2015 Dodge Charger R/T, SRT 392, SXT AWD First Drive
While the star of the 2015 Dodge Charger show is undoubtedly the 707-hp, wrath-of-Satan-infused Hellcat, the Charger lineup is a full one, and several other models are worth consideration if your last name isn’t Knievel (or you just can’t swing the Hellcat’s $64,990 price).
The Charger range spans the V-6 powered SE and SXT models, the 5.7-liter V-8 powered R/T (pictured above), the 6.4-liter V-8 powered R/T Scat Pack, and SRT 392 before it reaches the Hellcat at the top of the line. On a recent launch program, the Hellcat was all the rage, but I also drove three other variants you should know about. Each variant features Dodge’s significant styling revisions inside and out for 2015. Although dimensions are little changed from the 2014 model, the stylists have tucked in the Charger’s corners to shrink the car visually. In fact, nearly every panel is altered from the 2014 version, so all-new tooling has been introduced at the plant. Inside, the cabin is a vast improvement, with real aluminum trim around the transmission bezel and instrument panel (albeit a thin application), a new three-spoke steering wheel, 7-inch information display between speedo and tach, and generally nicer-looking interior materials.
Mechanically, the 2015 Charger receives new adjustable electric power steering (only the Hellcat sticks with a hydraulic system), and the TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission is standard across the lineup. Revisions were also made to tune the suspension for sharper handling, and the rear aluminum axle housing in rear-wheel-drive Chargers has been made lighter. All-wheel drive is available only on the V-6 models (SE and SXT) for 2015 due to the previous low take-rate for AWD V-8 cars.
Following are quick takes from my drives of these Chargers: the SXT AWD, R/T, and SRT 392.
Charger SXT AWD
With the familiar base-level 3.6-liter Pentastar V-6 under the hood, the SXT is no rocket ship, but it is adequately quick for non-enthusiast buyers, especially paired to the eight-speed auto. It also has a more comfort-oriented ride than the V-8 powered cars. In the rainy conditions I drove in, the AWD system combined with less power than the V-8 powered cars to allow for more aggressive throttle around West Virginia’s winding back roads. The revised AWD system disconnects the front wheels for improved fuel economy when they aren’t needed (18/27 mpg city highway, compared with 19/31 mpg for the rear-drive car).
The SXT’s interior lacks flash compared to the SRT cars, but that’s to be expected. Still, the new 7-inch TFT info display is a welcome addition with its sharp graphics, and the leather-wrapped shift knob, soft-touch door tops, and upgraded upholstery are all evident even in this lower-spec model.
Still a fun middle-ground Charger, the R/T benefits greatly from the new eight-speed gearbox, even with nearly 400 lb-ft of torque on tap from the 5.7-liter V-8. Freeway cruising is relaxed and quiet in eighth gear (helped by cylinder deactivation, which allows the engine to run in four-cylinder mode), but a stab of the throttle drops gears fast for instant overtaking power. Dodge claims 0 to 60 mph times in the upper 5-second range, which seems accurate from behind the wheel. The R/T Road & Track model adds paddle shifters and Dodge’s Sport mode II for rev-matched downshifts.
At just under $34,000 to start, the base R/T is a decent value proposition, but it’s a tempting $7,000 jump to the R/T Scat Pack. With its four-piston Brembo brakes, Bilstein suspension, and 485-hp 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 up front, the Scat Pack is essentially last-year’s SRT for a significantly discounted price. For performance-minded buyers, the R/T Scat Pack is probably the best value to be had in the whole Charger lineup.
Charger SRT 392
Step up another $7,000 from the R/T Scat Pack, and the SRT 392 can be yours. With the same 485 hp/475 lb-ft rating as the Scat Pack, why spend the extra bucks? The adjustable suspension is one of the better units available at any price, with distinct and well-calibrated settings between comfort, sport, and track. The non-adjustable Scat Pack suspension is about as firm as the SRT in Sport, which means it’s a compromise on the road and the track — a little too firm for the former and too soft for the latter. SRT 392 buyers also get new six-piston front Brembos with two-piece 15.4-in rotors, SRT performance pages, a flat-bottomed leather steering wheel, and the upscale Nappa leather/Alcantara seats.
After a bit of seat time around a rain-soaked Summit Point Raceway back-to-back with the SRT 392 and the Hellcat, the 392 was easily the easier car to manage given the slippery conditions. Unfortunately, impressions in normal, dry conditions weren’t possible. The exhaust bellow from the massive Hemi is addictive, though it lacks the shriller edge of its more powerful sibling. While it’s no Hellcat (and what else is, really?), the SRT 392 is still of that rarefied supercar classification. It’s a special vehicle that was built only with enthusiasts in mind.
|2015 Dodge Charger|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, RWD/AWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINES||3.6L/292-300-hp/260-264-lb-ft DOHC 24-valve V-6; 5.7L/370-hp/395-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8; 6.4L/485-hp/475-lb-ft OHV 16-valve V-8; 6.2L/707-hp/650-lb-ft supercharged OHV 16-valve V-8|
|CURB WEIGHT||3950-4600 lb (mfr)|
|LENGTH X WIDTH X HEIGHT||198.4-200.8 x 75.0 x 58.2-58.3 in|
|0-60 MPH||3.7-7.0 sec (MT est)|
|EPA CITY/HWY FUEL ECON||13-19 / 22-31 mpg (est)|
|ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY/HWY||177-259 / 109-153 kW-hrs/100 miles (est)|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.84-1.22 lb/mile (est)|
|ON SALE IN U.S.||Spring 2015|