My favorite type of vehicle is a powerful RWD/AWD sports sedan. I have driven this family of cars before as rentals, but only the V6 versions. Rented a Chrysler 300 recently and I really liked it. So much so I was thinking maybe a V8 Charger or Chrysler 300 would work as a next car? I have heard good things about the 5.7 motor and even better things about the 6.4 Hemi.
The example I tested had a MSRP of $39K, decently loaded with heated seats, Navigation, Blacktop package (Spoiler, badges, wheels, blacked out grille). They had It listed at $31K but that’s with stacking rebates upon rebates.
Exterior: Exterior and interior hasn’t changed much in like forever so there’s not a lot to talk about. The 2019 R/Ts are getting the fascia from the bigger 6.4 versions so I like that more than this front face.
Interior: I checked out the back seats first, ride height was perfect. Not too tall not so short you had to fall into the seats. The sloping roof line does necessitate bending your head slightly to get in. But once you’re in, at 5’11” I had plenty of head and leg room. Very comfortable except this blind spot area blocking your view partially.
5 adults can sit back here for short distances. Child seats shouldn’t be a problem at all. Trunk is big, this is a very good family car given the RWD platform compromises.
Ok, driver’s seat- I simply LOVE the seats in this and the 300. They are made for above average size people clearly and it just hugs you. Perfect shape and size for me. Even if it was just cloth it felt so good. Perfect for long distances. Switchgear quality was good. T -shifter feels good to use, Fit and finish was good everywhere considering this is a brand new car and not a trashed rental. The biggest single area of complaint was the sea of dash material which is a soft touch rubberized plastic. It was worse than my 2013 model car which has similar material but better executed. Otherwise everything is good, not great. I think they have better material on the 2019s but not sure if it comes on the R/T or only Scat pack/Daytona and above. Anyway, front visibility is good despite the humongous hood which I like, gives the car such presence. The rear blind spot wasn’t bad at all once I started driving.
UConnect is great. No complaints, fast easy to use big 8.4 Inch screen with tons of features and customization. Just wish there was physical button for heated seats instead of a 2 step process on the screen. All HVAC controls had physical backups- Liked that. Gauges are fantastic! Informative and look great. Steering wheel has a great feel and has paddle shifters and easy shortcut buttons.
Driving Impressions: This car somehow feels bigger than a Chrysler 300, donno might be just me. Turning radius is not small so have to keep that in mind in tight parking spaces. I got on to a 35MPH road first then went on the Freeway with 70MPH limit for the most part.Engine was not loud sounded like a V6 in fact at low revs. But it did have a good rumble at startup.
Starting off, it rides well. The 20 inch wheels don’t crash over bumps at all. Firm but not harsh. Dodge has done very well with the suspension tuning. Gas pedal is sensitive, Brake pedals were a little mushy initially but the brakes themselves are great. Car has good refinement with NVH. Steering is electric and seems fine. Nothing excellent but is responsive if lacking some feedback. In normal mode the ZF 8 speed is smooth and you hardly notice it.
Now, I put it into sport mode and took the on-ramp and that’s where the real fun begins. The R/T is a brute! Great sound! It just roars to life. There is very little lag for like a second on initial throttle tip in and then this thing RIPS with that awesome V8 snarl!
The beefy torque (395 Lb/ft) provides wonderful thrust and the 8 speeds shifts very quickly making a satisfying “brap” when it does. This has more than enough speed to pass most cars on the road. Tests have shown 5.1 to 5.4 0-60 but passing 30-50, 60-80 is what it does best. Sometimes there’s no need to even shift gears. Speaking of which, leave it in auto mode for best results. Using the paddles, downshifts are quick but upshifts take a second. Obviously, a manual would only make it better. In short, this is perfect for highways. Calm composed, quiet with low wind and tire noise and then when you need to pass someone, just give it half throttle and it drops a gear or 2 and boom you’re doing 90. And then I took some off-ramp curves quite aggressively. Man, this car can hang! No drama no fuss and then you can power out through the turns and it just grips. Given it was sunny and 50F but still. You can feel the weight for sure, but it is not lumbering. Handling capability is there even if you don’t have the handling feel of a sharp sports sedan like the Germans.
It is sufficiently refined without any rattles or squeaks and doesn’t feel like an ancient platform and I love what Dodge is doing with just stuffing big engines in their cars and loading them up with features. I believe continuously working on the old platform helped to refine this vehicle with each passing year.
If you want to watch a detailed review, Alex on Autos does a great job and I agree with a lot of what he says in the driving dynamics part-
The Competition: The Chevy SS I drove a while back was like this but sportier and with 415HP 6.2 it was a much faster, beast with better handling, and I like it more than this 5.7 Charger, but the 370Hp is more than enough for me for daily duty plus the SS has abysmal fuel efficiency. The 485HP 6.4 Hemi must be an absolute monster I think, perhaps I would get to drive one sometime.
If you wanted something used with a similar concept but more relaxed and luxurious, a 420Hp, 5 sec 0-60 V8 Hyundai Genesis is a very good option, and they’re quite affordable -
Another, faster Japanese alternative is an Infiniti M56/Q70 with the V8 (420Hp, <5 sec 0-60) Interiors and exterior is more sophisticated
The Stinger GT is another car that has similar mission which I liked a lot with a very European-inspired take on the formula, but hard to beat a ‘Murrican V8. Wish Ford made a proper RWD/AWD sedan with the Coyote 5.0. Sigh, if only…
It’s a cruiser when you need it and a bruiser when you want it.
I feel this will fit the bill for a sporty family car very well. Negatives will be:
- Poor fuel economy- 16 /25/19 combined.
- Interior materials (I can live with that if I am not paying an MSRP of $40K+)
- FCA unreliability and long term quality (BUT, they have improved significantly since 2016, Consumer Reports actually included the Charger/300 in their Recommended list for 2018, the 5.7 and ZF 8 speed have proven reliable).
You would think low resale, but the higher end 5.7/6.4 versions usually hold their values well. They have quite a few rebates on the 5.7 R/Ts more than the higher end Daytons/ScatPacks/SRTs because most people either go for the V6s (which also had AWD) or the 6.4Hemis. I would probably like mine with Heated/vented seats +heated steering wheel and Blind spot monitoring but skip all the other safety and tech including Navigation and Beats Audio (base system is fine). It would be about $39K configured that way, before incentives.
But, for under $28K this is a lot of car and that’s how I would buy one. The used market for these is pretty good and I will consider waiting to get a used 2018/19. You can get fully loaded 3 year old ones under $27K with less than 30K miles. Here’s a barely used 2018 decently spec’d for $27K. Almost exactly same as the one I drove:
And speaking of the Chrysler 300, they seem to depreciate more than Chargers as you can get a 2018 V8 loaded one for $26K. The interior is much nicer and it looks stylish as well.
Overall, I like this car a lot, and would recommend that you check out both if you’re looking for a fast comfortable RWD family sedan, before they are permanently discontinued after 2020, or so I heard...Sure, they have their faults, but they also have an undeniable appeal. Just go try one. They are really the last of their kind.
TL; DR- Flawed but Fantastic.