When it comes to service and maintenance with our long-term 2012 Dodge Charger, it's starting to feel a bit like Groundhog Day. In both June and July we dealt with a corroded airbag harness that was causing the instrument panel to show a malfunction. In October we were again thrown back to June, having picked up on a shimmy in the steering wheel indicative of another bent wheel.
Since we still weren't keen on the idea of spending $375 to replace a wobbly wheel, we made our second call to Alloy Wheel Repair Specialists, a mobile service that pounds the wheel back into tolerance. Our decision proved to be even wiser than we expected when we discovered not one but all four wheels were out of round. One hour and $260 later, the Charger's twenty-inch wheels were spinning smoothly again. With winter and its resultant worse roads just around the corner, though, we're bracing ourselves for yet another bent wheel. Clearly, the optional Blacktop package wasn't designed with Michigan's beat-up roads in mind.
With the Charger in good health again, our editors were back to their usual activities: enjoying the sportier aspects and dissecting the less fulfilling attributes of our rear-wheel-drive sedan. "Every time I get behind the wheel of this black behemoth, I am delightfully surprised by how powerful and refined the 3.6-liter V-6 is," wrote associate web editor Donny Nordlicht. "I could use a little more oomph in this big sedan, but that's due more to the extra-tall gearing of the eight-speed transmission. At least the transmission is buttery-smooth when you put your foot in it on the highway to make it drop two or three gears to get some passing power."
"The steering is surprisingly good," said associate web editor Ben Timmins. "As much as we grouse and complain about steering racks on new cars, this one is pretty accurate. Too bad the ride and handling duo don't match: turn-in is acceptably quick, but the incredible heft of the Charger and its soft suspension mean that you'll have to wait a tick or two before the car actually settles into the turn."
As we wrote this update, our Charger was on its way east to draw some fresh opinions from some new drivers. Look for new perspectives from senior editor Joe Lorio and New York bureau chief Jamie Kitman in our November update.