2018 Dodge Charger: America Loves its Muscle
By Mike Blake Carlisle Events
Thursday, July 12, 2018
The Dodge Charger – America’s only four-door muscle car and the sales leader in the large car segment for five years running is an American muscle car icon.
Charger began its street-muscle saga in 1965, as an option package for the Dart GT, though many point to the 1966 Coronet as its first true incarnation. Charger was mothballed in 1978 and returned in 2006 as a nostalgic re-imagining of its heyday. The inaugural ’65 Charger earned its rep by stampeding out 230 horses, and the 2018 SRT8 Hellcat version more than triples that original power output.
Following a 28-year hiatus, Charger charged back in 2006 and now in the 10th year of its current run, seventh year in the current generation, Charger has gained a loyal current-day following as it awaits a full redesign, expected for 2020 or 2021.
With tweaks made every year, Charger fully enhances in 2019 with upgrades inside and out. Among the 2019 changes will be an all-new grille design, which extends the sinister-looking front end to accentuate visual width and reflects Charger customers’ continuous demand for standout exterior design. 2019 Charger GT and R/T models receive a full complement of race-bred chassis upgrades and features along with new performance looks, such as a performance hood with air induction, styled fascia, sculpted side sills, decklid spoiler and seats.
But there’s plenty to like about the 2018 Charger, which has been named as the Edmunds Best Retained Value® Award for the large car segment – recognizing new 2018 vehicles and brands with the highest projected residual values after five years. The ’18 Charger has also been selected as one of Strategic Vision’s “Most Loved Vehicles in America” list for the fourth consecutive year.
New for 2018 are a standard Parkview rear back-up camera and Parksense rear park assist on all models; new grille and fender badges on the SRT Hellcat; a standard 300hp set-up on the Charger GT; new cosmetics, interior upgrades, wheel packages and colors on various models and larger touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on the base SXT.
Assembled in Brampton, Ontario, Canada, with a unitized steel body and aluminum hood, Charger pays homage to its past with architecture inspired by the iconic second-generation Charger from the late 1960s. Drawing on cues from the historic 1969 model, Charger’s Coke-bottle design and scalloped body sides, work in concert with the robust hood, fenders, front and rear fascias, headlamps, tail lamps, front doors and spoiler to provide the vehicle with a chiseled, nimble and lighter-weight appearance.
Measuring 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, and ground clearance of a scant 4.9 inches, Charger turns heads with its muscularity, while its wide body hugs the pavement from highway to track.
Charger has been all about muscle for more than half-a-century, and the 2018 version muscles up with several engine choices. The standard Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine rates at 292hp and 260 lbs-ft of torque for an EPA rating of 18/city and 27/.hwy for AWD. The optional Super TrackPack upgrade bumps the power to 300hp and 264 lbs-ft. The 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 that powered my R/T trim Charger stampedes out 370 horses and 395 lbs-ft or torque. The HEMI system was rated at 16mpg/city and 25mpg/highway and my mixed-use tests averaged 22.2mpg. The super-powered SRT trim utilizes a 6.4-liter HEMI V-8 that muscles out 485 hp and 475 lbs-ft of torque for a rating of 15/city and 25/hwy and blazing speed. 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.
I prefer a muscle stick, but my 5.7 HEMI was mated to a responsive TorqueFlite 8-Speed Automatic Transmission. The push-button start prompts a throaty exhaust note, and engaged, the system kicks in with immediate speed. Highway passing was proud and dominant, and on the track, a zero-to-60mph sprint took only 6 seconds during a 14.4-second quarter-mile.
The driver-oriented interior is well-crafted with premium, soft-touch materials, a full-color 7-inch customizable driver information display gauge cluster, and an instrument panel center stack with the newest Uconnect system. The cabin was comfortable with 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.
Safetywise, 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 11 trims basing from $28,995 for the 292hp SXT to $67,995for the 707hp SRT Hellcat. My370hp test 2018 Charger R/T was fifth on the trim list, base priced at $35,495.
In Go Mango (orange) exterior paint, with Black cloth seats, options added on included the Beats Audio Group for $1095, with Beats™ premium speakers, subwoofer and a 552-watt amp. The Driver Confidence Group added Blind Spot power heated mirrors, Blind Spot and Cross-Path Detection, Auto-Dimming Mirror and more, for $1295; The Navigation and Travel Group with GPS navigation and SiriusXM® Traffic Plus added $995; a Power sunroof added $1295; and a trunk cargo net added $30. Adding Destination charges of $1345 put the sticker-as-tested at $41,500, but regional incentives are available to discount your cost.
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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