Take a look at the new 2011 Dodge Charger sedan and you'll find it's difficult not to have a positive or negative reaction. The polarizing sedan's bold styling is arguably its greatest asset in the full-size sedan segment compared to front-wheel-drive entries like the Toyota Avalon, Ford Taurus, and Chevrolet Impala. For the 2011 model year, the Dodge Charger finally supports the engaging styling with dynamics and new powertrain choices that don't fall far behind the competition.
The rear- or all-wheel-drive large sedan has a new V-6 engine that replaces the two V-6s from the first-generation Charger, plus a tweaked version of the 5.7-liter V-8 and a new 6.4-liter V-8 that's coming soon. Pricing ranges from about $26,000 to above $40,000 for a V-8 with options. Anyone who has had the pleasure of renting a pre-2011 Charger on vacation might be interested on hearing that the new Dodge has a much better interior, too. With the 2011 Charger, Dodge has a car that requires fewer apologies from the driver who's just gotta have a full-size sedan with attitude.
For the 2011 model year, all Chargers use a five-speed automatic transmission. In the 2012 or 2013 model year, Dodge will introduce an eight-speed automatic transmission that is expected to deliver better fuel economy and an improved driving experience, as well. What probably won't change is the base engine, a 3.6-liter V-6 engine we've seen on everything from a Chrysler Town & Country minivan to the Dodge Avenger sedan. In the Charger, the V-6 makes 292 horsepower at 6350 rpm and 260 pound-feet of torque at 4800 rpm.
All-wheel drive is optional on the 2011 Charger with a 5.7-liter V-8. The engine produces 370 horsepower at 5250 rpm and 395 pound-feet of torque at 4200 rpm. When 370 horsepower simply isn't enough, the 2012 Charger will have a 6.4-liter V-8 pumping out 465 horsepower and 465 pound-feet of torque. Dodge expects a high 4-second range 0-60 mph time for this SRT8 model and just below 6 seconds on the 5.7-liter V-8 R/T model. In case you were curious, fuel economy on 2011 models ranges from 18/27 mpg city/highway to 16/25 mpg for the rear-wheel-drive R/T and 15/23 mpg on the all-wheel-drive R/T. For comparison, the midsize Dodge Avenger -- also using the 3.6-liter V-6 -- is EPA-rated at just 1 mpg combined more than the V-6 Charger.
Aside from the redone interior and new V-6 base engine, the 2011 Charger also sports a quieter cabin and better handling, Dodge says. Did we mention the new taillights that incorporate 164 LEDs for a Challenger-like appeal from the rear view?
When Motor Trend conducted test of the 2011 Charger lineup, the editors were impressed.
"As for how it drives, let me say this now and get it over with: if Dodge gives the new Charger a proper transmission, it will be spoken about in the same lofty platitudes as the BMW E39 M5. This car is that close to being a performance legend," Motor Trend says.
Braking performance was markedly improved on the Charger compared to the last-generation model and the 0-60 mph time of the V-6 model was clocked at 7.3 seconds, and just 5.3 seconds for the 5.7-liter V-8 R/T model.
Inside the car, passengers might enjoy using the Uconnect Touch technology, a touchscreen-based system designed to make controlling the various infotainment options easier. While those along for the ride play with the touchscreen controls, the driver might notice the 2011 Charger's steering that's 25 percent quicker, thanks to a steering system that is also quieter and more precise.
While the 2011 Dodge Charger has not yet been safety rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety calls the car a Top Safety Pick for 2011. Other vehicles with this award include the Buick LaCrosse, Chrysler 300, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Genesis, and Toyota Avalon.
Of course, none of those cars have quite the same appeal as the Charger. What's different for the 2011 model year is that the Dodge sedan finally has a number of other redeeming features besides design.