2020 Dodge Charger

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2019
The Car Connection
2019
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Byron Hurd Byron Hurd Contributor
October 1, 2019

Buying tip

The real value in the Charger lineup is the R/T Scat Pack, which packs performance approaching the more expensive SRT models for thousands less.

The Charger may be old, but it’s still a charmer, and can pull double duty as a sedate highway cruiser or a drag strip monster.

Few new cars available in the United States have gone as long as the 2020 Dodge Charger without a significant redesign. While the Charger was overhauled in 2011 and given a needed interior upgrade alongside a sleeker exterior look, it is still the same fundamental car underneath that it was when it debuted in 2005. That's right; the bones underneath this unabashedly American sedan are now 15 years old.

While it may be old, we still like the Dodge Charger and rate it a 6.3 overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Thanks to constant updates to its engine offerings (including some wild performance variants), the Charger has managed to remain relevant among more popular crossovers. For 2020, it gets two new performance variants: the R/T Scat Pack Widebody and the SRT Hellcat Widebody. Mirroring similar offerings on Dodge's two-door Challenger, the Widebody variants get a wider track (hence the name) and exaggerated fenders to accommodate it. The difference is most apparent in the rear, where Dodge sculpted aerodynamic elements into the bumper to make the wider fenders flow with the existing design.

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A Daytona 50th Anniversary Edition on the SRT Hellcat Widebody gets an extra 10 horsepower along with unique exterior graphics, but is limited to just 501 units. The existing SXT, SXT AWD, GT, R/T, R/T Scat Pack and SRT Hellcat models carry over from the 2019 model year.

Every Charger carries the same silhouette introduced back in 2005, which was itself inspired by the Coke-bottle profile of the 1960s staple of the same name. The SXT model gets rental-car-basic exterior looks, but higher trims can be augmented with flashy aesthetic add-ons such as hood scoops, chiseled rocker panel accents, various spoilers and upsized wheels. The interior design, which is also just a reskin of the 2005 model, has a few retro touches but is otherwise fairly contemporary.

Dodge offers a host of powertrains in the Charger, including a workhorse V-6 and three different V-8s. The 3.6-liter V-6 is proven and competent (and a far better engine than the 6-cylinder options offered in the Charger's early days) and is paired to the same fundamental 8-speed offered up and down the Charger range. The true monster of the group is the supercharged, 6.2-liter V-8 in the SRT Hellcat and SRT Hellcat Widebody, the latter of which can hit 60 mph in just 3.6 seconds on the way to a 196-mph top speed.

The Charger is a large car, but thanks to Dodge's performance-friendly engineering approach, all of its variants are competent handlers. Performance suspension upgrades are offered on most trims, including the V-8 models, which get stiffer springs and sharper damping even in base form. Hellcat models are offered with adaptive suspensions for jack-of-all-trades ride and handling, and while they offer brutal acceleration and surprisingly good road-holding, drivers are quickly reminded that they weigh about as much as most mid-size family crossovers when the road (or track) turns twisty.

The Charger offers plenty of shoulder and elbow room and space in the rear for three passengers, but it's not as roomy as one might expect for a car this large.

The 2020 Charger offers respectable standard equipment, including a 7.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity.

While the Charger's age precludes it from obtaining top safety nods, it can be equipped with blind-spot monitors automatic emergency braking and several other key occupant protection systems.

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2020 Dodge Charger

Styling

The Charger is a love-it-or-hate it design, but you can avoid the pomp and circumstance or go whole-hog if hood scoops and spoilers.

The Charger’s driving characteristics may be nuanced, but its styling is unabashedly American. It’s long, wide and retro, but modern styling trends make it clear it was designed in the 21st century. Extra charisma can be had in the form of heritage-inspired paint finishes and a seemingly endless supply of graphics packages.

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 sheer size of the Charger comes out in its profile, which pays tribute to the Coke-bottle shape of its 1960s ancestor. Big fenders house ever-growing alloy wheels and thick pillars reach up to a gently raked roof. The Charger’s front grille gets different treatments at each trim level, but it’ll always be black.

In the rear, an LED halo around the trunk and bumper gives the Charger a unique lighting signature. Many trims also get a decklid spoiler of one variety or another to match other performance-suggesting trim bits, such as a hood scoop and sculpted front and rear bumpers.

Like the outside, the Charger’s cabin is also retro-inspired with modern touches. The dash is finished in soft material and trimmed with matte elements. The standard 7.0-inch and upgraded 8.4-inch infotainment displays are complemented by digital cluster elements.

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2020 Dodge Charger

Performance

V-6 models get the job done, but the Charger’s V-8 variants are a blast in a straight line and competent in the corners to boot.

The Charger offers performance grins in proportion to its engine output. While the V-6 makes adequate power, the Charger feels almost incomplete without a V-8 under the hood. We rate the Charger’s performance a 7 thanks to its respectable powertrain offerings. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The standard V-6 offers 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque in the base model or 300 hp and 264 lb-ft in the SXT AWD and GT models. Both models benefit from Dodge’s 8-speed automatic that is known for being both responsive and efficient. Detracting from the experience is an odd electronic gear selector that may not be intuitive for all drivers.

The base Charger is far from being an athlete, but it offers capable handling and rear-wheel drive dynamics. It rides comfortably, especially when equipped with smaller wheels, and makes an excellent long-distance cruiser.

Variety of V-8s

If you want a genuine Charger experience, tick the option box for one of its available V-8s. There’s one for every preference and price range.

The V-8s start with the R/T, which is offered with the 5.7-liter V-8 that makes 370 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. This immediately drops the Charger’s 0-60 time below the 6-second mark and offers deep rumbles from the exhaust to boot. Without any options checked, the R/T remains a comfy cruiser despite its extra oomph.

Moving up to the R/T Scat Pack makes things even more interesting. The 6.4-liter, 485-hp V-8 in this model knocks more than a second off its 0-60 time and a sport-tuned suspension and Brembo brakes round out its performance credentials. Between the stiffer suspension and larger wheels, ride quality can suffer.

The Widebody package for the R/T Scat Pack adds an adaptive suspension, bigger Brembo brakes, wider tires and bigger fenders. The adaptive suspension takes some of the edge off the ride quality, but enthusiasts can dial up the stiffness when desired.

If the R/T Scat Pack is a rocket, the SRT Hellcat is a full-blown cruise missile. With 707 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque on tap, the supercharged V-8 completely transforms the Charger’s character. Hellcat models also get the adaptive suspension and larger Brembos offered as an option on the R/T Scat Pack as standard equipment.

The Hellcat also gets a special dual-key ignition system with a 500-horsepower “black key” tune alongside the 707-horsepower “red key” mode. This dialed-down option is great for valets or recently licensed children. It can also be had in Widebody guise, which knocks another tenth off its 0-60 time and gives it significantly improved road-holding thanks to the wider rubber.

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2020 Dodge Charger

Comfort & Quality

The 2020 Dodge Charger doesn’t offer the interior volume you’d expect from a modern full-size, but it’s still pretty roomy.

Base-model Chargers can look sparse inside compared to their loaded-up siblings, but niceties such as leather and a larger infotainment screen can be had on lower trims if the right options are selected. There’s also no shortage of driver and front-passenger room, and the Charger also offers a very large trunk. We rate the Charger a 7 for comfort and utility. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The Charger’s large-and-in-charge body design means it has plenty of head room even with an optional moonroof, and the wide track means space inside for wider types. The sport seats offered on performance trims remain spacious and comfortable but aren’t overly bolstered, which makes the Charger more adept at cruising than carving canyons.

Because the Charger has been around for 15 years, it does not benefit from modern packaging innovations. While it is comfortable inside, it’s not as roomy as you’d expect in the rear seat, where knee and head room can be at a premium.

The 16.5-cubic-inch trunk is downright cavernous, making it a champ when it comes to cargo capacity, especially for a sedan.

Materials-wise, the Charger’s base trims can be somewhat drab and rubbery, but range-toppers get comfortable leather, metallic trim and a wonderful, user-friendly 8.4-inch infotainment system. The Hellcat’s bleed-over into $70,000 territory can make even its loaded interior seem lacking, especially since it’s obvious that it’s merely a re-skin of a 15-year-old design, but enough luxury elements can be had to make most buyers content.

The Charger excels in cabin noise until you start adding larger wheels with low-profile tires. Even V-8 models are relatively tame thanks to active exhaust systems, so if you keep your foot off the floor, the Charger can remain quite docile.

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5

2020 Dodge Charger

Safety

Safety is one category where the Charger shows its age. Respectable safety equipment is available, but its fundamental crash structure is lacking.

The Charger’s suite of safety features is commendably modern, but it’s not enough to save it from its fundamental weaknesses. We rate the Charger a 5 in safety based on a mix of mediocre crash-test scores and adequate equipment. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

NHTSA is fairly kind to the Charger, giving it a five-star overall rating and the same score for side and rollover protection. It gets only four stars for frontal impact. The IIHS is far less forgiving, giving the Charger “Good” in side impact, roof strength, head restraint and moderate front overlap tests. Small overlap testing resulted in a “Marginal” score and its headlights were rated “Poor;” these two were enough to knock it out of Top Safety Pick contention.

The Charger’s suite of standard safety equipment includes a rearview camera, six airbags and rear parking sensors. Higher trim models can be equipped with adaptive cruise control, automatic high beams, blind-spot monitors, and automatic emergency braking.

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2020 Dodge Charger

Features

The 2020 Dodge Charger is an impressive value for a rear-wheel drive sedan that offers both attitude and practicality.

Rather than redesign the Charger, Dodge is content to shift around the options and trims from year to year in order to keep things fresh. The SXT, SXT AWD, GT, R/T, R/T Scat Pack and SRT Hellcat trims all carry over from 2019, with the R/T Scat Pack and SRT Hellcat now getting a Widebody variant. We rate the Charger an 8 for its wide range of models and available options. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The SXT is a respectable value for those who want a large, no-frills sedan. It comes standard with keyless ignition, automatic headlights, LED daytime running lights, power features, cloth upholstery, an eight-way power driver’s seat with four-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 enthusiasts on a budget, it’s hard to beat the R/T Scat Pack. It offers a sport suspension to match its 485-hp V-8, four-piston Brembo front brakes, an aluminum hood for weight savings, 20-inch wheels, line lock, launch control and heated bucket seats. An adaptive suspension and bigger brakes are also available via the Widebody option.

The SRT Hellcat rules the roost. It gets the six-piston Brembo front brakes and adaptive suspension offered in the upgraded Scat Pack along with performance-tuned steering, 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 hp. The Widebody package from the Scat Pack also makes an appearance on Hellcat models.

For 2020, a limited run of the Hellcat Widebody will be available for Mopar fans. The Daytona 50th Anniversary Edition gets an extra 10 horsepower along with unique exterior graphics.

Available niceties include a nine-speaker Alpine audio system; an 18-speaker, 900-watt Harman Kardon premium audio system; a Dynamics Package that adds the six-piston Brembo brakes and 20-inch wheels; and nappa leather. The Blacktop package returns for those who like a murdered-out look.

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2020 Dodge Charger

Fuel Economy

The 2020 Charger will pass a lot on the road, just not many gas stations.

The only thing green about the Charger is an occasional paint option. While the V-6 makes use of its 8-speed automatic to return reasonable mileage for its size, the Charger’s V-8s simply aren’t fuel misers.

As always, adding power reduces fuel economy, and one of Dodge’s favorite tricks is turning up the wick. We rate the Charger a 4 for fuel economy due to the relative frugality of the standard V-6, which is frankly generous considering the Charger’s 8-cylinder habit. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The EPA rates the rear-wheel-drive version of the V-6 Charger at 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. Let’s face it: If you’re buying a Hellcat, this entire paragraph is irrelevant to you.

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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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