By Frank S. Washington
NNPA Columnist

WASHINGTON, D.C., – Dodge is billing the 2015 Charger as the world’s only four-door muscle car. The brand says the restyled Charger is the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan on the planet. What’s more, Dodge does have the right stuff under the Charger’s hood to back up the claim.

At the top of the power perch is the 2015 Dodge SRT Hellcat with a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 that makes 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque. Mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, this four-door rocket has a top speed of 204 mph. That makes it faster than its corporate cousin, the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, with a top speed of 199 mph.

Next up was the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT 392. It was powered by a 6.4-liter normally aspirated HEMI V8 that made 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque. An eight-speed automatic gear box is standard to all trim lines of the new Charger.

Third on the Charger muscle scale is the 5.7-liter HEMI V8 that makes 370 horsepower. This model has cylinder deactivation that will shut off half of its cylinders when not needed. That’s most of the time.

Although the new car still looked like a Charger, everything about this Dodge has changed. Only the rear doors and the roof are the same. New were fenders, front and rear fascia as well as the front doors. The new aluminum hood appeared to be a little more curved.
The radius of the Dodge Charger’s side scallops was changed and the C-pillar was pulled rearward into the deck lid. The sedan had LED running lights and LED fog lamps. There were also front and rear performance fascias and side sills for the HEMIs, a new three-piece spoiler as well as black performance spoilers and SRT body color performance spoilers.

But amid all of Dodge’s intoxicating power and appearance packages, we decided to concentrate on the 2015 Charger with the least amount of power. We had experienced all of the HEMIs when we test drove the Challenger, it shares the same engine family. Thus, we opted to test drive the 2015 Dodge Charger SE, the entry level model.

It is nowhere near as exotic as its more powerful siblings but this car along with the SXT Charger is the volume model. In other words, Dodge will sell more copies of these two models then the others combined.

Powered by a 3.6 liter V6, engine that made 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, that is bumped up to 300 horsepower with the Rallye Package, the SE also had an eight-speed transmission. All the forward gears help the 2015 Dodge Charger SE get 19 mpg in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg combined.

On a 100-mile drive to Summit Point Motorsports Park in West Virginia, we found the Dodge Charger SE to be a whole lot of car. There was a bunch of stuff our test vehicle didn’t have: no navigation system, no 8.4-inch touch screen or voice controls. But it did have the Charger chassis and styling.

The car was solid on what can only be described as a rain soaked day. Still, it was real world conditions and this Charger gave an excellent account of itself. Although the Charger can come with all-wheel-drive, we had a rear-wheel-drive version. Though the pavement was wet and looked slippery, the car’s grip on the road was sure.

It was solid, really solid. With every bump, crevice and rut we traversed in the pavement, we could feel the quality of its build. Our 2015 Dodge Charger SE was quiet as rain fell with every turn of its tires. Still, all of the weather and the congested traffic that came with it remained outside of the car. None of it was transmitted to the interior through wind or road noise.

The 2015 Dodge Charger was a sedan in function not just in its number of doors. We climbed into the back seats and had plenty of leg, head and hip room. The car could carry four adults in real comfort.

Power was there when we needed it. Yes, our 2015 Dodge Charger SE didn’t have the brute force of any of the HEMIs, but with 292 horsepower it wasn’t a snail. It had enough oomph to get out of the way, to stay out of the way, to lead when needed and to avoid texting-while-driving idiots. It handled with rifle shot accuracy.

Our test car featured Dodge’s customizable 7-inch full color information display. That is a lot words to say TFT screen. We had the five-inch touch screen and the aluminum bevel surround made them look like one unit. The new electronic T-shifter mimicked hydraulic gear selection which was a nice touch.

Our 2015 Dodge Charger had a couple of option packages: 18-inch all season performance tires, satin carbon aluminum wheels and a body colored spoiler. The second option package included satellite radio, rear park assist, remote start and a front license plate bracket for those regressive states.

The soft touch dash could have been a little softer but this was a base model. And we did think the plastic template on the climate controls could have been of a higher quality; not much just a notch. However, that undoubtedly would have increased the price.
For $30,580 as tested, we thought the 2015 Dodge Charger was a lot of car for comparatively few dollars.

With base prices ranging from $27,995 for the SE to $69,995 for the Hellcat, five engine choices and scads of trim lines, we think the 2015 Dodge Charger has a power and appearance package for just about every purse.

Frank S. Washington is editor of AboutThatCar.com.


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