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2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 "Super Bee" Review By Steve Purdy

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2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 "Super Bee"

A Big, Mean Buzzzzzer

By Steve Purdy
Michigan Bureau

Some cars really ring my chimes. This week’s tester is one of those - the new Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee, rear-wheel drive, 5-passenger, full-size muscle car. It rumbles, it grumbles, and it gets down the road like a muscle car should, triggering a flush of adrenalin.

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Yes, the Super Bee fits into the category “muscle car.” In fact, it is the modern epitome of the genre, being taut, hard, strong and masculine as a body builder’s abs. It doesn’t seem to be in a hurry like some high-revving European high-performance sports cars. Rather, the Charger Super Bee displays its grunt confidently with the sound and feel of relaxed power.

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Introduced in 2012 it was available in black or yellow. The big change this year is more color choices – orange, plum, white and red. Our mean-looking test car is the intense black that nearly glows in the dark with its metallic base. The boxy yet aggressive styling shows plenty of retro details with judicious sculpting added for the current generation of Charger. Classically American in design, the Ontario-built Charger makes no pretense of worldly sophistication. It is just plain brutishly cool.

With a price tag of just about 45 grand we’re a bit surprised at some of the stuff we don’t get, but upon reflection, most of those are features we have little use for anyway – navigation, leather and sunroof particularly. The Super Bee is a slightly decontented version of the top-of-the-performance-line Charger SRT-8 which sells for about 6 grand more.

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This is, after all, a full-size sedan and the interior reflects that generosity of space. While the decent, cloth-covered seats with Bee logos stitched upon them don’t offer a lot of lateral support but they offer enough.
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I found them confortable for the long drive. The driver’s seat gets six-way power, the passenger gets none. While the materials are nothing special the layout and design of the dash is refreshingly conventional, simple and respectful of the cars history. Fit and finish are very good. The multi-function, fist-filling steering wheel feels mighty meaty. A touch screen controls many functions but some of those are also managed with buttons or knobs, as God intended.

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Full size people will fit well into the rear seat and the trunk is cavernous offering room for 16.5 cubic-feet of stuff. Rear seatbacks fold 60/40 making for more useable space.

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Base price for the Super Bee is $41,995. That includes the amazing powertrain described below, cloth seats, 20-inch aluminum wheels, Bilstein dampers, Brembo brakes, special trim (blacked out grille, stripes, Super Bee emblems, rear spoiler), high-performance suspension, and a full day of high-performance driving instruction called the SRT Track Experience hosted at tracks around the country. Our test car has the performance tires for just $150 extra (don’t expect to get many miles on them), and paddle shifters for $295 as the only options. With the $1,000 Gas Guzzler tax and a $995 destination charge we’re looing at $44,435 on the sticker’s bottom line.

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Under that shapely hood lurks the same power plant from last year, a 6.4-liter normally aspirated Hemi V8, making 470 horsepower and 470 pound-feet or torque mated to a sturdy 5-speed automatic transmission capable of 0-to-60 times of less than 5 seconds and top speed of 175 mph. The dual exhaust emits the gratifying, deep-throated rumble we so love, Though I’m not sure if the neighbors love it as much. On full throttle an active valve opens and it becomes a thrilling, raucous roar.

The EPA has rated the Super Bee at 14-mpg in the city and 23 on the highway with a 17-mpg combined rating. Cylinder deactivation we can barely feel engaging accounts for that relatively decent highway rating. With a 19.1-gallon fuel tank we can expect a cruising range approaching 400 miles.

The SRT chassis is up to our challenge with adaptive damping, a rigid structure, performance suspension and Brembo 4-piston brakes. We have not experienced any track time with the Super Bee, but just thrashing it around our country roads is great fun. I found the steering effort and feedback to be just right for this large performance sedan. We don’t expect it to be as quick and agile as smaller cars but that also means it is not twitchy or jittery. It feels like a big car, but one with street and track cred.

The Dodge new car warranty covers the car for 3 years or 36,000 miles and that awesome powertrain for 5 years or 100,000 miles.

If you read my recent review of the standard Dodge Charger V6 you’ll know I gave that one a good rap as well. I admire the no-nonsense, unpretentious but bold and brash design of the Challenger and the excellent quality. I also found the performance of the V6 surprisingly strong. But this monster of a Hemi-powered rumbler takes this car to another level – one high up on the desirability scale.

Check it out!

©Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved