- What’s Good: All-wheel-drive makes the Charger a viable all-season car.
- What’s Bad: Second-row access, fuel economy, weight and price.
The list of full-size sedans gets shorter all the time.
And with the constant shift of customers crossing over to crossovers, how do you keep one of these automotive dinosaurs off of the endangered species list?
Simple. Keep evolving, keep updating and whatever you do, don’t let it be boring.
The Dodge Charger traces its roots back to a very unboring muscle car heritage. Yeah, there were stabs at luxury car status, even, jeepers, a subcompact Charger hatchback version, best forgotten by all concerned.
But, in its latest incarnation as the only four-door muscle car in North America, the Charger has fascinated fans.
Versions range from V6-powered affordable entry models to heady, Hellcat Hemi-powered monsters boasting 700+ hp V8s with their big-wheeled bodies decorated with an assortment of hood scoops, racing stripes and spoilers accenting whacked-out paint shades with names like Sublime, Go Mango and Plum Crazy.
Shifting to the slightly more sensible side of the lineup, we have here the SXT AWD model, just one step up from the base SXT.
New for 2019, the SXT AWD model harnesses FCA’s award-winning 3.6-litre Pentastar V6 engine, tweaked to 300 hp and 264 lb/ft of torque and mated to the 845RE TorqueFlite eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle-shifters.
The all-wheel-drive system (only available with the V6) engages automatically with an active transfer case and includes a front-axle disconnect system that minimizes powertrain parasitic losses when not in use.
The AWD adds a real practical advantage, especially for Canadian customers looking for that extra edge in all-weather drivability.
A new Cold Weather Package for Canada, available on the SXT AWD, comes with heated steering wheel and heated cloth front seats.
The powertrain pulls competently in spite of inevitable comparisons with the torque-monster V8s available at the top of the Charger lineup.
Acceleration feels brisk, accompanied with a nice V6 roar, a bit of tire chirp and a 454 kg (1,000 lb) tow rating.
Performance adjustments through the Uconnect screen app allows drivers to switch the shift paddles “on” or “off” and select “Sport” or “Normal” for engine, transmission and traction settings, along with “Sport”, “Normal” and “Comfort” choices for steering input and feel.
Fuel economy is rated at 11/8.7L/100km (city/hwy). My real world results averaged 10.5L/100km (comb).
And, of course, there’s full-size sedan elbow room up front, do-able rear seat accommodation despite the ingress limitations of the sloped roof, and a biggish trunk with plenty of old school-style luggage room.
See? Sensible, right?
“So, what the heck is that weird colour” more than one passerby asked?
The F8 Green Metallic ($245) paint job resonates like a throwback shade echoing the green Chargers of the ’60s and ’70s. It gives the car an almost military look, umm, only shinier.
Sort of like the base commander’s car, especially with the chrome-deleted blacked-out accents of dark window surrounds, the dark grille and black mirrors.
That no-nonsense look is accented further with the black-painted roof ($1,395) and a Blacktop Package that includes gloss black IP cluster trim rings, a Satin Black spoiler and “Charger” decklid badge, black “AWD” badging and big Black Noise painted aluminum 19-inch rims.
The SXT AWD comes equipped with standard traction and stability control technologies, Hill Start Assist, automatic headlamps, keyless remote entry and start, rear back-up sensing and camera, Uconnect infotainment and communication, power seats, dual zone climate and more.
And a Customer Preferred Package ($2,495) bolsters our tester’s content with premium-stitched leather, heated steering and heated seats in front and back, Blind-Spot/Rear Cross-Path detection and other add-ons.
Okay, we may be moving further away from the sensible side of the lineup with the cosmetics and content bumping up the final price past the $50K point, but this SXT AWD model does round out as a pretty complete package, blending AWD driving security and civilized sedan comforts touched up with a dash of hot car chutzpah.
Speculation about this Dodge’s demise seem to be unfounded.
Despite downturns in all sedan markets, the Charger keeps charging on with Canadian sales actually setting a record for 2018, even though it’s been years since the latest side-scoop styled 2015 makeover.
Rumours of a new Charger built on the Alfa Romeo Giulia’s Giorgio platform have been scotched.
A lighter, more fuel efficient next generation Charger based on a revision of the current platform should debut within the next year or two, featuring, hmmm, maybe a widebody layout, maybe a turbo four-cylinder entry model, maybe even an even-crazier 7.0-litre HEMI option.
For now, though, the 2019 Dodge Charger SXT AWD soldiers on in the sedan market, offering all-wheel-drive handling blended with all the mod cons and latest technologies, along with a dash of muscle car machismo and style.