Jesus Garcia/ The Paisano
The Charger name has been around since 1966, when the first Dodge Charger was produced and is as legendary as its friendly competitors, the Mustang and Camaro. In 2006, when Dodge brought back the Charger name, the once street brawling muscle car returned as a family sedan with too many doors. The reaction from Dodge fans was anger and disgust at the thought of their beloved General Lee and Toretto Charger turned into a 9 to 5 suburb runner. Thankfully, Dodge created a compromise that has since earned the acceptance of their loyal followers by producing one of the last remaining, “Big American Cars”.
I test-drove the 2014 Dodge Charger R/T, a mid-range model of the Charger lineup with the SRT8. “That thing got a Hemi?” Yes! This gunmetal grey Charger was created with a 5.7 liter Hemi V8 engine bolted to an 8-speed automatic transmission, which is enough to crank out 370 horsepower through the wheels. Pricing for the R/T start at around $32,000 and can quickly jump up to $40,000 if you get crazy with options like AWD or GPS navigation. The R/T I drove was priced at $38,000, and I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel.
Pushing the ignition button, I was greeted with nostalgia as the Hemi came to life with a roar and steady rumble. I’ve had problems with modern cars and their electronic throttle control systems because they do not allow the driver to feel like they are in control of the car’s acceleration at slow speeds. However, this Charger did not have that problem, as throttle response is instant and smooth. Just breathe on the gas pedal and you’ll be cruising 20 mph in no time. I thought the brakes would be just as sensitive, since it is a performance car, but I was pleasantly surprised that they were as smooth as silk with stopping power in full control of your right foot. The ride quality was good; the Charger will not sail over a pot hole like other more luxurious sedans, but you will be able to drive over a pot hole without spilling your coffee.
If you buy a Hemi, it is not because you like the ride quality, it’s because you want a smile on your face while painting tire marks on asphalt. Putting your foot down on this Charger R/T is like flipping the switch from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde. The car reacts with a vicious launch as it attacks the pavement trying to pass anything that appears in its horizon. There is a reason why the Hemi engine is a legend in its own class — it is a brutal example of engineering acceleration.
To sum up this car in one phrase, it is, “a rebellious substitute”. The Dodge Charger is a family sedan that stands out in parking lots, with its “born to be wild” design. I would recommend the Dodge Charger R/T to anyone with a family who still wants to feel like they are in a car built for fun, instead of car pools.
Thank you to Ancira Chrysler on 10807 IH-10 West for allowing me to use their car for this review.