Dodge gives its brawny muscle car some brains.
by Jesse Will
Some V6 muscle cars have the looks of their big-engined siblings, but very little of their power or agility. Basically, they’re sheep in wolves’ clothing. This is not the case for the V6 Dodge Charger – which is a kind of smart, nerdy wolf, but a wolf nonetheless.
For 2012, Dodge has added a load of tech to the only real full-sized, five seat musclecar on the market, with brains to match the brawn.
The most important of the innovations is a market-first eight speed automatic transmission, which allows for three overdrive gears to boost fuel economy on the highway while imparting the lower gears with boosted torque. What this means is more fun in town off the stop line and a bunch more miles between fillups: By going to the eight-speed transmission, the 2012 Charger gets 31 miles per gallon highway, compared to the 2011 five-speed, which got 27.
You might think that gear-switches with an eight speed would be annoyingly ever-present, but it’s just the opposite. The ride is ultra-smooth, with very little drop in torque as you pick up speed.
And while, even just a few years ago, Dodges were lacking in the tech department, the 2012 Charger remedies the situation with enough gadgetry to satisfy even the geekiest driver: an 8-inch touchscreen controls climate, nav, sound, and communication that includes hands-free texting.
Pretty smart for a dumb old muscle car, right?
LOVE IT: It has the looks of a big American brawler—especially in the zero chrome “Blacktop Edition” we drove, but the brains — and ride — of a smart German sedan.
LEAVE IT: Though that huge 8” Garmin-powered nav screen is sweet, we found that its directional abilities weren’t. Several times in Manhattan, the Charger thought we were one street off from our actual location, and during a couple of searches, the system would leave us hanging for a full minute before telling us that it couldn’t identify our point of interest.
2012 Dodge Charger
Price: from $28,495
Engine: 3.6-liter Pentastar V6.
Torque: 260 lb.-ft @ 4,800rpm
0-60mph: under 5 seconds