The Dodge brand just wrapped up its first 100 years of behind-the-wheel fun (1914-2014) with eyes poised for a second century of horsepower exploitation. Dodge remains the sporty choice of Chrysler Group and its recently christened parent company: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA).
The well-remembered Charger name was reborn in the new Millennia circa 2006 with four doors and a mission to enchant after petering out with a whimper in the mid-1980s after hedonistic days harkening back to the late 1960s and early 1970s. A modern-era second-generation redo came forth in the 2011 model year. Consider 2015 a mid-cycle refresh with oodles of newness.
Charger measures larger than a conventional mid-size Toyota Camry or Ford Fusion sedan, competing size wise with the likes of a 'large sedan' Chevrolet Impala or Toyota Avalon. Charger's appeal skews younger as the average buyer ages rate 17 years younger than the median age for full-size sedan buyers.
This four-door appeals to parental units desiring optimal horsepower when jetting youngsters to soccer practice. Upgraded rear-wheel-drive architecture adds a performance edge when compared to pedestrian front drive found in many high-volume full-size sedans. For two-door excitement, look no further than the Challenger coupe which offers the same available four engines found in Charger. Both share an assembly home in Ontario, Canada and select underpinnings.
Charger and Challenger rate as top sports car selections in a Dodge lineup also featuring the more plebian but Illinois-assembled compact four-door Dart. Belvidere Assembly, operational since 1965, also builds Jeep's Compass and Patriot. For parents whose kids have flew the nest, Dodge also markets the limited-production, 2015 two-seat V-10 Viper generating an obnoxious 645 horses.
Charger is available in an abundant nine trim levels with new-for-2015 SRT 392, SRT Hellcat and our tester, the R/T Scat Pack. Adding to the decision-making process; a goodly number of options and packages. Street and Racing Technology (SRT) is the fuel-injected performance sub brand from Dodge.
The lowest-priced offering, a V-6-powered rear-drive Charger SE starts at $27,995 and pricing accelerates briskly from there. Our R/T Scat Pack entered at $39,995 with a $46,765 bottom line after option packages and $995 destination charge. For those seeking the gripping stability of all-wheel drive, only trims with the sole V-6 engine (SE, SXT) offer this option. The three remaining V-8s boast performance-oriented rear-wheel-drive.
Our Charger R/T Scat Pack with naturally aspirated 6.4-litre Hemi V-8 cranked out an eye brow raising 485 horses matted to a smooth-as-silk torque flight eight-speed automatic transmission now standard across all engines. The 485 number represents the most horses from a non-supercharged Dodge engine. Just the gentlest of accelerator touches sends this beast roaring into action teamed with an audible rumble alerting those around Charger's in the hood. Forward momentum comes to a quick halt thanks to R/T Skat Pack's high-performance four-piston Brembo brakes with exposed red calipers.
Scat Pack trims include a dashboard 'sport' mode button customizing engine response, traction setting, steering response and transmission tuning. A snarling 'bumble bee fitted with monster-truck-sized tires' logo resides on black cloth bucket seat back rests. The soft-touch dashboard and doors continue the noir theme with brushed aluminum door handles and trim.
All 2015 Chargers benefit from dramatic rear LED lighting, adding personality and long continuous light streams after dark. Four doors sport cup-like handles rather than strap-like varieties. The satin black spoiler accenting the deck lid looks right at home; more so than let's say, on a Grand Caravan minivan. Black also trims side windows, a duty usually handled by chrome.
Up front, a long, narrow grille utilizes a honeycomb fill, a fitting domicile for another snarling bee logo. The grille frame extends to the outer edges including narrow headlight housing. Embossed on both front side doors is a large blocked reverse "C" scallop with upper reaches merging with a top belt line. A functional scoop on the all-aluminum hood directs additional air flow to the engine. Dual circular exhausts with four-inch chrome round tips adorn the lower rear.
As with just about every Chrysler, Dodge, Ram and Fiat sold in America, Charger includes the most intuitive means of redundant volume control and audio preset selection. Rather than front-mounted, Charger positions toggle-like controls on the steering wheel's back side, a playground where fingertips are naturally positioned to do the walking. Push-button start comes standard. An impressive ight-speed automatic transmission gets summoned from a floor-mounted T-bar shifter with manual, clutchless shift options. The potent Charger is one of a handful of vehicles where this type of' manumatic' delivers passionate results.
Charger's multi-function in-dash touch screen is one of the best. For example, large touch-screen icons include descriptive words below helping speed the decision-making process whether operating the navigation map, climate control or satellite radio. Crisp graphics are easy on the eyes and the available 8.4-inch screen rates as Jumbo Tron size compared to some mimicking cellular phone appeal. Below, easy-grip, redundant old-school tactile dials are on duty to monitor volume and pre-set controls.
Ventilation functions reside below these dials with a centered dial controlling fan speed flanked by push buttons selecting dual temperature zones.
The 'performance' three-spoke power tilt-and-telescope steering wheel has cruise control functions at 3 o'clock with push buttons at 9 o'clock monitoring and toggling through the instrument panel's seven-inch, full-color driver information display. The IP's outer reaches include two analog dials artistically intertwining a three-dimensional format. The relatively spacious glove box includes two levels for optimal storage opportunities.
Rear seat room skews tight considering this vehicle's full-size dimensions, especially if long-legged drivers position their butt bucket's back any great lengths. The transmission hump vertically partitions floor space in half, further impeding a cozy atmosphere along with backside roof line slopping aggressively towards the deck lid. That said, audiophiles have access to USB type plug-in ports just above the floor hump. They're positioned on the back side of the between-the-buckets storage bin, also containing portable electronic connections and a 12-volt outlet benefitting front-seat travelers. A second 12-volt plug is found directly in front of the T-bar transmission shifter.
Looking to maximize fuel economy? Keep searching. Charger prioritizes power over portion control. Expect 15 miles per gallon city and 25 mpg highway with the R/T Scat Pack's 6.4-liter 485 horsepower V-8 utilizing premium 91 octane unleaded fuel. However, this engine features a cylinder deactivation mode operating on four cylinders at certain cruising speeds helping to attain the rather acceptable 25 mpg highway. The V-6 is the only engine happy with regular, 87 octane. Both Charger and Challenger have yet to explore gas-electric hybrids; the wait may be extensive.
Still thirsting for more? For those in need of optimal four-door fun, Dodge offers a Charger SRT Hellcat with supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V-8 promoting a thrill-seeking 707 horsepower.
It's no wonder Chargers ride undercover of sorts, as in law enforcement undercover. Charger Pursuit is a specially tailored high-performance police package municipalities across the nation use to patrol their streets.
2015 Dodge Challenger R/T Scat Pack
Price as tested: $46,765
Wheelbase: 120.2 inches
Length: 198.4 inches
Width: 75 inches
Height: 58.2 inches
Engine: 6.4-liter V-8
Horsepower: 485 horsepower
Powertrain warranty: Five year/100,000 miles
City/Highway economy: 15 mpg city, 25 mpg highway
Built: Brampton, Ontario, Canada