Dodge Charger Performance
The 2008 Charger is a capable and powerful performer, with a dynamic optional V8 engine. Despite a few steering woes, the Charger delivers sturdy handling for a large sedan.
U.S. News' Rick Newman says that it "holds its power well, giving the driver a solid sense of control." Kelley Blue Book adds that the ride is "surprisingly eager and composed." Edmunds reports that the Charger is "a cut above traditional family sedans in terms of performance capabilities."
Acceleration and Power
The 2008 Dodge Charger comes in a variety of performance options, starting with a 2.7-Liter V6 and topping off with a 6.1-Liter SRT HEMI V8. Most reviewers enjoy the base engine ride, but find the top tier V8's outstanding.
The base Dodge Charger SE comes with a 2.7-liter 178-horsepower V6 engine, which delivers 190 pound-feet of torque, which most reviewers find satisfactory but not thrilling. Kelley Blue Book says that the base V6 delivers "enough power to have a little fun." 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." Cars.com thinks the V6 power on the Charger "qualifies as satisfactory and impressively quiet, substituting a humdrum growl for the HEMI's exhaust note when floored." The 2007 Charger, with the 2.7-liter engine and four-speed automatic, has an EPA estimated fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon in the city and 26 on the highway.
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 the "3.5-liter V6 offers adequate acceleration, smooth power delivery and an overall pleasant driving experience."
Reviewers praise the 5.7-liter, 340-horsepower HEMI V8 engine, featured on the Charger R/T. "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." About.com writes, "I can't say enough good things."
The R/T has an Environmental Protection Agency estimated fuel economy of 15 miles per gallon in the city and 23 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.", the Dodge Charger SRT8 offers a 6.1-liter, 425-horsepower HEMI V8 making 420 lb-ft of torque.
The SE and SXT trims comes with a four-speed automatic transmission, while the R/T and SRT8 trims receive a five-speed automatic, called "AutoStick," which allows for manual gear selection without a clutch. MSN finds 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 calls it "smooth and quick from cog to cog and the ratios line up well with the engine's power bands."
Handling and Braking
The Dodge Charger is a large sedan, yet most reviewers find that its size does not compromise its handling and driving experience. New Car Test Drive says the Charger "is tempered by startling levels of handling competency." Edmunds praises the "firm handling" as being "plenty comfortable for the weekday grind," adding that "Carving up a twisty road is more fun than you'd think considering the Charger's bulk."
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."
Road and Track finds that the ride "is firm, yet not jarring and feels quite controlled." And Consumer Guide concludes, "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." U.S. News' Rick Newman says, "For a relatively big car, the Charger holds curves well, and a tight turning radius gives it a pliant feel."
The Charger's independent front and multilink rear 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," concludes Motor Week. Automobile.com says: "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."
Critics are generally pleased with the Charger's brakes. New Car Test Drive says the pedal feel is "firm" and "braking is reassuringly linear." Yet, Automobile Magazine finds the "pedal feels a bit mushy," though this was not the majority opinion.
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.