Muscular Charger R/T Daytona offers kick-ass HEMI power
Gone are the days of the crude old muscle cars that were horsepower heavy hogs good only for drag racing in a straight line.
Welcome the new muscle car generation, summed up nicely by Dodge’s Charger, now a distinctly muscular looking four-door sedan, but with a hefty HEMI V8 tucked under its creased and nearly bulging hood. Charger seats four adults comfortably, has a big trunk and all the bells and whistles you’d expect on a luxury car.
Oh, it still is rear-wheel drive, and it’ll still accelerate like a moped with a rocket strapped to its back. Yet its interior is a mix of racy and comfy. This is a muscle car for the high-tech family that has a bit of an attitude, and a love of speed, and tradition.
Charger comes in seven trims, from the base SE at $25,995 all the way up to the SRT8 Superbee and SRT RWD, both in the mid-$40 grand range. My test car was the R/T, or Road and Track model ($29,995 base), bathed in a bright Daytona blue paint job and featuring black Daytona labeling on the rear quarter panel, and a black rear spoiler. Yes, it looked fast!
Under the hood, a 5.7-liter, HEMI V8 with variable valve timing and a Fuel Saver Technology system. At that it was rated 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. I got just 17.3 mpg in a week’s drive with about 60% being city driving. So gas mileage, despite the fuel-saver system, was still poor.While better gas mileage is always welcome, a Charger R/T buyer who loads it up, like this one, with three major options packages, including the Daytona package, is not primarily concerned with gas mileage. Power is a more legitimate buying requirement.
And the HEMI is all of that, kicking out a healthy 370 horsepower. I’ve had this and the Superbee version on a racetrack briefly and 125 mph is pretty easy to achieve in a quick burst. The Charger will do just that, charge off any corner or down any highway entry ramp like a racer ready for, well, Daytona. It also delivers a deep V8 rumble when first started, but the interior has been quieted with sound deadening material so that the car’s interior is quiet when driving.
Like to show off a bit? Well, you can squeal the tires by tromping the gas pedal. And the test car went with 20-inchers, so there was plenty of rubber to light up.
Considering Chrysler vehicles are now using some 8-speed automatics, I was a bit surprised to see only a 5-speed automatic here. It shifts smoothly enough, but I wonder if a 6- or 8-speed might not help boost gas mileage. I’m betting we’ll see a new tranny in a future Charger.
Charger handles well, with a heavy steering feel, but the handling is fairly precise and there’s no lean in high-speed cornering. Four-wheel independent suspension gives the car an excellent city street ride, smoothing bumps and cushioning the car’s occupants from rough roads.Brakes are four-wheel heavy-duty discs that really clamp down on the car’s forward movement. After the previous week in a large Nissan Armada, this 4,253-lbs. car felt light and braking seemed instantaneous.
Being a Charger you knew it would rock and roll, but in the old days (1960s) you’d be happy with a “genuine vinyl” interior, with maybe a leather-wrapped wheel or shifter. Well, with its various packages, this one had leather trimmed performance seats that looked racy and offered good lateral support.
The interior was black, with a black textured dash and leather wheel, but the seats were a sturdy black cloth with the leather side bolsters stitched in blue that matched the car’s exterior. The seats also had “Daytona” embroidered in blue on them and there was blue stitching in the door panels. Well executed and it really gave the car a bright, fun and racy feel. Not sure why more sporty cars don’t go with something like this instead of all dull gray or black leather seats.
Dodge also uses a textured metal facing around the dash gauges and center touch screen and shifter to give Charger a decidedly performance-oriented feel. Likewise, the car is comfortable and quiet inside and its dash is well laid out so you can easily identify all gauges and buttons and tune the radio and climate control system without a mouse or several layers of button commands. Kudos go to the interior design team.This Charger was loaded with option packages, so much so that it hit $41,645. That may be a bit rich for many buyers, but it was a load of fun. Check the option packages out in the stat box, but here’s a short list of what was included.
Two memory seats, heated front and rear seats, power seats, heated and cooled cup holders between the front seats, paddle shifters on the wheel (not really needed), and a power tilt/telescope steering wheel and gas and brake pedals.
The Daytona package added a lot of visual bling, plus a monster 552-watt amplifier for the Beats premium audio system, including subwoofer. It rocks the car, to be sure.
From a daily driving standpoint the Driver Confidence group is most helpful, with the back-up camera, blind-spot warning system and rear park assist, plus rain-sensing wipers and automatic high-beam light system, although I prefer to control that myself.
The test car also added adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning and a heated steering wheel for $925. The wheel alone might be worth that in winter. A sunroof added $840.
Finally, the sun visors were exceptional, and I know I obsess on this. They not only slide, but have extenders so you can block side sun at most any angle. My only interior complaint was the noisy turn signal that clinks like an old tin toy with a marble inside it. That needs quieting.I don’t want to end on a down note, because I’ve grown to like the Charger although it’s looks didn’t initially stir me. But its looks are distinctive, its power undeniable and its interior with the Daytona package is impeccable and stylish. Not many cars have all that. If you don’t need so many electronic doodads, the car also can be had at a modest (in today’s market) price.
For the record the entry-level Chargers come with a 3.6-liter V6 generating 292 horses, and earn an 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway rating, so better than most large crossovers and sport-utility trucks. So you can have the look, but save some dough up front and in the long haul. Note too that there are two AWD models in the $31,500 to $32,500 price range.
Many choices, all fast, and some even furious!
FAST Stats: 2013 Dodge Charger R/T Road and Track
Hits: Big power, good handling, excellent ride and muscular look. Quiet interior with well laid out dash, easy to understand controls and screen, visors that slide AND have extenders, plus blind-spot warning and back-up camera. Fun, racy interior and big trunk.
Misses: Gas mileage is poor and turn signals are noisy.
Made in: Brampton, Ont.
Engine: 5.7-liter, HEMI V8 VVT w/Fuel Saver Technology, 370 hp
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Weight: 4,253 lbs.
Wheelbase: 120.2 in.
Cargo: 15 cu.ft.
Base Price: $29,995
Dealer’s Price: $28,696
Package 29R (180-amp alternator, 20-inch alum. chrome clad wheels/all-season performance tires, rear body color spoiler, paddle shifters, Sport Mode 2, 3.06 rear axle ratio, auto-adjust rearview mirrors, driver’s auto-dimming mirror, black grille/honeycomb, body-color exterior mirrors, driver/passenger lower LED lights, heated exterior mirrors, front overhead LED lights, heated second row seats, heated/cooled front cup holders, high-speed engine controller, performance perforated leather seats, power adj. pedals, power front seats w/power lumbar, power tilt/telescope steering wheel, power heated mirrors/manual foldl-away, “Heritage R/T” badge, memory for driver seat/mirrors, R/T performance group, security alarm, ventilated front seats), $4,000
Daytona Edition group (bright pedal Mopar kit, 20-inch painted alum. wheels, Beats audio system w/10 speakers/subwoofer, 552-watt amplifier, Daytona decals, numbered badge, performance leather-trimmed seats, black rear spoiler), $2,500
Driver Confidence group (exterior mirrors w/courtesy lamps, ParkSense rear park assist, ParkView backup camera, blind spot/cross path detection, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high-beam lights), $995
Adaptive cruise control group (adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, heated steering wheel), $925
Navigation/Backup camera group (Garmin nav. System, Sirius nav/traffic/travel service, Uconnect w/8.4-inch screen), $995
Super Track Pak (R20 performance tires, 3-mode stability control, 4-wheel heavy-duty disc brakes, performance steering), $400
Power sunroof, $840
Test vehicle: $41,645
Sources: Dodge, www.autos.yahoo.com
Photos: Courtesy of Dodge