The Dodge Charger - one of the biggest names from the muscle car era - has powered its way back to streets and racetracks across America, paying homage to the muscle cars of the ’60s, and adding 21st century performance and functionality.
Available with a 250 horsepower, 3.5-liter High-Output V-6 engine or the legendary 340 horsepower, 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine, the all-new 2006 Dodge Charger races into the car market with contemporary, provocative styling and substance with all the convenience of a modern sedan.
“With proven rear-wheel-drive technologies and the legendary HEMI engine, we are able to produce a modern muscle car with everyday functionality,” said Craig Love, Vice President — Rear-wheel-drive Product Team, Chrysler Group. “The all-new Dodge Charger offers the perfect blend of performance, safety and flexibility that today’s market demands.”
American Car Icon
With powerful world-class hardware and software beneath the Charger’s skin, Dodge designers sculpted a car that celebrates all that is good about American cars in a thoroughly modern way. The all-new 2006 Dodge Charger has a long character line that defines the front corners, runs back to the rear door and makes way for a huge rear fender that gives notice that the car is rear-wheel-drive-powered.
The profile of the Dodge Charger’s roofline and the sloping fastback style suggest a sense of speed. The front end is strong, with a sinister sneer to it.
“The new Dodge Charger is all about celebrating the American muscle car and going places in something special,” said Trevor Creed, Senior Vice President — Design, Chrysler Group. “Dodge Charger makes a statement about the owner’s zeal for life and for beautiful things.”
With the longest wheelbase in its class, the Dodge Charger offers a spacious and refined interior and a no-nonsense driver cockpit. It is ergonomically sound and provides world-class attention to fit and finish. The Charger’s seating position is more than two inches higher than the previous generation Dodge sedan, which gives a comfortable command-of-the-road view for both driver and passenger.
New Option in Passenger Car Market
Pulling into the newest spot in the Dodge garage, the all-new 2006 Dodge Charger offers a bold, powerful and exciting choice in the passenger car market. The Charger features comfortable room for five adults and enough trunk space to meet the demands of their active, modern lifestyles.
And make room in that garage for more than one Charger model. The 2006 Dodge Charger is offered in several versions designed specifically for all levels and desires of modern muscle-car enthusiasts. The Dodge Charger SE, SXT package, R/T, R/T with Road/Track Performance Group and the Dodge Charger Daytona R/T package are all available in the first year of production.
All these options add even more Dodge muscle to mainstream America.
“Charger brings performance and attitude to the car side that America expects from Dodge — big, bold and expressive,” said Darryl Jackson, Vice President — Dodge Marketing, Chrysler Group.
Dodge Charger features the clever use of interior space that has become a trademark of the Dodge brand and adds the convenience of four doors. The Charger features an exciting, modern and unique design, both inside and out, that stands out from the crowd.
“Similar to HEMI, the Charger name is powerful and draws from the Dodge brand’s proud performance heritage,” said Jackson. “We have a tremendous amount of equity and name recognition for both of these entities. Combined, today’s all-new Dodge Charger and HEMI engine effectively mark the return of modern American muscle.”
Unique Suspension Characteristics to Match Dodge Charger’s Personality
The all-new 2006 Dodge Charger features outstanding rear-wheel-drive performance and handling, near 50/50 weight distribution and unique suspension offerings that provide just the right level of driving characteristics for all Charger customers.
Seventeen-inch tires and a firm suspension uniquely tuned to match the Dodge Charger’s personality are standard on the Charger SE and Charger with the SXT package. This tuning offers athletic and nimble steering and handling characteristics.
The standard suspension offered on the 2006 Dodge Charger R/T model includes 18-inch touring tires and wheels and specially tuned dampers for spirited ride and handling with a performance exhaust.
A Road/Track Performance Group, which is tuned specifically for firm steering and handling, provides a glued-to-the-road feeling best suited for the most passionate driving enthusiast. This optional package is available on the HEMI-equipped Dodge Charger R/T model and offers 18-inch Michelin MXM4 all-season performance tires, 9-land performance steering gear and Nivomat™ self-leveling shock absorbers.
A specially tuned performance exhaust and induction system, which produces an additional 10 horsepower on the HEMI V-8 engine, also is included with the Road/Track Performance Group.
The Dodge Charger Daytona R/T package also offers specially tuned chassis components, Michelin MXM4 all-season performance tires, 9-land steering gear and Nivomat self-leveling shock absorbers. A unique high-performance exhaust and induction system allow the 5.7-liter HEMI to produce 350 horsepower with a distinctive throaty exhaust tone.
ON THE STREET ...
The Dodge Charger was introduced on January 1, 1966. Built off of the Dodge Coronet chassis but using its own body, the Charger was Dodge’s first fastback, high-speed street racer. It featured many styling cues from the Charger II concept car like a fastback roof design and full width taillamps. The interior featured four bucket seats and a full-length floor console.
The vehicle came with a standard 5.2-liter, 318 cubic-inch V-8 engine delivering 230 horsepower. Other available engines included a 361 cubic-inch V-8 engine that created 265 horsepower, or a 6.2-liter, 383 cubic-inch V-8 engine delivering 325 horsepower. However, it was the availability of a massive 426 cubic-inch Street HEMI® engine that provided 425 horsepower and 490 lb.-ft. of torque that forever defined the vehicle.
AT THE TRACK ...
Chrysler Corporation cars dominated NASCAR in the mid-1960s with the mighty HEMI engine. In 1965, NASCAR banned the HEMI and Chrysler boycotted the racing season. Ultima tely, Chrysler followed the new NASCAR rules mandating that engines had to be available in general production, not just for race cars as the HEMI had been. For the 1966 season, Chrysler made a Street HEMI that was used for both the street and the racetrack.
ON THE STREET ...
The Dodge Charger was completely restyled, and now featured a big, bold, aggressive look. A new roof design, called a tunnel roof or a flying buttress, was introduced. An exposed decorative gas filler cap also was a design feature.
The Charger R/T version was added to the lineup as a performance model featuring a 440 cid or 426 HEMI engine.
AT THE TRACK ...
The new 1968 Charger combined aerodynamic design, and handling and performance for national circuit racing objectives. No other automaker had applied aerodynamic principles to a race car before, and because of wind tunnel testing, rear spoilers were introduced on NASCAR machines of the mid ’60s to control the tremendous amount of rear lift. In addition, the first front air dam was developed to counteract lifting in the front end.
ON THE STREET ...
The 1969 Dodge Charger body style carried over from 1968 with minor exterior changes like a new grille and taillamps. The HEMI engine was installed in less than two percent of ’69 Dodge Chargers, yet contributed immensely to the image and desirability of the Charger lineup. The 1969 Charger gained fame as the tire-squealing getaway car driven by Bo and Luke Duke for seven seasons on the TV series, Dukes of Hazzard.
AT THE TRACK ...
The 1969 Dodge Charger 500, featuring a flush rear window to improve aerodynamics, was introduced especially for NASCAR. The Charger Daytona was introduced in September and built specifically for NASCAR competition. The Daytona featured a large aerodynamic nose and a huge “wing” spoiler in the rear that stood 58 inches above the trunk. All Dodge Charger Daytona models were powered by either a 440 Magnum cid or 426 HEMI engine.
Dodge Charger Daytona won its first NASCAR Grand National race at Talladega (Ala.) in September followed by a win at Texas International Speedway. From September 14, 1969, through the next year, Charger Daytona and the Charger 500 won 45 out of the next 59 races. The car dominated racing so much that NASCAR eventually placed restrictions on the HEMI engine by forcing the use of carburetor restrictor plates on Chrysler models featuring the HEMI engine and limiting engine displacement to a maximum of 305 cubic inches on Charger Daytona and Plymouth Superbird models.
Driver Buddy Baker, behind the wheel of a HEMI-powered Charger, became the first to top the 200 mph mark on a closed-circuit course in 1970.
ON THE STREET ...
The Dodge Charger was completely redesigned for the 1971 model year with a shorter wheelbase and wider body style. A modern, sleek and sporty design evolved with a swept back roofline and semi-fastback. A front spoiler and a “Ramcharger” vacuum-operated hood scoop were added.
The Charger Super Bee performance package was introduced to the lineup in addition to the R/T performance model. Charger now had four price classes and two performance models.
Due to increasing emissions and insurance regulations, the industry moved to low-lead gasoline, and the Street HEMI was phased out. 1971 was the last year customers could order a factory-built HEMI.
In 1975, the Dodge Charger was completely restyled and featured a more formal and elegant appearance. The largest engine available was the 360 cid. By 1978, the rear-wheel-drive Charger was phased out of the Dodge lineup.
AT THE TRACK ...
The Dodge Charger Daytona entered the Daytona 500 with 305-cubic-inch engine and driver Dick Brooks at the wheel. The vehicle qualified for the race and even led for a time, but in the end, managed to place only seventh. This was the last of the Dodge Daytona models to race at Daytona.
1981 – 1987
The Dodge Charger name reappeared on several small, front-wheel-drive Dodge vehicles, but none gained the popularity or carried the same mystique as the original.
The Dodge Charger – one of the biggest names from the muscle car era – powered its way out of its storied past and onto the stage at the 2005 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The much-anticipated 2006 Dodge Charger will muscle its way back to streets and racetracks across America in the summer of 2005.
Much of what holds about the Charger’s exterior carries over to its interior, only more so. Where the outside only suggests other Chrysler and Dodge cars, the inside looks as if it’s been lifted, locks, steering column and bucket seats from the Magnum, with a fixture and feature here and there brought over from a Dakota or a Durango.
The dash and instrument cluster is identical to the Magnum’s, with the minor exception of surface trims on the center stack and center console, and when ordered on the R/T, the navigation display. This isn’t to complain, but to compliment, as the arrangement is pleasantly informative. From the driver’s seat, easily scanned, large, round speedometer and tachometer share the top half of the steering wheel opening, with fuel and coolant temperature gauges down in the left and right corners, respectively.
The steering wheel, too, comes directly from the Magnum. Air conditioning registers fill the top of the center stack, above the stereo/navigation display, with the climate control panel properly positioned beneath that, all intuitively arrayed and outfitted and within easy reach of the driver and front seat passenger. Ex-navigation display center stacks have a small, horizontal cubby below the air conditioning knobs and buttons.
Steering column stalks are imported from the Mercedes-Benz parts bin, including their awkward positioning. The more frequently used, heavily end-weighted turn-signal stalk/washer lever droops down somewhere around the 8 o’clock position, while the set-it-and-forget-it cruise control sits up around 10 o’clock. Headlight switch and dash light rheostat are located in the dash next to the driver’s door, with the remote trunk release below. Outside mirrors are adjusted with a joystick in the door armrest. Thankfully, Dodge has not adopted the Mercedes-Benz practice of parking the power seat adjustments high up in the door panel but has placed them, much more intuitively, on the outboard side of the seat bottom. Large, six-way adjustable, rectangular ventilation registers fill in each end of the dash.
The standard, fabric-covered seats are comfortable, with adequate thigh support and side bolstering. Stepping up to the performance seats in the option packages gets more pronounced bolsters, which is good for those rare times when a twisty two-lane beckons, but not as good for climbing in and out of the car every day. And, of course, the top grade, suede-trimmed and embroidered seats in the Daytona nicely complement the boy-racer graphics of the exterior. Thanks to the sedan-spec wheelbase, there’s plenty of rear seat room, too, even with front seats at their rearmost positions. No head restraint for the rear center seat is provided, however, making this car better for four adults than five.
Visibility from the driver’s seat is good, but suffers a bit from safety measures and styling dictates. A-pillars designed to meet roll-over standards are thick, which makes checking for pedestrians and crossing traffic becomes more difficult. The view through the inside rearview mirror quickly puts to rest any lingering illusions about the Charger being a coupe; the rear window is a long ways back. And the C-pillars are also fat, and require careful checking during lane changes; coincidentally, they also provide great hiding places for pacing patrol cars. (The A-pillars are the posts between the windshield and front side windows: the C-pillars are the posts between the rear windscreen and rear side windows.)
The entertainment system installation takes a novel, but extremely well-integrated approach. The screen hides beneath a cover on the front center console when not in use, then pivots up between the front seats for viewing. The interface, for DVD and input and output jacks, is incorporated into the rear of the console beneath the screen and above the rear seat ventilation registers. Without the entertainment system, the center console functions as a traditional storage bin.
All four doors have good-sized map pockets, although front seatbacks are bare of any pouches for reading materials and headsets. Inside door pulls are full rounds, making for confident shutting. Latch handles are large levers in large, concave circles, leaving plenty of room for even gloved hands. The glove box is roomier than many in this and larger class cars. A small, horizontal storage bin occupies the lower portion of the center stack, and there’s a similar, longitudinal slot in the console to the right of the shift gate. A bin in the forward-most part of the front center console is large enough for coins and the like.
Above it is a small, fold-down drawer where the Smokers Group ash tray would be, and next to that is a power point that would hold the lighter. Two cup holders occupy the rear of the console, aft of the gated shift lever, and another pair can be found in the forward end of the rear seat center armrest. At 30 inches, the trunk lift-over is comfortably low, but although the trunk is relatively large, half a cubic foot larger than the Chrysler 300 ’s, the opening is shaped such that it swallows longer objects more readily than large parcels. SXT and above models get 60/40 split, folding rear seat backs.
The easily-programmed navigation system makes a nice traveling companion, giving pleasant-sounding directions by voice, in its screen, and in a little dash display all at once. Minor gripes: it can’t be used when moving (common), the color of highlighted menu items is camouflaged when it should be contrasted, and one time when I ignored a turn, it had only this to say: "Route cannot be calculated to destination. Please enter a destination."
Dodge transplanted one ergonomic region straight from Mercedes - the one region best avoided. That would be everything on the steering column’s left side: the cruise control stalk awkwardly placed where the turn signal should go, the now-displaced turn signal now down by your knee, etc. Oh well. As with Benzes, it goes on auto-blink with one tap - four times, in this case.
The 2006 Dodge Charger R/T features Chrysler Group’s modern 340 horsepower, 5.7-liter, HEMI V-8 engine that provides 390 lb.-ft. of torque. The Multi-Displacement System (MDS) on the Dodge Charger’s HEMI engine seamlessly deactivates four cylinders in just 40 milliseconds — quicker than a blink of an eye — when full V-8 power is not needed, improving fuel economy by as much as 20 percent. The HEMI engine, mated to a fully automatic five-speed transmission with AutoStick®, offers Dodge Charger R/T customers the legendary HEMI power they want with fuel economy they will appreciate.
The 2006 Dodge Charger SE and Charger with the SXT package feature Chrysler Group’s high-output, 3.5-liter, V-6 engine that provides 250 horsepower and 250 lb.-ft. of torque, offering an outstanding blend of performance and fuel economy. The five-speed transmission with AutoStick, which gives the driver a choice of a fully automatic or manually selected gear range, also is mated to this engine.
The modern 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine with MDS has been engineered to deliver outstanding performance, reduced noise, vibration and harshness, and improved fuel economy of up to 20 percent. This engine will offer Dodge Charger customers the legendary HEMI power they want with fuel economy they will appreciate.
Aluminum cylinder heads with hemispherical combustion chambers permit outstanding airflow, which leads to 340 horsepower (254 kW) @ 5000 rpm and 390 lb.-ft. torque (525 N•m) @ 4000 rpm. Dodge Chargers equipped with HEMI engines can go from zero to 60 mph in just 6.0 seconds.
A 3.5-liter High Output V-6 engine also is available on the 2006 Dodge Charger and provides an outstanding blend of performance and fuel economy. This engine provides 250 horsepower (186 kW) @ 6400 rpm and 250 lb.-ft. of torque (340 N•m) @ 3800 rpm.
An active three-plenum intake manifold assures high power and torque over the entire operating band, while electronic control of the manifold tuning valve and short-runner valves and an Electronic Throttle Control (ETC) provide smooth operation with maximum performance and fuel economy.
High-performance Five-speed Automatic Transmission
Featured on all Dodge Charger models, a five-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick provides a full range of transmission performance to match a variety of driving styles, situations and road conditions. AutoStick offers the choice of a fully automatic or manual shift selection. This transmission is mated to both the 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 and the 3.5-liter V-6 Charger engines to offer all Charger customers better performance and fuel economy.
Compact yet robust for high-torque rating, the Charger’s five-speed transmission uses highly advanced electronic shift controls for a responsive, smooth feel without harshness. The system monitors the transmission as shifts occur and adjusts the hydraulic pressure as needed.
This five-speed transmission also uses an Electronically Modulated Converter Clutch (EMCC) to control torque converter clutch slippage. The EMCC provides partial engagement in third, fourth or fifth gears, which improves shift feel, fuel economy, driveability and cooling.
Outstanding Ride and Handling
Dodge Charger engineers included a Short- and Long-arm (SLA) front suspension in the car for excellent handling and ride characteristics. The multi-link SLA suspension provided the opportunity to tune bushing compliances for a dramatic reduction in road noise, while maintaining vehicle dynamic handling performance.
The five-link independent rear suspension allows independent tuning of handling and ride comfort so that each can be maximized. The Dodge Charger’s rear suspension complements the performance of the front suspension, resulting in a balanced ride.
All rear suspension components, except coil springs and shock absorbers, mount on a steel cradle that attaches to the body structure through four large rubber mounts that effectively isolate the passenger compartment from road and axle noise.
The Dodge Charger’s chassis components have been tuned to provide spirited driving and handling performance to match the car’s personality.
Three levels of suspension tuning will be available on the Dodge Charger. A standard “touring” package with 17-inch tires will include an athletic suspension with nimble steering and handling attributes.
Eighteen-inch tires and tuned dampers will offer added performance on HEMI-equipped Dodge Charger models.
An optional Performance Handling Group, designed exclusively for the Dodge Charger, also will be available for an exceptional ride with firmer damping and enhanced steering.
The Performance Handling Group suspension package includes wider 18-inch performance tires, a 9-land steering gear and Nivomat™ self-leveling shock absorbers. This suspension will be tuned to offer slightly more feedback from the road to enhance the glued-to-the-road feel of this driving machine. The package’s performance front seats with perforated suede inserts offer significantly improved lateral control in both the seat cushion and seat back.
“Modern muscle car enthusiasts driving a HEMI-equipped Charger with the specially tuned Performance Handling Group option will truly enjoy the outstanding ride and handling characteristics of the car,” said Love. “This performance package has been tailored specifically for the driving enthusiast.”
All versions of the 2006 Dodge Charger are equipped with standard world-class ride and handling features, including Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with Brake Assist, Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) and all-speed Traction Control System (TCS).
The Dodge Charger’s standard ESP is designed to electronically detect and assist in critical driving situations. It automatically enhances driver control and helps maintain directional stability in adverse driving conditions. ESP constantly compares the driver’s intended course with the vehicle’s actual course and compensates for any differences.
The Charger’s ABS keeps the car straight and retains steering capability when braking on slippery surfaces by preventing wheel lock-up. All-speed TCS enhances mobility and prevents wheel slip when accelerating on slippery surfaces.
Combined, ESP with Brake Assist, ABS and TCS improve the Dodge Charger’s traction, maneuverability and stability in all weather conditions.
“Modern technologies allow us to bring a 21st century muscle car to market with all the enhanced ride and handling characteristics inherent in rear-wheel drive,” said Love. “This new Dodge Charger rides securely on the road, stays planted through the corners and stops with assurance.”
The new 2006 Dodge Charger features several advanced technologies that provide world-class ride and handling, and improved fuel economy and vehicle safety for truly modern muscle. These technologies offer safe control of the vehicle under a variety of conditions, opening the way for a new muscle car era.
“Never has the time been so right to bring a bold and powerful passenger car to market,” said Love. “New technology advancements in fuel economy and safety have led to the development of the 2006 Dodge Charger as a muscle car for a new generation.”
One example of this new technology is the Charger’s MDS-equipped 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine, which seamlessly alternates between high fuel-economy, four-cylinder mode when less power is needed and V-8 mode when more power is in demand. This increases fuel economy up to 20 percent depending on driving conditions, without sacrificing vehicle performance.
“The MDS was designed into the engine from the onset,” said Bob Lee, Vice President — Powertrain, Chrysler Group. “This allowed us to develop a cylinder deactivation system that is elegantly simple and completely integrated into the engine design, which means fewer parts, maximum reliability and lower cost.”
Factors contributing to the success of MDS include fast electronic controls, sophisticated algorithms to control the system and the use of Electronic Throttle Control, all of which allow the Charger’s HEMI engine to transparently transition from eight cylinders to four in 40 milliseconds (0.04 seconds).
Other leading-edge technologies such as ESP, All-speed Traction Control and ABS, which come standard on every Dodge Charger model, create a safer and better handling muscle car than ever before possible, in a manner not intrusive to Charger drivers.
- Electronic Stability Program (ESP), which includes an Emergency Brake Assist feature, is standard on all 2006 Dodge Charger models. The ESP system enhances driver control and helps maintain directional stability in turns, even on uneven surfaces, patchy snow, ice or gravel. If there is a discernible difference between what the driver asks through the steering and the vehicle’s path, ESP applies selective braking and throttle input to put the car back onto the driver’s intended path.
- Emergency Brake Assist detects when maximum braking is required through sensing the rate of brake application. By applying full brake pressure to all four brakes, this system improves stopping distance.
- All-speed Traction Control enhances mobility and prevents wheel slip when accelerating on slippery surfaces. It also provides a measure of directional stability control and helps keep the car on its intended course. The system works by braking the slipping wheel in low-traction situations. However, it also can adjust the throttle control, making the vehicle less reliant on brake applications alone. State-of-the-art electronics provide a quick response time for the Charger’s Traction Control system.
- Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) keeps the vehicle straight and retains steering capability while braking on slippery surfaces by preventing wheel lock-up. The state-of-the-art electronics featured on the Dodge Charger also provide a faster response time for this system.
The 2006 Dodge Charger’s advanced technologies not only improve handling and accident avoidance, but also provide excellent crash protection.
With the use of emerging technologies, the Chrysler Group is able to incorporate both passive and active safety features into the new Dodge Charger including:
- Rear Structure
- Dodge Charger engineers used simulations to optimize the rear sill reinforcement for consistent impact performance. The rear structure, including the sill reinforcement, was designed so that the spare tire rotates out of the way during a rear impact.
- Energy-absorbing Steering Column
- The Dodge Charger’s manual-adjust steering column features two hydroformed coaxial tubes that move relative to each other, which allows the column to move forward for enhanced energy absorption during a crash.
The 2006 Dodge Charger offers additional standard safety and security features such as advanced multi-stage driver and front passenger air bags, a front passenger Occupant Classification System (OCS) for controlled airbag deployment, constant force seat belt retractors, pretensioners and Child Seat Anchor System. Also available on the Dodge Charger are side-curtain airbags for additional protection for all outboard occupants and an optional tire pressure monitoring system to alert drivers of low tire pressure.
The 2006 Dodge Charger comes in one body style, a four-door, five-passenger sedan. Three engines are available, a 250-horsepower, 3.5-liter V6; a 340-hp, 5.7-liter V8; and a 350-hp, 5.7-liter V8. All come with a five-speed, AutoStick automatic.
The entry-level Charger is the SE, fitted with the V6 ($22,320). Cloth upholstery is standard, but the SE isn’t lacking in creature and driver comforts. Among them: air conditioning; cruise control; tilt-and-telescope steering wheel; soft-finish urethane-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob; floor mats; power door locks, outside mirrors, windows and remote trunk release; two power points; driver and passenger lumbar adjustment; and AM/FM/CD stereo with auxiliary input jack. Steel wheels with bolt on covers wear black sidewall, all-season, P215/65R17 tires. The Protection Group ($590) adds front and rear side-curtain airbags, cabin air filtration and self-sealing tires. Also available: an engine block heater ($40); a Smoker’s Group ($30) that adds a lighter and ash tray. SE option packages: The SE Convenience Group 1 adds an eight-way power driver’s seat and adjustable pedals ($505).
The Charger SXT ($25,320) comes with the V6 and upgraded features: An eight-way power driver’s seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, 60/40 split folding rear seat with fold-down center armrest, Boston Acoustics stereo with six speakers and 276-watt amplifier, fog lamps, trunk cargo net and cast aluminum wheels. Options include leather-trimmed seats ($640), a power sunroof ($950), power adjustable pedals ($125), six-disc CD changer and MP3 capability ($400), satellite radio with one-year subscription ($195), rear-seat entertainment system ($1150), Bluetooth capability ($360). Also available: 18-inch polished aluminum wheels with P225/60R all-season tires coupled with a sportier suspension ($325). In addition to the Protection Group and Smokers Group, there’s a Comfort Seat ing Group with heated front seats, leather-trimmed bucket seats, power adjustable pedals and 8-way power front passenger seat ($1395).
The Charger R/T ($29,320) is a V8-powered, high-performance model. Like the SXT, the R/T builds on what has come before in standard features and offers abundant options, covering the gambit from functional to entertaining to fun. Outside mirrors now fold and are heated, too. A speedometer reading to 160 miles per hour replaces the 140-mph unit on the SXT and SE. Front brake rotors add an inch in diameter to the SXT’s and SE’s 12.6 inches and spin between twin-piston calipers, and rear discs are vented. A tire pressure monitoring system appears, and the 18-inch, polished aluminum wheels become regular issue. The fuel tank gains capacity, to 19 gallons. And a dual exhaust debuts, with bright metal tips. Stand-alone options originating on the R/T consist of a DVD-based navigation system integrated into the stereo control head ($1895) and a seven-speaker Boston Acoustic setup with a 322-watt amplifier and subwoofer ($535). Convenience Group II includes dual-zone, automatic climate control; heated front seats; power adjustable pedals; 8-way power front passenger seat; and one-touch, automatic up and down power windows with anti-pinch auto-reverse ($955).
The Electronics Convenience Group adds a security alarm, programmable universal garage door opener, trip computer, selectable vehicle information display, compass and a set of steering wheel-mounted, redundant audio controls ($630). Behind the fun tab of the option book is the Road/Track Performance Group, what some who remember the ultimate stealth muscle car of the 1960s might call the Road Runner Edition, as in, more go, less show: unique aluminum wheels with black accents, sportier steering, self-leveling shocks, sport seats, performance suspension and, the kicker piece, a tweaked V8 making 350 horsepower ($1600).
Safety features that come standard on all Charger models include antilock brakes, all-speed traction control and electronic stability control with brake assist. The trunk has an inside, emergency release, and rear seats are fitted with child safety seat anchors (LATCH).
But there’s more. Getting prepped back stage are two, gussied-up and pumped-up Chargers, the former calendared for summer of 2005, the latter for somewhat later and possibly as an early 2007 model. The first is the Daytona R/T ($31,820), mostly the R/T with the Road/Track Performance Group fitments, including the 350-hp V8 but with a tuned exhaust; choice of two exclusive colors, Go ManGo and Top Banana; deep-set, black mesh grille; assorted aero add-ons; flat-black graphics front and rear; a host of interior upgrades and trim bits; and a bragging-rights, sequentially numbered plate on the instrument panel. It’s what might be called the Charger for unredeemable extroverts, if that isn’t redundant.
The second is the SRT8, whose most notable feature is a Gold’s Gym version of the lesser Chargers’ HEMI: a 6.1-liter V8 generating 425 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque. A uniquely tuned suspension puts the SRT 8 a half-inch closer to the road than the R/T, a re-programmed ESC system tightens and flattens the ride and a 180-mph speedometer registers the rate of travel. Vented discs are clamped by four-piston Brembo calipers at all four corners and grow almost a half-inch in diameter in front to the R/T’s and more than in inch in the rear. Goodyear Supercar F1, asymmetrical-tread, three-season, 45-aspect ratio tires ride on 20-inch, forged aluminum wheels. The Daytona R/T’s look-at-me black graphics disappear in favor of a functional hood scoop and discreet, almost tasteful badging.
Test drives impressions
The 2006 Dodge Charger is a fun drive, especially considering its size. Make no mistake, at more than 16 feet in length and tipping the scales near two tons, this is no sporty, svelte coupe. It’s a big, heavy, full-size sedan.
The Charger will ride on the same rear-drive platform that supports the Chrysler 300-series and the Magnum . No surprise there. That means the same 120.0-inch wheelbase, with track dimensions similar to those of the 300-63.0 inches in front, 63.1 inches in the rear-if not identical. Its overall length will probably be about the same as the 300’s-about 197 inches-but we expect its roofline to be slightly lower than those of the 300 and Magnum wagon. The swoopy rear roofline mitigates the turret-top look of the 300, but the high beltline yields the same low glass-to-body ratio that’s a key element in these new Chrysler Group designs, as well as an industry-wide trend. Feedback from consumer clinics suggests that reduced glass area and higher cowls give occupants a sense of heightened security.
All three engines deliver power smoothly. However, the V6 breathes a bit harder and requires a bit more planning ahead in heavy traffic or on crowded two-lanes. The V8s’ most advanced and socially responsible feature, a multi-displacement system that conserves fuel by shutting down four cylinders when they’re not needed to maintain the car’s momentum, is invisible; we knew it was there and were looking for it, and we never felt the slightest trace.
The Charger does represent a return to days gone by, in that it’s possible to get a number of engine choices in the same envelope; should you want to save some cash, you don’t have to squeeze everyone into a tinier car, and if you’re into horsepower, you don’t have to move up to a pricier performance sedan to get it. The Charger is a true five-seater, and what seats they are: I drove it on a trip for almost five hours straight, and got out as refreshed as when I started. Both V6 models come with cloth seats; all V8 models use leather, although the V6 SXT can be optioned up to it.
Straight-line excellence is a given, but the Charger also holds its own out in the twisties. The steering cuts quickly, accurately and the all-independent suspension shrugs off most bumps - most muscle cars would fail right here - and as long as there’s enough space, the bulk isn’t much bother. Helping every situation is the glue-like adhesion of the tires, which cling to the road all the way up to 0.90g. 20-inch tires apparently solve all problems. Also, the AutoStick transmission is always propped for a spontaneous manual shift (though it feels weird to nudge the lever left/right instead of up/down, and you must shift to Neutral and back to restore normal operation) and you can always send thunder through the canyon with your right foot.
On the other hand, you don’t forget the bulk completely. And Mercedes was never a true talent in steering feel; the Charger’s could be less numb. Third, the brake pedal feels spongy at speed, making you press hard and unsurely before deceleration begins. The numbers do show those Brembo brakes stopping the car short, though. And the electronic throttle pedal feels perfectly precise - pretty important considering the power at hand here.
The AutoStick transmission works equally well in either Automatic or Manual mode. In Automatic mode, full throttle upshifts wait until redline and downshifts for passing are executed with minimal delay. In Manual mode, the transmission holds a gear to red line before shifting up a gear (unless you shift sooner, of course), which then becomes the selected gear. Only by tromping the gas in manual mode can you force a downshift, and then only for as long as the pedal is held to the floor; ease up ever so slightly, and the higher gear takes back over, and somewhat abruptly.
The Charger’s brake hardware is shared with Mercedes-Benz, but the software code for the stability program, brake assist and traction control systems is written by and for Dodge. Mercedes engineers could learn something from Dodge. Pedal feel is firm, braking is reassuringly linear and there’s no perceived interference from the electronic watchdogs, yielding smooth, controlled stops at will, for which a couple Virginia squirrels are immensely thankful. We haven’t always been able to say the same the same thing about the braking characteristics on some of the Mercedes models.
Inside, while the Charger’s fit and finish is quite good, there is also a great deal of hard plastic; the dash is functional and all controls are easy to use, but it’s not particularly elegant. That’s probably to be expected, given that the upscale Chrysler 300 naturally gets the full treatment, but I can’t so easily forgive the hood, which is held up by a prop rod. All the mounts are there, since the other LX cars have struts, but if you want to show off the Hemi (and you will), you have to hold up the hood and struggle with a metal pole, which seems more suited to an econobox than to a car hovering around forty grand.
The U.S. Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2006 Dodge Charger is $22,995, including $675 destination. The Dodge Charger will begin to arrive in dealerships this spring.
2006 Dodge Charger SE
The 2006 Dodge Charger SE is equipped with a 3.5-liter High Output V-6 engine and is tuned to offer athletic and nimble steering and handling attributes.
Other standard features on the Dodge Charger SE include 17-inch tires and steel wheels with bolt-on wheel covers, AM/FM/CD radio system with four speakers, driver and passenger lumbar support seating, electric rear window defroster, manual tilt and telescoping steering column, power mirrors, power trunk lid release, power windows (driver one-touch) and locks with auto reverse sensing system, remote keyless/illuminated entry, speed control and a tire pressure monitoring (TPM) system.
The starting U.S. MSRP of the 2006 Dodge Charger SE is $22,995, including $675 destination.
2006 Dodge Charger SXT
The 2006 Dodge Charger SXT also comes with a standard 3.5-liter High Output V-6 engine, which provides an outstanding blend of performance and fuel economy, estimated at 19/27 mpg. The engine delivers 250 horsepower @ 6400 rpm and 250 lb.-ft. of torque @ 3800 rpm.
In addition to the Dodge Charger SE standard features, Dodge Charger SXT includes 17-inch tires and aluminum wheels, 60/40 split folding rear seat with center armrest, leather steering wheel and shift knob, eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, fog lamps, illuminated visor mirrors, Boston Acoustics Sound System with six speakers and 276-watt digital amplifier, chrome grille and heated mirrors.
The starting U.S. MSRP for the Dodge Charger SXT is $25,995, including $675 destination.
2006 Dodge Charger R/T
The 2006 Dodge Charger R/T model is equipped with a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine with MDS, which offers 340 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque. The MDS seamlessly alternates between four cylinder mode when less power is needed and V-8 mode when more power is in demand. This increases fuel economy up to 20 percent depending on driving conditions, without sacrificing vehicle performance.
Standard features on the 2006 Dodge Charger R/T beyond those on the Dodge Charger SXT include performance brakes and suspension that is tuned for added "touring" performance, 18-inch aluminum wheels and all-season performance tires. Dual-exhaust pipes, heated/folding mirrors and leather seats also are standard.
The starting U.S. MSRP for the Dodge Charger R/T is $29,995, including $675 destination.
The 2006 Dodge Charger SE, SXT and R/T are available in seven exterior colors, including Bright Silver Metallic, Inferno Red Crystal Pearl, Brilliant Black, Magnesium Pearl, Midnight Blue Pearl, Cool Vanilla and Silver Steel Metallic.
2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T
Dodge also announced pricing today for the limited-run 2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T, which will go into production later this summer. Dodge Charger Daytona R/T will be distinguished by two exterior paint colors – “Go ManGo!,” an updated metallic orange paint initially used for the 1970 Dodge Charger, and “Top Banana,” another high-impact heritage paint name.
In addition to the special exterior paint colors, the 2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T will feature an exclusive front fascia with a chin spoiler and black honeycomb grille, unique black “Daytona” and “HEMI” decals, signature heritage R/T badging and a black rear decklid spoiler. The Dodge Charger Daytona R/T also will include large, bright, dual-exhaust tips and 18-inch polished wheels with painted pockets.
The interior of the 2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T will feature performance front seats with suede inserts and embroidered “Daytona” logos on the front headrests. Body-color accent stitching will appear on the front and rear seats and on the leather-wrapped steering wheel. A matching body-colored center stack bezel, a “Daytona Limited Edition” display on the electronic cluster and a sequentially numbered limited-production Daytona badge on the instrument panel will complete the unique Dodge Charger Daytona R/T interior.
The powerful HEMI engine, which is boosted to 350 horsepower on the Dodge Charger Daytona R/T, will provide a unique throaty exhaust note and feature a HEMI-orange engine cover.
The Dodge Charger Daytona R/T also includes a Road & Track performance handling package featuring 18-inch Michelin MXM4 ASP tires, load leveling suspension, performance brakes and performance steering gear.
The starting U.S. MSRP for the Dodge Charger Daytona R/T is $32,495, including $675 destination.
Additional passive and active safety and security features on all 2006 Dodge Charger versions include rear sill reinforcement and structure, energy-absorbing steering column, advanced multi-stage driver and front passenger airbags, occupant classification system and available side-curtain airbags.