2011 Dodge Charger R/T
The mullet king is dead. Long live the mullet king!
Six years ago--an epoch in Chrysler's herky-jerky corporate lifetime--Dodge resurrected the Charger nameplate and in one fell swoop, it obliterated all the front-drive nonsense we endured through the 1980s, in Omnis and Daytonas. Reborn with the help of some Daimler running gear, the 2005 Charger neatly stitched itself back to the 1970s muscle cars that still give the chicken skin to car followers and daydreamers. It's as if the 25 years in between never happened. No Reagan revolution. No NASCAR explosion. No Omni pollution.
When it came out of its deep hibernation, the Charger reconnected with more than just the mullet demographic that even a CBS News poll would pick out from its sales data. Yep, the race fans stepped right back in line--but so did a whole generation of sedan drivers starved for real rear-drive fun in four-door form, sidelined into safe Tauruses and commercial-grade Impalas. The Charger hardly needed its Budweiser-on-its-sleeve styling to telegraph its mission, if you looked underneath it on a lift.
Aren't you glad it did, though? And aren't you glad that, with this 2011 Charger, it's gone even more overboard? Not all the change in the Charger is quite so graphic, but the refolded, recreased sheetmetal is the main reason we flew out to California for this first drive of the HEMI-enabled 2011 Charger R/T.
Three different looks in one
The Charger's new flares and filigrees "pop" on camera and strike a deep masculine nerve, like finding out Catholic girls'-school uniforms are suddenly back in style. Still, you can't help but think there are three cars shouting out for your attention, when you circle around that prow of a nose, and pan down the sedan's sideview. The front end tilts dizzyingly forward like a Leaning Tower of Crosshairs. The headlamps have such angry eyebrows you might need to apologize first, and ask why later. Dodge says it's "ready to attack the road"; maybe a restraining order is in order.