I remember all the Charger purists who, back in 2005, argued that the new Charger wasn’t a proper “muscle car.” In their defense, they hadn’t seen one with a 6.1-liter Hemi V-8 underhood, and I do believe the Charger is at its hairiest (and, arguably, its best) when decked out in full SRT8 trim. Adding another 57 hp transforms the sedan into a veritable hammer of the gods. Sadly, those gods-apparently miffed that something was missing from their toolbox-sent me plenty of snow and ice to drive in.
I survived, but this certainly isn’t the car to have if you frequently encounter blizzards. I’m sure a lack of traction can be attributed in part to a lack of winter tires, but I blame the monstrous 420 lb-ft of torque channeled to the rear wheels. I also blame the ESP, which, in the aim of appeasing said muscle car aficionados, allows for some wheelspin upon launch. It took a little while for the traction control to realize I wasn’t trying to melt vulcanized rubber before hooking up and sending me on my way.
The Charger SRT8 is not perfect, mind you-the steering is too skittish and light at higher velocities, and the interior doesn’t as good as it should for $44,000-but it’s still plenty of fun (for five!), should the sun be shining.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer
Fortunately, the roads were bone dry for my night with the SRT8, and I was able to enjoy it in all its glory. I’ve spent lots of time with Charger R/Ts and can confirm the SRT8 is indeed a very worthwhile upgrade. The extra 0.4-liter of Hemi muscle turns what is a merely quick big sedan into a ferocious monster, fully capable of spinning its tires from 30 mph. I know because I did it. Three times. Laughing hysterically.
Perhaps more surprising is the improvement in handling. I drove the SRT8 after spending a weekend with our long-term Jaguar XF – one of the best riding and handling large sedans money can buy – and wasn’t nearly as disappointed with the Dodge as I thought I’d be. The ride is rough, but never unbearably harsh. The stiffer dampening suitably dispenses with the pitching and front-wheel tire squealing that’s all too prevalent in lesser Chargers. At more than 4000 lb, it’s still far from tossable, but it can hustle through highway off-ramps and tight turns quite well, assisted, of course, by liberal doses of throttle. The only real letdown is the five-speed automatic, which has a limited, awkward manumatic function and no sport mode. If only we could order this beast with the Challenger R/T’s six-speed manual.
There are clearly no Jaguar pretensions in the Dodge Charger‘s interior, which feels cheap and dated even in the base model. The last freshening did some good, as there appear to be more soft-touch materials on the dash, but this is still a dark, Spartan environment. On the bright side, the seats are supportive and the navigation system works well.
All in all, the extraverted Charger SRT8 remains a bright spot in Dodge’s lineup.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
Holy crap, I love this engine! The power is SWEET, and it sounds fantastic during cold starts, giving a lopey rumble that sounds like its almost on the verge of stalling. Brilliant! The SRT8 can also spin its tires with stability control fully activated (as long as you dont make any sudden inputs that make the computer think youre about to crash). I like those high thresholds, although it just supports my case that this car is not painted TorRed, as the Monroney says, but is actually Arrest Me Red.
A couple things about this particular Charger pleasantly surprised me. (1) The doors shut with an impressive (and unexpected) solid sound, and (2) the seat bolsters arent nearly as huge and annoying as I remember those in other SRT vehicles.
The g-meter (which debuted on the Challenger SRT8, I believe) is a silly gimmick, but I like it. It just adds to the Arrest Me factor, though: “Oh, I know I can beat 0.6 acceleration g’s,” or “I wonder if I can hold 0.9 g’s through this next corner … “
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
2009 Dodge Charger SRT8
Base Price (with destination): $39,370
Price as tested: $44,375
-TorRed Exterior Paint – $225
-Customer Preffered Package – $1195
-SRT Option Group III – $1285
-Supplemental Side Curtain Air Bags – $590
-Aluminum SRT Design Wheels – $250
-Uconnect Video Entertainment System – $1450
Fuel Economy: 13 / 19 / 15 (city/hwy/combined)
Size: 6.1L HEMI V-8 engine
HP: 425 bhp @ 6,200 rpm
Torque: 420 lb.-ft. @ 4,800 rpm
Transmission: 5-Speed Automatic
Weight: 4160 lb
– 20″ x 9″ Aluminum SRT Design Wheels
245/45ZR20, 255/45ZR20 Performance Tires