2018 Charger New Car Test Drive
The Dodge Charger is a full-size rear-wheel-drive sedan. It's reminiscent of an old-school muscle car, a four-door longer in wheelbase than the two-door Dodge Challenger, with retro styling. Yet it's comfortable and user friendly, with modern technology.
Charger's body was last refreshed for 2015, and changes since then have been plenty but not major. For 2018, the Charger Hellcat gets a new grille and fender badges. There are some minor equipment changes for 2018: a rearview camera comes standard, a V6 performance package for the SXT has been added, and new colors are available for paint, wheels, brake calipers, and leather upholstery.
The scary-fast 707-horsepower Charger Hellcat gets the most attention, with a new grille and fender badges, and new options including aluminum wheels with a finish called Matte Vapor; brake calipers painted black, orange and gunmetal; gunmetal gray body stripes; and Demonic Red leather.
There are four Charger engines, all mated to an excellent 8-speed automatic transmission. The responsive 3.6-liter V6 makes 292 horsepower; the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 makes 370 horsepower; the 6.4-liter V8 (392 cubic inches) makes 485 hp; and last but hardly least comes the SRT Hellcat with its supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V8 making 707 epic horsepower. It will go 204 miles per hour. It's surprisingly composed for a beast.
The Charger strikes a brilliant balance between performance and livability, and it's beautifully finished for the money. Though if it's luxury you want, the Chrysler 300, which shares the Charger platform and powertrains, is the call.
The GT and GT Plus models are all-wheel drive, using an active transfer case and front-axle disconnect that can shift into rear-wheel drive to save fuel. The V6 engines in the GT models make a bit more horsepower, 300, to pull the extra weight of the system.
Shopping for a Charger could be very confusing if you're not already a MoPar aficionado. There are many choices in equipment, so you have to be sure of things, in particular knowing what engine, suspension, exhaust and brakes you want. If you just want a Charger and don't care about all that, the SXT works very nicely.
Fuel economy for the Charger V6 with rear-wheel drive is an EPA-estimated 19/30 miles per gallon City/Highway, or 23 mpg Combined. V8 models with cylinder deactivation get 19 mpg Combined, while the Hellcat gets 16 mpg Combined.
The Charger gets five stars in safety from NHTSA, while the IIHS gives it the highest score in every category, including rollover and side impact, but a Marginal in the small front-overlap crash test. Standard safety features include airbags for the driver's knee and full-length curtain airbags, as well as active head restrains in front.
Safety features including rear cross-traffic alert, blind-spot monitors, lane departure warning with lane-keep assist, forward collision warning, adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking are optional, or come with packages and higher trims.
Charger SXT ($28,495), SXT Plus ($30,495), and SXT Plus Leather ($33,495) come with the 292-hp V6 engine. Charger GT ($32,495) and GT Plus ($35,495) come with all-wheel drive and a 300-hp V6. Charger R/T and Daytona feature a 370-hp 5.7-liter V8. Charger R/T Scat Pack, Daytona 392 ($44,995) and SRT 392 ($51,145) get a 392-cubic-inch V8 with 485 horsepower. Charger SRT Hellcat ($67,995) gets a 707-hp 6.2-liter engine.