Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

September 20, 2012

Dodge Charger R/T is engaging

By Len Ingrassia
CNHI News Service

— This car screams aggressive. From its three-coats of redline paint to its V8 powerplant, the new Dodge Charger R/T is a head turner and not just because of its retro 60s look.

Squared off fenders do mirror the late 60s muscle car in many respects and corner to corner taillights also resemble its predecessor. But Dodge engineers built in lots of refinements that, technologically speaking, raise the Charger to the level of some European sedans. Really.

Fit and finish of the Charger speak volumes to the changes incorporated in this iconic racer. Large, comfortable leather buckets and a roomy back seat fit nicely into a modernized cabin that includes such marvels as heated and cooled cupholders.

With a low $30s base price, the Charger RT all-wheel-drive includes an impressive list of standard equipment including stability and traction control, remote start, a plethora of airbags, Uconnect media interface with a large touch screen display and full leather interior.

Step up to Charger Max options and the sedan is enhanced with 27 upgrades including a heated steering wheel and rear seats, power adjustable pedals with memory, a 506 watt amplifier, forward collision control and blind spot warning with rear cross path detection.

Another useful option is adaptive cruise control that not only keeps the Charger at a pre set distance from traffic ahead but also maintains the set speed by accelerating or braking with rear brake lights activated. In a panic stop the system will rapidly bring the car to within 10 miles per hour before warning the driver to brake with a series of loud beeps.

Performance is what the Charger is known for and its zero to 60 sprint is no disappointment at 6.2 seconds.

On the road, the Charger delivers a quiet ride mixed with a tuned exhaust that rumbles just enough to let you know what’s under the hood. Its 370 horsepower engine comes to life with a touch on the pedal. Any more than that will prompt a screech from the 18-inch all season stock tires.

If you want more screech and speed, step up to the SRT8 and its new 470 horsepower, 6.4-litre V8 engine that will reach 60 miles per hour in less than five seconds.

Conversely if fuel economy is more important in your daily driving, a third model features a powerful enough 3.6-liter power plant teamed with an eight speed automatic.

Passing maneuvers in the R/T model are brisk. The 5-speed automatic transmission downshift is smooth and quick to engage. Forward gears are also accessible manually with a clutch-less tap on the shift lever.

If your view of the Charger is based upon reruns of the Dukes of Hazard you might want to take a test drive to experience what the new car is all about.

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Len Ingrassia is an automotive columnist for CNHI news Service. Contact him at editor@ptd.net.