Among our Four Seasons cars, the sporty Charger is an unlikely choice for a camping outing, but that's exactly where associate web editor Jake Holmes took our Dodge for a long weekend in August. With two friends along for the ride, Holmes drove west to Michigan's P.J. Hoffmaster State Park where our Blacktop-edition Charger attracted a lot of attention. "As we lounged by the campfire on Tuesday night, a family walked past and their young son wondered out loud, 'Whoa, is that a Corvette or a Mustang?'" Holmes reported. "The next day, as we were packing up our tents, a neighboring camper came to ask about and look at the Charger. He was a Londoner who had moved to the U.S. eight years ago and had towed a camper behind his VW Touareg. As he surveyed the Charger, he commented on how sporty and aggressive it looks."
It's not difficult for a car to look sexy among trucks, SUVs, and even a Pontiac Aztek with the accessory tent, but the Charger holds its own against more stylish cars as well. Deputy editor Joe DeMatio ran across several fans as he traveled up Interstate 75. "In mid-Michigan, the black-on-black-on-black Charger commanded a lot of attention and respect," DeMatio noted.
Back at the campground, Holmes's friend Alan -- a big car guy -- was wooed by the Charger. He liked the sound and power of the Pentastar V-6; he loved the blacked-out, cop-car looks; he loved the big touchscreen navigation and satellite radio interfaces; and he loved power-reclining the passenger seat. Others have also recently filled the Charger's logbook with praise for the seats. Laura Sky Brown, executive editor of JeanKnowsCars.com, drove 300 miles to Bloomington, Indiana, on a Friday evening then retraced those same 300 miles the next day. "My passenger, my 17-year-old daughter, Rose, has one criterion for this regular drive: she wants to catch up on her sleep," Brown wrote. "Kudos to Chrysler for the supremely comfortable reclining front passenger's seat. It folds down to be almost completely horizontal, with excellent padding and comfort, and she slept as though in her own bed all the way down and most of the way back," Brown added.
An intrepid fact-finder, DeMatio sought to verify those claims on his own. The following weekend, as he drove home from visiting family, he stopped at an outlet mall, pulled into a remote corner of the parking lot, silenced his iPhone, and reclined the driver's seatback to take one of his patented Joe DeMatio roadside afternoon naps. "I was quite amazed by how far the seatback reclined. It was better than a Delta Air Lines business-class seat," he marveled. "I awoke, refreshed, on cue about fifteen minutes later, brought the seatback to its upright position, and headed into Pottery Barn to see if there was anything there I could not live without. There wasn't."
All was not dreamy bliss with our Charger this month, however. As the Charger crept through the car wash one day, the lights on the shifter died and the dashboard display flashed a warning: "Service Shifter Now." Luckily, after restarting the car, the warning message vanished and the lights re-illuminated. We relayed that experience to the dealer a couple days later. While the technician couldn't find any visible wiring issues, he did verify the fault code we had seen and discovered a second internal fault in the computer. The fix was to replace the entire shifter assembly under warranty. At the same time, the technician reprogrammed the transmission computer per a Dodge technical service bulletin. The software flash is said to fix some minor flaws with sport mode, the paddle shifters, a launch shudder, and some slight bumps during up- and downshifts. None of these those specific issues had been on our radar, but we're eager to see if the update does anything to address our concerns about a general reluctance to downshift.