2015 Dodge Charger First Review: From V6 heaven to V8 Hellcat

By Trevor Dorchies on October 29, 2014 10:30 AM

Dodge has been going through a renaissance. Since 2009, Dodge has seen sales increase 62 percent and Charger is a big reason why. Last year marked the sedan's best-selling year since 2007 with 98,336 sold. This trend is expected to continue thanks to the facelift Charger received for the 2015 model year. It doesn't hurt to offer a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 engine rated at 707 horsepower for under $64,000 either. We recently had the chance to get behind the wheel of the entire 2015 Dodge Charger lineup and, yes, that includes the Charger SRT Hellcat.  

For the 2015 model year, Dodge redesigned Charger's hood, front doors, spoiler, tail lights, and front fascia. The grille and headlights are the most obvious changes and help with engine air flow. This rounded-off look with the headlights pushed out to each corner gives the Charger a low, aggressive stance. A new version of Dodge's distinctive crosshair grille and LED headlights are seen on both the SXT and R/T trim levels. From behind, the same "racetrack" taillights are present but the edges are rounded off to give the Charger a more athletic look. 

Inside, the most obvious changes include a new 7-inch customizable gauge cluster, a redesigned instrument cluster, and a new electronic shifter. The Uconnect infotainment system and an available 8.4-inch touchscreen, two features we highly recommend springing for, return for the 2015 model year. While the Charger's seats are comfortable and will have no trouble handling a long road trip, the SRT-exclusive seats are even more supportive. Both the SRT 392 and Hellcat models get a trim-exclusive steering wheel too. The audio controls are still located on the back of the steering wheel spokes no matter which trim level you decide on though.  

Also: The Class of 2015 -- New Vehicles Ready to Roll

Variety is the Spice of Life

Starting with 2015 model year, Dodge will now offer four different engines including Chrysler Group's popular 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, 5.7-liter Hemi V8, 6.4-liter Hemi V8, and the all-new 6.2-liter Hellcat supercharged V8. All four engines are paired with an 8-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission. The 3.6-liter V6, 5.7-liter and 6.4-liter V8 engines are carryovers while the 6.2-liter Hellcat V8 is all-new for 2015.  The 3.6-liter V6 is good for 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque and is now the only engine available with all-wheel drive. The 5.7-liter V8 is rated at 370 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque while the 6.4-liter V8 churns out 485 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque. We'll touch on the Hellcat later. 

After spending time with the base 3.6-liter V6 engine, which is available on both the SE and SXT, we found it to be quiet while serving up ample power. The 8-speed auto didn't hunt for gears and ride noise was kept at a manageable level. This drivetrain configuration is good for 19 city/31 highway and 18 city/27 highway when equipped with all-wheel drive. Overall the Charger's ride is compliant, comfortable, and it's easy to talk with passengers without having to compete with the radio. 

Two Towers of Power 

We never thought power was an issue for the previous Charger SRT model and its 6.4-liter Hemi V8 engine. So when Dodge trotted out the all-new 6.2-liter Hellcat supercharged V8 engine and said it would serve as the top-tier form of motivation, it piqued our interest. The 6.4-liter V8 will still be offered in the SRT 392 model but the Hellcat is now king of the output hill. Rated at 707 horsepower and 650 lb-ft of torque, the Hellcat can suck down a full tank of fuel in about 13 minutes at wide open throttle.  The Hellcat won't win any Green Car of the Year awards with an EPA rating of 13 city/22 highway/16 mpg combined. The 6.4-liter V8 gets some modest help from the 8-speed auto with an EPA rating of 15 city/25 highway/18 mpg combined. 

Navigating through traffic is fun with a Hellcat-equipped Charger and the endless power on tap. With a simple squeeze of the throttle, you no longer have to wait for that clueless driver to stop cruising in your blind spot before changing lanes. The supercharger lets out a shriek as soon as you step on the throttle. It's not the most obvious feature found on the Hellcat but the engineers over at SRT were able to tune the engine to sound aggressive at low and ascending speeds but docile while cruising at highway speeds. We also had a chance to unleash both the SRT 392 and Hellcat V8 engines on a race track. The SRT 392 was a blast on the track and did surprisingly better than we expected for a car that weighs 4,410 pounds. The Hellcat tips the scales at a stout 4,575 pounds but it had no trouble getting around the circuit. Speed feels infinite as the car quickly sprinted past any legal speed limit and then doubled it within mere seconds. 

What to Get

Without question, this is the most comprehensive lineup Dodge has ever offered for the Charger and that's a good thing. There aren't many street legal cars that offer up more than 700 horsepower let alone ones for less than $64,000. Then you have to remember that the Charger is a four-door sedan so getting into the back seat is easy. Other comparably equipped four-door sedans that offer similar power include the BMW M5 and Porsche Panamera. However, the M5 starts at $93,600 and even at the top end, it "only" offers 575 horsepower while the Panamera starts at $78,100 but to get similar power numbers, you'll need to spend $180,300.

Also: 10 Best Sedans Under $25,000

If the Hellcat is not your style or the bank account just won't allow it there's a few other options including the SRT 392, which commands $40,990. You still get some serious power and all of the added SRT features. However, if you just want to escape the dealer with a new Charger feeling like you got a good deal, the SXT is well equipped for $30,990.  

The 2015 Dodge Charger is expected to go on sale next month while the Charger SRT Hellcat will be available during the first quarter of next year. 

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