|Big, fast, agile and good looking, the Dodge Charger SXT delivers a lot for a reasonable sum. (Photo: Dodge)|
My early racing years were spent overseas, and I had no real cultural reference to the muscle car era. However, I was one of the pro drivers giving rides around California’s Laguna Seca Raceway in Dodge Vipers during Cherries Jubilee, a massive muscle car and hot rod show. The effort and enthusiasm of the owners, along
|The Charger loves to stretch its legs. (Photo: Dodge)|
With the end of production of the Holden-based, U.S.-only Chevrolet SS, the lone holdout in terms of the classic four-door configuration is the Dodge Charger, which is assembled in Brampton, Ontario. I’ve spent quite a bit of time at Chrysler’s test grounds, including leading a driving team for an ambitions corporate culture change program. The Daimler takeover of the company, politely called
|The Charger interior isn’t luxurious, but it’s well put together. (Photo: Dodge)|
The Chargers that I would normally choose to test are V8 powered, including the ferocious 707 horsepower Hellcat, so I had low expectations of the 300 horsepower 3.6-litre V6 in my most recent test vehicle, an SXT model with the optional Rallye group. This Dodge, after all, is a heavy car, too much so, but that can also be said of many pricier marques.
I pulled out of Vancouver, heading towards the mountains, and was impressed by the
|A nicely formed leather-wrapped steering wheel improves performance driving. (Photo: Dodge)|
There’s a lot to like about the Dodge Charger, beyond drivetrain and suspension. The interior, while not luxurious, is well assembled, with good seats and a proper steering wheel, which helps keep hands comfortably at 9 and 3. The paddle shifters work well, and actually hold gears rather than up or downshifting regardless of driver input. The audio system and Uconnect infotainment screen are
|The UConnect infotainment system is fully featured and easy to use. (Photo: Dodge)|
Regardless of the future of the Fiat takeover, Chairman Sergio Marchionne and his team have had a very positive effect on the company. Just about every vehicle in the lineup seems to have been sent to finishing school. Ergonomics are better, as is quality control. Here’s the best part. My car, with the oddly named Rallye option, has a suggested price of $42,685, and right now there are some dealer incentives on 2017 models. Of interest for managing our winters is the optional all-wheel drive system, which will add $2,000 to the sticker. It is biased towards the
|Eight-speed auto with manual mode is easily up to snuff. (Photo: Dodge)|
While the delinquent in us may long for the 707 horsepower Charger Hellcat, the V6 is lighter on its feet and therefore has better overall handling balance, especially on uneven road surfaces. Outside of the automatic gearbox and V6, the dynamics reminded me of that Vauxhall and Holden mentioned earlier. While old school in concept, this is a pleasant and capable sports sedan.
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