Dodge Charger SXT 2012
Test Drive's Test Drive

Dodge Charger SXT 2012 Test drive January 2012

The 1964 Ford Mustang, the first Pony Car, started the 'muscle car' revolution in the US. Other manufactures followed. GM with the Camaro, Chrysler with the Dodge, and Plymouth and Pontiac with the Firebird and of course the GTO. Ford has kept the Mustang, at least in name, on the assembly line and available to the guy on the street and on the race track since 1964.

The concept of the 'muscle car', is a light car with a large motor. Suspension upgrades were not necessarily part of the original muscle car formula.

New muscle cars have been reintroduced, one being the Dodge Challenger. Dodge also offers the Charger. The Charger is a 4-dr pony car want-a-be. With styling and other bits suggesting so, but it is still Dodge's 4-dr sedan and works well as such.

We picked up the silver 4 door, 2012 Charger SXT at the Maui agency and drove off for what became a 240 mile test over 5 days. The car had about 12,000 miles on it and had a 290 HP, 3.5L, V6 with an automatic transmission. The Charger can be ordered with a V8 so more power is available. The new Charger is much more highly engineered than the original Pony cars with its high performance suspension and disk brakes.

The driving test covered the twisting coast road on the Northwest side of the island and the challenging climb up the 10,000 foot Haleakala volcano. The Dodge Charger was a pleasant car to drive. The interior was comfortable and the most intuitive of the latest models I have driven for access of the controls. Parking in the small town of Lahaina and the parking lots was easily done with great visibility and steering inputs. The trunk loading and unloading caused no issues. Except. The new electronic code key seamed to be failing, as unlocking the doors and trunk became more problematic with the key needing to be near the door. One issue I had, was the steering wheel had 3 spokes, each had a highly polished large silver plate near the outer rim that was very distracting. Much like having a light shinning in my eyes.

The 10,000 foot Haleakala volcano was no challenge for the Charger and the downhill run behind a slow moving car holding us back on the steep road, caused no brake or shifting problems. Just enjoyed the view.

Sporty car? Looks OK, yes. Straight line acceleration, not so much given the small V6. Cornering performance? As we were not able to push the car on the narrow 2-way roads, no comment, however the suspension was both firm and comfortable in all conditions we encountered over the 5 day 240 mile experience. Great car to drive.

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