2017 Dodge Charger R/T: Fifty years of muscle and style

By Mike Blake - Carlisle Events
Thursday, July 6, 2017

When the Dodge Charger first hit the scene in 1965, it was a Dart GT-based muscle car that blazed around town with a 235-hp 273ci. (about 4.5 liters) V-8 engine. Introduced on its own in 1966 as a two-door fastback that shared components with the Coronet, and outfitted with a 230-hp 318 ci. (5.2 -liters) V-8, its R/T trim was first offered 50 years ago, in 1967. R/T stands for Road/Track and the ’67 model came with a 426ci. V-8 that delivered 425hp and 490 lbs.-ft. of torque and blew through a zero-to-60mph sprint in 5.7 seconds, polishing off a quarter-mile in 14.4 seconds – true American muscle.

Charger was put on hiatus in 1988 and Chrysler brought it back in 2006, as the sixth generation of Charger. Its reincarnation has rekindled its following and now in its seventh generation, I was fortunate enough to test a 2017 Charger R/T and saw that my test ride had gained luxury conveniences, connectivity, safety features and performance over the original, though the track times were about the same as they were 50 years ago.

Looking at the entire 2017 Charger line-up, Dodge had added the exciting all-new Charger Daytona and Daytona 392 models, with Daytona models offering peak performance and heritage-inspired styling including unique SRT Hellcat®-inspired functional performance styling for an even more aggressive appearance.

Additionally, Active Exhaust is now standard on all HEMI V-8 models, and all 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 Charger models now feature a 2.75-inch electronically controlled active exhaust system to deliver a signature Dodge muscle-car sound. Chargers for this year also get an all-new fourth-generation 8.4-inch Uconnect system; Apple CarPlay; Siri Voice control and Android Auto for easy and safe access to Google voice search, Google Maps and Google Play Music. And various trims get new cosmetics, badging, and wheel finishes, while Signature Houndstooth cloth seats are now available on Dodge Charger SXT and R/T models.

Assembled in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, with a unitized steel body and aluminum hood, Charger retains its iconic look from the ’60s, specifically borrowing design cues from the historic 1969 model. Its cross-hair honeycomb grille, broad hood, scalloped body sides, slit headlamps, contoured rear taillamps and spoiler meld together for a muscular and sporty demeanor.

Charger turns heads with its bold muscle look and wide body, coming in at 200.8 inches long, 75.0 inches wide and 58.2 inches high on a 120.2-inch wheelbase with a curb weight of about 4270 lbs. for my R/T trim Charger, ground clearance is a scant 4.9 inches.

As Charger has been all about muscle for more than half-a-century, the 2017 group offers several powerful engine choices. The standard Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine is rated at 292hp (300hp in the Rallye Group of vehicles), and 260 lbs.-ft. of torque for an EPA rating of 18/city and 27/hwy for AWD. The 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 that powered my R/T trim Charger gallops out 370 horses and 395 lbs.-ft. of torque and is rated at 16mpg/city and 25mpg/highway -- my mixed-use tests that included some tire smoking as well as long interstate treks, averaged 23.1mpg. For more might, the super-powered SRT 392, R/T Scat Pack and Daytona 392 trims smoke tires with a 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 that powers up with 485 hp and 475 lbs.-ft. of torque for a rating of 15/city and 25/hwy, and the Hellcat® versions supercharge their 6.2-liter HEMI for a thundering 707hp and 650 lbs.-ft. of torque for track-worthy speed and performance and 13/22mpg if you are still fuel conscious.

My 5.7 HEMI was true to its R/T heritage with good responsiveness, though I occasionally found a slight power delay that reminded me of typical 1960s performance. Passing at speed was pie-easy and on the track, my R/T broke 6 seconds with a 5.9-second zero-to-60 dash and 14.4-second quarter-mile – just what they ran 50 years ago for the quarter.

The driver-oriented interior is well-crafted with premium, soft-touch materials lots of connectivity and adequate space. Charger afford 38.6 inches of front headroom and 36.6 in the rear seats, 41.8 inches of legroom in row one with 40.1 in row two, and shoulder room of a wide-body 59.5 inches in the first row and 57.9 for second-seaters. Knee clearance is 3.9 inches in the rear.

Safetywise, the 2017 Dodge Charger has earned a five-star overall safety rating from NHTSA, earning five stars for frontal and side impacts, and rollover resistance. Charger offers more than 80 available safety and security features, including advanced multistage front airbags, Full-speed Forward Collision Warning , Adaptive Cruise Control with Full Stop, Lane Departure Warning with Lane Keep Assist, ParkView rear backup camera with dynamic gridlines and 9-1-1 call/Assist Call.

With eight trims available, base Chargers start at $27,995 (SE trim) and run to $67,645 for the SRT® Hellcat trim. My test 2017 Charger R/T with the 5.7-liter HEMI, 20-Inch Satin Carbon Aluminum Wheels and R/T Badging, started at $34,895.

Options added on included the Beats™ Audio Group for $995, with Beats™ premium speakers with subwoofer and a 552-watt amp. GPS navigation with SiriusXM Traffic and Travel, U-Connect and HD radio added $1095 and The D river Confidence group added $1095 for Blind Spot Detection and Power Heated Mirrors w/Manual Fold-Away. A power sunroof added $1195 and Destination charges of $1095 put my 2017 Dodge Charger at $38,620.

You can see the new Charger and a “50th Anniversary of Charger R/T” trim display, along with “100 years of Dodge/Ram trucks” and a 50th anniversary of Plymouth GTX showcase, as well as more than 2,500 Chrysler-brand vehicles from all eras, including classics, muscle cars, high-performance, trucks and new models, at the Carlisle Chrysler Nationals, July 14-16, at the Carlisle (PA) Fairgrounds.

Visit www.CarlisleEvents.com for more on the automotive hobby.

Mike Blake, former editor of KIT CAR magazine, joined Carlisle Events as senior automotive journalist in 2004. He's been a "car guy" since the 1960s and has been writing professionally for about 30 years.

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