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2006 Dodge Charger R/T Review

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2006 Dodge Charger R/T

SEE ALSO: New Car Buyer's Guide for Dodge


MODEL: Dodge Charger R/T
ENGINE: 5.7-liter V8
HORSEPOWER/TORQUE: 340 hp @ 5000 rpm/390 lb.-ft. @ 4000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed automatic with AutoStick
WHEELBASE: 120.0 in.
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT: 200.1 x 74.5 x 58.2 in.
TIRES: P225/60R18
CARGO VOLUME: 16.2 cu. ft.
ECONOMY: 17 mpg city/25 mpg highway
PRICE: $29,995 (includes $675 destination charge)

There are some cars that you know are going to be pretty neat as soon as you sit in them. This is one of those cars.

First, it's a great design. I'm not overly thrilled with the corporate Dodge grille, but n the Charger, it grows on you. What I loved was the overall concept, from the slight "shark nose" to the kick-up over the rear wheels that reminded me of some older Chevys and Cadillacs and has also returned in the Buick LaCrosse. This gives greater definition to the rear fender than a slab-sided design would give.

Also, it was my first sedan in a while after a string of trucks and SUVs, so it was destined to become an instant favorite without even trying.

In addition, the Charger has very clean black-on-white instruments that are easy to read. They are located in four deep nacelles for the major gauges. Audio and HVAC controls are fairly standard for Chrysler products.

I liked the steering wheel, although the Mercedes-Benz-style cruise control stalk located just above the turn signal lever occasionally caused some problems. While I like the design of the stalk, there must be a better location for it. I've had problems with it in Mercedes-Benzes, the Chrysler 300 and now the Dodge Charger.

Under the hood is a 5.7-liter "Hemi" V8 that delivers 340 horsepower through a 5-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick, Chrysler's name for a manual mode to the automatic. The Charger only weighs 3800 pounds (isn't that awfully close to what a NASCAR stocker weighs?), so 340 horses are more than adequate. With the automatic, acceleration is excellent, and you can reach illegal speeds quite quickly.

This engine also employs Chrysler's Multi-Displacement System, which deactivates four of the cylinders under light throttle conditions to save fuel. The economy listing for the Charger are 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway. The 25 mpg figure recognizes the use of only four cylinders when you're tooling along on the Interstate. Several people have asked whether this system, and the one used by some GM cars, is like the old 8-6-4 system used on older Cadillacs. My stock answer is that it's similar, in that the goal of using fewer cylinders when they aren't needed is the same, but the results are better. These systems actually work.

Handling is also very good. We took the Charger on our favorite winding hilly road and it performed quite well. This is a big car (now the 3,800 pounds is a detriment), but it handled like a smaller one.

Sometime during our test the Charger developed a vibration. It could have been an off-balance wheel or tire, or it could have been internal, but in any case it was just above the threshold of being silent or invisible, so it was at that annoying spot. I haven't read of other testers having a similar problem, so my guess was that it was an out-of-balance tire.

Between the two front bucket seats is a deep center console with a pair of cup holders. There were two nice cubbys, one in the center stack and one below it in the console. These were handy for storing cell phones and small items.

The front seats offered excellent side support and had comfortable headrests. The headrests seemed to be located in the ideal position for me. Quite often they're located NOT for me, but these hit me in just the right spot.

The rear seats offered excellent legroom and footroom. Quite often, we don't notice footroom as an asset, but when I placed my tootsies under the front seat, there was room to move them around. There's a fold-down armrest in the middle of the rear bench seat that held two cup holders.

In addition, the rear seat back folds flat to increase trunk volume. There's a small pull loop to accomplish this feat, so it's an easy transformation. Even without the added volume of the back seat, the trunk is a good size. It's listed at 16.2 cubic feet, large enough for a couple of golf bags. There's also a cargo net in the trunk to keep grocery bags from sliding around.

The heavy front hood needs a brace to keep it open. There's a huge engine cover, but all the important things (oil dipstick and filler cap, windshield washer fluid filler and battery terminals) are clearly marked or easy to find.

The Charger and Magnum (a crossover vehicle) are similar, but the Charger is a pure sedan, which is nice in this modern world of SUVs, trucks, minivans and what-have-yous. I liked it.