Argo1
Argo1 Dork
5/10/14 2:51 p.m.

OK, I am going to go a bit off my normal reviews this time. If you've read any of my reviews, you know that I review interesting used vehicles that could be an alternative to buying a new Miata. The Miata being pretty much the defacto standard against which all GRMish cars are compared.

I'm currently driving a C6 Corvette so that review will be coming up. However, I also travel a lot and spend a lot of time in rental cars. Rental cars are mind numbingly boring. A few months ago I walked out of the hotel and surveyed the sea of rental cars in the parking lot and could not remember what car I was driving. I'm usually stuck in a Fusion or Malibu or Elantra or something like that.

Well, this time they must have been out of really boring cars and handed me the keys to a new Dodge Charger. Now don't get too excited. This is a rental car, which means pretty generic equipment. No Hemi R/T here. This was the V6 model as are most of the Chargers on the road. I will admit to not being a Chrysler fan. Not at all. Some truly woeful cars that they have produced in the past as well as a couple of less than stellar ownership experiences have made me steer clear, but now I was looking at four weeks in a Charger. Expectations were low.

I think the Charger looks pretty good, at least until Fiat recently messed it up. More of an aggressive look than its mid sized rivals like Accord, Camry, and others. Initially, when the Charger came out, I was put off by it being a four door but I've gotten over that. The alloy wheels look good. It has twin chrome exhausts. It's a basic model but it doesn't scream cheap.

It has lots of interior room. More than many others. I've been warming up my poison pen to address the Corvette's interior materials. It's an expensive car and the interior should look it. I was struck with the observation that the Charger is a cheap car and it's materials were as good as the Corvette's. Chrysler's simulated carbon fiber is pathetic but otherwise it wasn't bad. Decent for the price.

To some extent Chrysler harks back to the old days of Detroit with door gaps and panels that don't quite line up and old school turn indicator clackers, etc. In other ways there has been progress. The ride, handling, and quietness is pretty good and the car has a solid feel to it. It's based on an old Mercedes platform which is better than Chrysler (or Fiat) could come up with on their own. The chassis is well controlled. It does understeer but it is rear drive so less than it's front drive competitors. I always prefer rear drive cars.

The driving position is comfortable and controls are OK. I dislike the screen based climate and audio controls but many cars have them now. Rear seat and trunk space is excellent. Even this base model has most of the stuff that you would want. It's a non-annoying car to drive.

The car returned 22mpg in city driving and 30's on the road. Not bad for a large car. The tank is big so you go a long way between refills. While it wasn't really a "charger" in the performance department, a mild hurry was possible. Again, if we compare it to it's family car rivals, it is right in there. Being the base model, it avoids Chrysler's terrible gear-hunting eight speed (now 9?!) transmission. The 5 speed auto box just went about it's business in an unobtrusive way.

So is this a performance car? Not really. Is it an alternative to really boring family cars? Maybe. The car exceeded my, admittedly low, expectations. Others seem to share my concern about Chrysler products so resale values are poor. That just might make a late model Charger a really good buy for a non boring family car. It has also made me reconsider other Chrysler offerings so you may see upcoming reviews of more exciting things like Challengers and other Hemi packing vehicles.

Not bad Chrysler.

stuart in mn
stuart in mn PowerDork
5/10/14 5:14 p.m.

I've had Charger rental cars a couple times and thought they were pretty decent cars. The one thing I didn't like was the visibility - in particular, the A-pillars were huge, and actually made it difficult to pull out in traffic because I couldn't see what was coming.

dean1484
dean1484 PowerDork
5/10/14 5:39 p.m.

I test drove a black top edition. V6 RWD all black leather interior with black alum wheels. I really liked it. at almost 300HP and almost an equal amount of torque it was more than adequate. It was actually fun. What I really liked about it was the interior. Everything seemed to be placed correctly. The car I tested did not have the full on navigation and premium stereo entertainment system. It had a normal radio. Another thing I really liked was that it had a analog clock!

In short the car was much more familiar to me than many modern cars. It was simple yet a step up from the economy version I tested. It did not have a bunch of high tech gizmos and a computer screen. It was a car. I liked it. What I did not like was the price. At right about 30K it seemed over priced for what you were getting. For not much more I could get in to a V8 Hemi that has more options standard.

If they could get the blacktop edition down to the mid 20's I think I would be driving one today.

As a comparison the Mazda 6 wagon starts in the mid 20's and optioned the way I want it would be about 27K.

irish44j
irish44j PowerDork
5/10/14 5:59 p.m.

If you ever have the need to review an SUV, and want to do a Chrysler, you should try the new Durango (ideally an R/T, but a non-R/T V8 will do). It also is based on a Benz platform (from the GL class) and it's actually surprisingly "fun" to drive and with the Hemi it really moves. It feels like you're driving something the size and sportiness of, say, a Rav4 when you're really driving something that is giant with three full adult rows of seating. Steering is good, brakes are good, and the interior was surprisingly expensive-feeling, even in the base V6.

Anyhow, I've never been much of a Chrysler fan, but figured I'd chime in with some similar observations about the Durango that you had about the Charger. We were pretty close to buying one, but couldn't find a local non-R/T V8 with the features we wanted and got the Sequoia instead (which constrastingly feels like a BIG truck and is NOT fun at all to drive dynamically).

As to the charger, I personally feel it is really, really ugly and always has been, aside from the SRT which looks decent. The one in the pic above is hideous in every way, in my book. YMMV though!

rebelgtp
rebelgtp UberDork
5/10/14 6:08 p.m.

Now go drive a RT!

We replaced the Taurus with our current Charger RT and I must say it makes my daily drive to work much more enjoyable. Funny thing is I get better fuel economy on the road with the Charger and it's big V8 than I ever did with the Taurus and it's v6. The interior feels huge by comparison as well.

dean1484
dean1484 PowerDork
5/10/14 7:24 p.m.

I agree about the interior. the first thing I did when I was looking at it was to get in and set up the drivers seat they way I liked it. then I got out and got in the back behind the drivers seat. I was pleasantly supprised to find that there was pleanty of room for me back there. Every other car I have looked at the back seat seams to be an afterthought. The chargers is really nice.

dean1484
dean1484 PowerDork
5/10/14 7:25 p.m.

Ohya I did this with the salesman watching and he was amaized that I actually did that.

rebelgtp
rebelgtp UberDork
5/10/14 8:14 p.m.

In reply to dean1484:

I did the same thing when we got ours. What's even more amazing is I fit in the back seat with headroom. That does not happen in many cars. Wife also likes that the pedals are adjustable.

Argo1
Argo1 Dork
5/10/14 11:11 p.m.
stuart in mn wrote: I've had Charger rental cars a couple times and thought they were pretty decent cars. The one thing I didn't like was the visibility - in particular, the A-pillars were huge, and actually made it difficult to pull out in traffic because I couldn't see what was coming.

This is true. Somewhat mitigated by the fact that I move the seat back quite a ways. Roll over standards have caused these big pillars in many cars. Seems we are just trading one safety problem for another.

fasted58
fasted58 PowerDork
5/10/14 11:20 p.m.

What are you guys paying for R/T's and w/ how many miles?

stroker
stroker Dork
5/11/14 9:17 a.m.

What I wish is that SOMEBODY (Mopar Action, etc.) would take a well-used but decent Charger and strip it down to the minimum with no power accessories with rubber floor mats and see what a contemporary version of the Super Bee/GTX would be like. There has to be a ton of weight that could be removed from one of those things. With the standard Hemi it ought to really wake up and with the SRT8 that might open a few eyes...

TeamEvil
TeamEvil Reader
5/11/14 9:36 a.m.

How did the various controls fall to hand? Was everything within easy reach and logically located? Any extras as standard equipment? I was thinking of a Charger for my wife, as she prefers Mopars above all else.

Of course renting one for the day will be the next step, but just wondering how you found the interior ergonomics and layout?

Thanks,

T

Argo1
Argo1 Dork
5/11/14 10:59 a.m.

In reply to TeamEvil:

Ergonomics were generally good. Standard seats are comfortable but lack lateral support. Controls are logical and well placed. Exceptions might be the wiper controls on the left stalk where most cars have them on the right. Also I was less than impressed with the climate controls. They use a small screen that also displays audio functions. It takes too much attention and more time to adjust temp or settings than it would with just knobs. Lots of cars now do this. I hope that it is just a passing fad. Overall, I would recommend taking a look at the car.

rebelgtp
rebelgtp UberDork
5/11/14 11:30 a.m.
fasted58 wrote: What are you guys paying for R/T's and w/ how many miles?

We paid $12k for our black 07 RT with 105k on the clock. Already had the Mopar exhaust installed as well so it sounds even better than the stock cars. The paint has a few minor scratches most of wich will buff out when I really go to work on it. Runs perfect and has been great driving so far. Last weekend managed 430 miles on a tank.

As for controls the turn signal stalk is lower than normal and took all of a week to get use to. There are steering wheel mounted controls for radio and system info. Flappy paddles can be installed using Mercedes pieces (I plan on this eventually). The climate controls depend on the options you choose ours is fairly basic no big screen so it has seperate controls. This may change in later years.

One that is easy to over look is the pedals are adjusable with a switch on the side of the driver seat.

Flight Service
Flight Service MegaDork
5/11/14 11:56 a.m.

I have had plenty of Chargers (one was black and I was in Chicago...) and one Challenger as rentals. I really like them. I wouldn't mind having one at all and I am not a Chrysler fan.

To start with a generation out E-class chassis, it is a really good vehicle.

"The LX platform is Chrysler's full-size rear wheel drive automobile platform for the mid part of the first decade of the 21st century. The LX was developed in America to supersede the previous Chrysler LH platform, which had been designed to allow it to be easily upgraded to rear and all-wheel drive. Many Mercedes components were incorporated, including the Mercedes-Benz W220 S-class control arm front suspension, the Mercedes-Benz W211[1] E-Class 5-link rear suspension, the firewall and floor pan, the W5A580 5-speed automatic, the rear differential, and the ESP system."

TeamEvil
TeamEvil Reader
5/11/14 12:40 p.m.

"One that is easy to over look is the pedals are adjusable with a switch on the side of the driver seat."

That's a very cool feature. We'll have to rent one soon and try it out for a couple of days. Sounds very promising. She hates her Mercury, time for a change.

rebelgtp
rebelgtp UberDork
5/11/14 12:57 p.m.

In reply to TeamEvil:

We traded in the beige Taurus for the Charger. It is amazing having a daily driver that is fun to drive. If you want give it a chance to get out of sorts turn off the traction control and now you can have throttle induced over steer. Give it a respectable growl with an aftermarket exhaust and intake.

Vigo
Vigo PowerDork
5/11/14 3:32 p.m.
I've been warming up my poison pen to address the Corvette's interior materials. It's an expensive car and the interior should look it. I was struck with the observation that the Charger is a cheap car and it's materials were as good as the Corvette's

Ive spent a fair amount of time with both and in my opinion the Charger interior is WAY better in design and execution than the c6. However, that is more about how bad the c6 interior is than how good the charger interior is.

While it wasn't really a "charger" in the performance department, a mild hurry was possible.

Similar to a c4 vette, really. It's good to be jaded.. or is it?

They use a small screen that also displays audio functions. It takes too much attention and more time to adjust temp or settings than it would with just knobs. Lots of cars now do this. I hope that it is just a passing fad

Me too..

Controls are logical and well placed. Exceptions might be the wiper controls on the left stalk where most cars have them on the right.

Felt pretty natural to me coming from my older Chryslers. I still remember when i first started driving imports thinking it was weird to have wipers on the right. One thing i remember about my magnum that may or may not still be true of the current LXs is that the wiper/blinker stalk was placed abnormally high, and i would often swing my finger through empty air trying to activate turn signals and then have to move my hand up.

SilverFleet
SilverFleet SuperDork
5/13/14 11:41 a.m.

One of these is in the running to replace my 3 down the road. Part of me wants a big, stupid, comfortable sedan for my commute which consists of about 80 miles round trip a day, half of which is in stop and go traffic. I haven't really heard anything bad about these yet. I really would love a 2011-up R/T, but I think I'd be happy with an optioned out V6 one. When I did this commute with my last WRX, I couldn't use any of it's 265 horses sitting in mind-numbing traffic, so I really don't NEED the Hemi. But knowing that they make that car with the Hemi will make me regret buying a V6 one.

Being an indecisive car guy can suck sometimes.

Vigo
Vigo PowerDork
5/13/14 12:08 p.m.

I feel like the Hemi under-delivers on expectations and the 3.6L v6 overdelivers on expectations. The Hemi is definitely faster but it's not a riot without the manual from the challenger. THAT one is entertaining. The Hemi/5spd auto LXs are just 'regular fast', nothing crazy, and you get the fuel economy to match if you use it. The 300hp v6 is faster than you think it will be and can get over 30mpg on the highway.

Its just my opinion but as a past and probably future LX owner who has driven and worked on a lot of 'regular' hemis, i've never particularly wanted one with that motor. But im strange.

SilverFleet
SilverFleet SuperDork
5/13/14 12:39 p.m.
Vigo wrote: I feel like the Hemi under-delivers on expectations and the 3.6L v6 overdelivers on expectations. The Hemi is definitely faster but it's not a riot without the manual from the challenger. THAT one is entertaining. The Hemi/5spd auto LXs are just 'regular fast', nothing crazy, and you get the fuel economy to match if you use it. The 300hp v6 is faster than you think it will be and can get over 30mpg on the highway. Its just my opinion but as a past and probably future LX owner who has driven and worked on a lot of 'regular' hemis, i've never particularly wanted one with that motor. But im strange.

Another thing to think about: Maintenance.

Aren't the new Hemi engines a bear to maintain? I have heard that they need 16 spark plugs every 30k miles and they have a ridiculous oil capacity. These are things that are often overlooked when you fall in love with a car like this.

Also, how DIY-friendly are these cars? I mean, they are built on Mercedes chassis, so are these things a PITA to wrench on? I usually do all the maintenance work myself on my cars.

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