Ride Review: 2016 Dodge Charger
Over the years, I have openly admitted having a soft spot for certain automobiles.
I understand the consequences of making this known publicly. It may challenge my credibility as a journalist. It may peg me as a writer with no backbone. This is why I correctly do not identify myself as a journalist.
Why should I explain myself again? It is because this job puts a huge spotlight that burns too hot for us to put ourselves in precarious situations. There is a risk in walking on the plank between presentation, words, and personality. I love this work, but there are moments when we forget the responsibility we have to you.
In this case, it is all about a car.
In the current history of this work, there had been one automobile that tripped my trigger. It resides inside a soft part of my heart. Upon the occasion of Pride weekend here in the Twin Cities, I felt compelled to discuss it a bit further.
Which leads me to consider the following: How can I objectively review something like the 2016 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack? Many of my colleagues have with varying results. We can all agree that the 392 HEMI’s power is intoxicating, the exhaust is loud and brash, it is a comfortable and smooth place to be and the paint job is fabulous. However, the story is not just an objective review. It is beyond that.
It is about happiness…and the pursuit thereof.
Happiness usually comes from positive stimuli. If you face the Charger R/T Scat Pack and its SRT nose, you get an angry scowl. Yet, this angry face makes the R/T Scat Pack (and its SRT brethren) unique in its way to strike fear or engage with its fans. It is like a lion: you could tame it, but why bother? It will strike fear, even if it is tame.
The Charger’s overall look has always been that link between its famous past and the needs of today. The four-door sedan has a silhouette that does trace back to 1968. With the mid-cycle refreshes from the last model year, the three-dimensional look replete with wide “track” taillights cast a looming shadow upon anything or anyone that it encounters. This is exactly what the Charger should always be: an imposing and formidable force upon the land.
If one phrase can sum up its overall design, it would be: “Just look at it.” Granted, it is not everyone’s cup of tea, but one cannot ignore a Plum Crazy, SRT-powered Mopar machine. That is what makes me very happy.
The interior is very appropriate. The seating is cloth, adorned with a silver Bee on the seatback. They are bolstered enough for my big body to settle in behind the wheel. We did get five adults inside, even with the huge driveshaft tunnel right down the middle. The instrumentation is great, including the customizable TFT screen in-between the two dials. The UConnect 8.4-inch touchscreen is one of my favorite pieces of the Charger, which includes access to mobile apps and the Performance Pages. This model featured Garmin-based navigation, which is clear and precise, especially with directions.
The trunk opens high to access the 16.5 cubic feet of space. The rear seats do fold down for longer pieces of cargo. It may not be the sexiest part of the Charger, but it will come in handy when doing things. For example, transporting stuff to detail the car. Or, running away from home…
As I said earlier, the 392 HEMI V8 offers intoxicating power. That sound and fury of the exhaust alone reminds you that there’s 485 horses underneath that hood ready to be unleashed. It is one of the few engines around that stirs my soul. You hear it, but you certainly do not feel it. It is bolted on tight, spewing smooth power at a high volume. Acceleration is quick, but it cruises extremely well.
Connected to the 392 HEMI is the ZF-designed 8HP70 eight-speed automatic. Smooth shifts enable the power of the V8 to be tapped at very low revs. You can put your foot down and it will reach the red line. A lighter throttle keeps up shifts tapped at an average of 2,500 RPM. The R/T Scat Pack is only available with rear-wheel drive — as a proper muscle car should be.
Filling it up with Premium fuel, I managed a fuel economy average of 18.9 MPG. Let’s be honest…do you really buy a Charger R/T Scat Pack for fuel efficiency?
A performance-tuned independent front suspension is complemented by a five-link independent rear set-up. This provided a combined experience that enabled great cornering and a very smooth ride. I also like the steering, which is balanced in Normal drive mode. I get a decent turning radius, but the on-road and on-center feel is quite good. If you switch the drive mode to Sport, things get a little tighter and heavier. One word of caution: switching to Sport turns off the traction control. This may be great, if you’re the fearless type; however, I like being in control…so, I would rather have the traction control on.
Brembo takes care of the calipers and braking power, yet the discs seem a bit small for the job of stopping a 4,395-pound car. For the record, the vented and slotted discs are 14.2 inches up front and 13.8 inches at rear, contrasting against the set of 20-inch wheels. Stopping power is actually quite good in both normal and panic situations. A set of Goodyear Eagle RS-A 2 tires are shod on the big alloy wheels. They grip OK, but I would even venture to switch them to even grippier rubber. My choice would be a set of Michelin Pilot Super Sports, but that’s just me.
You can get a standard 2016 Dodge Charger SE with the Pentastar V6 for a starting price of $27,995. Chargers also come in SXT, R/T, and SRT. This Plum Crazy R/T Scat Pack tester came with a sticker price of $41,685.
To sum up: I truly love this car. It continues to trip all of my triggers in terms of performance, driving experience, and other intangible traits that make this car a standout among others.
However, I did feel some pressure and stress from the people who have experienced this Charger with me. Do I need to do a burnout? No…and I did not. Do I have to ratchet the car beyond the speed limit? The problem with a car like this is that it wants to go fast. The Charger eggs you on to reach limits that can threaten your driving privileges. For some, this is a good problem to have.
Still, that Plum Crazy color is a soothing one. It is Pride wrapped up in a Plum Crazy package. That alone is happiness in a nutshell.