2018 Dodge Charger Driving Impressions
No worries about the 3.6-liter V6 in the Charger SXT and GT. It’s plenty quick enough to stay ahead of traffic, its 292 horsepower boosted by 260 pound-feet of torque. There’s a nice resonance to the exhaust note in the midrange.
The 8-speed automatic rifles through the gears with excellent shift action and logic. It can do its shifts in a very quick 160 milliseconds. On the SRT models it blips the downshift to match the engine and transmission speeds and make the downshift smoothly. The shifter is clunky, however.
The Charger GT offers all-wheel drive for winter weather capability.
Meanwhile, the 5.7-liter V8 will stay ahead of traffic at half throttle, using its 370 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque. It can accelerate from zero to sixty in less than six seconds, a brisk pace.
The 6.4-liter V8, a bored-out 5.7-liter Hemi, can do that time in a very quick 4.5 seconds. The Hellcat, with its supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi, can do it in a super quick 3.7 seconds.
The ride in some models is a bit soft, as after all it is a standard sedan, and there’s some body lean, but the handling does not feel retro at all. It’s capable and composed. The steering is accurate and nicely weighted. With so many available suspension setups, the ride and handling changes, but we have found all models will feel balanced within their limits.
The SXT gets an option to improve handling with the Super Track Pak, including Bilstein dampers, a 3.07 rear axle ratio, performance hood with air induction, performance front and rear fascias, sculpted side sills, and the Dodge Performance Pages data system and indicators.
The SRT with a firm suspension delivers remarkable control given its hefty weight of more than 4000 pounds. The SRTs use huge Brembo brakes with six-piston calipers in front, adaptive dampers, and a drive-mode system with Sport, Track, Default and Custom mode, allowing the driver to make selections for transmission, throttle, and steering. The Bilstein adaptive damping suspension also has modes: Auto, Sport and Track.
It’s this system that enables the 707-horsepower Hellcat to be civilized on the highway. There’s also a lock to limit horsepower to 500, which is 400 horsepower more than is needed for valet parking.
If you don’t feel like being civilized all the time, you can hammer the throttle of the Hellcat and burn rubber and slide the tail in the turns. It gets nervous chasing through canyons, the suspension dances on smooth roads. To drive it quickly, in any direction other than a straight line, it’s a handful.