Dodge Charger Performance
Despite some steering woes, reviewers generally find the 2007 Dodge Charger to be a powerful, capable performer with the road manners of a family sedan. The base Charger comes standard with a V6, rear-wheel drive and a five-speed automatic transmission. A V8 engine is also offered at higher trim levels.
About.com sums up the opinion of others, saying, "What makes a good vehicle great is balance. On the road and on the track, the Charger showed us that it can be all things to all people." In spite of the power and speed delivered by the Charger, test drivers note the quiet interior and sense of calm control, qualities befitting a family sedan. "It holds its power well, giving the driver a solid sense of control," says U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman. And Kelley Blue Book calls the ride "surprisingly eager and composed." Referencing the available power at hand, however, About.com warns, "It will bring out the teenager in you, so be careful and remind your inner teenager who pays the tickets."
Acceleration and Power
The 2007 Dodge Charger comes with four engine options -- two V6s and two V8s -- spread across four trims. Kelley Blue Book says the Hemi V8 "is just as smooth and powerful under the Charger's hood as it is in all the other vehicles it graces," but adds, "Even the base V6 delivers enough power to have a little fun." And MSN claims, "Under acceleration the Charger's power is quite evident."
The base Dodge Charger SE comes with a 2.7-liter 190-horsepower V6 engine, which makes 190 lb-ft of torque. Cars.com thinks, "With V-6 power, the Charger qualifies as satisfactory and impressively quiet, substituting a humdrum growl for the Hemi's exhaust note when floored." However, considering the engine power at higher trims, Automobile.com observes, "While the 2.7-liter SE wasn't a slug off the line, it's not the Charger for performance enthusiasts." Fuel economy for this engine is an EPA estimated 18 miles per gallon in the city and 26 miles per gallon on the highway, which Autoweb calls "decent."
The Charger SXT comes with a 3.5-liter, 250-horsepower V6 engine, which makes 250 lb-ft of torque. "A Charger with the V6 might seem contradictory to the car's image," writes Consumer Guide, "but it makes for a fine all-around package with more-than-adequate performance." Edmunds agrees, saying, "3.5-liter V6 offers adequate acceleration, smooth power delivery and an overall pleasant driving experience." Fuel economy for this engine is an EPA estimated17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 miles per gallon on the highway.
The Charger R/T comes with a 5.7-liter, 340-horsepower HEMI V8 engine, which makes 390 lb-ft of torque, and about which About.com writes, "I can't say enough good things." The HEMI, developed by Chrysler in 1951, uses a hemispherical combustion chamber and allows for increased power and better fuel economy. "With generous amounts of torque flowing to its rear wheels and Mercedes-derived chassis components," says Edmunds, "the V8-powered Charger R/T provides serious fun for driving enthusiasts." Automobile.com claims, "The 5.7-liter V8's thunderous acceleration is quite bizarre, really." Fuel economy for the V8 is an EPA estimated 15 mpg in the city and 23 mpg on the highway. Road and Track notes, "The 5.7-liter powerplant enjoys 20-percent-better fuel economy, thanks to Chrysler's Multi-Displacement System."
Called "a speed freak's dream" by the New Car Test Drive calls this engine "a Gold's Gym version of the lesser Chargers' HEMI." And Autoweb thinks, "few powerplants offer as much golly-gee-whiz fun as its 425 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of peak torque." Some reviewers were not impressed by the SRT8's EPA estimated fuel economy of 13 miles per gallon in the city and 18 miles per gallon on the highway. According to the , "The Charger SRT/8's thirst for fuel was a mood killer." Autoweb calls the fuel ratings a "dealbreaker.", the Dodge Charger SRT8 offers a 6.1-liter, 425-horsepower HEMI V8 making 420 lb-ft of torque. A uniquely tuned suspension puts the SRT8 slightly lower, half an inch closer to the road than the R/T.
While the base SE comes with a four-speed automatic transmission, the other engines are mated to a Five-speed AutoStick transmission, which allows for manual selection of gears without using a clutch. MSN calls the transmission "responsive" and the manual shift feature "easily used," but notes "there's no manual gearbox, which could be had in the old Charger muscle car." AutoMedia.com writes that the transmission is "smooth and quick from cog to cog and the ratios line up well with the engine's power bands."
Handling and Braking
In spite of its muscle-car toughness, says New Car Test Drive, the Charger "is tempered by startling levels of handling competency." Edmunds praises the "firm handling" as being "plenty comfortable for the weekday grind." Road and Track observes that it "delivers a ride that is firm, yet not jarring and feels quite controlled." And Consumer Guide writes, "The Charger combines the feel of a traditional big, American car with the sporty handling of a European sedan, all while being nearly as refined as the top Japanese competitors."
A large vehicle, the Dodge Charger was found by many reviewers to incorporate its bulk adequately in the driving experience. U.S. News reviewer Rick Newman says, "For a relatively big car, the Charger holds curves well, and a tight turning radius gives it a pliant feel." Writes Edmunds, "Carving up a twisty road is more fun than you'd think considering the Charger's bulk," while New Car Test Drive notes, "This is no sporty, svelte coupe. It's a big, heavy, full-size sedan" and that it's "a fun drive, especially considering its size."
Many reviewers had issues with what MSN calls "vague" and "light" steering, with New Car Test Drive mentioning that the steering "seemed a bit over-assisted, and could have used more on-center feel." Motor Week agrees, saying, "While the steering is quick, it definitely needs more feel." And The Auto Channel notes that "steering effort has been reduced to the point where a good sneeze ... could result in significant lane deviation."
In general, critics were please with the brakes. "Pedal feel is firm, braking is reassuringly linear," reports New Car Test Drive, "and there's no perceived interference from the electronic watchdogs, yielding smooth, controlled stops at will." Edmunds says of the standard ABS, "brake pedal feel is linear and firm." Automobile Magazine finds the "pedal feels a bit mushy," though this was not the majority opinion.
The Charger's front and rear independent multilink suspension makes "for a stiff, flex-free body," writes Car and Driver, and both "make it quite capable of managing the bends in the road as well," says Motor Week. Automobile.com thinks, "The result is an ideally damped setup, wonderfully controllable through long sweeping or tight corners at high-speed and confidence inspiring under extreme braking." Some of the higher trim levels have tighter suspension, creating some mixed results for reviewers. Consumer Guide observes, "Ride generally smooth, composed, but rippled pavement triggers annoying jiggling, especially in V8 models with their firmer suspensions."
A step up from the R/T, the limited-edition Daytona R/T offers the same engine as the R/T, with a 10-horsepower increase, which is the result of a performance-tuned dual exhaust. "For sharper handling, a few extra ponies and head-turning color schemes, the Daytona is the clear choice," writes Edmunds.