2016 Dodge Charger
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Review of: 2016 Dodge Charger 4dr Sdn SRT 392 RWD
2016 Dodge Charger SRT 392: Modern muscle done right
By Dan Heyman
Dec. 21, 2016
What is it about Dodge that they can still make brightly coloured, cool-looking cars in this day in age? Do they have some secret formula that keeps them from having to release 12 shades of grey, or three different kinds of black? Or are their customers just more interesting?
I’m not sure, but whatever it is, it’s done the Dodge Charger SRT 392 Scat Pack seen here a whole lotta good.
Which makes sense, because the Charger has done well to stay somewhat relevant even though pressure from both sides of the automotive spectrum could suggest otherwise; first of all, you have your traditional Charger/muscle car enthusiasts, who remember the Charger as a coupe, and nothing else. It could never be anything else. And, with The Fast and the Furious, Bullitt, The Dukes of Hazzard and all that showing 2-door Chargers doing all sorts of wacky things, how could it ever work as a sedan?
Then you have the other side of the spectrum, featuring people that would kill off the full-size gas-powered sedan in its entirety if they could and replace it with crossovers, SUVs and hybrids. They, of course, don’t realize that there’s often just as much space in a full-size sedan as there is in many SUVs, and that if saving money on your hybrid is your goal, well, at today’s gas prices you’re going to have to drive it a lot to make up for the extra dough you rolled out in the first place.
So, the Charger had its work cut out for it. Chrysler, no doubt, likely knew that, so they made sure they insulated themselves with bonkers versions like this, that could walk the line and show that while there was more practicality from the Charger than there ever had been, it still had its moxie.
Pros & Cons
- + Acceleration
- + Comfortable, spacious interior
- + Styling
- - Traction
- - Fuel economy
- - Shift lever
Hard to argue that from looking at our tester, especially considering its spectacular-looking – if not spectacularly-named – “B5 Blue Pearl” paint job and gunmetal 20-inch alloys.
The side profile view is probably my favorite; it’s from here that you get a good look at those wheels, enlarged front and rear bumpers, massive hood bulge, and trunk spoiler all wrapped in a squat, athletic package that almost looks like it has a chopped top. Big fan of the way the red “392” badges on the front fenders stand out from the paint and match the red brake calipers, providing the icing on what is a very well-styled, aggressive-looking cake that you know is not your Enterprise rental-grade Charger — not by a long shot.
One of the reasons these are popular with rental fleets is that they are quite spacious inside.
Legroom is rated at 1,061 mm and a substantial 1,019 mm at the back – yes, that’s more in the back than an Avalon, Accord or Impala – and while that slanted roofline does impinge a little on rear seat headroom, the seats are angled so that, paired with the substantial legroom, you can sit lower in the vehicle. I’m serious; the back seats are almost buckets.
The front seats, for their part, are buckets, and very much so. Thickly padded and with big bolstering around the ribs and thighs, these are a serious piece of kit, and they leave very little to the imagination if you were wondering just how hi-po this particular Charger was.
The seats with their red seatbelts, a chunkier flat-bottomed steering wheel and the SRT badging found throughout the cabin are really the only features that set the SRT apart from lesser Chargers, which is actually fine by me. Some may want a little more flash – some carbon fibre trim or Alcantara suede inserts, perhaps – to go with the bright exterior, but muscle cars of old weren’t about flashy interiors. In fact, they were about being as bare bones as you could get to both save weight, and allow you to better focus on the act of driving.
What’s funny is how this car, which is supposed to be the classic muscle car re-imagined, is actually quite tech-heavy, even more so than other Chargers.
Yes; it’s got UConnect, FCA’s popular – and very good – infotainment system which provides an eight-inch display screen, responsive controls, and modern graphics. That’s something we’ve seen on many FCA products, but here it gets a little something extra called SRT Performance Pages. It’s through here that you adjust all your drive settings – the transmission, traction control, suspension and steering can all be moodified – via some way cool graphics that look like virtual representations of the toggle switches found on race and rally cars. You can also change the display to look like a bunch of auxiliary gauges that track your oil temperature and pressure, battery voltage and more.
The TFT display between the main gauges, meanwhile, can be adjusted to show the usual trip computer and navigation stuff (Garmin-based navi is standard on the SRT 392), or a g-force meter, timer or digital speedometer. Too techy? I wouldn’t say so, simply because it can all be switched off if you like. There really are two cockpits at work here: a tech-laden one, and a traditional one.
What I don’t love as much is that you have to scroll through menus in order to access comfort features like the standard seat warmer and steering wheel heater. It’s nice that the screen to adjust these appears as soon as you start the car, but sometimes, you just want a traditional button, you know?
Have a look under the hood, and you can see how the Charger SRT is the perfect automotive embodiment of the ‘wolf in sheep’s clothing’ adage. There’s a reason that hood is so bulgy; it has to fit the massive 6.4-litre Hemi V8, that you can see easily clears the plane of the front fenders.
In 392 Scat Pack form (“392” denoting the size of the engine in cubic inches), it makes 486 hp 475 lb-ft of torque, up from 370 and 395, respectively, on the 5.7-litre model. Even though there is a more powerful Hellcat model, this one is the best example of “there’s no replacement for displacement” in the range, as the Hellcat makes do with ‘just’ a 6.2-litre.
It’s enough to get the 392 from 0-100 km/h in just over 4.3 seconds. Think about that for a second; this big, burly, 1,987 kg sedan can sprint to the 100 mark in the time that even today, is reserved for sports cars with two doors and about half as much weight to haul around. There’s a lot of engine here.
There’s also an eight-speed automatic transmission as your only choice, which works with the engine and traction control systems to provide a launch control mode, easily activated through the Performance Pages. There, you can choose at which revs the engine is limited to – about 2,000 should to the trick – at which point you simply hold your foot on the brake and mash the throttle. It’s basic, but a whole heck of a lot of fun. As is banging up through the responsive eight-speed with the standard wheel-mounted paddles. It’s good those are here; much ado has been made lately about the electronic shifter design in some FCA products being a little finicky, and that’s true. It’s stubby and its lock button is awkwardly placed so it just becomes needlessly awkward to operate.
It is loud, though; the classic V8 burble emitted through the twin canon exhaust is exactly as a muscle car’s exhaust note should be: just a bit off-beat, but leaving very little to the imagination. Which, once you start this thing anyway, really is what it should be like.
Of course, even in this day in age, the Charger has to kowtow to the occasional act of fuel-misering; in order to do so, the 6.4-litre gets the same cylinder-deactivation tech seen elsewhere in FCA’s V8 line-up. When cruising, the engine is able to run on four-cylinders, helping save that crucial fuel needed to justify yet another full-chat standing-start, or even an at-speed tweak of the throttle, which is really all it takes to get all eight cylinders singing again, firing you down your favorite back road at warp speed.
You will want to exercise a modicum of caution in the corners, however. As capable as the 275-section rear Pirellis are, the Charger’s rear end will step out of line if you’re overly enthusiastic on the throttle, even on dry, cool tarmac; you can imagine what that’s like in the wet, so you really want to concentrate on what you’re feeling beneath that right foot. That, of course, coupled with the big, heavy body means you’re thinking a little harder as the road gets twistier. Dodge doesn’t even include a strut-tower brace to keep the front-end in line; that addition alone would make a world of difference.
When it comes to straight-line speed and cross-country cruising, however, the Charger SRT 392 works precisely as advertised. There’s plenty of room inside, the seats are supportive and when in four-cylinder mode, it’s quiet, too. Then, when you get to that drag-strip you’ve been driving all this time to reach, it’s just as ready to put on its dance shoes and start cutting up the tarmac, as it were. People that buy cars like these like lots of acceleration often, and the SRT 392 is more than up to the task.
Of course the beauty – the real beauty – of muscle cars of old was that you could get the performance of a Corvette – or, indeed, some Ferraris and Porsches – for the price that sits just a little above a family hauler. While the SRT 392 does start at 20 grand over the base Charger and $14,000 over models equipped with the smallest, least powerful of all three available V8s, I can see the value.
Even with the two available option packages – one that provides a bunch of non-performance adds like adaptive cruise control and blind-spot warning, and one that provides fancy 19-speaker audio – it still hovers just around the $60,000 mark. That means that you’re getting all that power, the great looks and well-equipped, roomy interior for around less than the cost of a base 5 Series. Of course, if you still want that big, 6.4-litre Hemi but don’t need the extra fixings like the Performance Pages, Brembo brakes or lightweight alloys, then the Scat Pack had can be had for less than $50,000.
Either one would be a good bet in my book. The way we’re going these days, we’re going to be seeing big V8s like this less frequently in favour of more efficient turbocharged four- and six-cylinder powerplants. Get a V8 Charger of any stripe today, and you’ll have the last of a dying breed. Get a SRT 392, and you’ll have one of the finest of said breed.