The Charger has been the full-size bread-and-butter sedan at Dodge since its revival for the 2006 model year, and the division expects this extensively freshened version to maintain sales momentum when it reaches showrooms next fall.
All New Skin
Aside from new aluminum axles and axle housings, the chassis carries over from the current Charger. But the skin is almost all new-grille, headlights, hood, fenders, and rear fascia. The roof and rear doors are the only exterior panels that survive, though the base of the rearmost roof pillar has been pulled aft, giving the rear window a faster slope and visually reducing the rear overhang.
The goal of the design team was to imbue the new Charger with a sleek skin that would make this big sedan look smaller and lighter, even though the 2015 dimensions are almost exactly the same as those of the current car. A concurrent objective was to preserve the Charger's four-door muscle car persona.
It's fair to say the styling effort was successful. Unveiled at the New York International Auto Show, the new Charger sustains the powerful presence of the current car. Dodge cites the 1969 Charger as the inspiration for the 2015 redesign, from the heyday of the muscle car era even though those '69 models were coupes.
New Wheels, Hemi Power
Other new exterior details include projector beam headlamps, LED fog lamps, a three-piece rear spoiler (standard on R/T models), center high-mounted stop lamp, and Dodge's "racetrack" LED taillight array. The wheels are also new for all four trim levels, with six different 20-inch styles, including a forged aluminum set, 20 x 9 inches.
The car's muscular persona is backed by Chrysler's 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 with 370 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque-in R/T and R/T Road and Track models. The base engine continues to be the 3.6-liter V-6 (292 hp, 260 lb-ft), with 300 hp and 264 lb-ft available in SXT models with the Rallye Appearance Group option package. Both the Hemi and the V-6 are paired with Chrysler's 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic, new with the Charger's Hemi V-8 and the only transmission offered.
With the V-6, the Charger is EPA-rated for 31 mpg on the highway, best in class, according to Dodge. All-wheel drive continues to be available, and features a new active transfer case that automatically disconnects the front axle when it's not needed. Dodge engineers claim this feature can improve fuel economy by up to 5 percent.
The all-new interior includes new seats, extensive soft touch material on the dash, center console, and door panels, with eight different trim packages, including cloth and leather upholstery choices.
The sporty three-spoke steering wheel is new, backed by paddle shifters (optional). A new electronic feature delivers brisk shift times-400 milliseconds, according to Dodge, diminishing to 250 milliseconds in sport mode, which also holds the selected gear to redline. Sporty also applies to the electronic power steering, updated to provide three modes-normal, comfort, and sport-that vary effort to suit the driver's mood.
As with almost any of today's new cars, new telematics abound. A standard 7-inch TFT (thin film transistor) programmable screen nestles between the speedometer and tachometer, with programmable info including Dodge Performance Pages. The new center stack embraces a 5.0-inch touchscreen (standard) or 8.4-inch version (optional), with a next generation radio and premium audio options, as well as the available nav system. Chrysler's optional U-Connect Access provides a variety of connectivity features, including a Wi-Fi hotspot and mobile apps.
New safety features include lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist; adaptive cruise control capable of a full stop and speed resumption; and forward collision Warning-Plus, which will provide autonomous braking if the driver fails to respond to the situation.
As noted, the freshened Charger will go on sale this fall as a 2015 model.
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