Bold Look, Muscle and 31 MPG
Looking for a full-size sedan with more power than you can ever legally use? Then you will want to check-out the 2016 Dodge Charger where one of the three optional Hemi engines offers a whopping supercharged 707 hp. But that is not what we are going to talk about here. We will be dissecting the equally cool, but less powerful Charger that is super fun to drive and gets 31 mpg on the highway.
The 2015 Dodge Charger SXT Blacktop comes with the 3.6-Liter Pentastar V6, a DOHC 24-valve engine with sequential multiport electronic fuel injection. The Rallye Group version of the 220 cubic-inch aluminum block and cylinder head engine produces 300 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque with cold air induction and performance exhaust. All this power gets to the rear tires through the TorqueFlight eight-speed automatic transmission, delivering an EPA Best-In-Class rating of 19 city/31 highway/23 combined. These estimates are for the rear-wheel drive model that we were driving. The all-wheel drive (AWD) Charger takes a couple of mpg off the city, highway and combined, but also is Best-In-Class.
In 677 miles of 75-percent highway/25-percent city driving, Clean Fleet Report averaged 25.3 mpg, which means we were surpassing the 31 mpg rating on the highway. Note: The EPA’s gas mileage formula is 45-percent highway and 55-percent city. Here in Southern California our 75-percent/25-percent highway/city driving pattern is far more real world and is why we report it to you.
Running on unleaded regular, the 3.6-Liter V6 was smooth and responsive. The eight-speed automatic had no trouble finding the right gearing for around town or highway driving. The final four gear ratios are close together for smooth shifting and to maximize fuel economy.
To get the most out of the transmission, pop the center console-mounted lever into Auto Stick M+/-, and you can manually shift the transmission through a sequential pattern, back for a higher and forward for lower gear selections. You can also manually go through the gears by blipping the paddle shifters located behind the steering wheel. For more performance feel, you can order the optional Sport Mode that provides improved throttle response and quicker shifts (as fast as 400 milliseconds) and modified shifting as well as additional steering feel.
Driving Experience: On the Road
The Dodge Charger SXT weighs in at a solid 4,018 lbs., but Clean Fleet Report never felt the car to be heavy, clumsy or cumbersome. With the optional Super Track Pak, we had a firm, but not stiff ride with no noticeable drift or pushing through hard cornering, and a comfortable highway ride.
We felt confident in all cornering conditions with the 52/48 front/rear weight balance keeping the Charger flat to the road. The Super Track Pak comes with 245/45ZR20 all-season performance tires, mounted on 20-inch gloss black painted aluminum wheels, for a very sharp-looking wheel and tire combination. The touring-tuned performance suspension comprised an independent SLA, or Short Long Arm, double-wishbone front suspension, with coil springs over gas-charged monotube shock absorbers, a beefier stabilizer bar, high-performance brakes and a three-mode electronic stability control system. The rear suspension is a five-link independent set-up with the same bits as the front.
The electric power steering gave us good road and response feedback, with straight-line driving and off-camber cornering giving a safe and confident feeling. You even have the option in the Uconnect screen of setting one of three drive modes and activating the Launch Control feature. Dodge has gone to some great lengths to give even the six-cylinder Charger a performance feel so you don’t have to step up to the 5.7L or 6.4L Hemi V8 engines.
Having cut my driving teeth on rear-wheel drive cars, it was nice getting behind the wheel of one that could be driven hard through corners. Breaking the rear tires loose was never a fear, nor was swapping the back end (which would be tough to do with the traction control turned on). If you have spent your life driving front-wheel drive cars (which are very good), treat yourself to a test drive of the Charger—or rent one for a weekend—to see what the automotive world was like pre-1970.
Wind and road noise was near non-existent, road imperfections were barely noticeable, and conversations could be held in hushed tones.
As part of the Super Track Pak the brakes are vented front and solid rear rotors with performance brake linings. The brakes stopped with confidence and steady pressure delivered the desired brake force. The power assist, anti-lock brake system has Rain Brake Support, all-speed traction control, electronic brake-force distribution and electronic stability control.
Driving Experience: Interior
The first thing you notice when sliding behind the wheel of the 2016 Dodge Charger SXT is a spacious interior with good headroom front and back. Rear leg room for the tallest passengers is a bit tight, so maybe let them ride up front.
Our Charger SXT Blacktop interior had nicely crafted soft-touch materials on the dash, doors and center console, and featured gloss black and dark brushed aluminum accents. Adding to the upscale look are the heated leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls and the front Nappa leather Sport Seats, which are heated and ventilated. The driver and passenger seats are 12-way power adjustable, including four-way power lumbar adjustments, offered good lumbar and thigh bolster support. For some reason I was not able to adjust the seat so my upper back was supported. At 5’ 9” I thought maybe it was a size issue, so I had a 6’ 1” associate try the driver seat and he too was unable to find a setting that supported his upper back. This did not make driving the Charger unpleasant or uncomfortable, but is worth noting, because the overall front seating comfort level was generally very good.
The rear can accommodate three, but realistically it would be two full-size adult passengers. The comfortable, heated, leather-trimmed seats with a wide folding arm rest with cup holders and two USB ports, and rear HVAC vents made riding in the rear a pleasant experience. The wide door openings and the just-high-enough roofline provided for easy access.
The trunk has a reasonable lift over, but once inside there is plenty of storage space. Lowering the 60/40 split rear seat backs will easily accommodate luggage and golf clubs for two people on a long road trip.
Having also reviewed the 2015 Dodge Dart and 2015 Chrysler 200, I am appreciating more and more the simplicity in the Dodge/Chrysler dash layout design. The Charger dash is non-flashy with a welcome minimalist tone and feel and a contemporary asymmetric look. The dash is nicely sculpted with an ergonomically laid-out combination of knobs, switches and buttons for the climate and radio controls that are exactly where you want and need them. Dodger calls this an “enthusiast’s designed cockpit” that will “highlight the muscle car’s performance abilities.”
Probably the best illustration of this is, when pressing the Super Track Pak button on the 8.4-inch Uconnect touchscreen, it reveals the Performance Pages and Performance Control settings. The
Performance Control screen gets you a digital tach and Launch Control and Drive Mode Set-up options. The Performance Pages screen includes digital Reaction Timers for 0-60, 1/8 and 1/4 mile runs, digital gauges for coolant, oil and pressure temperatures, battery voltage, intake air and transmission temperatures. The final read-outs on Performance Pages show G-Force, horsepower and torque readings. All are very fun to play with and are appropriate for a Muscle Car—even ours with the V6 engine.
Our Charger SXT Blacktop had a large touch display screen with navigation and the Uconnect system that comes with a six-month subscription plan. The infotainment system is among the most convenient and easy to use of the cars I have tested. It has Apple iPad-like simplicity. The BeatsAudio sound system, with a trunk-mounted subwoofer, has a 552-watt amplifier and 10 speakers connected to AM/FM/CD/MP3 and HD Radio play. SiriusXM comes with a one-year subscription included. The car also features voice command with Bluetooth, audio input jacks with iPod control and USB port. This is one very good sounding audio system, so when you take your test drive, make sure to crank it up.
The Charger SXT Blacktop had convenience features such as power windows with one-touch down, power door locks, power, memory and heated foldaway exterior mirrors, memory driver seat, A/C with automatic climate control and rear vents. Other features include illuminated rear cup holders, carpeted floor mats, trunk cargo net, universal garage door opener, front cabin overhead LED lamps, remote start, keyless entry, 12V power outlets, power tilt and telescoping steering column, multiple cup holders, auto-dimming rear view mirror, rear view camera with parking assist and cruise control.
Driving Experience: Exterior
Dodge says the 2016 Charger is “spiritually inspired by the iconic second-generation Charger…specifically drawing on cues from the historic 1969 model.” The 2016 Charger continues with the classic Coke-bottle design and deeply scalloped body sides, blunt front and rear ends and short overhangs.
Offered in 11 different exterior colors, including our test car’s eye-catching Blue Pearl, the Charger SXT has what Dodge says is a “sinister-styled and menacing Blacktop Appearance Group.” Clean Fleet Report received compliments on the color and styling combination of the version we were driving, which we agreed was attractive and distinctive.
With no unnecessary cladding or chrome work, our Charger SXT Blacktop incorporated a gloss black split-crosshair front grille and fascia that gave it a bold look. Sinister and menacing are scary thoughts, but yeah, we can go along with that. The front-end lighting is completed by projector-type High Intensity Displacement (HID) headlights and LED fog lights integrated into the lower fascia.
The long, sculpted hood leads to a not-so-sloping windshield with a flat roofline, ending in a short trunk lid, an integrated black-colored spoiler, fascia-mounted dual chrome exhaust tips and ribbon-like LED tail lights that at night scream performance. All-in-all, it’s a very muscular looking design that faithfully represents, but updates, the original Charger from the 1960s.
Safety and Convenience
ranking from both organizations. Safety and convenience features include nine airbags, speed-sensitive windshield wipers, remote start keyless and proximity entry system, engine immobilizer and security alarm, tire pressure monitoring, speed-sensitive door locks, brake assist and hill start assist.
Pricing and Warranties
The 2016 Dodge Charger has a base price of $27,995. The Charger SXT Blacktop Clean Fleet Report was driving had a base MSRP of $29,995; option packages of Rallye, Blacktop, Plus and Super Track Pak brought the total price to $36,165. All these prices do not include the $995 destination charge.
All 2016 Dodge Charger models come with these warranties:
- Basic – Three years/36,000 miles
- Powertrain – Five years/100,000 miles
- Rust Through – Five years/100,000 miles
- Roadside Assistance – Five years/100,000 miles
Observations: 2016 Dodge Charger SXT Blacktop
The beauty of the 2016 Dodge Charger is that you can have a distinctive looking car with clean, modern lines that tops 30 miles per gallon on the freeway or, opt for a version that will snap your head back with powerful acceleration. Remember, Dodge dares you to equip the Charger with appearance packages to become menacing and sinister as you roll down the road. This flexibility from fuel economy to raw grunt power gives car shoppers a near blank slate when it comes to which Charger they will drive home.
Living in Southern California, we see every car sold in the USA, and frequently several that will be in showrooms in the coming years—as well as some that might never see the production line. So it takes something different to be set apart from the crowd, which makes the Dodge Charger a unique car, especially since it is a large sedan. It isn’t radical in its design, but when you figure it comes in colors such as Plum Crazy and Redline Red I think you get the idea that owning one will help you stand out on the road or in your neighborhood.
While Clean Fleet Report encourages you to purchase the most fuel-efficient car you can, we certainly wouldn’t blame you if, after taking a test drive in the 6.2 Liter Hemi Hellcat with its supercharged V8 putting out 707hp, you said to yourself—life is short…let’s go for it!
Treat yourself to a test drive of the 2016 Dodge Charger. You just may drive home in something you never thought would be in your garage.
Whatever you end up buying, enjoy your new car and as always, Happy Driving!
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
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