Auto Blog

Dodge Charger: Exuberant, economical muscle

Retiring types should not become auto writers. We drive too many cars that draw too much attention.

Your basic Camry, Escape and Passat may go unnoticed, but the double-take cars — the ‘Vettes, the Bentleys, the Plasma Purple Mitsubishi Mirages — can drive a shy guy to distraction. 

I should have known the 2014 Dodge Charger would turn heads. Its waspish waist and muscular flanks carry more than a hint of the Viper’s menace. Its powerful and protuberant grill is as blatant as a Mac truck’s.

From behind the wheel, though, my six-cylinder Charger felt less drag-strip queen than roomy full-size sedan. A colorful, 8.4-inch touchscreen, Uconnect telematics and Beats by Dr. Dre audio provided a sophisticated modernity. Responsive and nimble, the big sedan rode with a grace not implied by its exuberant sheet metal. 

Only the snap of many necks reminded me of its audacious looks. 

To be sure, enough throttle will provoke the 300-horsepower, V-6 Charger into a 6.5-second 0-60 romp. Contrasted with the tumultuous, 4.6-second romp of which its 470-hp SRT8 sibling is capable, though, It’s a relatively serene romp, though.

The Charger is available in trims ranging from the 292-horsepower SE ($27,990, including destination) to the $48,380, V-8-powered SRT8.

My SXT ($30,290) carried the new-for-’14, $1,700 Redline package that bumps output from the 3.6-liter Pentastar engine to 300 hp. It also adds sport seats, a sport-tuned suspension, 20-inch wheels, a rear spoils and the 10-speaker, 552-watts Beats system. 

The six is paired in the SXT with an eight-speed transmission that gets steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters and a sport mode that quickens gear changes and holds revs higher for improved acceleration.

EPA ratings are 19 mpg city/31 mpg highway mpg/23 mpg combined. 

The five-speed is standard on the base SE, with the eight-speed optional.

The two V-8 trims, the SRT8 and the 370-hp R/T ($31,490), are available only with the five-speed automatic. Both engines are torque-rich, so the extra gears wouldn’t necessarily boost acceleration, but would improve efficiency.

All Chargers but the SRT8 are available in rear-drive or all-wheel-drive. 

There’s room inside for four adults, though the jaunty roofline limits rear-seat headroom and the large transmission tunnel renders the center rear position unsuitable for all but small children.

Materials quality is very good and the dashboard design incorporates a broad, horizontal, brushed-aluminum panel that encompasses the gauges and center touchscreen/control panel.

In most trims, the center stack incorporates an 8.4-inch touchscreen. The system is intuitive and user-friendly, but obscures such simple functions as the heated (and cooled) seats which should be accessible via conventional hard buttons.

I had no problem finding a comfortable driving position but the Charger’s beefy haunches and thick C pillar limit rearward vision.

The 2014 Charger proves that a) comfortable and capable full-size sedans needn’t be boring, and b) the muscle-car format is flexible enough to adapt to changing times. 

If only it didn’t attract so darn much attention.

Don Adair is a Spokane-based freelance writer. Contact him at

2014 Dodge Charger SXT Redline
Vehicle base price: $26,995
Trim level base price: $29,295
As tested: $39,390
Optional equipment: Our SXT Redline tester included too many options to list.
EPA ratings: 19 city/31 highway/23 combined
Regular unleaded fuel specified

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Don Adair
Don Adair is a Spokane-based freelance writer.



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