2006 Charger New Car Test Drive
The Dodge Charger is dead, long live the Dodge Charger. At least, that's how the Dodge guys in Michigan hope fans of the Chrysler Group's performance brand will receive the new Dodge Charger.
While its namesake was a two-door hardtop, and commonly, if not completely accurately, referred to as a coupe, the all-new Charger is a four-door sedan, albeit styled somewhat deceptively to diminish that fact. Further, it's as heavy as and actually larger in a couple measures than the Dodge Magnum, which is like a station wagon, and the Chrysler 300, a full-on, unapologetic, family-size sedan.
So is the new Charger intended to reflect what the original would have become had it stayed around and matured over the four decades since the model was launched in '66? Sort of like the latest reincarnation of the Ford Mustang? Or is it simply an opportunistic attempt to capitalize on a tradition-rich name, regardless of how it may diminish that name's legacy? Sort of like the current Pontiac GTO? The market will provide the answers, or for that matter, determine whether answers are needed.
As for the car itself, no doubt it doesn't really care. It's a bold design statement, however it's viewed, a blend of throwback cues and modern form architecture. Whether it pleases matters less than whether it draws attention. Its retro graphics assure the latter.
The new Charger illustrates just how multi-talented and accomplished today's high performance cars are compared to the uni-dimensional hot rods of yesteryear. The Charger has all the pavement-ripping, gut-thumping power of the old muscle cars, but is packaged with modern creature comforts and tempered by startling levels of handling competency. Put another way, it rides, turns and stops as well as it goes.
The 2006 Dodge Charger may cost a pretty penny, and it may not get the best mileage, but what it lacks in those measures, it more than makes up in grins.
The 2006 Dodge Charger comes in one body style, a four-door, five-passenger sedan. Three engines are available, a 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6; a 340-hp, 5.7-liter V8; and a 350-hp, 5.7-liter V8. All come with a five-speed, AutoStick automatic.
The entry-level Charger is the SE, fitted with the V6 ($22,320). Cloth upholstery is standard, but the SE isn't lacking in creature and driver comforts. Among them: air conditioning; cruise control; tilt-and-telescope steering wheel; soft-finish urethane-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; floor mats; power door locks, outside mirrors, windows and remote trunk release; two power points; driver and passenger lumbar adjustment; and AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack. Steel wheels with bolt on covers wear black sidewall, all-season, P215/65R17 tires. The Protection Group ($590) adds front and rear side-curtain airbags, cabin air filtration and self-sealing tires. Also available: an engine block heater ($40); a Smoker's Group ($30) that adds a lighter and ash tray. SE option packages: The SE Convenience Group 1 adds an eight-way power driver's seat and adjustable pedals ($505).
The Charger SXT ($25,320) comes with the V6 and upgraded features: An eight-way power driver's seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 60/40 split folding rear seat with fold-down center armrest, Boston Acoustics stereo with six speakers and 276-watt amplifier, fog lamps, trunk cargo net and cast aluminum wheels. Options include leather-trimmed seats ($640), a power sunroof ($950), power adjustable pedals ($125), six-disc CD changer and MP3 capability ($400), satellite radio with one-year subscription ($195), rear-seat entertainment system ($1150), Bluetooth capability ($360). Also available: 18-inch polished aluminum wheels with P225/60R all-season tires coupled with a sportier suspension ($325). In addition to the Protection Group and Smokers Group, there's a Comfort Seating Group with heated front seats, leather-trimmed bucket seats, power adjustable pedals and 8-way power front passenger seat ($1395).
The Charger R/T ($29,320) is a V8-powered, high-performance model. Like the SXT, the R/T builds on what has come before in standard features and offers abundant options, covering the gambit from functional to entertaining to fun. Outside mirrors now fold and are heated, too. A speedometer reading to 160 miles per hour replaces the 140-mph unit on the SXT and SE. Front brake rotors add an inch in diameter to the SXT's and SE's 12.6 inches and spin between twin-piston calipers, and rear discs are vented. A tire pressure monitoring system appears, and the 18-inch, polished aluminum wheels become regular issue. The fuel tank gains capacity, to 19 gallons. And a dual exhaust debuts, with bright metal tips. Stand-alone options originating on the R/T consist of a DVD-based navigation system integrated into the stereo control head ($1895) and a seven-speaker Boston Acoustic setup with a 322-watt amplifier and subwoofer ($535). Convenience Group II includes dual-zone, automatic climate control; heated front seats; power adjustable pedals; 8-way power front passenger seat; and one-touch, automatic up and down power windows with anti-pinch auto-reverse ($955). The Electronics Convenience Group adds a security alarm, programmable universal garage door opener, trip computer, selectable vehicle information display, compass and a set of steering wheel-mounted, redundant audio controls ($630). Behind the fun tab of the option book is the Road/Track Performance Group, what some who remember the ultimate stealth muscle car of the 1960s might call the Road Runner Edition, as in, more go, less show: unique aluminum wheels with black accents, sportier steering, self-leveling shocks, sport seats, performance suspension and, the kicker piece, a tweaked V8 making 350 horsepower ($1600).
Safety features that come standard on all Charger models include antilock brakes, all-speed.