In the realm of muscle cars, the choice of available models is as scarce as it is awesome. There is something fascinating about these models of rear-wheel drive Americana that for some rekindle an old flame and for others, open a door to a whole new world. A muscle car screams independence, freedom and midlife crisis. I’m not judging; I’m probably going through my own midlife crisis at 30 because I have a very soft spot for big, rear-wheel drive American coupes.
Contrary to some of its competitors, the 2016 Dodge Charger SXT doesn’t scream midlife crisis; at least not as loudly. Four doors allow for all the family to share in the fun. Among the American rear-wheel drive cars, only one has the potential to both soothe any surge of nostalgia and be versatile enough to convince your significant other that you are genuinely doing this for the family. The Dodge Charger has to be the best compromise.
Some will argue that it is also a more diluted version of what a true muscle car should be, especially since this Rally Edition has dropped the RWD layout for a convenient all-wheel drive system. But here is the truth. While it doesn’t sound as mean as others do, at least on paper, I like to think of it as the less selfish option of the bunch. If you don’t get my meaning, try sitting the kids or your friends in the rear seat of a Ford Mustang or Chevrolet Camaro and let’s see how long it takes before they never want to ride in the back again.
Handling-wise, the Charger is in my opinion the most controllable model out of the purebred American lineup. The steering is good and precise and the suspension hasn’t taken a dramatic turn in the Super-Sporty-Stiff Lane.
Now, let’s talk about that 300 horsepower 3.6L Pentastar V6. A lot of people were disappointed when I told them it wasn’t the HEMI. When did a V6 become insufficient or disappointing in an everyday car? I wonder.
Personally, I am an avid defender of the manual transmission, but I am sad to say the Charger isn’t offered with one. Instead, Dodge offers an eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission that could have been a complete disaster. Despite a gearshift knob that looks like an elderly man’s walking stick, the transmission itself ends up doing a satisfactory job. Satisfying in the eyes of a ‘pro-manual’ automotive journalist translates into ‘good’ from an everyday perspective. Plus, in this case, the sport mode and manual sequential shifter actually add a little spark to the ride.
I also get to drive the Rallye in all sorts of weather, from sunny skies and dry tarmac to a freak mid-May snowstorm. Snow and the AWD Charger; it is a love story that was meant to be! Of course, I hit the snow-covered streets and the car livens up! This AWD Charger feels as familiar with the tarmac as it is with snow. It is certainly more than a precious, sunny day-only, Sunday ride.
The remodelled Charger looks good. If you would have asked me two years ago when the updated design first arrived, my only comment would have been is that it looks like a giant Dart. Over time, it has grown on me and I can now appreciate how mysterious and gangster it looks. Not the former Chrysler 300 kind of gangster, but rather a modern version of it.
The Rallye package is one of those ensembles that sounds really good on paper, but in reality is barely noticeable. Consider that it is a $1,495 appearance package and the term “barely noticeable” might not cut it. What Rallye actually stands for is an R/T front kit, 19-inch wheels, Gloss Black metal appliques, Rallye badges and a kick-ass sound system. It still looks like a Charger at the end of the day.
On the inside, the finishes are elegant and feel luxurious with the contrasting red accents and stitching and all the leather. The control panel gives quick access to a few commands, leaving the rest up to the seven-inch touchscreen display. In my opinion, this is just enough to be pleasing to the eye, but not enough to turn into an overwhelming cluster of buttons. It also comes equipped with the U-Connect infotainment system which is possibly one of the better systems out there. Another perk is the huge 467-litre trunk, ideal for all the bags and bodies. I meant bags, of course!
The 2016 Dodge Charger SXT is as convenient as it is good looking and I could see this becoming the next soccer mom or hockey dad sedan. Agreed, it is a few sliding doors short of perfection in this area, but if for some the minivan also means the death of their souls, this zesty option will keep everyone young at heart.
Trim level: SXT Plus with Rallye package
Price as tested (before taxes): $48,470
Configuration: front-engine, all-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 3.6L Pentastar V6/ eight-speed automatic
Power/torque: 300 hp/ 264 lb-ft
Fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): city: 12.8, hwy: 78.6 L/100 Km
Warranties: 5-years/100,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro
- Muscle car mentality, easy to control
- Missing a little of that muscle car sound