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July 17, 2015

2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack

by Mark Savage

2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Packcharger1

            There’s no reason to be coy when addressing the strength of Dodge’s new Charger R/T Scat Pack. That’s Pack with a P as in Power.

No this is NOT the Hellcat with its ridiculous 707 horsepower. This is the macho family sedan, the four-door with 485 throbbing HEMI V8 horses under its hood with a bulge big enough to let you know it has a pair, er, a 6.4-liter 392 cu.in. engine in its bay.

This is Dodge’s second most powerful V8, just behind the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 in the Hellcat. But heck, let’s not talk about Hellcat and its $64,990 price tag here. That’s for the rich folks.

Related Video: Hop in with Mark as he drives a Hellcat at Road America.

The R/T with the Scat Pack package starts at a more family friendly $39,995. That’s right, Buster, this Charger is under $40gs and still will kick your neighbor’s BMW or Audi to the curb with a guttural V8 roar that will let everyone in the neighborhood know who the alpha male is.

I liked it.

Mine was a beautiful bright metallic blue that matches the old Charger blue from the early 1970s. I know because I pulled up next to one at a stoplight. We both did a double-take.

charger2That was another era though. This Charger is downright civilized and chock full of electronics that the earlier models’ designers could never have imagined. More on that in a minute.

First, consider that a base rear-drive Charger SE starts at $28,990 and packs a 3.6-liter V6 that delivers a pretty hefty 292 horses. There’s even an AWD model at $31,990 if you’re planning to show off in winter.

The base R/T, which ups the ante with a 5.7-liter V8 packing 370 horsepower, lists at $33,990. Then there’s the Scat Pack edition with its bumblebee 1970s logo on the grille and embroidered on the front seatbacks.

I’d love to drive the Scat Pack version without all the electronic gee whiz gadgets, but the test car added a hive-full to push this to $46,765. Even that’s well below most muscular European makes, usually with a turbo 4-cylinder that offers none of the audible enducements of the HEMI-powered Charger.

Tromp the pedal and hear this baby roar to life. Smart money is you’ll squeal the tires. Those are Goodyear Eagle F1 ZR-20s, but they’ll howl or chirp, even in a parking lot. There’s a fair amount of weight on those ties as Charger weighs 4,400 lbs., but it’ll rip up to highway speeds in a short haul. Dodge says 175 is the top speed (I hit 125 mph during a media day at Road America) and 0-60 mph should race by in about 4.5 seconds.charger3

That’s fun, but the benefit is on a highway drive, where I spent roughly half my time. Cruising in traffic about 60-65 mph a person might get the itch to move ahead of that big ol’ truck up ahead and with the tap of the gas pedal you’re there, that V8 rumbling like a tummy full of T-bone steak!

Putting the power down is handled efficiently through an 8-speed automatic transmission too. Smooth shifts that seemed perfectly suited to this HEMI.

Handling matches the macho power, with excellent flat cornering from those Goodyear’s aided by the car’s aggressive suspension package that features fixed-rate Bilstein shocks. Braking is impressive too from the Scat Pack’s big 4-piston Brembo disc brakes. They look sexy too in red behind the fancy performance rims.

charger scat pack logoThe downside is ride, which is fairly firm and can become abrupt on rough city streets, such as those in Bay View. In highway driving the car’s 120.2-inch wheelbase smoothed ride out sufficiently and going with a less aggressive package than the Scat Pack also would smooth the ride.

Steering effort also is on the heavy side with this R/T. But there’s a big thick leather steering wheel to give you maximum gripping power to turn that wheel. Folks with small hands may want to give the wheel a squeeze to make sure their pinkies won’t get too tired driving this one.

Electronics?

Sure, I promised you that, and the electrons start whirring with Dodge’s Sport and Super Track Package buttons on the dash’s center stack. These allow you to quicken the throttle response and turn on or off the launch control feature to assist in smoother starts that avoid major tire burnouts. It’s your choice just how racy this sedan responds.

There are plenty of other goodies here too. Standard are a rear park assist feature along with backup camera, the view spread across a big 8.4-inch screen that’s standard but also part of a Uconnect package that includes 3D navigation at $695. Also standard is push-button start and remote start.

Love the big screen Dodge delivers.

Love the big screen Dodge delivers.

Options included a technology package for $1,995 that includes blind-spot and cross-path detectors, adaptive cruise control and annoying lane departure warning with a lane keep assist feature that tugs at the wheel to keep you in your lane. Luckily that can be turned off.

But this package also includes a full-speed forward collision warning system that not only beeps at you, but slams on the brakes if it detects a slow-moving or stopped object ahead. I gave it a try, inadvertently, and while it scares the bejeebers out of you, it stops the car pronto. My slow-mover was a car turning right, at a snail’s pace.

Other technical wonders include projector headlights, exterior mirrors with courtesy lamps, automatic high-beam control, rain-sensing wipers and a power tilt/telescope steering wheel.

For another $995 Dodge adds an impressive Beats audio system with big trunk-mounted subwoofer and 10 speakers. I could pass on this, but it cranks the radio up with its 552-watts, if you prefer to share your music with bystanders.

Inside, cloth seats are standard, but the blue test car added well-contoured black leather and suede performance seats that really grip the front seat folks. Rear seats are a flat bench. Both front and back are heated and the front seats ventilated to cool them in summer. This package costs another $1,495 and includes memory seats, mirrors and radio.

charger4I liked the interior’s look, the black leather along with red trim on the floor mats and subtle honeycomb brushed metal trim around the dash gauges and on the console. There also is satin metal and chrome trim on the interior and it looks great.

Controls are all well positioned and easy to see and use, with big volume and tuning knobs for the radio on the center stack and trip computer and cruise controls on the wheel’s hub. One problem did crop up though, the digital dash would not switch from kilometers to miles per hour despite my repeated pressing of the OK button, which was meant to reset it. Luckily there’s an analog speedometer too.

On the practical family sedan side is the fact that five people can ride comfortably in this full-size car, plus there’s a two-body (16.5 cu.ft.) trunk to haul suitcases and such.

Less practical? The gas mileage I suppose. I got 18.6 mpg in about 50% highway driving. That’s better than I’d get in most large SUVs and this was a 100% more fun to drive. EPA rates this at 15 mpg city and 25 highway. The standard V8 and V6 models in lower-line Chargers get somewhat better mileage. Don’t ask about the Hellcat!

Final word: The Charger is a hot-looking family sedan, with a more refined looking nose and grille than previous models, a giant hood bulge, great looking lights that sweep across its tail, a black rear spoiler and a muscular stance that folks won’t confuse with anything else on the road.

Do you need an R/T Scat Pack? No, but you sure as heck may want one!

Good looking wheels, paint job and red Brembo brakes!

Good looking wheels, paint job and red Brembo brakes!

FAST Stats: 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack

Hits: Hot looking family sedan with monster power, racy handling and comfortable interior. Smooth tranny and big gauges and radio/nav screen, blind-spot warning, heated mirrors, seats front and rear and steering wheel and a two-body trunk. Economical for the performance you get … and it sounds great, like a V8!

Misses: Heavy handling and abrupt ride. Main instrument cluster would not change from kilometers to miles per hour.

Made in: Brampton, Ont.

Engine: 6.4-liter HEMI V8, 485 hp

Transmission: 8-speed automatic

Weight: 4,400 lbs.

Wheelbase: 120.3 in.

Length: 200.8 in.

Cargo: 16.5 cu.ft.

MPG: 15/25 (EPA)

MPG: 18.6 (tested)

Base Price: $39,995

Dealer’s Price: $39,036 (includes delivery)

Major Options:

Leather/Alcantara performance seats (heated/cooled front seats, heated rear seats, heated steering wheel, auto-adjust-in-reverse outside mirrors, memory function for driver’s seat/radio/mirrors, heated mirrors w/manual fold-away, illuminated rear cupholders, hectic mesh interior accents), $1,495

Preferred package 21W (Beats audio group, 10 Beats speakers w/subwoofer, 552-watt amp), $995

Technology group (bi-function HID projector headlights, blind spot/cross path detectors, adaptive cruise control w/stop, full-speed fwd collision warning, lane departure warning w/lane keep assist, advance brake assist, exterior mirrors w/courtesy lamps, automatic high-beam control, rain-sensing wipers, power tilt/telescope wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, power heat memory mirrors w/manual fold-away), $1,995

Driver confidence group (power heat memory mirrors w/manual fold-away), $395

Uconnect (8.4-inch touchscreen, 3D GPS nav, HD radio, SiriusXM Traffic/Travel Link), $695

Delivery: $995

Test vehicle: $46,765

Sources: Dodge, www.kbb.com

Photos: Mark Savage

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