2019 Dodge Charger Review

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Kirk Bell Kirk Bell Editor
October 19, 2018

Aging gracefully, the 2019 Dodge Charger can be a V-6 family sedan or a genuine American muscle car.

Time marches on. Cars get redesigned once, twice, three times. Most cars do, at least. The 2019 Dodge Charger carries on with the same basic platform it’s had since 2005. A styling update in 2011 gave it more of a Coke-bottle shape, and a 2015 refresh tweaked the front end, but it’s still the same basic Charger we’ve known and driven for more than a decade.

The Charger has remained relevant by bringing the power and by bringing back throwback muscle car editions that appeal to old guys but dumb it down for the younger set. It’s no straight-line special: it’s retro, but the 2019 Charger still drives well, and it’s unmistakably American.

We rate the Charger a 6.3 overall, adding points for its looks, powertrain performance, interior comfort, and range of features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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Dodge has reworked the Charger model lineup for 2019. It now consists of SXT, SXT AWD, GT, R/T, R/T Scat Pack, and SRT Hellcat. The SXT AWD is new, the GT becomes a V-6 model with performance looks, and the R/T Scat Pack no longer merits SRT consideration even though it still offers track-ready performance. Also for 2019, the SRT Hellcat gets the torque reserve and after-run chiller from last year’s Demon, the R/T Scat Pack and Hellcat add launch assist and a line lock, and the GT and R/T get steering and suspension upgrades to make them sportier.

All Chargers boast a Coke-bottle shape with drawn-in sides and bulging fenders that comes right from the 1960s. Only the SXT has a subdued look, while other models get immodest add-ons like a hood scoop, sculpted side sills, a decklid spoiler, and 20-inch wheels. Inside, the design is retro as well, though modern touches like touchscreen infotainment and a digital instrument cluster display bring it up to date.

Buyers have a choice of a V-6 or three V-8 engines, and performance is commensurate with the engine chosen. The V-6 is a competent engine and it’s paired well with its 8-speed automatic transmission. Acceleration only improves from there. The SRT Hellcat eclipses 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds (for those who can manage all that power without too much tire spin) and reaches a claimed 204 mph.

All Chargers handle well for their size and even the top models won’t beat up occupants on rough roads. The R/T Scat Pack and the wild SRT Hellcat ride on stiffer suspensions and arrest their momentum with Brembo brakes to give them some track capability. The Hellcat goes even further with adaptive dampers and drive modes that change its character from calm to calamitous. Take it on a track and the Hellcat’s tail wants to dance, its acceleration socks you in the gut, and its weight fights you in the corners.  

Interior space is plentiful in the Charger, though it’s not as big inside as its footprint might indicate. Front passengers have lots of elbow room, but rear seat passengers don’t get as much knee room or head room as other large sedan or even some mid-size cars.

All Chargers are well equipped, with such features as a power driver’s seat, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, satellite radio, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors, and alloy wheels. From there, the performance features just pile on.

Safety features do, too. Buyers can get blind-spot monitors and forward collision warnings with automatic emergency braking, among others, but the Charger’s crash-test ratings have fallen below the mean, a sign of its age.

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2019 Dodge Charger

Styling

The 2019 Dodge Charger can be stylish or subdued, but all models feature throwback styling to the 1960s muscle car for which it is named.

The 2019 Dodge Charger’s shape is as American as it gets. Its design is throwback to the 1960s but large wheels reveal its modernity. There’s nothing subtle here, but there doesn’t need to be, as the Charger even plays off its ’60s roots with loud colors and wild stripes.

We like the look and give the Charger a 7 for styling, the more outrageous the better.  (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The most striking view of the Charger is its profile, which gathers in the middle in an homage to Chargers of the 1960s and their famed Coke-bottle shape. The fenders swell from there, and the roof pillars are thick and pronounced. Up front, the Charger gets a wide, thin grille that changes texture based on model but is always black.

At the rear, the Charger features a ring of LED taillights and, on most models, a spoiler. The GT gets the tougher look of the high-performance models, though without the performance. Among those features are the hood scoop with air induction, a styled fascia, sculpted side sills, and the decklid spoiler.

Inside, the Charger has a retro-inspired look that is harmonious with both the exterior and the rest of the lineup. Subtly carved surfaces characterize the soft-touch dash. A large swath of thin matte metallic trim encloses a 7.0-inch instrument panel display flanked by easy-to-read gauges, as well the central infotainment system in either 7.0- or 8.4-inch sizes.

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2019 Dodge Charger

Performance

Charger V-6 models are entertaining, while the V-8s delight with sound, fury, thrilling acceleration, and even some handling prowess.

The Charger’s performance is predicated by cylinder count. Acceleration and handling are both respectable in V-6 models, but V-8s offer searing acceleration and higher and higher levels of grip with the more money you spend. We rate the Charger a 7 for performance based on its strong engines and responsive transmissions. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Charger’s base engine is 3.6-liter V-6 that delivers 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque in the SXT and 300 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque in the SXT AWD and GT. The V-6 is an entertaining engine that works well with its 8-speed automatic transmission. The 8-speed rifles through gears to pull smartly from a stop and provide competent midrange passing punch. The only negative is an electronic gear lever that can be hard to decipher.

Charger V-6 models handle fairly well, with accurate steering and controlled moves for their 4,000-pound curb weights. The ride is complaint and body lean is noticeable, but the Charger isn’t billed as a sport sedan.

Variety of V-8s

While V-6 models may be the choice for the family, V-8s will appeal to the muscle car set. Dodge offers them in hot, spicy, or burn-your-mouth off varieties.

They start with the Charger R/T. Its 5.7-liter V-8 makes 370 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque, which gives it a 0-60-mph time below 6.0 seconds and a rumbly exhaust note aided by an active exhaust system. Cylinder deactivation helps save fuel, and the ride remains forgiving.

The R/T Scat Pack boasts a 485-hp 6.4-liter V-8 that ups the price above $40,000, lowers the 0-60 mph time to about 4.5 seconds, and improves the handling for track duty, but starts to eat into ride quality; the stout 20-inch tires can thwack against sharp bumps.

The SRT Hellcat is a straight-line monster with its 707-hp supercharged 6.2-liter V-8, but it also can tackle a road course, but more on that in a minute. The 0-60 mph time drops to a lightning quick 3.7 seconds—if you can get the 275 mm rear tires to hook up—and the top speed reaches a claimed, and ludicrous, 204 mph.

Dodge outfits the R/T Scat Pack and SRT Hellcat with Brembo brakes, and the Hellcat gets six-piston front calipers, adaptive dampers, and a drive-mode system that lets the driver change the character of the transmission, throttle, steering weight, and dampers.

Those modes give the Hellcat multiple personalities. It can be calm and firm but forgiving on the street or amped up and stiff for the racetrack. A black key limits output to 500 hp so valets won’t have access to all 707 raucous horses.

Use the red key, though, and acceleration is a pure thrill unmatched by cars that cost three times the price. Take the Hellcat on a racetrack or canyon road and it becomes a handful to, well, handle. The rear end wants to kick out when lightly provoked, the tires can’t handle all that power, the ride is rather stiff, and the driver has to wrestle the 4,500-pound curb weight around corners.

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2019 Dodge Charger

Comfort & Quality

The 2019 Dodge Charger isn’t as spacious inside as its size would indicate, but it’s one of the roomier cars up front, and its materials range from spartan to supple.

The Charger’s cabin runs the gamut from spartan in base trims to swaddled in leather at the top end. Unfortunately, there is a vast price gulf between the two, though lower-end buyers can get leather and the large infotainment screen. Front passengers always have plenty of space, even wider folks, and the trunk is quite large. Based on these strengths, we rate the Charger a 7 for comfort and utility. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Charger’s upright styling gives it plenty of front head room and a wide track provides three-across seating in the rear and lots of elbow room up front. Even the thickly bolstered sport seats of the Hellcat won’t pinch the backsides of an average NFL tight end, though they’ll do their best to keep those guys from sliding around too much during cornering.

With its now 15-year-old design, however, interior space isn’t maximized. That means rear knee room isn’t overly plentiful and taller rear passengers may want for head room. The angle of the roof also requires a steeper duck than the norm to get in.

Trunk space, however, is old-school large with 16.5 cubic feet to fill with life’s miscellania.

As for materials, base Chargers look plain, with lots of rubbery-touch black plastic. At the higher end, though, buyers get supple leather, metallic trim, and easy-to-use infotainment with a large 8.4-inch touchscreen. At the $70,000-plus price of the Hellcat, though, the cabin doesn’t deliver the goods of a true luxury car.

Chargers with the V-6 are commendably quiet and so are the V-8 models as long as you lay off the throttle. Most V-8 buyers, however, will like the throaty, macho sound of the engine, so rev it all you want—as long as you can afford the gas.

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5

2019 Dodge Charger

Safety

The 2019 Dodge Charger offers a decent group of safety features but mediocre crash-test scores.

Dodge outfits the 2019 Charger with a decent amount of safety features, but it falls down in a couple key crash tests. We rate the Charger a 5 for safety based on its crash scores and equipment. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Charger scores well in NHTSA testing, where is earns the top five-star overall rating. It also gets five stars for side and rollover protection, but four stars from frontal impacts. It doesn’t do as well in IIHS tests. It gets the top rating of “Good” in the side impact, roof strength, head restraint, and moderate front overlap tests, but it scores only a “Marginal” in the tough small front-overlap test and a “Poor” for its headlights. The last two scores preclude it from getting a Top Safety Pick award.

Standard on the safety docket for the Charger are a rearview camera, six airbags, and rear parking sensors. Also available are adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitors, and forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking. 

The Charger’s high beltline gives it a hot rod-like appearance, but that restricts outward vision a little more than other large sedans.

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2019 Dodge Charger

Features

The 2019 Dodge Charger offers bargains in V-6 and V-8 models for family and performance buyers, or you can spend insane money on an insane Hellcat.

Dodge continues to make an aging car new by changing the model lineup around. For 2019, Dodge offers the Charger in SXT, new SXT AWD, GT, R/T, R/T Scat Pack, and SRT Hellcat models. The GT is no longer all-wheel drive and the Scat Pack is no longer an SRT model. However, bargains can be found in both the V-6 and V-8 trim levels. We give the Charger an 8 for features based on its value, vast model range, and array of options. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

We recommend the base SXT model for those looking for a basic large sedan. It’s standard equipment includes keyless ignition, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, power features, cloth upholstery, an 8-way power driver’s seat with 4-way power lumbar, a 60/40 split-folding rear seat, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, satellite radio, two USB ports and an auxiliary input jack, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors, and 17-inch alloy wheels.

For performance, we like the 485-hp R/T Scat Pack. It comes with a high-performance suspension with Bilstein dampers, Brembo four-piston brakes, a line lock, launch control, an aluminum hood with a functional scoop, a rear spoiler, 20-inch wheels, heated cloth performance bucket seats, and SRT Performance Pages digital readouts. It also adds LED fog lamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, memory for the driver’s seat and exterior mirrors, a heated steering wheel, and an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system.

At the top of the heap is the 707-hp SRT Hellcat. It adds six-piston Brembo front brakes with red calipers, performance-tuned steering, a competition suspension with adaptive dampers, all-season performance tires, HID headlights with LED accents, blind-spot monitors, leather upholstery, cooled front seats, heated rear seats, a flat-bottom steering wheel, and a keyfob that drops power output from 707 to 500 horsepower. New for 2019 are the torque reserve and after-run chiller from the 2018 Challenger SRT Demon.

Options include a nine-speaker Alpine audio system, a 900-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system with 18 speakers, a Dynamics Package that adds the six-piston Brembo brakes and 20-inch wheels, and nappa leather. Blacktop and Daytona packages also add style and numerous features.

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2019 Dodge Charger

Fuel Economy

Dodge Chargers with the V-6 are fairly efficient, while V-8 models drink more fuel as power increases.

Performance and fuel economy have an inverse relationship in the 2019 Dodge Charger lineup. We base our rating of 4 on the most popular engine, the V-6, which is lucky for Dodge. Ratings only go down from there. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The EPA rates the rear-wheel-drive version of the V-6 Charger at a very reasonable 19 mpg city, 30 highway, 23 combined. Switch over to all-wheel drive and those numbers drop to 18/27/21 mpg.

Move up to the 5.7-liter V-8 and the 2019 Charger will require mid-grade fuel and mileage will drop to 16/25/19 mpg.

The 6.4-liter V-8 drinks premium fuel, and its ratings come in at 15/24/18 mpg. The top SRT Hellcat with its 6.2-liter V-8 also takes premium, and its fuel economy is a lousy 13/22/16 mpg. What do you expect with 707 hp?

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$28,995
MSRP based on SXT RWD
 
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6.3
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 7
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 7
Safety 5
Features 8
Fuel Economy 4
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  • 2019 Charger arriving; 2018s remain in stock
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