With rear-wheel drive and available V-8 power, the 2016 Dodge Charger is a family sedan with a muscle-car heartbeat.
From the 2016 Dodge Charger SE and SXT V-6 models, up to the outrageous, exotic-level Charger SRT Hellcat, this is a lineup that delivers even more performance than you'd expect given the level of comfort and day-to-day usability of these four-door sedans.
The king of the lineup is the Charger SRT Hellcat. It has the same 707-horsepower supercharged 6.2-liter V-8 as the Challenger SRT Hellcat, but it accelerates even quicker than the Challenger Hellcat (0 to 60 mph in just 3.7 seconds, officially). And its top speed is a holy-rolling 204 mph.
Below that resides the R/T Scat Pack and SRT 392, which have a 485-hp 6.4-liter V-8 that can vault the Charger from 0 to 60 mph in the mid four-second range. With the Scat Pack, that performance is available at an entry price of around $40,000.
One step down from there is the R/T, with its 5.7-liter HEMI V-8, rated at 370 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque.
Those who don't need so much power will be happy with the base engine in the SE model. It's the Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 producing 292-hp and 260 lb-ft of torque (up to 300 hp and 264 hp with the Rallye Appearance Group in the SXT). Either V-6 model comes standard with rear-wheel drive, and all-wheel drive is optional.
We've found the V-6 models to be very responsive with the Charger's standard 8-speed automatic transmission. In fact, the V-6 is really all that you'd need for keeping ahead of traffic, provided you're not going to miss having a V-8 under the hood. With any V-8, the 8-speed also allows for relaxed mid-throttle passing without having the engine belt out its full song to law enforcement.
Across the lineup—all except for the Hellcat—the Charger has electric power steering. Thankfully, that's nothing to fear, as the steering tracks with a reassuring on-center feel and feels well weighted off-center.
Ride quality is on the firm side, but quite comfortable, even in V-8 models. The combination of ride quality and handling is impressive on the more performance-oriented models.
Big doors in front make getting in and out easy. And an elongated roofline makes getting into the back-seat positions easy, even for 6-footers, with plenty of head room all around. The front seats are wide and well bolstered, while rear-seat leg room is a little tight for long-legged people. Overall, interior materials and trims are excellent, with plenty of soft-touch materials up high and impressive switchgear.
The Charger earned the highest five-star overall score in NHTSA safety testing. The IIHS gives it top "Good" ratings in all categories except the small front overlap crash test, which means it can't earn Top Safety Pick honors. Buyers can increase the safety of their Chargers with such features as blind-spot monitors, rear cross-traffic alert, lane departure warnings with lane-keep assist, forward collision warnings, and adaptive cruise control.
Even the base Charger SE trim level includes power windows, locks, and mirrors; keyless ignition; a power driver's seat; and an AM/FM/CD audio system with touchscreen control. Uconnect services are included as well. These incorporate 9-1-1 and assist call, roadside assistance calling options, theft alert, voice texting, and a wi-fi hotspot. Content increases as you move up the model lineup, and all other models come standard with the Uconnect 8.4-inch center touchscreen. Dodge also offers a set of "heritage" color options, including B5 Blue, TorRed, and new for 2016, Plum Crazy.
V-6 Chargers are EPA-rated at 19 mpg city, 31 highway, 23 overall with rear-wheel drive and 18/27/21 with all-wheel drive. Opt for any of the V-8 models and you'll spend much more at the pump. The HEMI V-8-powered R/T models come with cylinder deactivation to save fuel in low load situations, but they still return mediocre 16/25/19 mpg.