Time to rejoice for Charger fans. Following significant upgrades for the 2011 model year, the Dodge Charger is even better. In fact, it's simply hard to beat when it comes to performance-oriented full-size sedans.
Already noted for its powerful V8 engine, capable handling, roomy cabin and all-wheel drive availability, the 2011 Dodge Charger has upped the ante with a refreshed design, a new and more robust V6 engine, a revised suspension tuning, upgraded interior materials quality, electric-assist power steering, additional standard features and a new electronic interface.
While the new Dodge Charger has lots to offer, a final buying decision is usually best served by also considering worthy rivals. Another large performance-oriented sedan would be the Ford Taurus SHO, while shoppers interested in more traditional practicality may want to take a look at the sport trims of the Honda Accord, the Hyundai Sonata and the Nissan Altima.
Trims, Standard Features And Options:
The 2011 Charger is available in two trimls: SE and R/T. (The SRT8 is not offered this year but will likely appear again in the future.) The SE is rear-wheel-drive only, while the R/T is available with either rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Standard features on the already decently-equipped entry-level Charger SE include the new 3.6-liter V6 engine, full power accessories, 17-inch alloy wheels, a power driver seat, keyless entry/ignition, cruise control, air-conditioning, remote engine start, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, a trip computer and a 6-speaker audio system with a CD player, a 4.3-inch touchscreen interface, an iPod interface and an auxiliary audio jack.
Moving up to the Charger R/T adds a V8 engine, 18-inch alloy wheels (19 on AWD models), a performance-tuned suspension, heated front seats, a power-adjustable front passenger seat, Bluetooth, dual-zone climate control, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, foglights, xenon headlights, a rear spoiler on RWD models, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and an Alpine audio system with an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, voice controls and satellite radio.
There's also a myriad of available options grouped in a long list of packages. Some of the more popular optional features include navigation, leather upholstery, a sunroof, a rear back-up camera, rear park assist, heated front seats, power-adjustable pedals, a blind-spot warning system, adaptive cruise control with a front collision warning system, a heated steering wheel, heated and cooled cupholders, a 9-speaker Alpine surround-sound system, various 18-, 19- and 20-inch wheel choices, and a Super Track Pack that adds high-performance brakes, tires and suspension components.
Incidentally, here's an infographic on the 12 automakers who've been giving the best new car deals off MSRP (includes Dodge).
Engines, Powertrain And Gas Mileage:
Powering the Charger SE is an all-new Pentastar 3.6-liter V6 engine that's good for a healthy 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Under the hood of the R/T is a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that pumps out a prodigous 370 horsepower and 395 pound-feet. Both are paired with a 5-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode, while all-wheel drive is available for the R/T.
The EPA-estimated gas mileage for a V6-equipped Charger stands at 18 mpg city and 27 on the highway. The fuel economy rating for a V8-powered R/T with RWD comes in at 16 mpg city and 25 mpg highway, while the AWD R/T is rated at 15 and 23, respectively.
Standard safety features for all 2011 Chargers include antilock brakes (ABS), electronic traction/stability control, front side-impact airbags, a driver knee airbag, active front head restraints and side curtain airbags. In addition, a blind-spot warning system as well as adaptive cruise control with forward collision warning can be added as options.
While government crash tests had not yet been completed at the time of this writing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the new Charger its Top Safety Pick designation.
One of the raps on previous Chargers had been its rather bland interior with ample hard plastic and lower quality materials. Well, the new Charger has changed all that with softer-touch surfaces and higher-quality materials. The design has also been thoughtfully and attractively revised giving the Charger a more modern and upscale overall look and feel.
The Charger's cabin has always been quite spacious with plenty of legroom all around. The seating is also comfortable and supportive, both front and rear. That said, the Charger's sloping roof line can be an issue in terms or rear headroom for 6-foot+ passengers. And likely ample for most, the trunk's 15.4 cubic foot cargo capacity is somewhat below average for a large sedan.
Of course, the 2011 Charger R/T with its powerful V8 and incredibly brisk acceleration is a lot of fun to drive. But, perhaps surprisingly, the new V6 is no slouch either and provides a solid and entertaining performance on its own. In addition, the Charger's recalibrated suspension does a good job of combining both ride comfort and athletic handling with either engine. True driving enthusiats, however, will prefer the awesome power and engagement provided by the V8 and can even further enhance performance with the optional Super Track Pack.