The Charger may not be the aggressive muscle coupé it was back in the 60s, but times have changed.
In the late 1970s, the Dodge Charger made a serious impression on TV watchers, featured in the “Dukes of Hazzard” as the General Lee. The B-body Charger was introduced in 1966, seeing various updates and redesigns before being discontinued around 1987. It saw a re-introduction on the LX-platform (shared with the Chrysler 300) for the 2016 model year, debuting as a full-sized sedan with a rear or all-wheel-drive configuration. More than fifty years after the first example hit showrooms, we took a look at the 2017 Dodge Charger SXT Rallye.
Essentially a base SXT outfitted with the Rallye Appearance Package, this Charger came painted in an adventurous Octane Red, mated to a black premium cloth interior. The Charger may not be the aggressive muscle coupé it was back in the 60s, but times have changed. What this car now offers is a large, honest American sedan with plenty of leg and headroom and muscular styling that sufficiently pays homage to its predecessors. The bulletproof (not literally) nature of the Charger is demonstrated in the amount of fleet service it sees, serving as the choice police cruiser in many North American jurisdictions.
Dodge sells the Charger SXT just above the base SE, coming with standard features such as an eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat with four-way lumbar support, heated front seats, a 10-speaker BeatsAudio stereo with subwoofer, 8.4” Uconnect touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and 19” aluminum wheels. There are a series of packages available on this model, including appearance packages, larger wheel setups, and of course, the ability to upgrade to a plethora of upper trim levels.
Though packing a distinct muscle car look with a beefy stance, the Charger SE and SXT don’t get a fire-breathing V8 that’s restricted to models R/T and up. This trim is equipped with the base 3.6L Pentastar V6 that we’ve seen in various other FCA applications. It’s an immensely responsive powertrain and one of the best naturally aspirated V6 motors coming out of Detroit right now. Output here is 300 horsepower at 6,350RPM and 264 lb-ft. of torque at 4,800RPM. The Rallye Package gets a minor ECU flash, “Active-Air” intake, and sport-tuned exhaust that allows for better airflow, bringing power up from 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. The only available transmission is ZF’s eight-speed automatic.
The Charger can actually be optioned with all-wheel-drive, much like most other players in the class. This is only available on the SXT, with all V8 models remaining rear-drive, true to their roots. Even still, the V6 AWD model is quite pleasant to drive, making long highway hauls a breeze. The strong and rigid chassis makes the Charger remarkably dynamic to push around corners, though its overall size does become evident in urban situation. Ride quality is good on the 19” wheels (our test vehicle was wearing a set of winter rubber), and the steering has a good amount of weight to it. The Charger made a heavy winter blizzard feel like child’s play with its all-wheel-drive system inspiring confidence.
Despite not packing a HEMI V8, the Dodge Charger still delivers fuel economy like a typical large American sedan. FCA rates the V6 AWD model at 12.8L/100km in the city and 8.7L/100km on the highway. During our winter test consisting of 600km, we observed 11.3L/100km with a heavy bias towards highway driving. The Charger only requires 87-octane fuel with this engine setup, and the tank can hold up to 70L of it before needing to stop and fill up again. It’s not too far off from the fuel ratings of other cars in the segment, but implementation of more aggressive “Eco” mode, or even cylinder deactivation technology would go a long way towards fuel savings.
From a safety standpoint, the Charger has an abundance of features, something that we have come to expect in the segment now. Side curtain airbags and front seat side airbags are standard, along with ParkSense rear park assist, blind spot detection, reverse camera, and hill start assist. More loaded trim levels come with a little bit more tech, but for the price, the SXT offers a considerable amount. Lastly, the peace of mind from a car this size isn’t something that should be taken for granted.
The 8.4” Uconnect touchscreen is a pleasure to use, especially when compared to the competitors such as the Nissan Maxima (reviewed here) or Toyota Avalon. While some examples like the new Buick LaCrosse (reviewed here) offer the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the Japanese rivals are lagging behind. Dodge’s integration is top-notch, and 2017 is the first year this technology is used by the brand, and is slowly making its way into the rest of the lineup. Response from the touchscreen is excellent, and is improved a bit from the last Charger we tested, meaning software has definitely seen a significant upgrade.
Dodge offers the Charger starting with the SE trim at $36,095. The SXT starts at $39,195, and Chargers can be equipped right up into the SRT 392 and SRT Hellcat (reviewed here) muscle sedan variants topping out well north of $70,000. This SXT model was equipped with the Rallye Appearance Package, Navigation and Travel Package, Driver Convenience Package, and the Customer Preferred Package. This all comes together and brings the as-tested price to $46,345.
There’s some good competition in the full-size sedan segment, with new rivals such as the Buick LaCrosse and existing players like the Toyota Avalon. The Nissan Maxima is arguably the only other player that tries to be sporty, though it doesn’t offer the large-displacement V8 like the Dodge does. The 2017 Dodge Charger SXT Rallye stands out to a different generation of buyer; one that wants the style and practicality of a large sedan but the personality and soul of a muscle car.
2017 Dodge Charger SXT Rallye Gallery