Kelley Blue Book likes the option of "a power sunroof." Also, there's a Sirius Backseat TV entertainment system that beams live satellite TV straight into the rear cabin of the Dodge Charger.

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Styling 8
Performance 8
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