July 25, 2011

Dodge Charger R/T

                We are long time fans of The Dukes of Hazard.  When Dodge first brought the Charger back we were extremely excited because it meant more Chargers in the world.  But Dodge didn’t quite bring the Charger back with the style and panache that the Duke boys epitomized during the show’s run.  If Bo & Luke would have had this new Charger while filming, the show would not have lasted as long as it did.  The new Charger would just have eaten Boss Hog.
                This is another 4-door sedan around 30 grand.  The Charger was $33,065 and for that much money, they make this an interesting ride.  If you are in the process of a car search right now, swing by Dodge, let us know what you think, because we’re still not sure if this was a dream or not…

                The interior of this Dodge was impressive.  The control console is a touch screen.  There are manual controls for the climate control and the radio/CD, but we found ourselves defaulting to the touch screen to control them.  The display is easy to read and navigate, with a row of large icons at the bottom that direct you to the correct screen.  We could turn on the seat heaters, search for the cheapest gas in the area, and use the Garmin-powered satellite navigation with ease.  This control console did not take long to learn and was not a cause of distracted driving.
                The back seat legroom was brilliant.  With the freakishly tall driver’s seat left where he drove it , we all dipped into the back seat and fit with ease.  The rear doors open so wide that changing out a baby seat would be incredibly easy.  No awkward tilting that spills half-eaten Cheerios and crackers all over the floor.  This is refreshing after all the convertibles with cramped back seats or nonexistent ones.  We wouldn’t want to spend a great deal of time in the back, but it was survivable.
                This Charger came with cloth seats, even though leather ones are an option.  There was leather trim on the doors, but not on the seats.  The leather was standard on the Taurus.  It was awkward to see the cow-hide on the doors, but not on the seats.  For $33,000, we kind of hope that leather would be included.  We know a majority of the price isn’t in the interior, but under the hood.

                What can we say about the redesigned exterior?  Home run is the term we’re going to use for our American readers, rest of the world (we know you’re out there…), please read, “GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLL!”  We were going to yell longer, but we’re fat and out of breath… Sorry… 
                The back end of the new Charger is so sexy that we asked for some time alone with it (The salesman wisely denied this request.).  The Charger now looks like the Charger of old, but with a little bit of work done.  The new indents on the doors and the new nose look fantastic.  The looks of this car attract us to it like the moth to the flame (attempt at real prose… foolish…).  The look and feel of this car caused us to use a deep Southern accent for the test drive.  Bo and Luke Duke would have been proud!
                The wheels that we drove were an option, but the ones of the R/T Plus have a look reminiscent of the Bullet Mustang's. 

                The performance of this car is hands down the best 4-door sedan around 30 grand that we’ve driven so far.  It is only the second one. 
The two cars are different types of car. The Taurus is a great touring cruiser, while the  Charger belongs on a test track.  This car could be utilized as the school carpool vehicle and then on the weekend take it to the track for some power laps.
                The salesman didn’t want to let this car out of his sight.  The only way he would let us take it alone would be when we had the numbers drawn up and were ready to sign.  Since we didn’t want a case of buyer’s remorse on a Tuesday, we let him tag along.  He was, again, a salesperson who encouraged us to drive the car faster than we would have by ourselves.  We don’t like breaking things that don’t belong to us!  The first corner had a sign posting the suggested speed at 20mph; we took it at 50mph with no tire squeal.  There was a series of these low speed corners and our average speed was around 46.3mph or so… 
                There was a little bit of acceleration lag at highway speed.  The salesman asked us to give it some gas at 70mph, so we did.  We floored this Hemi and the time lag between the pedal going down and the actual acceleration was…  Let’s just say it felt like we watched The Deathly Hallows, part 2, had a potty break, bought a soda, and then the acceleration hit.  This wasn’t an issue that we noticed for most of the test drive.  Dodge, if you’re out there, we would love to take one on a much longer test.  The acceleration on this car for most of the drive was fantastic.  Quick, responsive, and nimble.  For as large as this car is, it was surprising.  Dodge is selling the fact that they’ve got a 50/50 weight distribution for the Charger.  We know that the traction control was working hard because we were driving hard.  The traction control was so subtle that we couldn’t tell when it was activating.  While the 50/50 distribution improves the handling, we are having nightmares for the coming winter months already…  This car just has so much power. 
                The 5.7L V8 turns out 370 horsepower.  Off the line we felt all of them.  It didn’t have the distinct hurl you back in your seats that the Audi S4 had, but is very close to it.  The engine was subdued until we demanded more from all eight cylinders.  It would roar in acknowledgement of the pedal going to the floor.  We floored it off the line at a stoplight and controlled the left hand turn with just one hand on the wheel.  It was a good moment for the Charger and one we haven’t forgotten. 
                The V8 will average around 16 mpg in the city and 25 on the highway.  Not the worst we’ve seen, but not awe-inspiring either.  Acceptable would be a good way to phrase it.  The Charger, like many cars with V8’s, has Variable Values, which means that four of the cylinders come off-line when you aren’t pushing the car.  As soon as you want to go fast again, the car uses all of horses.  This might explain some of the time lag during the highway acceleration.

                Based on the vast back seat, the lightning fast jumps off the line, and the hypnotic rumble while approaching light speed, the Charger is a new beast.  We wouldn’t have given the Charger this much credit without seeing it for ourselves.  In fact, we are going to tour the Missouri Highway Patrol’s new detachment of Chargers soon.  We’re hoping to get some video and really blow your doors off. 

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