Even though Chrysler’s recent products in my eyes, save for the SRT-series of vehicles, have been lackluster, there’s no doubt in my mind that the major corporation from Detroit are certainly making an effort. The wonderful new Dodge Dart is a good albeit late example of Dodge competing in the current automotive landscape. This week, Dodge handed me the keys to the 2013 Dodge Charger SXT AWD “Plus” with all-wheel-drive and I’ll let you know if it is worth your consideration.
The styling on the new 2013 Dodge Charger SXT AWD is certainly powerful and most people I came across tended to like it. In fact, I had a young woman approach me in my work parking lot just to say, “Nice car!” The car has an overall presence on the road that most other sedans cannot compete with. I personally do not like the look of the car, and that was made worse as our car had a red exterior with a tacky red leather interior. In my eyes, a modern American sedan should look a lot more like the upcoming 2014 Chevrolet Impala.
Dodge has moved forward in leaps and bounds when it comes to interior design and comfort. Gone is the ugly old ubiquitous dash that could be found on almost all of Dodge’s products. The new dash on the car is dominated by an 8.4-inch touch screen interface that controls essentially all the interior functions. The touchscreen is more responsive than that of other manufacturers and very simple to use. However the touchscreen suffers from the same problems as many other interiors that rely solely on a screen, there is an annoying lack of physical buttons. For example, the seat heaters, which do work very well, can only be turned on or off via their own menu on the touch screen which in practice is awkward and dangerous. That being said, said seat heaters can be set to automatically turn on whenever the car is remote started, which is a neat feature. As well, unlike Ford’s MyFordTouch or Cadillac’s new “CUE”, the Dodge does have a few strategically placed buttons/knobs for simple and commonly used tasks, such as volume control, fan speed, and temperature setting.
The more time I spent in the car, the more I noticed a fundamental lack of detail from the designers/engineers. For instance, the fuel filler door release is located out of sight when sitting in the car; it is located toward the rear of the driver door’s floor level storage bay, only accessible once the door is opened. This might seem like a small deal to some, and it is, but it shows a lack of thoughtfulness on how the driver and car work together. Although, the lack of a physical fuel filler cap is welcomed. Overall interior comfort and material quality have improved drastically but are still one step behind the Japanese. Where the Charger excels though, is in the department of interior space; this vehicle is absolutely massive and offers interior space than can only be supplanted by much more expensive German behemoths. It really does feel just as comfortable as an S-Class in terms of room.
Performance is this vehicle’s trump card. The 2013 Charger SXT comes equipped with a 3.6L Pentastar V6 which pushes out an impressive 292 hp. For those power-hungry consumers amongst us, 5.7L and 6.4L HEMI V8 motors are available that produce 370 and 470 hp, respectively. The V6 engine also comes mated as standard to an 8-speed transmission, and yes you did read that correctly, 8-speed. A 292 hp V6 with an 8-speed transmission is something I would expect to read about in a BMW catalogue, and for that I must give kudos to Dodge. All the purists will also love the fact that this car is only available in RWD and AWD configurations, which is a distinct advantage over its front-wheel-drive competitors. Fuel economy is also noticeably better with the new transmission. A road trip from Toronto to Belleville, ON and back yielded me a phenomenal 7.2L/100km average. Combined driving over the week was a very respectable 9.2L/100km.
The suspension also gives the driver the confidence to have a little fun in the corners, but make no mistake, this is not an M5. What kills the enjoyment in this car is the overwhelming mass, the car is just too large and heavy. This car is good to drive, but I can’t help but feel that Dodge could have made a much better vehicle if they wanted to. That statement in a way sums up the whole vehicle, its good, but could be better. I will say though, I like it a lot more than the current Taurus. Where the Ford comes in as bland, the Charger has character.
When were you last excited about a Chrysler product that was made for the masses? For me personally, that would be all way back in 2004 with the announcement of the original Chrysler 300. That was nearly a decade ago, and that is exactly what Chrysler needs to get back to. While Ford has set a new benchmark with its Focus and Fusion lineups and General Motors is taking the industry by storm with the amazing Cadillac ATS, Chrysler appears to be nothing more than an ‘innocent’ bystander. After we’ve seen the sheer level of potential available from Chrysler with the original 2006 model of the Charger, why should we settle? Despite the fact that the automotive industry has undergone a revolution, this new Dodge Charger is just another example of Chrysler’s old evolutionary path. The Charger is not bad car by any means, other than the incredible 8-speed automatic, it seems to lack in innovation. For a family opposed to minivans though, with up to two kids indulging in sports and other activities, it’s hard to find a better overall deal than the Charger. Plus, with the good old American V8, Dad can smoke the other parents’ Altimas and Siennas.
2013 Dodge Charger SXT AWD Gallery