2008 Dodge Charger Expert Review

You'll Like The 2008 Dodge Charger If...

Whether you're looking for a sedan with a louder bark, a bigger bite or both, the 2008 Dodge Charger might quicken your pulse before you ever turn the key. The fact that underneath the Charger is a practical family sedan shouldn't spoil your fun.

You May Not Like The 2008 Dodge Charger If...

If HEMI horsepower and the resurrection of the Charger name have you hoping for overall performance on par with modern muscle coupes like the Ford Mustang GT or Pontiac GTO, you'll be disappointed.

What's New

The 2008 Dodge Charger receives a slight interior freshening, with more standard equipment added to the R/T model. Dodge has repositioned the cruise control stalk to the 4 o'clock position and SIRIUS Backseat TV becomes a new option.

Interior Features

The inside of the 2008 Dodge Charger is marked by attractive, minimalist styling that, by offering nothing terribly interesting to look at, helps reinforce the notion that this car should be driven with a focus on the road ahead. When the road finally does get twisty, however, you might wish for more lateral support from the front seats. Otherwise, front and rear passengers are treated to a roomy cabin with adequately comfortable seating. Likewise, there's plenty of room for cargo in a spacious trunk that offers enhanced flexibility with an optional 60/40-split folding rear seat.

Exterior Features

Unlike so many of today's derivative designs, the 2008 Dodge Charger shows almost no resemblance to any other car on the road. Up front, a gaping crosshair grill flanked by scowling headlamps decisively distances the Charger from the more staid large-sedan entries from Toyota, Ford and Buick. From the side, a sloping roof line helps evoke the Charger's coupe heritage, while pronounced rear fenders help to further define the car's performance persona.

Driving Impressions

Not surprisingly, Dodge's 5.7-liter HEMI V8 is just as smooth and powerful under the Charger's hood as it is in all the other vehicles it graces. But even the 3.5-liter V6 delivers enough power to have a little fun. The Charger also delivers ride and handling equal to that of the surprisingly eager and composed Chrysler 300. However, given the promise of its Charger badge and aggressive styling, some might hope for a more aggressive setup. As it stands, the Charger is sportier than the Chrysler 300 in image only, which will be enough for most.

Pricing Notes

The base 2008 Dodge Charger has a Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) of about $22,000, while the SXT with two-wheel drive is a little over $26,000 and the addition of all-wheel drive bumps it to a little under $29,000. If you want the HEMI, you're looking at an R/T model with a base sticker price over $31,000, which can climb to more than $38,000 with options. As always, be sure to shop and compare using Fair Purchase Prices, which reflect current real-world selling prices. In terms of resale value, we expect the Dodge Charger to hold its value better than most domestic sedans, especially in the near-term.

Notable Equipment

A base 2008 Dodge Charger SE includes a 2.7-liter V6 engine, four-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, AM/FM/CD/MP3 sound system with auxiliary input jack, four-way adjustable steering column, power windows/locks/mirrors, outside temperature display, cruise control and 17-inch covered steel wheels. Standard safety features include front airbags, stability and traction control systems, anti-lock brakes (ABS) and brake assist.

Notable Options

Some of the more significant options include a 3.5-liter V6 engine, the 5.7-liter HEMI V8, all-wheel drive, leather seats, seven-inch rear-seat DVD entertainment system, SIRIUS Backseat TV, HID headlights, DVD navigation system, AM/FM/six-CD/MP3 sound system, audio upgrade, power sunroof, heated and power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone automatic climate control, power-adjustable pedals, seat-mounted side-impact airbags and front and rear side-curtain airbags. Also on the list is an Enhanced Road/Track Performance Group, which includes 20-inch chrome-clad wheels, rear deck-lid spoiler, heated suede performance seats, a performance suspension and more horsepower from the HEMI.

Favorite Features

Comprehensive DVD Entertainment System
The optional rear-seat DVD system features auxiliary inputs, wireless headphones, CD/MP3 compatibility and a seven-inch LCD screen that hides neatly in the front-seat armrest when not in use.

Road/Track Performance Group
Highlights include big-bolstered sport seats, performance suspension and a uniquely-tuned HEMI engine that makes 350 horsepower.

Under the Hood

Either of the two 2008 Dodge Charger's V6 engines might surprise you with how well it moves the nearly two-ton sedan, but once you get a taste of life with the 5.7-liter HEMI under your right foot you'll have a tough time settling for anything less. And while we think a proper five-speed manual would be a natural for this car, the only available transmission is a five-speed automatic with Autostick shifting.

2.7-liter V6
186 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
191 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/26

3.5-liter V6
250 horsepower @ 6400 rpm
250 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3800 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 17/24 (RWD), 15/22 (AWD)

5.7-liter V8
335 horsepower @ 5000 rpm
350 horsepower @ 5000 rpm (Road/Track Performance Package)
375 lb.-ft. of torque @ 4000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/23 (RWD), 15/22 (AWD)

Editors' Notes

Dodge created the Charger for consumers who need the convenience of four doors but loathe the idea of driving a generic family sedan. Even in base and mid-level forms the Charger's edgy lines and sporty wheels make a bold statement and, for those who can afford the HEMI V8 engine, the vehicle has bold moves to match. Sharing its engine and chassis with the Dodge Magnum wagon and Chrysler 300C, the 2008 Dodge Charger merges American styling and muscle with Mercedes-Benz suspension and transmission technology. The result yields a car that can outrun just about everything in its price class and several others costing tens of thousands more.

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