Love muscle cars but need to adult? Dodge understands the need for an affordable and fun, yet practical daily driver, and delivers it in the Charger. More than just a big V8 engine and four doors, the Charger redefines what a muscle sedan can be.
Dodge advertises the Charger as “America’s only 4-door muscle car” and that’s surprisingly accurate for advertising copy. Every other modern muscle/pony car like the Mustang, Camaro, and Challenger are two-door coupes with a different purpose and buyer. Big rear-wheel drive sedans like the Ford Crown Victoria are long gone, while full-size modern sedans like the Chevy Impala and Toyota Avalon are front-wheel drive and limited to a V6 at most. Essentially, the Dodge Charger is a class of one.
Consumer Reports rates Charger reliability at 2 out of 5, but 5 out of 5 for owner satisfaction. Looking through their detailed analysis, most years of the Charger show a 3/5 score for average reliability, but the 2017 model year drags the overall score down due to four recalls that year. Just check that the recalls are performed if you’re looking at a 2017 Charger, and you are good.
Owner review website Consumer Affairs shows an average owner rating of 3.75/5. Owners say it’s an overall reliable car, minus a few suspension issues like the ball joints wearing out early. Owners enjoy the Charger’s appearance, power, handling, roominess, and easy to use infotainment. Gripes include gas mileage, and dealership customer service, but no major issues.
RepairPal shows aggregated data on Charger repairs, and ranks the Charger at 4/5, above average. The Charger’s average yearly repair cost is $625, which RepairPal says is slightly below the vehicle average of $631. The odds of the issue being considered severe are 14%, which is higher than the national average of 12%. They summarized, “While repairs tend to be more severe than average, these issues occur less often, so major repairs are infrequent for the Charger.”
Taking some stress away from the reliability question is a factory warranty. If something breaks, get it fixed for free. The Full bumper-to-bumper warranty covers 36 months, 36,000 miles, whichever comes first. Powertrain warranty is 60 months, or 60,000 miles. Roadside assistance matches the Powertrain warranty for length. The rust warranty is unlimited, either by age or miles, so feel free to drive it all winter on salted roads. Odds are you can find several used Chargers in Carvana’s inventory with their factory warranty intact.
The Charger has a lot of acreage to fill, and Dodge stuffs it full of interesting features. Most of them are covered in the trim levels below, but here’s a detailed look at the more exciting features.
Unparalleled engine options & power
While the Charger forces you to use their eight-speed auto (that’s okay, it’s an excellent transmission), they offer a wide assortment of engine options. The V6 offers enough power and great fuel economy. The 5.7 and 6.4-liter V8s make impressive performers to satisfy anyone’s speed fix. The SRT Hellcat’s supercharged 6.2-liter makes record-setting horsepower and headlines, probably contributing to the Chargers increasing sales and popularity recently.
Twenty years ago, “infotainment” consisted of a radio and CD player. The Charger still offers the radio, but instead of physical media, the system can play streaming music through Apple CarPlay or Android Auto connectivity, SiriusXM satellite radio, receive local HD radio channels, or listen to podcasts or playlists on whatever app you use on your phone through Bluetooth streaming. If you’re a passenger, enjoy the 5G WiFi hotspot that extends 50 feet from the car. UConnect is consistently rated one of the best infotainment systems available, receiving Digital Trends’ Infotainment of the Year award.
Gas Saving MDS
Striving to reach higher fuel economy standards, most manufacturers downsized their sedan’s engine options, or removed the full-size sedan entirely. Chrysler/Dodge takes a different route to give buyers the car they want while still hitting high MPG numbers. The Charger’s V8s have a modern variable displacement engine technology called MDS. That acronym stands for Multi Displacement System, which deactivates four of the V8’s cylinders during low demand situations, like idling or cruising on the highway. Chrysler estimates that it’s good for a 20% increase in fuel mileage, without a hit to reliability since it’s similar to current start/stop tech.
Flexibility of AWD
Losing traction in a muscle car is great fun when you meant to smoke the rear tires, but it’s less fun in the winter when you’re stuck at a green light because of lack of traction. Enter the all-wheel drive Charger. Owners say it’s the perfect vehicle for the snow-belt, plowing through deep snow drifts like they’re not even there. You can add snow tires for maximum bad-weather grip on snow and ice, enabling you to get to work in any weather. On second thought, keep the all-season tires on and call in…
The Charger offers a lot of car for the money, and it can also be a lot of engine for the money. Looking over the trim levels in Carvana’s inventory, there are two places you can best find Charger’s value.
SXT – $16,000 to $24,000
The most affordable trim when new is also the most affordable trim when used. While it is the base model, the SXT scores points with the GT’s 3.6-liter/8-speed drivetrain, while having a more family-friendly suspension. It’s still fun to drive, but also economical and practical. There’s dozens of SXTs in Carvana’s inventory at this price point. Just know that the lower price point is around four years old and averaging 50,000 miles, while the high-end is essentially brand new, a year old, with as little as 10,000 miles.
R/T – $21,000 to $28,000
The R/T trim is a performance bargain, a solid muscle car for a great price. The 5.7-liter provides plenty of power and sound, and the performance suspension and brakes contribute to an all-around great driver. This one is more fun to drive than the price suggests. Prices in this range will buy a Charger R/T only a couple years old, and with around 20,000 to 50,000 miles. Stick to 2015+ models to get the most recent styling and safety updates, or 2017+ models for the eight-speed auto in every trim level.
The Charger’s different trim levels make it quite a different car. You can get a comfy and sedate daily driver, a muscle car with convenience, or a supercar that can outrun nearly anything. Here’s the various versions of Charger.
Starting at the bottom of the trim level gets you a Charger SXT, which sounds way better than SE. The only drivetrain combo is the 3.6-liter V6 attached to an eight-speed automatic. The V6 makes 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. It’s good for a 0 to 60 run of 6.5 seconds. Optional AWD gains a few ponies bringing it to 300, but doesn’t increase acceleration due to increased weight. It’s the most family-ready trim, with a touring suspension that keeps everything quiet on the road. There’s eight-way power driver’s seat with four-way power lumbar adjustments, seven-inch touchscreen, dual-zone climate control, leather wrapped shift knob and steering wheel, and 17-inch painted aluminum wheels. It’s good on options, but low on aggression. The SXT is for the owner that enjoys the Charger’s driving dynamics, but wants comfort and doesn’t want to compromise the ride quality.
GT (replaced SE in 2019)
The GT option keeps the same powertrain as SXT, but pumps up the visual punch. Outside, you get a functional hood scoop and the R/T’s front fascia. The four-piston Brembo brakes are optional, sitting inside the 19-inch painted wheels. The GT gets a performance suspension and larger 180-amp alternator. Inside, you’ll find performance seats, bright polished pedals, and performance steering wheel with paddle shifters. Then there’s the 8.4-inch touchscreen display with SiriusXM and HD radio, 4G LTE WiFi hotspot, 276-watt amplifier, and six-speaker premium sound system. The GT is for the driver that wants the looks and driving experience of a Charger, but doesn’t really want the insurance and fuel bill of the R/T.
The R/T trim adds a 5.7-liter V8 with Multiple Displacement System. This saves gas by shutting off certain cylinders during low revs or when idling, essentially performing like a four cylinder at times. The system kicks off under acceleration, letting you use all eight cylinders. The active exhaust system makes it sound like a classic muscle car under full throttle, but then closes a valve in the exhaust pipe when cruising to keep it quiet. With 370 horsepower and 390 lb-ft, the R/T can hit 60 in just under six seconds. The Charger R/T driver wants muscle car experience like a Camaro SS, Mustang GT, or Challenger R/T, but also wants four doors. Okay with buying an older car? Look to 2014 and prior for optional AWD, something Camaro and Mustang have never offered.
R/T Scat Pack
Dodge added the Scat Pack in 2015, replacing the Super Bee package. It’s essentially the same thing, but with a more classic drag race sounding name and less silly graphics. Under the hood is a stout 6.4-liter V8 making 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft, enough for a 0 to 60 time of just 4.4 seconds. You’ll also find high performance gear like a severe duty oil cooler, high performance suspension, and a line lock for maximum drag strip performance. There’s also a 220 amp alternator, heavy duty rear axles, and the big four-piston Brembo brakes are standard here. It’s not all dragstrip warrior however, as Scat Pack gains standard heated front seats, and trick 20-inch black painted wheels. This trim level of Charger buyer wants a high performance sedan along the lines of a BMW M5, but for a lot less money.
SRT Hellcat (SRT8 prior to 2017)
When launched in 2017, the SRT Hellcat held the titles of world’s fastest sedan and most powerful production sedan. Those aren’t small titles. Powering this monster is a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 making an amazing 707 horsepower, more than some million-dollar supercars from Italy. There’s massive six-piston brake calipers in red, performance tuned steering, competition rated suspension, heated front and rear seats in leather, ventilated front seats, and optional red seatbelts for a cool touch. The wheels are exclusive 20-inch high-strength forged aluminum wheels, painted flat black. The speedometer reaches 200 MPH and you can likely top it out. The Hellcat is for the driver that wants an insane Dodge Viper that seats five. A truly world-class performance car, the Hellcat is a borderline race car that can be driven on the street.
The Dodge Charger seats five people, but full-size means something different today than in the ’70s when a Cadillac Fleetwood ran over 19 feet long. The Charger’s “full-size” comes from EPA designations on the interior volume, not the exterior size. The Charger is 16.5 feet long, and 6’3″ wide, and stands a little over 58 inches tall. It’s large, but not land yacht.
The front headroom is 38.6 inches, while in back it has 36.6 inches. Compare that to the Chevrolet Impala at 39.9 inches in front, 37.4 rear. Front legroom is a huge 48.1 inches, and rear is generous at 40.1 inches. For a full-size comparison, the Toyota Avalon‘s legroom is 42.1 front, 40.3 rear. The Charger technically seats five, but the middle seat isn’t fun and should be kept to pre-teens. The Charger’s doors open wide to a 78 degree angle, and with the high seating position for a sedan, it makes this one of the better choices for elderly drivers/passengers.
While you can haul four or five people, you’ll also need to haul their stuff, and the Charger can. The trunk is 16.1 cu-ft, comparable to other full-size cars, and twice the size of muscle coupes like the Chevrolet Camaro.
The Dodge Charger scores well in reviewer’s tests, mainly because it’s genuinely fun to drive, and offers more practicality than similar sporty cars. With strong brakes, top-not handling, crisp steering response, and a smooth ride, it feels like a smaller car even in urban traffic. And of course, everyone loves the firepower under the hood.
Car & Driver praised the powerful engines, aggressive looks and reasonable price, while listing cons as heavy curb weight, interior materials, and lack of AWD in the V8 trims. “While the Charger lacks some of its competitors’ richer interior materials, it makes up for this shortcoming with a superb infotainment system and an engaging driving experience. Between its lively palette of color options and nostalgia-inspiring decals, the Charger is an affordable-performance proposition that’s hard to resist.” C&D liked it enough to rate 4/5, calling the Charger “An enticing blend of performance and practicality.”
Consumer Reports gave a solid 85/100 road test, saying “Like its cousin, the Chrysler 300, the Charger is a big, comfortable cruiser with an array of sophisticated technology on tap. It delivers a comfortable ride, and the quiet cabin is well-equipped, making the Charger a bargain luxury sedan.”
Edmunds listed a 7.4 out of 10, offering more praise for powerful engines, lots of trim levels and packages to personalize it, and a user-friendly infotainment system with a large screen. Cons included “V8 engines are thirsty when driven with enthusiasm,” the sloping roofline that cuts into rear headroom, and interior finish isn’t on par with competitors. Four sentences sum up their review: “The Dodge Charger isn’t a sensible car for sensible drivers. Instead, it’s for drivers who want a car that looks cool, makes cool noises, and goes obscenely fast. It is practical, though. Four doors, a roomy cabin, and a raft of safety features make the Charger a legitimate choice for family duty.”
Motor Trend gave a 3.5 out of 5, liking that the Charger’s attitude is conveyed through its appearance, but also noting that you can feel that attitude on the drive. They praised the lively handling and four-door practicality in a muscle sedan. “The Dodge Charger should please the sedan shopper looking for available V-8 power, aggressive styling, and a good ride-handling balance.” Is it for you though? “Consumers looking for a sedan with good fuel economy, class-leading acceleration with a V-6, and a luxurious interior may want to look at one of the Charger’s competitors.”
How about some awards? The current version of the Dodge Charger earned:
- Kelley Blue Book’s Best Resale Value
- ALG’s Residual Value Award
- JD Power’s Highest Resale Value
- JD Power’s APEAL (Automotive Performance Execution, and Layout)
- Edmunds’ Best Retained Value
- Strategic Vision’s Most Loved Vehicle in America
Classic muscle used to drink high octane gas like it was going out of style, often to the rate of single digits for MPG. Fortunately, modern muscle is powerful and intelligent, like smart Professor Hulk from Avengers: Endgame. You won’t get to fight bad guys, but you will get up to 30 MPG and feel like a hero.
What used to be economy car numbers is now large car territory. The Dodge Charger gets 30 MPG highway in its most fuel efficient configuration: 3.6-liter, eight-speed auto and rear-wheel drive. The city rating isn’t as good, at 19 MPG, so look elsewhere if you’re looking to drive for Uber. AWD is a class exclusive, and a handy feature when the weather gets frightful. It does weigh more to run power to all the wheels, so the AWD Charger sees an MPG hit to 18/27 for city/highway mileage.
The V8s, understandably, don’t fare as well on the EPA’s fuel economy tests. The R/T’s 5.7-liter can hit 25 MPG highway thanks to the efficient eight-speed, but city mileage falls to 16 MPG. The R/T Scat Pack’s 6.4-liter is bigger and more powerful, but not much thirstier, scoring the same 25 MPG highway rating, and only a 1 MPG loss in the city. Hellcat gets MPG in the teens, but you won’t care.
With an 18.5 gallon tank, the Charger’s maximum range is 426 miles with the V6, or 333 miles with in the Hellcat. Octane requirements vary by the engine. The V6 recommends cheapo regular 87 octane. The 5.7-liter wants mid-grade 89 octane, but can get by on 87 if you’re stretching the budget that week. The 6.4-liter and supercharged 6.2-liter require premium, usually 91 octane depending on the area, but owners say if 93 is available near you, the extra expense is worth the results.
Since you’re searching for four-doors instead of two, odds are you have a family or are going to have passengers at some point. Just because you enjoy driving and performance cars, that doesn’t mean you can ignore safety. While the Dodge Charger didn’t score so well in crash tests a decade ago, the current car is five-star safe.
Crash Test Scores
The NHTSA crash tested every generation of Charger, and assigned the current car a five-star overall safety rating. The frontal crash rating examines how well front passengers survive front impacts. The Charger score 4/5 for driver and front passenger. The side impact scores are a little higher, with the side impact – barrier test showing four stars for front seats and five stars in back. The side impact – pole test shows five stars for everyone. Rollover earned five stars too, with only a 10% chance of rollover during emergency maneuvers (the Feds couldn’t get their Charger to roll over). The NHTSA recommends optioning your Charger with Forward Collision Warning and Lane Departure Warning.
The IIHS runs similar tests, and which delivered similar results. Grouped under crashworthiness testing, there are five areas scored. Rather than striking a simulated wall, the IIHS’s small overlap crash test shows what happens when the Charger clips a vehicle in a frontal accident. The dummy showed the driver surviving, but taking injuries, so the IIHS rated the small overlap as Marginal. The four other areas tested – moderate overlap front, side impact, roof strength, and headrests & seats – all rated the highest score of Good. Crash mitigation is a mixed bag, with headlights delivering the lowest Poor rating, while crash prevention tech earns the highest Superior score. A deeper look shows the low beam headlights aren’t bad for visibility, but cause excessive glare for oncoming drivers. Note for parents; IIHS reports child seat LATCH anchors are easy to find, but buried rather far into the seat making them difficult to use.
In addition to the usual airbags and ABS, the Dodge Charger’s safety systems include some up-to-date tech, including: active head restraints, traction control, blind-spot and cross-path detection, electronic roll mitigation, hill start assist, rear part-assist, and rain brake support – a feature that works to keep rain off of rotors for better braking.