2016 Dodge Charger - The Car Connection

   
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The Car Connection Expert Rating Breakdown



The Car Connection Expert Review


Kirk Bell

Kirk Bell

Editor


  • Likes
  • Clean, modern lines
  • Premium interior materials with a simple layout
  • Available V-8 thrills
  • 8-speed automatic for all models
  • Rear-wheel-drive handling
  • Dislikes
  • Still heavy and thirsty
  • Tight back-seat space (for the size)
  • All-wheel drive only with V-6

With rear-wheel drive and available V-8 power, the 2016 Dodge Charger is a family sedan with a muscle-car heartbeat.


The 2016 Dodge Charger combines elements of old muscle car styling with a modern aesthetic. The Coke-bottle shape is right out of the '60s, but the car also has the short front and rear overhangs and large wheels of a modern performance sedan. The grille and other details are closely aligned with other Dodge models, including the Durango R/T and the sportiest versions of the Dart. It looks like a car that will slip powerfully through the air rather than batter it aside through brute force.
After a major refresh last year, the 2016 Charger offers the Super Track Pack for V-6 models, a new Plum Crazy "heritage" color, a new Blacktop Appearance package, additional equipment on the SRT 392 model, and new tech features. Those tech features include a drag-and-drop menu bar on the 8.4-inch touchscreen control interface, Siri Eyes Free voice control, a "Do Not Disturb" feature, and a digital version of the owner's manual.

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.

Styling
8.0

The 2016 Dodge Charger combines the classic Coke-bottle shape with the tidy lines of a modern performance sedan.


The Charger combines elements of old muscle car styling with a modern aesthetic. The Coke-bottle shape is right out of the '60s, but the car also has the short front and rear overhangs and large wheels of a modern performance sedan. The grille and other details are closely aligned with other Dodge models, including the Durango R/T and the sportiest versions of the Dart.

Last year's exterior redesign touched every body panel except the roof and the rear doors. The design team "took a chainsaw to all four corners of the car" to reduce the visual bulk of its square-cut front and rear. While the result is the same length as before, it looks more compact, more like a mid-size car with significant presence than the full-size sedan it actually is.

The side profile—if you ignore the dramatically more blunt front and rear ends—is much the same as the pre-2015 Charger, including the Coke-bottle rear fender swell, a high belt line, and hard-edged roof pillars. Yet the rear flanks are a little smoother and less angular, with more wraparound to the rear lights.

Up front the nose is low, with an almost BMW-like bevel at the front edge of the hood, and the slim blacked-out Dodge crosshair grille is bracketed by projector headlights outlined with distinctive C-shaped LED daytime running lights. Separate LED light units are built into the front bumper, and the center of the bumper bar is blacked out on R/T models, just as it is on higher-performance models of the smaller Dodge Dart.

The "LED racetrack" rear lights are a signature of the Charger. Dodge uses light pipes to give a continuous red outline to the tail panel. The rear bumper has a smooth design, and the exhaust inlets are integrated into the lower panel. On the trunk lid, Dodge provides a small lip spoiler that provides plenty of downforce with a clean, integrated look.

Inside, as ever, you pay for this model's rather high window line with outward visibility that's more limited than in most other sedans. The upright packaging brings plenty of head room all around, and wide, strongly bolstered front seats offer a look and feel that's definitely performance-inspired. Otherwise the design is harmonious with the rest of the models in the Dodge and Jeep lineups, with subtle surfacing, contrasting matte metallic framing accents, and plenty of soft-touch materials. There's a 7.0-inch display screen in the instrument cluster, while the center stack includes an 8.4-inch touchscreen, used for 3-D navigation and downloadable apps.

The 2016 Dodge Charger combines the classic Coke-bottle shape with the tidy lines of a modern performance sedan.

Performance
8.0

Performance is satisfying with the V-6, but you can't beat the character and impressive firepower of the V-8s.


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.

Across the lineup, except for the Hellcat, the Charger has electric power steering. Thankfully, that's nothing to fear as the system tracks with a reassuring on-center feel and it is well weighted off-center.

The base engine for the SE model is a 292-horsepower Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 producing 260 pound-feet of torque, and it's the fuel economy champ. The SXT model with the Rallye Appearance Group (made up of a cold-air intake, engine-control software tweaks, and a different exhaust system) boosts those numbers to 300 hp and 264 lb-ft.

With the 8-speed automatic that was added last year, we've found the V-6 models to be very responsive. It's 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.

All-wheel drive remains optional only on the V-6 models, and it includes an active transfer case with front axle disconnect, a feature that should help improve fuel economy during most types of driving. In the past we've noted that the steering doesn't wind and unwind with the same neatness as in rear-wheel-drive models, giving the car a bulkier feel. We'll update this as soon as we can get into a revised AWD version.

The V-8, of course, is what's implied when most people see a Charger. And for that, you have plenty of options and performance levels.

To start, there's the R/T with its 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 rated at 370 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. The R/T has lots of low-rpm torque, which is typical of an American V-8. The 8-speed automatic transmission performs flawlessly with this engine, and while you sure don’t need eight ratios for an engine with this kind of torque plateau, it does mean that the R/T is always on top of its game. It has plenty of intermediate ratios to choose from when you want to ease into a pass without going full-throttle (and turning the heads of law enforcement, because it's still a very vocal engine).

Above that, the R/T Scat Pack and SRT 392 models have a 485-hp, 6.4-liter V-8. The Scat Pack makes the 6.4 available at an entry price of around $40,000. The 6.4-liter V-8 is much stronger than the 5.7, delivering a 0 to 60 mph time in the mid four-second range. Any performance buyer who drives it will want to pass on the 5.7 for the 6.4.

The king of the lineup is the Charger SRT Hellcat. It has the same 707-hp 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.

The SRT 392 and Hellcat upgrade to huge Brembo brakes with six-piston calipers in front, as well as a multi-mode adaptive damping system that allows you to have more control at the track without the ride becoming too punishing on the street. In most of the V-8 models there's also a Drive Mode system, and all Charger models with electric power steering, except for the base SE, have multiple settings for that.

All of these models handle surprisingly well for a big, heavy sedan, with much more of a nimble nature than a Ford Taurus or Chevrolet Impala. There's a bit of lean and body roll in all models, but it's better controlled in the SRT 392 and Hellcat thanks to their selectable suspension. Dodge retuned the suspension last year, making it a bit more firm, yet somehow we think the ride is more agreeable.

Performance is satisfying with the V-6, but you can't beat the character and impressive firepower of the V-8s.

Comfort & Quality
8.0

The muscle-car stance and rear-wheel drive layout rob some interior space, but otherwise form follows function quite well inside the Charger.


The Charger's interior materials and trims are high in quality, with plenty of soft-touch materials up high and impressive switchgear. We like how you can get cloth heated seats (the R/T comes with that), though we find that the upholstery itself attracts lint and hair.

We like the Uconnect control interface with its large 8.4-inch touchscreen. The icons on this screen are large enough to be easy to hit with a finger, and strong processing power means quick reactions. The design is as easy to understand as anything on the market, making this one of our favorite in-car control systems. For 2016, it adds a drag-and-drop menu bar, Siri Eyes Free voice recognition, a "Do Not Disturb" feature, and a digital version of the owner's manual.

In general, the cabin of the Charger is sophisticated and quiet, and during a wet week we noted that there's very little road noise entering the cabin. What you do hear in the V-8 versions (and less so in V-6 versions) is the constant thrum (more of a throaty rumble, actually) of the engine. We have a feeling most Charger buyers will find that charming.

With a large footprint, the Charger offers good comfort and plenty of space. 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. The rear seat leg room is a little tight for long-legged tall people, but complainers can be silenced by reminding them that it meets police-car standards. With 16.5 cubic feet, the trunk is large, but just average for the class.

The muscle-car stance and rear-wheel drive layout rob some interior space, but otherwise form follows function quite well inside the Charger.

Safety
7.0

The 2016 Dodge Charger's confident, secure feel is augmented by many of the latest safety features.


The 2016 Dodge Charger is a relatively safe pick for family use, provided you don't decide to test the limits of the Hellcat's power.

The 2016 Charger has received a five-star overall rating by federal officials, including five stars for rollover safety and five stars for side-impact protection. The IIHS has given the Charger top "Good" ratings for all tests but the small front overlap test where it received a "Marginal" rating. That score prevents the Charger from earning Top Safety Pick honors.

Standard safety features include full-length side-curtain airbags, a driver's side knee bag, and front-seat active head restraints. Rear park assist and a rearview camera are standard on the R/T Scat Pack model and above. Rear cross-traffic alert is standard on the SRT 392 and SRT Hellcat, and blind-spot monitors are standard on the Hellcat. These items are offered in several option packages for other models.

To get many of the advanced safety features you'll need to spring for the Technology Group, which includes lane-departure warning with lane-keep assist, forward collision warning, and adaptive cruise control.

The 2016 Dodge Charger's confident, secure feel is augmented by many of the latest safety features.

Features
8.0

The Charger's connectivity and entertainment features are refreshingly simple, and Dodge offers a wide array of models and options.


With seven different models, the 2016 Dodge Charger offers something for everyone. The model lineup consists of: SE, SXT, R/T, R/T Road & Track, R/T Scat Pack, SRT 392, and SRT Hellcat. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and the V-6-powered SE and SXT are offered with all-wheel drive.

The base Charger SE comes standard with power windows, locks, and mirrors; keyless ignition; a power driver's seat; and an AM/FM/CD audio system with touchscreen control. The SE also comes with Uconnect services, which incorporate emergency calls, roadside assistance calling options, theft alert, voice texting and a wi-fi hotspot.

The Charger also opens up USB ports for plug-in dongles to offer in-car wi-fi, and offers a media hub, in all models, that includes multiple USB ports, an aux-in port, and an SD card slot.

The SXT adds heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, Alpine premium audio, and 18-inch alloy wheels. It also gets the Uconnect 8.4-inch system, with a touchscreen display, satellite radio, Bluetooth, and Uconnect Access. The Super Track Pak package is newly available for V-6 models. It lowers the suspension by 0.5 inch and adds Bilstein shock absorbers, firmer suspension tuning, a 3.07 rear axle ratio, and Dodge's Performance Pages digital readouts.

The R/T gets die-cast zinc paddle-shifters and a sport suspension, while the R/T Road & Track comes with 20-inch chrome-clad wheels with performance tires, a performance powertrain controller, a rear differential with a 3.06 axle, heated-and-ventilated sport seats, and power adjustable pedals and steering column.

The R/T Scat Pack is the "heritage" model of the lineup. It has performance pedals, a high-performance suspension, and black-and-satin wheels, as well as Brembo four-piston brakes and Bilstein dampers.

The SRT 392 gets a power passenger seat and heated rear seats, plus a Brembo six-piston ultra-high performance brake package. For 2016, it also adds premium Laguna leather upholstery, navigation, HD radio, and five years of SiriusXM TravelLink and SiriusXM Traffic.

In addition to its very significant engine upgrade, the Charger SRT Hellcat gets a Drive Modes feature, allowing Sport, Track, Default, and Eco settings that together affect transmission shift points, paddle-shifter behavior, traction controls, and suspension. They can also limit power; the Charger Hellcat includes a red and a black keyfob, with the black one offering reduced engine output down to a mere 500 horsepower. There's also a Valet Mode. A 900-watt, 18-speaker Harmon Kardon premium audio system is standard for the Hellcat (optional on the SRT 392), as are a flat-bottom heated steering wheel, heated-and-cooled front seats, and heated rear seats. The seats are also upgraded, with more cushioning and bolstering, and this model gets a special T-handle shifter.

Exclusive to the SRT 392 and Hellcat model is a three-mode adaptive damping system with Auto, Sport, and Track modes. Both the SRT 392 and the Hellcat ride on Z-rated Pirelli P Zero performance tires. The R/T Scat Pack, SRT 392, and SRT Hellcat all come with an active exhaust system, and a Performance Pages system with launch control and various performance timers and meters (including g-force readouts).

Throughout the lineup there are six 20-inch alloy wheel designs, as well as a host of "heritage" color options, including B5 Blue, TorRed, and, new for 2016, Plum Crazy.

You can easily add many thousands of dollars to the bottom-line price of a Charger if you get carried away with options, and many of them are placed together in large packages. For instance, Plus and Premium Group packages can add Nappa leather sport seats and things like a heated steering wheel to the SXT or R/T models.

The Charger's connectivity and entertainment features are refreshingly simple, and Dodge offers a wide array of models and options.

Fuel Economy
6.0

The V-6 models are responsible consumers, but the V-8s are thirsty, even with cylinder deactivation.


In terms of engines and performance, the 2016 Dodge Charger spans a wide range. There's no free lunch here. For every step up in performance, you lose some miles per gallon. And the step up in thirst from V-6 to V-8 models is particularly large.

V-6 Chargers are EPA-rated at 19 mpg city, 31 highway, 23 overall with rear-wheel drive and 18/27/21 mpg with all-wheel drive. As we've witnessed, if you set the cruise control, you can expect even the rear-drive Charger to achieve its highway figure.

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 ratings. We averaged 16 mpg in a recent drive of an R/T.

SRT models figure in at 15/25/18 mpg. At the top of the lineup, the 707-hp SRT Hellcat is no miser, but at 13/22/16 mpg, it might not be as bad as you'd expect.

The V-6 models are responsible consumers, but the V-8s are thirsty, even with cylinder deactivation.




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