The 2015 Dodge Charger is a real favorite. So much so... that it might have ruined me for other cars.
Since balling around Charleston this summer in the Redline Red HEMI R/T, it has been hard to get back into my normal groove of turbo stickshifts.
370HP for 37k.
That is a power and price combo that can't be beat from any manufacturer, nor are others close to the excellence of the eight-speed ZF auto. Or the cabin comfort, room and tech.
Or the style outside -- which is eye-poppingly cool.
Driving the Charger R/T redefines effortless speed, and made it hard to love the competing Buick Regal GS or even the EcoBoost 2015 Mustang.
But is it flawless? And would we buy one? Those are tougher questions to ace.
Two 4K HD drive videos and a stunning set of 100 photos are included here, along with the standard headings.
The Charger in 2015 continues its legacy look for this third-generation model, but with all-new nose styling and greatly upgraded profile and tail.
The continuity of the proportions are really no bad thing, objectively. The long, low and wide style of this Charger might have single-handedly put Pontiac out of business. How could they compete?!
As you know, there are many Charger trim levels and style options. This includes a dozen colors and another dozen wheels. The test R/T and its gloss-black front bumper is a great enhancement to the base style, especially in a bright color like this $500 optional red paintwork. When the car bowed, we worried they would all look like cop cars on the road, but that is only half the story.
DESIGN ANALYSIS - Nose
Beyond the overall singleframe grille graphic lives the most sophisticated inner grillework on any Dodge to date. Some architectural honeycomb forms one piece of intake protector for the upper and lower grilles. The hollowed-out crosshair main grille elements look like a racecar up close, while the Dodge burnout logo lives discreetly in the corner. You already know the brand from much farther away than you can focus on the badge.
The LED lighting up front on the Charger R/T is shared with the SXT and Scat Pack R/T, as well as a few others. This means standard LED DRLs in a super bright, flicker free pinch around the slim main lamp units. Triple LED fogs on both bumper corners are striking as well -- for creating a rear-view mirror menace as well as wide-angle low lighting for the road ahead of the driver. The very same LED fogs appear on the 2016 BMW 7 Series.
With these bright white LEDs lit, the Charger is the coolest American sedan ever made.
The blinkers and projector-beam main lights are halogen incandescent bulbs, which are less cool but upgradeable on the options list or aftermarket.
DESIGN ANALYSIS - Profile
The profile of the Charger is a bit hit but is much less new than the nose and tail. For 2015, the profile coolness is dominated by wheels and drivetrain choice. With big wheels like the 20's on the test car and rear-drive, the Charger R/T is low, lean and mean. The total monochrome finish for the body and windowframes without brightwork emphasizes how cool the machine is, and helps the polished surface of the wheels pop.
With smaller wheels or AWD, the Charger still exudes power and rear-drive proportions, but is much nerdier with a high ride height and too much extra room in the fenders.
DESIGN ANALYSIS - Tail
The tail of the Charger R/T majors on tech upgrades and more modern surfaces to the metal. More flow is evident in the sweep of the lip spoiler over the rounded top of the trunklid. This continues in an effective sweep of panel around the edges of the bumper before flattening to make a trunk loading lip. An integrated license plate carve-out in the bodywork is simple and clean, like the rest of the tail. The built-in diffuser element in contrast matte grey slims the look of the red painted area from directly behind, and also helps the boxed chrome exhaust finishers.
All this and no mention of the LEDs yet!?
Just saving a favorite for last.
This racetrack of bright red light is massively updated internally versus the previous model. Where individual light pods were visible before, the new look is a pure and uninterrupted sweep. It is truly beautiful. LED stoplamp elements and LED rear blinkers are integrated in the sweeping light assembly -- crowning the tail of the 2015 Charger as the coolest LED brakelights on the road, at any price.
Good things first: The Charger R/T's cabin with base cloth seats but upgraded audio and Uconnect nav is comfortable, extremely roomy and very relaxing at all times. The new steering wheel and infotainment controls are some of the best in the business. We especially love the semi-aniline leather wrap for the steering wheel, which is easily 10X softer and nicer to touch than Ford's 'leather' helms these days.
The Uconnect 8.4 with nav and backup camera is seriously good lately, too. The 3D nav view option is finally up to snuff with the best (non-Google-maps...) nav visuals. Clunky-looking TomTom maps were previously a slightly chintzy element of older Uconnect systems. No more.
We also love the ease of use for the entire system. You feel like the touchscreen, wheel spoke buttons and MID cluster screen all work in tandem. And work with you, not against you.
More goodness in the seatback's lateral support and the overall comfort of the huge armrests all around. And all at equal heights so you arent slumped. The seat bases are a disappointment for how much shorter and less supportive they are versus SRT seats.
Backseat people might not love any of the front seats, though, because they are super thick and tall -- creeping into backseat knee room a bit.
Overall, the back seat is less roomy than we recall. The 120-inch wheelbase ensures that you will be extremely comfy in back, even if you won't be crossing legs and reading the Financial Times with all the extra limo roominess. Twin USB charge ports for back seaters are a stellar inclusion that will be appreciated for years, though.
Something has to give in order to deliver a HEMI with a base price of $33,595.
And while the fancier Charger SRT Hellcat is a showcase of FCA's new cabin quality mission, this mid-spec Charger is much less premium in feel. There are seriously scratchy plastics around the cabin, especially the lower dashboard. The headlight rotary control, in particular, feels dirt cheap. And while the dashtop is nicely textured, glare-free and nicely shaped.... it too is much rougher than any Toyota.
Drive wise, though, the Charger R/T is mercilessly effective. A great and low drive position via the power seats and tilt/telescope wheel is a two-second affair to ace, while the traditional gear lever is more intuitive and foolproof than the rotary dial in Chryslers.
The shift paddles behind the steering wheel do a great job at selecting gears and engine braking. You might also wish the SRT Performance Pages were in the nav system.... but they are not part of the R/T system.
PERFORMANCE -- HD Video 2015 Dodge CHARGER R/T Review
The Charger R/T hauls ass! And loves every second of it. An idiot-proof 5.0-second sprint to 60-mph is ruthlessly hilarious, and never gets old.
If there is an easier car to drive fast all the time, we have not found it. The 5.7-liter V8 has an addictive growl up the rev range -- it is a cyclone of intake rumble on hard throttle, but silent at cruise. 370 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque head to the back wheels via a flawless eight-speed automatic. This transmission is a godsend for Dodge.
If smaller four-cylinders are busy with lots of gears, the Charger V8 seems born to twist this gearbox. It is always in a perfect gear, and always ready to play -- or chill -- as you need. It is like a gypsy reading your right foot, and it gets it right every single time.
The R/T has a much quieter exhaust note than the R/T Scat Pack or Hellcat, of course, but this is an asset on long drives.
What really shocks you after grinning your face off at the wheel for a few days is the fantastic ride quality, trustworthy handling and excellent steering. Numerous drive options help you pick steering weight you want -- but they are all meatier and more direct than the Chrysler 300 Limited. That ultra light helm is nice in town, but freaky in fast bends. It dilutes the rear-drive balance of the shared chassis so much, we expected a similar issue in the Charger.
Not at all.
The Charger steering in Sport is exceptionally nice. It feels perfect to fingers and brain. And it makes the rear-drive chassis balance always a wrist-flick away. This is the big shade the Charger throws at any front-drive machine.
How Dodge makes the car handle and ride so well on 20-inch wheels is also a mystery we'd love to solve. This machine is tight in bends but mellow everywhere else.
Absolute powertrain bliss.
Slightly interrupted... mind you... by the lack of full ESP disabling. We spent a while in the Dodge forums looking for how to fully disable the stability control, but were not successful. It appears that the 2015 models need SRT Performance Pages to fully disable the safety net.
This is not a huge, huge deal... but still bummed me out. The TCS off button does its job: when pushed, a sport setting lets you rip burnouts on command and slight tail-out action. But while TCS off mode will let you burn rubber from launch, it does not like drifting and will step in (smoothly) to keep traction and keep you pointed the right way.
Yes, overall this is a good feature... but full Off would be appreciated as well.
The Charger R/T is a stellar machine that drives like it costs twice the price.
From the $33,595 base price for the V8 model, we add $500 paint, $1295 Wheels and Tunes Group, and $1000 navigation. That second option with 20-inch alloys and 552-Watt, 10-speaker Beats Audio is exceptional value. The Mustang audio upgrade, by comparison, is $1800 just for the 12 speakers and amps.
All in with the $995 delivery charge, the test R/T stickers at $37,380.
Incredibly good value heals all wounds.
Wow, can you tell we kinda miss the Charger R/T?
The car is sooooo greatttt!!! It is hard to convey how much better the Dodge is than a V6 Camry or Accord. But we have tried diligently! =]
The only thing stopping some people from jumping in must be related to the Charger's image. A slight obstacle to Charger dominance is its slightly seedy reputation as both a police car and a vehicle loved by criminals.
But seriously, forget all the cops and robbers BS.
Go drive the Charger R/T, and you'll know why we fell so hard, and so fast, for this V8 powerhouse.
Join the Dodge Brotherhood!