Back in November, I drove a 2013 Chrysler 300S for a review. After spending a week in it, I came away mightily impressed. So a few weeks after, I spent some quality time with the sister car, the 2014 Dodge Charger. Would I feel the same way as I did in the 300S or I would come away with a different opinion on it?
Like the Chrysler 300, designers at Dodge decided to keep the basic shape of the Charger and make small improvements here and there. The front end features a crosshair grille and scalloping along the hood to give the Charger a bit of meanness to it. The front doors have a large groove that begins where door meets the fender. This is a definite callback to the 1968 Charger with its grooves on the doors. The back end features the biggest change to the Charger and that is a new trunk lid with large taillight. This taillight has 164 individual LED lights running the whole length of the light. Aside from the Challenger, this was the first Dodge product to get this and has since expanded to other models in the lineup.
Moving to the inside, Dodge has improved the Charger greatly. A new dashboard design continues the connection to the old Chargers with a unique graphics on the gauge cluster and a nameplate on the passenger side. There are also improved materials and build quality, something the last-generation model couldn't claim.
As for space, the 2014 Charger has it in abundance for the front and back seat passengers. The only downside is that you feel somewhat cramped due to a high beltline and a small greenhouse. Comfort is high with very supportive seats in the front and back.
My test Charger was equipped with the optional 8.4-inch UConnect infotainment system. This system is possibly the easiest and most lag-free I have used in a vehicle yet. The only downside is the navigation system from Garmin that looks like something you get in a Fisher Price toy. However, I don't mind it since it's easy to use and accurate.
For Powertrain and Ride Impressions, See Page 2
The Charger is available with either the 3.6L Pentastar V6 or 5.7L HEMI V8. This model was equipped with the former which packs 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. This comes paired with a eight-speed automatic from ZF. Much like the Chrysler 300S I drove earlier in the year, the Charger when equipped with the V6 is sublime. The engine always seems to have more than enough power on tap whenever needed. The 3.6L also is one of the smoothest and quietest V6s I have driven. A lot that credit has to go to the eight-speed automatic transmission which provides quick and smooth downshifts to keep the engine right in the sweet spot. I wish the same could be same for the upshifts. Also, I wished Dodge had used something other than the weird gear lever since it's hard to get it into gear you want the first time around. I'm hoping Dodge goes to a rotary knob or a regular lever for the gear selector in the near future.
As for fuel economy, the EPA rates the Charger SXT at 19 City/31 Highway/23 Combined. During the week, I saw an average of 23.2 MPG.
On the ride and handling front, the Charger is a refined big sedan. Road imperfections are non-existent thanks to a nicely tuned suspension and long-wheelbase. Wind and noise are kept down. Show it some corners and the Charger is more than capable of tackling them. Compared to the 300S, the Charger SXT has a little bit more body roll since it uses the standard suspension and not the touring suspension on the S. For most buyers, this isn't such a big deal. Steering is excellent with nice weight and very good road feel.
When my week concluded with the Charger, I felt the same as the I did with the 300S. Dodge took the Charger and worked on the key areas that needed to be addressed. With those changes, the Charger has become a bonafide competitor in the full-size sedan class and one that deserves a look if you're considering something in the class.
Disclaimer: Dodge Provided the Charger SXT, Insurance, and One Tank of Gas
Trim: SXT Plus
Engine: 3.6L DOHC 24-Valve V6
Driveline: Rear-Wheel Drive, Eight-Speed Automatic
Horsepower @ RPM: 292 @ 6,350
Torque @ RPM: 260 @ 4,800
Fuel Economy: City/Highway/Combined - 19/31/23
Curb Weight: 3,996 lbs
Location of Manufacture: Brampton, Ontario
Base Price: $29.295.00
As Tested Price: $35,375.00 (Includes $995 Destination Charge)
Customer Preferred Package 28J - $2,000.00
Driver Confidence Group - $1,495.00
Navigation/Rear Backup Camera Group - $995.00
Driver Convenience Group - $595.00