Monday, November 3, 2008

2009 Dodge Charger Limited BAMF Edition [Review]

2009 Dodge Charger Photo by Derek Gardner

With Chrysler’s plans to replace the masculine, aggressive styling of Dodge’s current line-up with softer, more “earthy” design elements, there’s reason to fear the future of the Dodge Charger. Despite it’s RWD drivetrain and HEMI engines that produce anywhere from 250 to 420 horsepower, its technical classification as a 4-door sedan has made it difficult for the 21st century Charger’s to gain acceptance into the muscle car fold. Petty differences aside, the fact remains that the Dodge Charger is damn powerful machine and has consistently outperformed other vehicles in its class.

Unlikely as it may seem, Chrysler seems to have stumbled upon a winning formula with its 4-door monster machine, and now the only obstacle they face is ensuring that Chrysler’s new, “soft and earthy” chief designer doesn’t redesign the future generation to hell and back (in all seriousness Chrysler, do what you want with the 300 and the Magnum, but keep Ralph Giles’ effeminate little pencil away from the Charger).

While I’ll admit I assign the Charger a significant amount of points simply for its menacing design and grill work that conjures up images of a slightly evil, definitely lascivious smile, it’s appeal is not purely aesthetic. Despite its 4-door configuration that you would expect to be clunky and cumbersome, the 2009 Dodge Charger handles like the powerful warhorse that it is. It’s easy to compare the data on sedans and coupes and draw the logical conclusion that, purely based on the numbers, they should perform the same - but it’s a different matter entirely once you’re behind the wheel. Sure, you’re Toyota Camry might be available with as much horsepower as the Charger SE, but I can assure you, the Camry’s engine won’t be growling like a hungry pit-bull and when you burn rubber at the red-light, the only image you’ll project is that of a dad who’s late to pick his kid up from after-care.

It might have four doors, but the 2009 Charger commands a presence on the road that is unrivaled by any vehicle in its class. Available with either an all- or rear-wheel drivetrain, the Charger hugs the road and grips those corners like the dominating stud that it is. Hands down, one of the 2009 Charger’s most attractive features (aside from its physical attributes, obviously) is that fact you needn’t break the bank for the top of the line, high-performance, $40k SRT8 in order to get impressive performance. The Dodge Charger R/T is priced at about 10 grand less, yet still puts out a whopping 368 horsepower and 395 pounds-feet of torque. If $32,000 is still a little out of your price range, the Charger SXT retails for about $26,000 and comes standard with a 250-hp, 3.5L High-Output V6. If your budget is so tight you can’t even squeeze water out of it, the base model, the Charger SE, begins at around $25k but only cranks out a meager 178 horses on the straightaway.

Bottom line: If you want a ride that’s an utter beast on the streets, but can’t quite swing the payments on an M5, then look no further than the 2009 Dodge Charger.

2009 Dodge Charger SE SXT R/T SRT8 RWD
Price $25,285 $26,900 - $32,715 $32,610 - $37,085 $41,120
Available Trim N/A Base, H Package, AWD, AWD H Package Base, P Package, AWD, AWD P Package, R Package, Daytona Edition N/A
Engines 2.7L V6 DOHC 24-Valve MPI 3.5L High-Output 24-Valve V6 MPI 5.7L V8 HEMI® MDS VCT 6.1L SRT HEMI® V8
Horsepower @ rpm 178 @ 5500 250 @ 6400 368 @ 5200 425@ 6000
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm) 190 @ 4000 250 @ 3800 395 @ 4250 420@4800
Transmissions 4-sp automatic 4-sp automatic, 5-sp automatic 5-sp automatic 5-sp automatic
EPA (city/hwy) 18 mpg/26 mpg 17 mpg/23 mpg (5-sp), 17 mpg/25 mpg (4-sp) 16 mpg/23 mpg (AWD), 16 mpg/25 mpg (RWD) 13 mpg/19 hwy

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