Tom Crosby: Dodge Charger remains iconic muscle car for 2016

Tom Crosby

Tom Crosby

Although it didn’t start out as a high-powered car when Dodge first introduced the Charger more than 50 years ago, it has morphed into an iconic muscle car for civilians and a modified police cruiser for law enforcement.

Changes are few for 2016, with minor tweaks and some new option packages scattered among the nine Charger sedans. A Super Track Pak for track-tuned performance is now available on some SXT Chargers.

Base prices range from $27,995 for the 292-horsepower SE V-6 to $68,640 for the top-of-the-line SRT Hellcat with a 707-horsepower supercharged Hemi V8 engine.

Chargers are highly valued squad cars by law enforcement, once outfitted for speed, durability and computer access to police files and networks.

Our test-drive was the mid-range SXT PLUS AWD (Chargers can also be rear-wheel drive; never front wheel drive) with $4,770 in options that included a large 8.4-inch navigation/info screen, 300-horspower, Beat audio upgrade, numerous interior comforts like heatable seats and steering wheel, soft cream-colored leather trim and backup camera. We didn’t have the Super Track Pak or the Blacktop Appearance options.

Our SXT didn’t smoke tires like the SRT Hellcat but had enough growl to get adrenaline flowing when responding to top acceleration requests from the award-winning Pentastar V-6 engine. That was in contrast to a pleasantly quiet interior when cruising.

Handling was superb, manipulating manual transmission paddles on the thickened steering wheel or relying on the TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission. The all-wheel drive had excellent road grip on all-season 19-inch tires and a straight ahead steering bias. The ride was pleasantly absorbent with the optional performance suspension.

Outside, the all-black exterior oozed a menacing look with a gaping black grille, hood air exhauster, a subtle trunk-mounted spoiler, rising beltline (somewhat hindering rear visibility) and the only chrome is found on badging and 4-inch dual exhaust pipes.

Inside, however, was all comfort and class, with soft cream-colored Nappa leather seats and door panels set against nicely grained black materials and aluminum trim.

Nice touches included extendable visors, illuminated rear cup holders, expandable trunk space, a spare tire, ample rear seat room and a deep two-tier center console.

The dashboard screen is easily reached, intuitive to use and boasts GM’s vaunted UConnect, linking with a smartphone for an impressive array of information and functions, like voice-activated texting and remote start.

The Charger received a top rating of “Good” after Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests.

LIKES: Interior, handling, ride, looks, quiet, cargo space

DISLIKES: Rear visibility

BOTTOM LINE: Chargers can be for the family or those with need for speed

FACT FILE

2016 DODGE CHARGER SXT AWD

Base price w/destination charge: $31,990 ($37,770 as tested)

Vehicle weight: 4,220 lbs.

Wheelbase: 120.2 inches

Lengt: 198.4 inches

Width: 75 inches

Engin: 3.6-liter, V6, DOHC

Horsepower: 300 hp at 6,3500 rpm

Torque:264 ft-lbs. at 4,800 rpm

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

EPA rating: 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway

Range: 18.5-gallons, regular

Performanc: Zero to 60 in just over 6 seconds

 

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