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2011 Dodge Charger R/T AWD Review By John Heilig +VIDEO

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Dodge Specs, Comparisons and Reviews 1997-2012 - Dodge Buyers Guide

By John Heilig

Model: 2011 Dodge Charger R/T AWD
Engine: 5.7-liter HEMI V8
Horsepower/Torque: 370 hp @ 5,250 rpm/395 lb.-ft. @ 4,200 rpm
Transmission: 5-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 120.2 in.
Length x Width x Height: 199.9 x 75.0 x 58.4 in.
Tires: P235/55R19
Cargo: 15.4 cu. ft.
Economy: 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway/17.3 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 19.1 gal.
Curb Weight: 4,450 lbs.
Sticker: $39,095 (includes $825 destination charge and $5,950 in options)

Top5 Reasons to buy this car:

1. Great power
2. Retro styling
3. Best navigation screen
4. Good handling
5. Surprisingly practical for a hot rod

The Bottom Line: The Dodge Charger R/T will gave you the feeling that you’ve entered a time warp. First, it resembles the Charger of the 1960s, it has the power of that car, it has the wheelbase of that car, and it has the same thrill ride of that car.

I had fun driving the Dodge Charger. Let me first confess that I’ve never been a great fan of the Charger, although I respected its performance and styling “back in the day.” I was always lured more to small British sports cars at the time and failed to recognize good old American iron.

Watch TACH's Charger Blacktop and RT promo video

But the retro era is upon us, and now we have a chance to drive the Charger all over again, and I’ve developed a new respect for the car. The latest version (and 2012 adds primarily an 8-speed automatic to the option list) has the retro styling and a big Hemi V8 engine under the hood. The only concession to modernity is the removal of the “four on the tree” and replacing it with a modern 5-speed automatic on the floor. There’s even a “372” medallion on the rocker panel harking back to the engine’s capacity in cubic inches.

The power is there – 370 horsepower, although it feels like a lot more. There’s always a hint of a roar coming from the tailpipes that isn’t unlike a big car purring. Hit the loud pedal, though, and the purr becomes a full-fledged roar – the roar of high performance.

There’s some wheel slip on damp roads, even with all-wheel drive, when you get over-exuberant.

Very un-retro-like is the brakes. The four-wheel discs are excellent. My wife and daughter became concerned when I used them to their advantage to make a stop before a turn.

The instrument panel is normal, with a speedometer and tachometer and an information panel in between them. The information panel has a digital speedometer, compass, outside temperature and odometers.

In the center of the dash is one of the clearest navigation screens I’ve seen. The navi map is clear and adds information such as elevation. In audio mode, the XM choice shows station graphics plus the song. Across the top are presets, while across the bottom are audio function choices, such as radio, player, controls, climate, nav, phone and more.

The Charger proved to be very popular at church. Most people know I have a new car weekly, but many people asked about the Charger, more than with most other cars.

The steering wheel is comfortable, but I found myself inadvertently hitting the “station change” button on the back often. On the right side is a volume control on the back.

The front seats are comfortable, but flat, again a concession to the past. The rear seats offer very good legroom and behind them is a great trunk. Unfortunately, there’s a 30-inch liftover height over the wild taillights that made loading heavy objects difficult.

Front visors have extensions, but they can’t be used in the standard position because of the overhead console. They worked great blocking side sun, though. There are also heated and cooled front cup holders that were a nice touch.

If you liked the “old” Dodge Charger, you’ll love the new one. Even if you weren’t a big fan, you’ll like the car.

2011 The Auto Page