The completely refreshed 2011 Dodge Charger represents the second-generation take on the brand's E-segment full-size sedan. The rear-wheel-drive Charger (and its Chrysler 300 sibling) constitutes the last non-luxury sedan of its kind in the U.S. market to offer V8 power, as one by one, competitors have switched to smaller V6 engines and front-wheel drive. The 2011 Charger features a coke-bottle profile view and side scallops (reminiscent of the 1968-70 Charger coupes) applied to a fastback-roof 4-door sedan. New soft-touch interior materials and the Uconnect infotainment technology enhance the new Charger's cabin, while additional sound-insulation measures deliver interior silence. A new 292-horsepower 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 complements the proven punch of the available 370-hp 5.7-liter Hemi V8.
The 2011 Charger is a good used car choice for the performance-minded driver who wants spaciousness and style in an affordable package.
What We Like
Fuel economy of 3.6-liter V6; coupe-like styling; 5.7-liter Hemi V8 performance; all-wheel-drive availability; Uconnect infotainment
What We Don't
Automatic transmission has only five speeds; front seats aren't supportive enough; steering could provide more road feedback
Fuel Economy & Engine Specs
The 2011 Charger has two available engines. Charger SE features an all-new Pentastar 3.6-liter dual overhead camshaft V6 with four valves per cylinder and sequential, multi-port fuel injection. The Pentastar pumps out a healthy 292 hp and packs 260 lb-fit of torque. It's a flex-fuel engine that can use regular unleaded gas or E85 ethanol. On gasoline, it has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 18 miles per gallon in the city and 27 mpg on the highway with the standard AutoStick 5-speed automatic transmission.
The Charger R/T comes with a 5.7-liter OHV Hemi V8, which produces 370 hp and a robust 395 lb-ft of torque. It runs on regular unleaded. Rear-wheel-drive models are EPA-rated at 16 mpg city/25 mpg hwy, while all-wheel-drive Chargers get a 15 mpg city/23 mpg hwy rating. V8 Chargers are also equipped exclusively with a 5-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick manual shift control. No manual gearbox is offered.
Standard Features & Options
The 2011 Charger comes in SE and R/T trims.
Typical SE equipment includes A/C, cruise control, cloth seats, a power driver's seat, tilt/telescope steering wheel, split fold-down rear seat, power trunk lid release, remote keyless entry, a 6-speaker Uconnect 4.3-inch touchscreen AM/FM/CD stereo with MP3 decoder, USB and auxiliary input jacks, auto headlamps, LED racetrack tail lamps, 17-in alloy wheels, stability and traction control, ABS 4-wheel disc brakes, a 3.6-liter V6 with 5-speed automatic transmission, dual exhausts and power door locks, mirrors and windows.
Upgrading to the R/T adds the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, fog lamps, HID headlamps, heated side mirrors, a deck-lid spoiler, auto A/C, remote start, Alpine premium DVD audio with 8.4-in Uconnect touch screen and Sirius satellite radio, voice command with Bluetooth, auto-dim rearview mirror, Homelink garage door opener, heated front seats, power passenger's seat, driver's seat lumbar control, leather-wrapped shifter and steering-wheel, performance suspension and 18-in alloys.
Popular options such as leather seating, heated and cooled cup holders, navigation, a sunroof, rain-sensing wipers, a heated steering wheel, power adjustable pedals, 20-in wheels, adaptive cruise control, a back-up camera, blind spot monitoring, forward-collision warning and more are available from among 15 option packages.
A Super Track Pak combines Goodyear Eagle F1 performance tires with larger anti-roll bars, performance shocks, steering and brakes, as well as 3-mode stability control.
Traditionally, the resale value of Chrysler cars has lagged behind GM, Ford and some Asian brands that offer competitors. However, the Charger's sporty styling and traditional rear-drive performance give it a strong presence among enthusiasts. Expect all-wheel-drive Chargers to command higher prices in the snowy Northeast and Upper Midwest.
To get a good idea of the 2011 Charger's price range, check out the Kelley Blue Book used-car values at KBB.com. You can also search the AutoTrader Classifieds to see what models are for sale in your area.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced the following recalls for the 2011 Dodge Charger:
Headlamp wiring may overheat and disable the low beam lights.
A wiring defect may result in the seat-side airbags not deploying in a crash.
An overheated electrical wiring junction may cause the loss of stability control and anti-lock brake functions.
Recall repairs are required by law even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed and, if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.
Safety Ratings & Warranties
NHTSA did not rate the 2011 Charger for crash-test performance.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2011 Charger a Good rating for moderate-overlap front-impact tests, side-impact tests and rear-impact tests.
The Chrysler Group covered the 2011 Charger with a 3-year/36,000-mile basic warranty including roadside assistance, along with 5-year/100,000-mile powertrain and corrosion perforation warranties.
Dodge certified pre-owned (CPO) cars cannot have more than 75,000 miles on the odometer and must be no more than five years old. Every CPO Charger undergoes a 125-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 3-month/3,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty plus a 7-year/100,000-mile powertrain warranty from the car's original date of sale. Also included is a Carfax report, 24-hour roadside assistance, a car-rental allowance and a 3-month trial of Sirius/XM radio.
Other Cars to Consider
2011 Ford Taurus -- Ford's biggest car was all new for 2010 and continues to trump the Charger in interior and trunk space. The Taurus, with its 5-star rating, continues to offer a complete portfolio of advanced safety technology. A torque-sensing all-wheel-drive system is also available. But the Taurus can't match the sporty looks of the Charger.
2011 Chevrolet Impala -- While the front-drive Impala is more often found in fleets than personal use, the long-serving sedan continues to offer a comfortable ride and up to 29 mpg on the highway. Its 4-speed automatic is a holdover from years past and it is the last car in the GM lineup to offer a 3-passenger front bench seat. The base 3.5-liter OHV V6 is a flex-fuel engine that can run on regular or E85.
While the slightly sinister looks and baritone-belting Hemi V8 of a well-equipped R/T might be enticing, the SE and its 292-hp Pentastar V6 might be a much better balance of fuel economy and sensible transportation. Stay away from modified cars, and those with oversized wheels. Rear-wheel drive is always more fun from a tire-chirping performance standpoint, but an all-wheel-drive Charger will save you some traction headaches when winter weather comes. Look for a certified pre-owned Charger, if possible, and check with the dealer to make sure the car you are considering has had its safety recall items resolved.