Quick Drive: 2011 Dodge Charger R/T

By Winding Road Staff

October 04, 2011

When I wrote my review of Dodge Charger, I pretty much raved about everything in this new car being better than the one it replaces. Except for the engine. The Pentastar V-6 just felt underwhelming in the Charger. Thankfully, our tester was fitted with a 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, which cures virtually all the Charger’s accelerative ills.
It isn’t really surprising that the V-8 sounds a lot better than the V-6. Even at idle, it sounds good. The best sound happens around 3000 rpm, where an almost VTEC-like shift happens in the acoustic signature, and the Hemi really starts clearing its throat.
Then there is the added power. It’s everywhere, low, high, and in the middle of the rev range. It doesn’t feel quite as urgent as a Ford Taurus SHO’s biturbocharged engine, but it delivers the sort of thrills we expect from a full-size, rear-drive American sedan. It still wouldn’t light up the tires for me though.
If we had a qualm, it would again be the five-speed automatic. Shifts didn’t feel as crisp as I’d like, and I suspect that the gearing limited the accelerative force. Hopefully the new eight-speed automatic will solve one, if not both of those problems.
Brandon Turkus, Test Fleet Manager
This engine feels like a really good fit for this vehicle. I love the new 6.4-liter V-8 in the SRT8, but it’s a little hardcore to live with as a daily driver. This V-8 still offers heaps of power, but it seams more reasonable on the wallet. Plus it sounds great, pulls hard, and accelerates without chaos. It’s a happy medium.
The new Charger is just such an improvement over the last model year. The multimedia interface is great to use, and it is attractive yet simple. The interior feels more upscale in general. Sure, there is still a lot of plastic on the dash, particularly on the passenger’s side, but it feels neither particularly cheap nor at all cluttered. Everything is right where it should be, for the most part. And, I can’t deny, those are some really comfortable seats up front.
One slight problem I had with it was the clear plastic over the gauges. There’s just a little too much glare on it. In a world where I often find myself poking the speedometer just to make sure there actually is something covering it, a cluster that reflects so much light is less than ideal.
—John Beltz Snyder, Production Editor
  • Hemi V-8 is exactly what the Charger needed
  • Interior is comfortable and useful
  • Infotainment is a pleasure to use
  • Five-speed auto limited the fun
  • There is still room for improvement in interior quality
  • A bit heavy on the chrome for some tastes