Road Test Review: 2017 Dodge Charger SXT AWD – By Carl Malek

Dodge has been on a performance vehicle blitz the past few months. From unveiling the fire breathing Durango SRT, to the recent unveiling of the utterly bonkers Dodge Challenger Demon at the New York Auto Show, it’s no secret that the brand is going all in on its quest to nab performance minded enthusiasts. But with the slow selling Dodge Dart mercifully sent to the land of discontinued automobiles, can the 2017 Dodge Charger still draw in family buyers looking for a sedan that can haul occupants and cargo? While still allowing you to unleash your weekend warrior tendencies at the same time?


The exterior styling of our Redline Red SXT grade tester certainly stands out in a crowd especially when equipped with the optional Blacktop package. It’s big bold and distinctively domestic with the Charger easily being one of the best looking full-size American sedans out on the marketplace. We especially like the front fascia which has gotten more sophisticated over the years, and still retains a subtle hint of aggression. The side profile transitions to the racetrack style LED tail lights which are very bright, and look just as cool, especially to casual observers.

As mentioned earlier, our tester came equipped with the optional Blacktop package, and we highly recommend it for buyers that are looking to add some of the V8 model’s swagger to the more pedestrian looking SXT. The package features several strategically placed black accents including the rear spoiler, blacked out Charger badging, and 19-inch Hyperblack aluminium wheels. We also advise avoiding white and grey hues since they clash with the muscular lines, and don’t mesh as well as vivid colors like the Redline hue on our tester.

The interior of the 2017 Charger has certainly made great strides since the model’s early days back in 2006. Room is in abundance, and occupants in both the front and rear seats have plenty of room to stretch out and relax. The cloth seats in our tester are large and comfortable but the front seats could use a bit more bolstering and deeper contours to truly be perfect road trip worthy thrones. Trunk space is plentiful, and the excellent sound quality from the six speaker audio system makes us question the need for the optional $5,995 AWD Premium group package which adds a 10 speaker Beats audio system to the cabin. Visibility is good all around, but the high rear shelf does cut into rear visibility, and teams up with the spoiler to make backing into a parking space a bit difficult.

We also wished there was a bit more bright trim in the cabin which looks too dark, and also inadvertently highlights some of the chintzy plastics scattered about, with the interior door handles being very prominent offenders in that regard. Thankfully, the gauges are big and clear, and the instrument cluster is ergonomically laid out with the Uconnect 8.4 inch infotainment system still delivering excellent feedback and a crisp vivid display. Lastly, we were delighted by the leather wrapped steering wheel which is part of the Blacktop package, and fits perfectly in your hands, a must have trait for performance driving.

When it comes to performance, the 2017 Dodge Charger SXT may seem like a contradiction at first glance, especially when parked next to its V8 powered siblings. However, the 3.6 liter Pentastar V6 is still a capable engine, especially once you get to fully understand its unique character. Like before, the engine is still a beast that prefers to make its power up in the higher reaches of the rev band, with drivers having to work it a bit to get the most out of it. However, the V6 does an excellent job getting the Charger up and moving (albeit in a noisy fashion) with shifts from the eight speed automatic transmission being quick and silky smooth. The combo is also capable of getting the Charger to 60 mph in roughly 6 seconds which is pretty good for a V6 full size sedan offering.

A key attribute that helped define our tester is the all-wheel drive system. Designed to help give the Charger an edge in cold weather driving, the system helps button down the Charger’s acceleration manners, and also provided more confidence in sweeping turns. While you still feel some bodyroll when pushing the car through corners, the Charger does a respectable job managing the weight, and encourages you to explore its limits, which is a plus for any performance tinged vehicle.

Pricing for the 2017 Dodge Charger starts at $27,995 for the base SE version with SXT grade models starting at a slightly higher $29,995. Our option rich tester had a final sticker of $36,165 which included items such as the $1,095 Navigation and Travel package, the $495 Blacktop package, as well as the $1,095 destination fee. This puts it bumper to bumper with other full size entries including the Chevrolet Impala, Ford Taurus, as well as the Toyota Avalon. While the Chevy does have a four cylinder option, and the Taurus embraces turbocharging in higher trim levels. Neither of them can match the swagger and distinctive flair that the Charger possesses, nor its range of V8 engines in select models. However, for families that are looking for a bold sedan that can still be practical, and don’t mind the loss of two cylinders, the Charger SXT AWD should fit the bill perfectly.