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2018 Dodge Charger: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2018

There is nothing like the 2018 Dodge Charger. It's offered in 10 trim levels, with four engines, a choice of rear- or all-wheel drive (the Charger GT) and a slew of cool, throwback model names like SRT 392, Daytona and, of course, Hellcat. If you're just looking for a large sedan, there are others that meet the basic job requirements better. The Charger's a bit rough around the edges, getting on in years and definitely not the most efficient. Yet, it's also dripping with character and can be packed with all-American performance. It may not make the most logical sense, but chances are you'll absolutely adore it for a very long time.

What's New for 2018?

Because Dodge can never have enough trim levels, the 2018 Charger now hits double digits with the new all-wheel-drive GT and GT Plus trims. The first two trims have also been named SXT and SXT Plus. All now come standard with at least a 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, along with a rearview camera and rear parking sensors. The Hellcat gets a new grille.

What We Like

Distinctive styling and overall character; glorious V8 engines; huge interior space for a car of its performance potential; user-friendly and feature-rich infotainment system

What We Don't

Less spacious, luxurious, comfortable and refined than other nonperformance full-size sedans; you can't get all-wheel drive with a V8

How Much?

$29,000-$66,300

Fuel Economy

The 2018 Dodge Charger is available with multiple engine options. All come standard with an 8-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive, but the V6-powered Charger GT is all-wheel drive.

The base 3.6-liter V6 offers 292 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, though the GT and optional Super Track Pack up output to 300 hp and 264 lb-ft. Either way, fuel economy is 19 miles per gallon in the city, 30 mpg on the highway and 23 mpg in combined driving. The GT is 18 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined.

The R/T and Daytona have a 5.7-liter V8 good for 370 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. It returns 16 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/19 mpg combined.

Next up, the R/T Scat Pack, Dayton 392 and SRT 392 have a 6.4-liter V8 that touts 485 hp and 475 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy is 15 mpg city/25 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined.

Finally, the Charger Hellcat has a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 good for an absurd 707 hp and 650 lb-ft of torque. It gets just 13 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/16 mpg combined.

Standard Features & Options

For 2018, the Charger is offered in 10 trim levels: SXT, SXT Plus, GT, GT Plus, R/T, Daytona, R/T Scat Pack, Daytona 392, SRT 392 and SRT Hellcat.

The base-level Charger SXT ($29,000) comes standard with the 3.6-liter engine, along with 17-in wheels, passive entry and push-button start, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, automatic headlights, dual-zone manual climate control, a 6-way power driver's seat, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a 7-in Uconnect, Bluetooth, two USB ports, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and a 6-speaker sound system.

The SXT Plus ($30,500) retains the V6, but adds 18-in wheels, LED fog lights, heated mirrors, dual-zone automatic climate control, an 8-way power driver seat, heated front seats, better cloth upholstery, the 8.4-in Uconnect touchscreen, satellite radio and better speakers.

To the SXT Plus you can add the Super Track Pack, which increases power and adds sport-tuned steering and suspension, performance brakes and 20-in wheels. The Technology Group adds automatic wipers, automatic high beams, a power-adjustable steering wheel, adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning and lane-departure warning. Other extras include a sunroof, a Beats Audio system, integrated navigation and the Sport Leather Seat package that adds leather upholstery, ventilated front seats and heated rear seats.

The GT ($33,000) adds standard all-wheel drive and is comparably equipped to the SXT Plus. The GT Plus ($36,600) gains xenon headlights, blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning systems, leather upholstery, ventilated sport seats and heated rear seats. The Technology Group can also be added to the GT Plus.

The R/T ($35,500) is equipped similarly to the SXT, but has the 5.7-liter V8, the sport-tuned suspension and upgraded brakes, 20-in wheels and a rear spoiler. Plus and Premium Groups available on the R/T effectively add all of the SXT's available creature comforts listed above. The R/T is also available with a comparable Super Track Pack.

The Daytona ($38,600) adds to the R/T the grille and other styling flourishes from the higher performance trims, an even sportier-tuned suspension, upgraded wheels, a mix of leather and faux suede upholstery and most of the features found in the R/T's Premium Group. The Technology Group is optional.

Next up, drivers can choose between three models with the Charger's 6.4-liter V8. The R/T Scat Pack ($40,000) builds on the base-level R/T, adding a limited-slip differential, improved brakes, yet another sportier-tuned suspension and similar styling flourishes as the Daytona. The Daytona 392 ($40,000) pretty much combines the regular Daytona with the R/T Scat Pack plus further upgraded brakes. The SRT 392 ($51,100) adds to the Daytona 392 its own styling flourishes, plus adaptive suspension dampers, upgraded wheels, a sport steering wheel, full-leather upholstery and most of the extra features found in the GT Plus and Premium Group. The Technology Group can be added.

For drivers who want the last word in sedan performance, there's the Charger Hellcat ($66,300). To the SRT 392 content it adds its 707-hp supercharged V8 plus its own suspension, steering and brake upgrades. A 19-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system is available on the SRT 392 and the Hellcat.

Note that many of the nonperformance extras included on upper trims are available within option packages on lower trims.

Safety

The 2018 Charger comes standard with all the safety features you'd expect, including side-curtain airbags, antilock brakes, traction control, stability control and a rearview camera. Options include blind spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic warning systems, lane-departure warning and forward-collision alert with automatic braking.

The federal government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gave the 2018 Charger a top 5-star overall crash rating, along with 4-star frontal and 5-star side ratings. The Charger received Good marks in crash tests carried out by the nonprofit Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Its frontal-collision warning and prevention system also got a rating of Superior, but it got a Marginal rating in the challenging new small-overlap front crash test and a headlight rating of Poor.

Behind the Wheel

Whereas most full-size sedans drive pretty similarly regardless of which trim level you select, that most definitely isn't the case with the Charger. Besides its four available engines, most of the trim levels come with their own suspension tuning that all together dramatically alter how the various Chargers drive. For 2018, there's even the new all-wheel-drive GT model. As such, we recommend test-driving multiple versions to see which you prefer, especially the various V8 models.

In general, the V6-powered Chargers skew toward a more comfort-oriented setup that nevertheless does fall short of other, more-luxurious and refined full-size sedans. Its handling is also pretty ponderous. This definitely improves as you move up each rung on the suspension-tuning ladder, but know two things: First, no amount of suspension tuning can make the big-and-heavy Charger feel agile, and second, that ride comfort does degrade.

Inside, your perceptions of the Charger will depend on what you compare it to. Relative to other full-size sedans, the back seat isn't as spacious and interior quality disappoints (the 8.4-in Uconnect touchscreen is always appreciated, however). But, for a car with its immense performance potential, it's actually relatively enormous inside and its comparatively rock-bottom pricing makes its otherwise unremarkable cabin far more palatable.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Dodge Challenger -- If you like the Charger's attitude and don't need the extra doors, consider the Challenger coupe. It offers the same exuberant powertrains and an even bolder look.

2018 Chrysler 300 -- The mechanically related Chrysler 300 is the Charger's uptown sibling. That means you'll pay more, but you'll arguably get more. It's also more in keeping with other full-size sedans.

2018 Kia Stinger -- The new Stinger may not have the Charger's range of muscle, but its impressive handling should appeal to those who like their performance car to take corners.

Used Dodge Charger -- Want a Charger, but can't afford a new SRT 392 or another of the high-powered upper trim levels? Well, that's what used and certified pre-owned cars are for. Don't count on getting a cheap Hellcat, though.

Autotrader's Advice

The unique thing about the Dodge Charger is the unparalleled number of possible variations, but that does mean it can be tough to determine which is best for you. As such, we would at least make sure to try as many of them as possible, especially since you might find that you're perfectly happy with one of the less-powerful engines. Even the base V6 is plenty powerful and with its Super Track Pack, still allows you to have a bit of fun.

Find a Dodge Charger for sale

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2018 Dodge Charger: New Car Review - Autotrader