2007 Dodge Charger Review

2007 Dodge Charger - All-American personality.


Few cars have more of an All-American personality than the Dodge Charger, which spent most of the 1960s as a muscle car and was reintroduced as an early 2006 model.

This is a big, brawny, comfortable sedan, with a coupe-style roofline that gives it a sporty look. The 1960s Chargers were two-door coupes, but such models are in a niche market because nearly all big car buyers want four-door utility.

The Charger shares its basic design with the Chrysler 300 sedan, which means it has an independent rear suspension with a Mercedes-Benz design.

Look for a lot more component sharing between DaimlerChrysler's Mercedes unit and the Chrysler unit (Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep nameplates) to help pull the Chrysler unit out of a sales slump.

Since their 1960s debut, Chargers have had only rear-wheel drive. But the 2007 Charger line has two models with all-wheel drive (AWD), which enhances grip on both dry and slippery roads.

The new models are the $25,365 SXT, which I recently tested, and the $32,215 R/T, although the R/T can be had with only rear drive for $2,000 less.

The R/T is powered with either drive setup by a 5.7-liter 340 horsepower Hemi V-8 that provides unusually strong acceleration. The top-line Charger SRT8 has a neck-snapping 6.1-liter 425-horsepower Hemi, but it isn't offered with all-wheel drive.

The SXT AWD model has a 3.5-liter V-6 with 250 horsepower. While not as potent as a Hemi V-8, I found last year (April 10 AutoTimes) that the V-6 provides lively acceleration -- not to mention better fuel economy.

There also is a 2.7-liter V-6 with 190 horsepower for the base Charger SE, but it's mainly for those who don't do much driving that involves fast expressway on-ramp speeds or quick passing on highways.

The 2.7 comes with a four-speed automatic transmission, while the other engines shoot power through a more modern five-speed automatic with easily used manual shift capability.

The 2.7 is the mileage champ of the lot, delivering an estimated 21 mpg in the city and 28 on highways.

The SXT 3.5 V-6 provides 19 city and 27 highway and the R/T delivers 17 and 25. The all-wheel-drive versions provide an estimated 17 and 24. The Charger with the big 6.1 Hemi V-8 delivers an estimated 20 mpg on the highway, but only 14 in the city.

The smaller Hemi has a leg up because it comes with a cylinder deactivation feature that seamlessly switches between eight and four cylinders for better fuel economy.

Even the base SE has standard equipment including air conditioning, cruise control, AM/FM/CD player and power mirrors, windows and locks with remote keyless entry.

Besides the larger V-6 engine and AWD, the SXT adds an anti-skid system, wider tires on 18-inch (vs. 17-inch) wheels and a sport suspension.

The R/T adds the 5.7 Hemi, power driver's seat, power-adjustable pedals, upscale sound system and a split/folding rear seat that should also be on the lower-line Chargers to increase the cargo area.

The mighty SRT8 has features including uprated brakes, posher interior, high-performance suspension, rear spoiler and even wider tires on 20-inch wheels.

The SRT8 is really for die-hard car buffs, although most anyone can appreciate the seemingly effortless performance provided by 425 horsepower.

Not that you really need to, but you can add an extra 10 horsepower to the R/T if you order a $3,350 Road/Track Performance Group. It also includes uprated brakes, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, power front passenger seat and 20-inch wheels.

Numerous other options include the ever-popular $950 power sunroof.

Standard safety features unheard of for 1960s Chargers include anti-lock brakes and electronic stability and traction control systems. All are standard on Chargers except the entry SE model.

The Charger lets four 6-footers stretch in the front and back of the quiet interior. I'm not a fan of the Charger's white-face gauges, which seem more stylish than functional. But climate controls are large, as are key audio system controls. The R/T front seats are fairly supportive, but the position of the cover for the cupholders on the oversized front console can lead to spills when that cover is in the open position.

My notes say the steering is "nicely geared," and there's no mention of it being too light for the most secure highway driving -- a fault I found with pre-2007 Chargers. The ride is comfortable, helped by an extra-long 120-inch wheelbase (distance between axles).

Handling is sharp during such maneuvers as quick lane changes, and the brake pedal has a firm, confident feel. Quick stops from average speeds were good.

The trunk is large, although its opening is rather high and it could use a bigger opening. The lid raises smoothly on struts, and an indented interior lid area prevents a person from getting hands dirty on outside sheet metal, which often is filthy from salted streets and such during the cold weather Chicagoans have been suffering.

The heavy hood also could use struts to help raise it, but only has a prop rod. At least the engine compartment design allows easy access to the oil dipstick and fluid filler areas.

The Charger was the top-selling Dodge last year, with 114,201 produced. That shows that the desire for sporty All-American cars remains strong. 

2007 Doddge Charger

PRICE: $21,800-$35,920

LIKES: Newly available all-wheel drive. Fast. Roomy. Sporty.

DISLIKES: High trunk opening. All models don't have folding rear seat. Cupholder cover can cause spills.

Dan Jedlicka

Dan Jedlicka's Website

Dan Jedlicka joined the Chicago Sun-Times in February 1968 as a business news reporter and was named auto editor later that year. He has reviewed more than 4,000 new vehicles for the Sun-Times--far more than any newspaper auto writer in the country. Jedlicka also reviewed vehicles for Microsoft Corp.'s MSN Autos Internet site from January, 1996, to June, 2008.

Jedlicka remained auto editor at the Sun-Times until October, 2008, and continued writing for the newspaper's AutoTimes section, which he started in 1992, until February, 2009. While continuing his auto writings at the Sun-Times, he served as assistant financial editor of that newspaper from 1970 to 1973, when he began his automotive column.

He has appeared on numerous radio and television shows, including NBC's "Today," ABC's "20/20" and "The CBS Evening News." He was a host, consultant and writer for Fox-TV Channel 32's 1991 New Car Preview show and that Chicago-based station's 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 Chicago Auto Show Previews.

Jedlicka's auto articles have been printed in national magazines, including Esquire and Harper's. His auto columns have been reprinted in U.S. government publications and economic textbooks and he is profiled in the "World's Greatest Auto Show" history book about the Chicago Auto Show. In late 1975, Jedlicka was host and technical advisor for three one-hour television specials, "Auto Test 76," which aired nationally on PBS and were the first nationally televised auto road test shows.

In 1995, Jedlicka was the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois Inc.'s Consumer Education Award, given annually to a person who has gained distinction in the field of consumer education. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award in the Media category and inducted into the Legends of Motorsports Guild at the Carquest World of wheels custom car show in Chicago in January, 2006.

Jedlicka was a member of the North American Car and Truck of the Year jury, composed of a select number of auto journalists from throughout the country, from 1995 until 2009. From 2010 to 2012, he was a member of Consumer Digest magazine's auto experts panel that gave Best Buy new vehicle recommendations.

He is a 1987 graduate of the Bob Bondurant Race Drivers School and later of the BMW "M" and Skip Barber Advanced Driving schools. He was a member of the U.S. team that participated in the 1987 1,000-mile Mille Miglia race/rally in Italy and has been a race winner at the Chicago area's Santa Fe Speedway.

Jedlicka has owned 25 classic cars, including 1950s and 1960s Ferraris and 1950s and 1960s Porsches, a 1965 Corvette, a 1967 Maserati and a 1957 Studebaker supercharged Golden Hawk. Jedlicka resides with his wife, Suzanne, in the Frank Lloyd Wright historic district of Oak Park. They have two children, James and Michele.

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