2010 Dodge Charger SRT8
Base price: $25,140 – $40,630
As tested: $46,860
MPG: 13 city/19 highway
- Big Detroit muscle car
- Roomy interior, comfortable seats
- May be last of a dying breed
- Style showing its age
- Insatiable thirst for premium fuel
- SRT8 model has steep price tag
By Jim Prueter
Aging Charger ready for a makeover
This week I drove the current edition of the Dodge Charger, a vehicle that first came on to the automotive scene in the fall of 1965 as a 1966 model. Over the last 45 years, Dodge has affixed the Charger name to some pretty crappy cars. The current Charger returned for 2006 as a four-door model and is part of the bankrupt Chrysler stable, filled with vehicles few people want to own.
There was some initial enthusiasm with the announcement that Charger would return, primarily from the crowd who thinks the last words to The Star Spangled Banner are “Gentlemen, start your engines.”
Now before you accuse me of being highbrow, where I’m from, too many cars have a rag for a gas cap, people think the French Riviera is a foreign car and “green” is a car color, not a model.
It’s been five years since we last tested a Charger and as much fun as it is to drive a Hemi, the Charger seems well past its freshness date; it looks and feels dated.
A much needed redesign debuts this fall, with the new Pentastar V-6 as the base engine. Rear-wheel drive will remain as will the optional all-wheel drive. The Hemi engine will be an option but we don’t expect to see a return of the SRT8, so if high-performance is your thing you might want to grab a 2010 SRT8 now.
For 2010 Charger is offered in four trim levels: base SE, mid-range SXT, performance oriented hemi-powered R/T and our tester for the week, the high-performance 6.1-liter 425-horsepower SRT8.
Our tester featured the heavily bolstered upgraded SRT8 embroidered seats that we found supportive and comfortable. Materials used elsewhere in the interior including on the dash, center console and door panels, looked cheap, unfinished and well below the level of quality in competitive products like Ford Taurus, Toyota Avalon, Nissan Maxima and others.
White-on-black LED gauges include a 180-mph speedometer, tachometer and temperature gauge. A gauge cluster offers oil temperature and pressure and tire pressure readouts.
Both front and rear passenger room is ample but the low-profile roofline and short windows impede visibility, especially for shorter drivers.
Our high-performance SRT8 Charger is rated at 420 pound-feet of torque and uses a five-speed automatic transmission; a manual transmission is not offered. Dodge says it can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in about five seconds, and will reach 100 mph in 17 seconds. Nothing about this car makes you want to go the speed limit, but I don’t street race and certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone else do it either. My closest drag strip, Firebird in Chandler, is a place to find out if your Camaro SS, Mustang GT or Challenger can cover the quarter mile quicker.
Still, getting up to expressway speeds, on-road performance and passing power is more than strong. The engine roars, torque kicks in and there is more power than you think you need. Still, something about a high-performance Charger in one of the optional “candy colors” is about bragging rights and the big dog theory.
The Charger SRT8 is a big, heavy 4160-pound four-door family sedan that uses high-performance four-piston Brembo disc brakes to bring it to a halt. A large hood scoop is functional and Dodge adds a rear spoiler, special front fascia with ducts that direct fresh air to help cool the Brembos, 3.5-inch dual exhaust tips, 20-inch wheels, and a ride height a half-inch lower than the regular Charger sedan and SRT8 badging complete the exterior modifications and identification.
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and government crash tests, the Charger scored the top ratings of Good and five stars, respectively.
A freshened Dodge Charger for 2011 will doubtless strike many as the wrong kind of car for Chrysler to be investing in. Sure it was fashionable five years ago when retro-themed cars were extremely popular, but “green” and “small” are the buzzwords today. Further, is this the kind of vehicle Chrysler is counting on to help pull it out of Chapter 11?
Yet for those who still gravitate to big powerful Detroit iron, the Dodge Charger SRT8 is pretty close to what originally made it such a hit.