The appeal of a traditional American diner is that it serves up a wide variety of food, generally in palatable form. In that regard, you can think of the Dodge Charger
as the automotive equivalent of the blue-plate special from the all-American diner.
It’s available in a version to suit almost anyone’s taste, as long as you’re hungry for a traditional full-size, front-engine, rear-drive American sedan. In V-8 trims the Charger may not be the most fuel-efficient sedan on the market, but it will readily adsorb highway miles while keeping passengers safe and comfortable inside. Opt for the high-performance SRT8 version, and the Charger dishes up a healthy side of entertainment, too.
The Charger received a substantial makeover for the 2011 model year, getting a much-improved interior and revised suspension tuning in the process. There’s an all-new eight-speed automatic transmission on mid-level Chargers as well, although base models and SRT8 versions soldier on with the existing five-speed automatic. Opt for the SXT trim, equipped with Chrysler’s latest 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 and the eight-speed transmission, and the Charger is capable of returning 30 mpg on the highway, which is impressive for a car of the Charger’s size.
Also revised was the car’s exterior styling, which is now inspired by the classic shape of a Coca-Cola bottle. There’s a healthy dose of nostalgia in there, too, most evident in the sculpted doors and distinctive taillights that pay tribute to Chargers of old. While the last generation of Charger was fairly anonymous, the new version has a much stronger presence.
Dodge offers up the Charger with the aforementioned Pentastar V-6 in SE and SXT trim levels, and the engine is good for a respectable 292 horsepower. Those with a healthier appetite can order up the Charger R/T
, which comes with a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 rated at 370 horsepower and capable of producing sub-seven-second runs from 0-60 mph. If you still want more, there’s the very-impressive Charger SRT8
, which comes with a 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 rated at 470 horsepower. The SRT8 will sprint from 0-60 in less than five seconds, delivering a satisfyingly deep exhaust note in the process.
Handling is competent in base models and downright impressive on SRT8 versions. If we had a complaint, it would be the Charger’s light steering, noticeable on all but SRT8 models. Despite the Charger’s bulk, however, it manages to feel more nimble behind the wheel than competitive sedans from Ford and Nissan.
Inside, the new Charger is a vast improvement over earlier models. The quality of interior materials, as well as the overall interior design, has been kicked up more than a few notches. There’s plenty of legroom and headroom for all but the tallest passengers, and the Charger’s oversized trunk will readily swallow enough luggage for an extended road trip.
Standard features include air conditioning; power windows, locks and mirrors; cruise control; automatic headlights and keyless entry. The option list is long, and includes things like a navigation system, premium audio systems, Bluetooth connectivity and even wireless internet via a 3G dongle. The 2012 Dodge Charger is an IIHS Top Safety Pick, too.
For complete details on the 2012 Dodge Charger, see our comprehensive review on The Car Connection