Big size plays a big role in building up the Dodge Charger's image. The full-size dimensions are nearly as important to the car's imposing presence as the sculpted sheet metal. But is the Charger too big to be practical? During the month of May, several of our drivers called attention to the Charger's proportions with both positive and negative undertones.
"This car is quite large, but it's actually very maneuverable, with a commendably small turning circle that enables you to get into tight parking spots with no problems," reported managing editor Amy Skogstrom after spending a week with the Charger. She also noted that her confidence in piloting the Dodge into the narrowest places was boosted by the comfortable driving position and excellent visibility.
Having split time between a Fiat 500 and a Nissan Cube for twelve days, Jennifer Misaros, managing editor of digital properties, found refuge when she scored a stint in the Charger. "No oddball ergonomics, a comfortable seating position, plenty of power, excellent steering, and a superb ride/handling balance," she appraised. "If it felt like a big American sedan before, it felt even more so after driving two subcompacts." Upsizing didn't require a new driving style, though. "The Charger is so agile and body motions are so controlled that size only becomes an issue for me in city driving and when navigating parking lots. The Charger's grille is slightly convex, so nosing into the parking spot in our garage can be nerve racking. I end up parking the big guy at least a foot from the wall so as not to accidentally make contact," she noted.
Associate web editor Jake Holmes was more opinionated about the Dodge's size. "I wish the Charger were a bit smaller," he said. "It feels especially wide and bulky when navigating narrow streets crowded with pedestrians and cyclists." His desire for a smaller Charger isn't alone. No one on staff is surprised that a full-size car uses more of the road and takes a larger arc through turns, but we'd love to see the Charger formula -- rear-wheel drive, unmistakably American styling, and an affordable price -- applied to a true mid-size car.
Of course, doing that would eat into the Charger's massive trunk, an attribute that we sincerely appreciate. Skogstrom had room to spare after loading a golf pull cart and two golf bags into the trunk. Assistant editor David Zenlea was even more demanding with his bulky cargo. "I surprised both myself and the guys at a local bike shop by fitting my old ten-speed into the Charger's trunk with the rear seat folded. Who needs a crossover or the Honda Fit's "magic seats" when you have a big, ol' Detroit sedan with a gigantic trunk?" Zenlea posited. "The trade-off, of course, is that the Charger really does drive like a big Detroit car, albeit one with impeccable manners and reflexes. The steering is direct and the body motions are well controlled, but there's no hiding the mass you're throwing around. In contrast, the new front-wheel-drive Cadillac XTS I drove in California last week felt much smaller even though it has a similarly vast interior and trunk," he observed. Not that he prefers the Cadillac over the Dodge; the Charger still sits at a unique intersection of style and space."The Caddy has nowhere near the presence of our hulking Dodge," Zenlea added.