2007 Dodge Charger R/T Review


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2007 Dodge Charger R/T
THE AUTO PAGE
By
JOHN HEILIG

SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Dodge

SPECIFICATIONS

Model: Dodge Charger R/T

Engine: 5.7-liter HEMI V8

Horsepower/Torque: 340 hp @ 5000 rpm/390 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm

Transmission: 5-speed automatic with lockup torque converter

Wheelbase: 120.0 in.

Length x Width x Height: 200.1 x 74.5 x 58.2 in.

Tires: P235/55R18

Cargo volume: 16.2 cu. ft.

Economy: 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway

Price: $36,450 (includes $675 destination charge)

Oh the joy of a HEMI. Dodge’s (and Chrysler’s, of course) legendary engine still delivers the goods, more than 40 years after Dodge began dominating the muscle car ranks and NASCAR with it.

Our tester is a Dodge Charger R/T (for Road/Track Group) with a 5.7-liter HEMI that pumps out a delicious 340 horses with 390 lb.-ft. of torque. As Dick Vitale would say, “This is an engine baby.” Coupled with a smooth 5-speed automatic transmission and just enough exhaust noise to let everyone know you’re coming, this is the modern equivalent of the muscle car. It even has a 70-era rise over the rear wheel arches to bring back memories of the good ol’ days.

We really had the opportunity to drive a couple of Chargers. One was the street version that sat in my driveway for a week. The other was a Police Package version that I drove for a couple of hot laps on Pocono Raceway’s road course and a few street miles to shake up the natives. The cars were similar, yet surprisingly different.

Our Police car was the big surprise. Where I expected it to be rough and nasty, it was surprisingly smooth. The HEMI engine certainly had enough power to handle any miscreants, which wasn’t a problem.

I was mostly impressed with the smoothness of the suspension. On the track it handled tight corners with ease and rode as flat as any car I’ve driven over this course. On the wider corners I found I could drive through at speeds that would be dangerous in almost any other car that doesn’t call itself a sports car. On the high-speed portions of the raceway the Charger Police Package sprinted along with glee, almost looking for another car so I could turn on the lights and scare the Bejeezuz out of them.

Yet on the highway, it was smooth as sink, and only the black-and-white paint scheme and low-profile lights on the roof gave a hint as to what was there.

Inside it was another story. Our tester hadn’t been upfitted to full police specs, so it was starker than you would expect. In place of the computer array and radio gear normally located on the center console was a boiler-plate (literally) console that was just waiting to have pieces attached to it. There were switches for the lights, of course, and two handles for the dual spot lamps that intruded somewhat into the passenger compartment. And in the Police Package, the shifter was column-mounted, rather than mounted in the console.

Both cars rode on 18-inch wheels that were 7.5 inches wide, giving a solid footprint on the road.

The standard Charger was more luxurious, as one would expect. We had “performance” seats that offered excellent side support. The rear seats also offered excellent comfort, more I suppose than the rear seats in the Police Package.

We took our Thursday golf foursome out in the Charger. The 16.2 cubic foot trunk accommodated four golf bags plus shoes and all the paraphernalia the guys take. The two rear-seat riders were complimentary about the comfort and room. There were nice comments about the side support available in the rear seats. They also liked the visibility from the rear, something they didn’t have in the last car I took them in. Of course, since they were relaxed and comfortable, they had no excuses for losing to me on the course.

On the road, the Charger R/T has a nice feel to it. It rides on a 120-inch wheelbase, which pushes it into the “large car” category and adds to the quality of the ride. Handling didn’t seem as flat as with the Police Package, although both were listed as having a “performance suspension.” The apparent difference may have been caused by the different roads traveled.

Our road car was equipped with power everything. It also had a navigation system which was clear and easy-to-read. When the map was off, there was a clear read-out of what was playing on the audio system.

We had a huge center console, but other than that there wasn’t a lot of interior storage space, other than the requisite cupholders.

I wasn’t a big fan of the “corporate” Dodge crosshair grille when it first came out. I felt it detracted from a car that was otherwise beautifully styled. But after a week, I learned to like that big mouth staring at me when I looked at what was in the driveway. I also learned to like what was behind that grille when I took it out for a ride.

On the Police Package, of course, seeing that grille in the rear mirror with all the lights blazing can be intimidating.

2006 The Auto Page Syndicate

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