Once again, the Chrysler Group has succeeded in significantly improving one of its products without totally redesigning it.
Published on 2014/11/07
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The 2015 Dodge Charger isn’t new from the ground up, but frankly, it didn’t have to be in order to battle the few remaining full-size sedans on the market. That include the Ford Taurus, the Chevrolet Impala, and to a certain extent, the Nissan Maxima and the Toyota Avalon. Oh, we should also consider its Chrysler 300 cousin; it too will get an overhaul for 2015 and will be presented at the upcoming Los Angeles auto show.
By the way, it’s the 100th anniversary of the brand’s first vehicle. We’ll be seeing television and Internet ads featuring John and Horace Dodge, two brothers who actually founded their engine and component supplying company in 1900, but built their first cars and trucks in 1914. Sadly, they both died in 1920, but their company lived on as Dodge was eventually sold to Chrysler.
The 2015 Dodge Charger still rides on the same rear-drive platform as it did when the nameplate was resurrected for the 2006 model year. However, the car’s look has changed quite a bit over the years.
According to the manufacturer, all of the 2015 Dodge Charger’s body panels are new, except for the rear doors and the roof. Designers worked around the car’s greenhouse, which was also left untouched. There is a choice of 10 paint colours and no less than 14 alloy wheel designs, ranging from 17 to 20 inches.
Outer dimensions and curb weights are virtually unchanged, but the result is a leaner, meaner sedan. The headlamp clusters get U-shaped LED lighting that gives the 2015 Dodge Charger an alien face, the styling crease that runs from the front to the rear doors remains, while the rounded-out rear end is less massive, and sports a slimmer, full-width taillight cluster.
The Charger R/T Scat Pack as well as the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT 392 and SRT Hellcat versions actually forego the crosshair grille for a more aggressive look.
Obviously, not everyone wants a hot rod sedan as a family car. The base Charger SE can now be had in rear-drive or all-wheel-drive configurations, while the SXT trim should once again be the most popular choice of the line-up; it also offers a choice of RWD and AWD variants.
The SE and SXT are both equipped with the company’s widespread 3.6L V6, and an eight-speed automatic transmission is included across the board. In the Charger, the V6 produces 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque; however, when the Rallye Appearance Group is selected on the SXT, output gets bumped to 300 hp.
That old platform I was talking about earlier? Well, it still does the job beautifully.
On our way from Washington D.C. to Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia in order to hit the track aboard the most powerful versions of the Charger, we chose a V6-powered SXT Rallye painted in red with a black and white leather interior.
This car proved supremely comfortable both on the highway and on country roads on our way to the track. As was the case with the previous generation, road noise is minimal, and the cabin is quiet so occupants can engage in conversations without raising their voice.
Those looking for more firepower and more features can once again step up to the Charger R/T, which gets the smooth but mean-sounding 5.7L HEMI V8 that develops 370 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. In the R/T, 20-inch alloys, Nappa leather upholstery, heated and vented front seats, heated rear seats, a heated steering wheel and more are standard fare. A Road & Track package can also be added, which piles on a matte black grille, a sport suspension, beefier brakes, Alcantara seat trim as well as power-adjustable steering column and pedals.
The 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack borrows the SRT 392’s engine, a 6.4L HEMI V8 that punches out 485 hp and 475 lb-ft. If you’re wondering what the difference is between the two, think of the Scat Pack as a stripped-down SRT with cloth seats and a $4,000 price advantage.
Despite the Charger’s relative heft – curb weight ranges from 4,000 to 4,500 lbs, the porkiest being the Hellcat – the R/T variant handled itself well on the track, but obviously wasn’t as adept carving corners as the SRTs.
The Charger’s interior is largely unchanged, although we’ll find a new steering wheel, revised climate control switchgear and a new shift lever, which is much easier to use than the old spring-loaded T-handle unit. Chrysler’s Uconnect 8.4 infotainment system is still offered on uplevel trims, which is one of the most user-friendly units on the market. Across the line-up, there are 18 interior trim and colour combinations, according to the manufacturer.
Alas, even though Chrysler rejuvenated the car, they couldn’t fix everything. Rear-seat room still isn’t very generous for the middle occupant, who’ll have to deal with the transmission tunnel and a cushion that’s sculpted for two posteriors instead of three.
The 2015 Dodge Charger will be on sale in a few weeks. The base SE will start at $32,495 before freight and delivery charges, while the SXT will retail for $35,595; in both cases, add $2,200 for AWD. The R/T starts at $39,495 and the R/T Scat Pack will sell for $46,495.
Simply put, as far as full-size sedans go, the Charger is the sportiest – and arguably the most exciting – car in its segment.