- Great style
- Breathtaking power
- Good infotainment
- Options abound
- Actually practical
- No standard active safety
- Prolifically thirsty V-8s
- Rear seat issues
- Top trims are very expensive
features & specs
The 2021 Dodge Charger is a retro sedan with silly performance potential. Speed doesn’t go out of style.
We’re not sure how the Dodge Charger gets stronger as it gets older. Maybe ask The Rock?
For 2021, the Charger gets an asphalt melting 797-horsepower variant that’s as irresponsible as it is powerful. That’s not a judgement on our part, just unbridled peak-power on Dodge’s.
The Charger gets a 6.2 TCC Rating thanks to that performance and style. Gas mileage isn’t great, and so what. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
Like last year, the Charger is available in SXT, GT, R/T, Scat Pack, and SRT Hellcat trim levels. A SRT Hellcat Redeye is new this year and hugely powerful, all-wheel drive is available on SXT and GT cars with a V-6. Everything else gets rear-drive, a V-8, and a prolific thirst.
The Charger is mechanically related to the Challenger coupe but adds two more doors and a bucketful of practicality over that car. The Challenger looks better, but the Charger still looks good.
Both share a lineup of engines that would tax any spreadsheet. The base V-6 makes 292 hp, while a 5.7-liter V-8 makes 370 hp. A 6.4-liter V-8 makes 485 hp, and the Hellcats take over with 717 hp or 797 hp depending on how deep your pockets are.
All are paired to an 8-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive more often, all-wheel drive is on the menu but misses the point.
The Charger comfortably seats four—something the Challenger can’t say—although the back seats lack for long-haul comfort. The trunk is big: 16.5 cubic feet.
So is its thirst. The Charger rates anywhere from the mid-20s to the low-teens for fuel economy—worse if you have a heavy right foot. Looking for great gas mileage? Keep looking.
The Charger is equipped with a 7.0-inch touchscreen with smartphone software, 17-inch wheels, and cloth upholstery. Its best life is with an 8.4-inch touchscreen, 20-inch wheels, performance goodies, and a sonorous V-8 under the hood.
We’d pick a Scat Pack for its mighty 6.4-liter V-8, available options, and available active safety features that aren’t standard on any trim (regrettably) but also not available on Hellcats. Shucks.
2021 Dodge Charger
Retro hardly ever looks this good.
We don’t care if it’s old-school, or just old. The 2021 Charger looks great with its all-American swagger and style. It’s long and wide, with just the right Coke-bottle shape and swole fenders in widebody guise. It’s a 7 on our scale, but it’s a 10 in your garage if you get the right color.
The Charger’s signatures are stupendous: every trim gets a unique grille, but they’re always black. The LED taillights are a halo ring that spans the width of the car with a decklid spoiler on nearly every trim level.
It’s as subtle as a backward hat, but more effective. Inside, the Charger gets retro touches that we like. Top SRT Hellcat trims don’t disguise that they’re related to cars that cost less than half as much but do just enough to keep us entertained.
2021 Dodge Charger
The Charger’s ace is a roster of entertaining V-8s.
Looking for full-size fast with four doors for less than $100,000? There’s only one answer.
The 2021 Dodge Charger is faster than it has any right to be. It’s made of metal, after all.
With the Charger, Dodge doesn’t push the envelope—it stuffs, stamps, and sends it like few can. The base Charger V-6 is more common, it’s a 7. The Hellcat Redeye would reach a 9 or higher if rated separately. The points on your license may be higher.
The standard V-6 is rated at 292 horsepower (300 hp with all-wheel drive or in GT versions) and like every Charger, it’s paired to an 8-speed automatic with a finicky shifter. The V-6 is not as athletic as the rest, but it’s fairly comfortable to drive and calm enough for fuss-free daily detail.
The V-8s are not.
The first stop is a 5.7-liter V-8 that makes 370 hp and 395 lb-ft. It propels the Charger R/T from 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds. It’s the starter V-8, and it makes all the right noises.
The next stop is our pick for performance without too much compromise: a 6.4-liter V-8 that makes 485 hp and 475 lb-ft. It snaps off 0-60 mph runs in less than five seconds and has a perk: with optional adaptive dampers, it can button down each corner for better performance or let it go with a softer ride.
Hellcats are the last stop for drivers who want to be first in stoplight grands prix. A 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 is under the hoods of SRT Hellcats, and SRT Hellcat Redeyes and make 717 hp and 797 hp, respectively. They rocket from 0-60 mph in 3.4 seconds or less and are prolifically thirsty. They’re rear-wheel drive only, and a handful to keep in a straight line even on a sunny day.
They transmute tires to smoke in a hurry, if you’re into that sort of thing.
Compared to most full-size sedans, the Charger rides firmer and with more feeling. It’s not stiff, it’s just that most other full-sizers prioritize a floatier ride. A four-wheel independent suspension filters out some road imperfections, but adaptive dampers are the best solution for us.
2021 Dodge Charger
Comfort & Quality
The Charger is more practical than the Challenger, but still has issues.
Sensible is relative when it comes to muscle cars. Compared to the mechanically related Dodge Challenger, the four-door 2021 Charger comes in handy like zip ties and duct tape. Compared to other full-size sedans? Not so much.
Starting from an average score of 5, the Charger gets points for its trunk and front-seat accommodations. It’s a 7 for comfort.
Like the Challenger, the front seats of the Charger are plush and welcoming to big bodies. Shod in durable cloth upholstery or comfortable leather, the interior is tops for the front two seats.
Behind the front two seats is room for two adults, with more than 40 inches of leg room. Head room isn’t an issue, but the seats are. They’re flat, low, and knee room is cramped, too. That’s due to the Charger’s age and rear-wheel-drive packaging—it’s just uncomfortable enough to miss out on another point on our scale.
The trunk space behind the second row is cavernous for a sedan: 16.5 cubic feet.
The Charger’s materials inside range from fair to very good, although base sedans can reflect their comparatively low price. Top Hellcats don’t feel luxurious either but have just enough gee-whiz gear to distract from its low-price roots.
2021 Dodge Charger
Safety regulations have left the Charger behind—not much else can say the same.
Mostly good crash-test scores and available safety features keep the Charger out of our doghouse but they’re not good enough to finish on our podium, either.
Federal testers gave it a five-star overall score but gave it a four-star score for front crash safety. The IIHS gave it top “Good” marks on its crash tests but noted “Marginal” protection in the driver-side small overlap test. Its automatic emergency braking system was rated “Superior” at avoiding forward crashes, but it’s optional on all trims and absent on SRT Hellcat models.
The short of the long? It’s a 5 for safety.
Adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitors, and active lane control are available as extra-cost packages too.
2021 Dodge Charger
The Charger has good features, but lacks standard automatic emergency braking.
The Charger’s long options list keeps the car fresh, even if it hasn’t much changed since last year. It’s offered in the same SXT, GT, R/T, R/T Scat Pack, and SRT Hellcat trims from last year (and 2019), but an SRT Hellcat Redeye is new for this year.
Every Charger gets at least a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, 17-inch wheels, cloth upholstery, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, and parking sensors. Some Chargers get more. Much more.
Starting from an average score, the Charger gets points above for plentiful options and a big touchscreen. It’s a 7.
We’d spend up for a Scat Pack because we have less self-restraint than many toddlers. In addition to the 6.4-liter, 485-hp V-8, it gets 20-inch wheels, uprated brakes, performance goodies, an 8.4-inch touchscreen infotainment system, and heated front seats. Leather upholstery, a widebody package, adaptive dampers, and a 19-speaker audio system are available options. It’s also the last stop for optional automatic emergency braking (Hellcats skip it completely), which is a good idea.
The SRT Hellcat Redeye is the Charger champ this year. In addition to its 797-hp V-8, the Hellcat Redeye gets a standard widebody exterior, 20-inch wheels, leather upholstery, performance upgrades, heated and cooled front seats, and an 8.4-inch screen. It’s hardly a value at more than $73,000—missiles aren’t a particularly good deal, either.
2021 Dodge Charger
Don’t expect great gas mileage from the 2021 Charger.
The greenest 2021 Dodge Charger is the one you get painted that way. The full-sizer with a bevy of big V-8s is always parched unless it’s parked—it’s thirsty is what we’re saying.
Our rating of 4 applies to V-6 versions that the EPA rates at 19 mpg city, 30 highway, 23 combined. Adding all-wheel drive drops those to 18/27/21 mpg.
That’s as good as it’ll get. The 5.7-liter V-8 asks for mid-grade and returns 16/25/19 mpg. The 6.4-liter V-8 needs premium instead, and its ratings are a lackluster 15/24/18 mpg. The Hellcats aren’t great, but since you asked, they rate 13/22/16 mpg.