Worldy Performance | 2013 Dodge Charger SRT

September 2013 View more

N2013_09_01_003ROADIf subtle is what you are after, the Dodge Charger SRT is not for you. Forget the bright red or orange paint options—even cloaked in subdued black paint, this large sedan projects an American muscle car image that’s impossible to miss.

Interestingly, for an all-American car, the Charger travels in some very international company. It shares its underpinnings with a former version of the Mercedes E-Class, and will reportedly lend its platform to the upcoming Maserati Ghibli sedan.

The Charger SRT belongs to a breed of high-performance vehicles that demand few sacrifices beyond frequent fill-ups. The car’s rear-wheel-drive powertrain—a set-up that is often code for “does not like to play in bad weather”—has been thoughtfully tempered with an effective but not overbearing traction control system. Ground clearance is never a consideration, so speed bumps and steep driveways are of no great concern.

N2013_09_01_002ROADWith four wide-opening doors and five comfortably cushioned seats, as well as a capacious trunk, the Charger is the fun car that you can actually drive, rather than the fun car that you have to leave in the garage until you’ve got places to go and things to do.

The emphasis definitely is on fun, so long as your idea of a good time involves copious amounts of rapid acceleration and visceral deceleration. Dodge estimates that drivers can hit 60 miles per hour in less than five seconds, then stop in less than 120 feet. Those red Brembo brake calipers are not just for show.

Small turbocharged four-cylinder engines might be gaining popularity in other segments, but here in the land of big cars and big performance, Dodge is sticking with tradition: An enormous 6.4-liter V8 Hemi that spools up 470 horsepower and a matching dose of torque. The window sticker’s stark 14 city/23 highway fuel economy and matching gas guzzler tax might make you wonder what mileage the Charger SRT would eke out absent the engine’s fuel saver technology.

SRT is an appellation of performance for Dodge and Chrysler vehicles, and that moniker extends beyond just engine size. The Charger SRT now comes standard with a launch control feature that revs the engine to an optimal level, alerts the driver if the steering wheel is not dead straight, and limits wheel slip—all in the service of helping to maximize straight-line acceleration.

N2013_09_01_001ROADFor buyers who plan to really tap into the Charger SRT’s capabilities, Dodge sweetens the deal even further by including a day of high-performance driving instruction and track time for buyers. No, you don’t have to flog your own car. Dodge will lend you a car for the track. Yes, you will be wearing a helmet during the high-speed portions of your day.

Viewed from a price-to-performance perspective, the 2013 Dodge Charger SRT is a relative bargain. It is available in two flavors, the SRT and the SRT Super Bee – a name with more than a bit of automotive nostalgia for Dodge fans. The SRT starts at $46,250, with leather seats and a lengthy list of standard features. The SRT Super Bee shaves a bit off the base price at $43,250 with cloth seats, a smaller touch-screen display, and other equipment substitutions, but adds to the car’s visual flair with a bee logo on the front grille and other spots.

If you like the Dodge Charger SRT’s power but cannot abide its vaguely menacing demeanor, head to the Chrysler showroom for your backup plan: The Chrysler 300 SRT offers the same type of performance and four-door comfort in a much more refined looking package.