12 MONTH CAR REVIEWS: 2012 Dodge Charger SXT Plus - Piling On The Miles

September 14, 2012
2012 Dodge Charger SXT Plus Front Right View
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Long-Term 2012 Dodge Charger Update - FALL 2012 (1 OF 4)
Miles to date: 15,072 miles
"The gas mileage was very impressive."
We added more than 3000 miles to our Charger's odometer in July, recording the busiest month for the Dodge since it arrived in January. A bulk of those miles can be credited to photographer A.J. Mueller who enlisted our Charger to scout a photo shoot in Nashville, Tennessee. During the long trek down I-75, Mueller noted that the Charger is blessed with "amazing, big, beefy seats that let you ride in serious comfort." He also came away impressed by the Dodge's frugality over 1400 miles. "The gas mileage was very impressive and the tank never seemed to get down to E." In fact, the Charger's fuel log shows multiple fill-ups of just about half a tank; Mueller and his crew couldn't outlast the massive 19.1-gallon tank. Averaging 26 mpg -- well above the Charger's 23-mpg EPA city/highway combined rating -- they could have covered as much as 500 miles on a single tank.
2012 Dodge Charger SXT Plus Rear Right Side View
The other 1600 miles were accumulated in and around Ann Arbor, where our editors couldn't help themselves from commenting on that contentious eight-speed automatic transmission. Senior web editor Phil Floraday kicked it off, writing, "I really wish the gear ratios and shift timing were better optimized for the power delivery from the Pentastar engine." Floraday is talking about our Charger's 3.6-liter V-6. It produces a formidable 292 hp, but it also feels weaker than that number suggests up until 3500 rpm, when it really wakes up. At part-throttle acceleration, the engine can't take advantage of the high-end power. "The Charger seems to upshift just as the engine starts to produce power, then you're back into the sluggish lower end in an absurd effort to save fuel," Floraday complained. "It's perfectly fine to have the transmission upshift early to save fuel, but it's not acceptable for that to happen if the engine only makes power in the upper end of the rev range. I'd be a lot happier with this car if the engine delivered more torque down low."
Assistant editor David Zenlea has joined Floraday in using the Charger's transmission sport mode as his default choice. "More and more I'm noticing that, in new cars, drive is really eco, forcing you to go down to sport if you want downshifts when you expect them," he wrote. Pulling the gear selector into sport mode also better aligns the powertrain to the Charger's cornering demeanor. The Dodge is in a class of one compared to the indifferent-handling competitors in the full-size sedan segment. "I still appreciate how well the Charger steers and handles," Zenlea wrote. "I got into the Charger after a week in a 2010 Mustang GT and didn't feel like I was suffering from handling withdrawal. It's refreshing to drive a big, rear-wheel-drive sedan that doesn't snap at you, CTS-V-style, should you get on the throttle a little early in corners."
On the service front, we paid another unexpected visit to our dealer in July to address an airbag warning light that popped up in the instrument cluster. If this sounds familiar, it's because we dealt with this same issue just last month. In June, the dealer discovered a loose connector in a wiring harness under the driver's seat, cleaned some corrosion off the pins, and sent us on our way. On this latest visit, the technician diagnosed an intermittent open circuit in the same harness that had just been cleaned. This time around, the connector was replaced under warranty. We're hoping this fix lasts longer.
Body style 4-door e-segment sedan
Accommodation 5-passenger seating
Construction Steel unibody
Steering Rack and pinion with hydraulic power assist
Lock-to-lock 2.6
Turning circle 37.7 ft
Suspension, Front Control arm
Suspension, Rear Multilink
Brakes F/R Vented disc
Wheels 20-in. aluminum wheels
Tires Firestone Firehawk GTV
Tire size 245/45R20
Engine 3.6-liter DOHC Pentastar V-6 engine
Displacement 3.6 liters (220 cu. in.)
Power 292 hp @ 6350 rpm
Torque 260 lb-ft @ 4800 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic transmission
Drive Rear-wheel
EPA Fuel Economy 19/31/23 (city/hwy/combined)
Headroom F/R 38.6/36/6 in
Legroom F/R 41.8/40.1 in
Shoulder room F/R 59.5/57.9 in
Wheelbase 120.2 in
Track F/R 63.4/63.8 in
L x W x H 199.9 x 75.0 x 58.4 in
Cargo capacity 16.5 cu ft
Weight 3996 lb
Weight dist. F/R 52/48
Fuel capacity 19.1 gal
Est. fuel range 439 miles
Fuel grade 87 octane (regular unleaded)
STANDARD EQUIPMENT 3.6-liter DOHC Pentastar V-6 engine 8-speed automatic transmission Four-wheel antilock disc brakes 18-in. aluminum wheels Stability and traction control Keyless entry and ignition Hill start assist Tire pressure monitoring system w/display Touring suspension Electro-hydraulically-assisted steering Color electronic vehicle information display Remote start system 8-way power driver's seat w/4-way power lumbar adjustment Heated front seats Rear armrest w/cup holder SiriusXM satellite radio w/one-year subscription Universal garage door opener Uconnectfi voice command w/Bluetoothfi Uconnect Touch w/8.4-inch display Auxiliary audio jack USB port 6 premium speakers
Charger SXT Plus $2,000 Nappa leather seats Security alarm Heated second-row seats Power 4-way passenger lumbar adjust Heated and cooled front cup holders Front overhead LED lighting Driver and passenger lower LED lamps Power front seats 18-inch aluminum wheels Rear stabilizer bar
Blacktop package $1,495 Sport mode 2 Paddle shifters 9 speakers w/506-watt amplifier and subwoofer Sport leather bucket seats 20-inch gloss black aluminum wheels Gloss black grille Performance suspension
Adaptive cruise control group $925 Adaptive speed control Forward collision warning Heated steering wheel
Navigation/rear back up camera group $995 SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link w/one-year subscriptions Rearview camera Garmin navigation system

Long-Term 2012 Dodge Charger Reviews to Date:

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