Tech, Autos, & Gear in Layman's Terms Since 2006

April 23, 2009 • Autos, Reviews

Dodge Charger still making tracks

2009 Dodge Charger

Large, rear-wheel-drive American sedans still hold a place in consumer’s hearts judging by how many times I am asked my opinions on cars such as the Dodge Charger. I find quite a few folks, especially those with families, with the Charger on their list of possibilities when researching a new automobile.

And ever since last summer’s meteoric spike in fuel prices giving way to a significant dip in the economy, more and more are asking about the Dodge with the V-6.

Our most recent Charger was issued with the aforementioned powerplant mated to a new all-wheel-drive system complete with active transfer case and front-axle disconnect. No other major manufacturer offers these two independent technologies together. The unique system seamlessly transitions between rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive with no driver intervention.

When all-wheel drive is not required, the system automatically disconnects the front axle and opens the transfer case from the drivetrain to reduce friction and rotational mass. Automatic all-wheel-drive operation may be activated by outside temperatures, wheel slip or by other predetermined conditions. All-wheel-drive mode can also be manually selected by shifting the gear selector to Auto Stick mode or by activating the windshield wipers for an extended period of time.

Enabling the vehicle to switch between two-wheel drive and all-wheel drive improves fuel economy on all-wheel-drive Dodge Charger models by up to one mile per gallon on the highway, while still providing the outstanding performance and handling inherent in rear-wheel drive. To inform the driver when he or she is in two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, the Electronic Vehicle Information Center indicates when the switch is made.

The 2009 Dodge Charger rear-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive models both offer the choice of the new-generation 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine (that produces 368hp and 395 lb. ft. of torque) or the High Output 3.5-liter V-6 (250hp and 250 lb. ft. of torque) as our tester had.

On the exterior, the rear styling of the Dodge Charger is refreshed for 2009 with a bold, retro-style taillamp design that is distinctively Dodge.

On the inside, accents in the Dodge Charger R/T are extended to the entire lineup for 2009 with the Dodge Charger SE receiving satin silver door trim spears, satin silver center console cup holder rings and satin silver instrument panel bezels. Now standard, LED lighting appears on all models in the front cup holders and standard LED map-pocket lighting on the Dodge Charger R/T provides additional driver convenience.

Dodge Charger all-wheel-drive models for 2009 come standard with electronic stability program, all-speed traction control and four-wheel ABS.

Dodge Charger models are available with a five-speed automatic transmission with Auto Stick to provide a full range of transmission performance to match a variety of driving styles and situations. Our SXT tester came equipped with this gearbox setup and rode on 18-inch aluminum wheels shod with self-sealing all-season tires.

Dodge also added supplemental side curtain and front seat-mounted side airbags to our unit along with power sunroof and leather interior package.

Only one time during our week with the vehicle did the front end actually engage for full all-wheel-drive mode. Slight understeer went immediately to tight oversteer and the Charger drove like it was on rails. Hang on to that wheel.

Pricing for our 2009 Dodge Charger SXT AWD begins at $29,490 with a final sticker of $34,220. Fuel economy is rated at 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway.

I hope folks keep asking about large sedans like the Dodge Charger, and I hope Detroit keeps the lineage alive for a long time.

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