Fortunately, the Charger was in the Autoblog Garage right when we needed to take a 600 mile trip into the mountains and back. This kind of extensive long distance testing is not always possible, and it is well suited to the Charger's character.Charger Day 2" hspace="0" src="http://www.weblogsinc.com/common/images/5732728850550362.JPG?0.49386936599064074" width="425" align="top" vspace="4" border="1" />
The Charger effortlessly handled the highway section of our trip. The smooth ride, comfortable seats, and quiet
interior all created a cozy freeway experience. The Charger can seriously eat up the miles. We separated the trip into
two days, and managed to make it to our destination in comfort and return without feeling entirely beat up.
Fuel efficiency is a big concern for many consumers these days. With gas pricing steady at insane levels, filling up a larger vehicle after a trip like this would seriously dent your wallet. The Charger managed to return a respectable 25.3 mpg on this trip, most of which was highway travel. When you consider, however, that at least one quarter of the driving was done on winding mountain roads, the Charger seems downright thrifty.
On these mountain roads, I discovered several characteristics about the Charger. First, the platform than underpins this full size sedan is very advanced. It is so advanced that the standard tires are obviously the weakest link when it comes to the Charger?s handling performance. Also, in stock form, the Charger SE appear to be tuned for under steer, perhaps to help those unaccustomed to a rear wheel drive car?s handling balance.
The second characteristic that sticks out is the overall tuning of the car, it is definitely aimed to not offend the non-ethusiast. Yes, that definitely seems at odds with the bad boy exterior, but let me explain. The suspension setup as a whole is a little on the soft side for my taste. The ride quality is excellent, which seems to be the positive end of the Charger?s handling compromise. The steering is also an interesting example of the car?s comfort angle. It provides exceptional feedback for those who listen carefully, but the steering assist and rack ratio are set to allow effortless steering. It permits that totally inappropriate one-handed-steering technique. So if you want to eat a burrito and drive, it?s a perfect fit.
The Dodge?s weight, conservative tires, comfortable suspension tuning, and effortless steering do not add up to a back road weapon of mass destruction. Knowing what can be done with this platform and seeing the potential even in the stock car, makes this enthusiast wish for more.
For those desiring a regal highway cruiser at a decent price, this might be the ticket. For those expecting the budget Charger to deliver tons of rear wheel drive hooliganism with the uber-sedan performance found in greater Dodges, you might want to save your pennies. One advice for Dodge, especially in the current climate, would be to offer some kind of performance package for those with a fuel efficient V6 on their mind.