The Dodge Charger is one of the most iconic muscle cars of the 1960s, especially with its optional 425-horsepower Hemi V-8. Every car buff knows that.
It's good news that the 2015 Dodge Charger
continues the racy tradition of the sensationally styled late 1960s Charger, especially the 1968-70 R/T model.
There are a fairly wide variety of 2015 Charger models, but I picked the new R/T, if only for a nostalgic feeling for the old R/T. Of all new Charger models, the 2015 R/T seems to have the most connection to the 1968-70 R/T.
The new Charger from Fiat Chrysler, as the outfit now is called, even comes with a supercharged 707-horsepower Hemi V-8 in its new "SRT Hellcat," model-- making it the first American sedan with such a high power rating.
And why not? Chrysler offered America's first 300-horsepower production car in 1955 with its big C-300 model. Of course, that big, fast, luxurious car had a Chrysler Hemi V-8.
For those who don't wish to outpower other American sedans with the rather outrageous Hellcat's V-8, Dodge offers lower-powered Charger models. They start with a 292-300-horsepower V-6 and continue with several other potent Hemi V-8s.
The Charger has new body panels and a restyled interior. This is a big car, with four wide-opening doors and a large trunk with a wide, but rather high, opening. Seatbacks flip forward to greatly increase cargo room.
The car's side view would look too flat without its scallop-doored body. It looks best from the front and rear, with new front/rear fascias and new fenders and taillights. It has both a retro American and modern European look.
I tested the 2015 Charger R/T with a 370-horsepower Hemi V-8. It's one of the sportiest, fastest Charger models. The smooth V-8 is docile in town and loafs at 75 m.p.h. on highways. Put your foot down hard and it seems that there is no end to the car's fast acceleration.
The R/T is rated at 16 miles per gallon in the city and 25 on highways. The engine loafs at about 1,100 r.p.m. at 75 m.p.h., thanks partly to the new Charger's new eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift feature. It feels as if fast acceleration will never end when you put your foot down hard.
Charger list prices begin at approximately $27,000 for a V-6 model and end at about $65,000--the price for the SRT Hellcat. All-wheel drive is offered for some models.
My test R/T had rear-wheel drive and a $32,995 list price. But a load of options and a $995 delivery charge upped the bottom line price to $43,465.
Still, many of the options were seductive in terms of comfort, agility and safety. They included a sport suspension and 20-inch wheels, which make handling sharper. (Standard for the R/T is a "performance suspension.") My test car's ride was generally supple, but got rather harsh on bad pavement.
Standard for the R/T are electronic stability control, all-speed traction control and all-disc "performance" brakes. They make roadability feel reassuring for such a big, heavy sedan, which has a confidence-inspiring "tied-down" road feel.
But, although well-weighted, the firm electric steering is almost too quick. Let attention wander on a freeway and a driver might quickly find himself partly in an adjacent lane. (Lane Departure Warning is optional.) The pedal for the anti-lock brakes has a nice linear action for smooth stops.
The R/T is fairly well-equipped with convenience and safety items that include keyless entry, pushbutton start, remote start and air bags.
My test car's optional interior was colorful, with red and black Alcantra and suede/Nappa leather power front seats, which offer superb support.
Other options include a $3,000 Customer Preferred package with a heated steering wheel, heated and ventilated front seats, heated second-row seats, additional performance-oriented suspension changes, stronger brakes, power tilt/telescopic steering column and a rear park assist feature.
Also offered is a $995 upscale sound system.
A handy $1,795 Technology group has blind spot and cross-path detection, adaptive cruise control and a forward-collision warning system that can prevent a rear-end crash.
A $695 package provides a navigation system and a backup camera, and a power sunroof costs an extra $1,195.
The quiet interior of my rear-drive R/T test car's gauges could be easily read. Getting useful information from its information-loaded dashboard screen was generally simple, but using it when driving sometimes required too much attention.
The cupholders, power window controls and well-placed dashboard vents partly show much attention was paid in restyling the interior. However, the center backseat armrest, which contains dual cupholdes, doesn't fold down at a perfectly level angle.
More importantly, driver vision to the rear is partly blocked by the roofline. The outside power mirrors thus are large and have a manual foldaway feature to avoid damage in areas such as parking lots.
The hood raises smoothly on twin struts. The engine's large cover proudly proclaims that it's a "Hemi" V-8, and there are small Hemi badges on the front fenders.
If you've got an iconic engine, why not flaunt it?