It's a good thing this car appeals to a wide range of people, because this extroverted torch red Dodge Charger SRT8 isn't easy to hide. Onlookers ranging from a senior citizen to a toddler pointed and stared at this modern-day Mopar muscle car as I idled down Main Street in Ann Arbor.
The Dodge Charger SRT8 is an adorable throwback that anyone schlepping through life with a wheezy four-cylinder or an indolent V-6 should experience before the petroleum runs out. The 425-hp Hemi V-8, side-stepping rear axle, and war-whoop exhaust yowl are well worth the $43,730 price of admission. Never mind the $1700 guzzler tax or the $50 pump stops, this is the most cost effective form of mental therapy money can buy.
It's not QUITE as fun and eye-catching as the stick-shift Challenger SRT8 I drove last weekend, but the Charger SRT8 is still more fun and eye-catching than just about every other four-door on the market today. Not that it's particularly nimble to toss through corners, but this super (and super heavy) Charger can still be enjoyable around curves. Where the Dodge really comes into its own, though, is on the highway, during kickdown gearshifts, or tire-squealing wide-open-throttle drag-race launches.
We recently tested a Dodge Challenger SRT8 and I was very disappointed with the car. It was big, heavy, difficult to see out of, and felt surprisingly slow. The Charger is just as big and heavy, but it offers better visibility and the automatic transmission's more favorable gear ratios make the car a lot more fun to drive.
The Charger may not have badass looks on the same level as the Challenger, but it has the mechanicals to match the two-door and the packaging to beat the coupe as a fun and usable muscle car. Like Phil, I find the Charger's better sightlines and (relatively) smaller feel to be a big advantage in making this Dodge a better car. The additional 20 pounds of a Charger SRT8 over the Challenger SRT8 are imperceptible, and the suspension of the sedan is tuned for both better handling and a ride that's well tuned rather than floaty. As others have complained about the automatic transmission's manual mode, I feel compelled to add that the process of taping the shifter left and right to change gears is unintuitive and just plain annoying. The interior may be characterless, but the important contact points-the seat and steering wheel-are comfortable and natural.
Even if you skipped the red paint on our test car, the Charger SRT8 would still turn heads. Sure, the large 20-inch chrome wheels and the massive Brembo disc brakes beneath catch the eye, and then there's the massive air intake planted smack dab in the middle of the hood. From the driver's seat, it almost seems like Chrysler grafted on an engine nacelle ripped from a Boeing 737.