Regularly driving different cars in this line of work, I sometimes momentarily forget which one I’m currently in on the road. Most recently, I was quickly reminded while cruising down the highway when drivers around me started slowing down because of the particular vehicle I was piloting that week: the face-lifted Dodge Charger.
It’s not by coincidence that many police forces in North America choose the Charger to be in their fleets. Although the model I had wasn’t the common protective services favourite, a black V8, my 3.6-litre V6 press vehicle adequately demonstrated desirable qualities like intimidating looks, lots of modern technology and surprisingly decent handling.
Dodge calls this year’s revision a “full-body” makeover – inspired by a certain 1969 predecessor – involving a new hood, new fenders, new front and rear lighting, the list goes on and on.
For 2015, there are no less than nine different trims and four different engine choices available to pick from – mine was the SXT Rallye AWD. Subtlety isn’t a strong suit of the Charger’s, especially one dipped in the hot Redline Tri-Coat Pearl paint colour.
The front fascia is a mishmash of design details, with a reworked “crosshair” grille and elongated daytime running LEDs outlining the revised HID headlamps. Moving around the exterior, the C pillar has been pushed back to give a more dramatic roof slope, and an available three-piece lip spoiler now gently rests on top of the rear quarter panels and trunk. Speaking of the latter, the trunk lid is sizeable, and with no power option, attempting a single-armed close can prove to be an unnecessarily challenging task.
Reinforcing the strength in numbers philosophy, there are 18 other interior surface and trim combinations for the cabin in addition to my Black/Ruby Red scheme with the sport leather seats. A new thick, three-spoke steering wheel and T-handle shifter soon gets anyone into muscle car mode. Chrysler’s Uconnect Access with WiFi hotspot and mobile app connectivity, part of the eponymous infotainment system, has also been included in the SXT lineup.
The Rallye Group is equipped with the 3.6 L Pentastar V6 engine that makes 300 HP and 264 lb-ft of torque. Packaged with a sport exhaust, it at least makes V8 sound, if not power. The real story with this model range though is the all-wheel drive system. I admit fuel economy was a concern of mine given the powertrain, but my consumption average of 13.5 L/100 km in mixed city and highway driving is not as bad as I would have predicted.
The AWD has an automatic axle disconnect function that decouples the front axle from the rear when full grip isn’t required, cutting down on gas burned yet retaining the fun, rear-
wheel characteristics in non-slippery road conditions. Finally,
Dodge added a slew of safety features as part of the refresh: autonomous braking, which slows or completely stops the vehicle in possible frontal collision situations; lane departure warning with lane keep assist that will alert and assist the driver if he or she drifts outside lane markers; and one-button emergency services contact, built into Uconnect Access.
MSRP: $45,480 base
Motor: 3.6 L V6
Horsepower: 300 @ 6,350 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 264 @ 4,800 rpm
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Layout: All-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 13.5 L/100 km combined City/highway (observed)