2009 Dodge Charger SX 3.5 – Click above for high-res image gallery It's been almost a year since a Dodge Charger passed through the Autoblog Garage, and this go-around was very different from the last. Comparedto our last Charger, this one is positively subtle. Last time around, we sampled one of Dodge's police car demonstrators decked out in full law enforcement regalia including a roof-top light bar and traditional black-and-white paint job. Driving the cop Charger was a mix of euphoria and paranoia. This time, Chrysler sent over a civilian SXT model powered by the company's 3.5-liter V6. While the name hearkens back to coupes of the '60s and '70s (we'll ignore the forgettable badge job Omni edition of the '80s, thank you very much!) this is a full-sized sedan in the great American tradition. Given the current economic environment, future fuel economy regulations and the likely trajectory of gas prices, this is also a tradition that may be on its last legs. Read on after the jump to find out if this is a tradition worth preserving. %Gallery-43134% Photos Copyright ©2009 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc. While the Charger's looks are all-American, some of the underpinnings actually descend from the previous generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The Charger and its LX platform stablemates – the late Magnum, the Chrysler 300 and, of course, the Challenger – were developed under the management of former owner Daimler. This is one of two platforms with which the Germans begrudgingly agreed to share their hardware, the other being the ill-fated Crossfire. Fortunately for Chrysler, the LX was and is far more successful. The LX architecture actually underpins one of Chrysler's truly distinct products in the U.S. market, and in spite of using older German bits underneath, the Charger remains a relatively modern piece of kit. The primary bits that came from Germany are those that manage the motion of the wheels relative to the body. The all-independent suspension demonstrated that a rear-wheel-drive car could still be viable in the 21st century and likely prodded General Motors to develop its own rear-wheel-drive Zeta platform. Unfortunately for GM, by the time the Zeta arrived for the Pontiac G8 and Chevrolet Camaro, the market was already turning and Ford's own similar effort had been canceled before even yielding a product. The Charger became the third LX model following the 300 and Magnum when it debuted in early 2005. In 1999, Chrysler showed off a rear-drive Charger R/T concept that previewed the coming wave of four-door coupe body styles that we've seen in recent years. Unfortunately, many observers who had seen the sleek concept were disappointed that its looks had been abandoned in favor of a chunkier design that shared the front part of its greenhouse with its platform mates. The look has grown on people over the years and remains fairly unique in the marketplace. At least no one can claim that Chrysler's designers have cloned any other car to produce the Charger. For the first several …
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