2013 Dodge Charger SRT8– Fast, furious, and absolutely fabulous!
By Don Hammonds For me. growing up in the fifties and sixties, Dodges were always flamboyant, finny cars, whether you were talking about the tri-colored "Delta wing" models of the late 1950s or the stupendous 1960 Polara and Matador models with their Wurlitzer-style designs. Oh, I know that Dodge also meant workaday cars in their early years, but that was long before my time. They'd gone all fancy by the time I was conscious of their presence. Then came the Muscle Car era with Super Bees, R/Ts, Challengers and Chargers in all their thunderous, colorful glory. What a time. And never to be seen again, though we've certainly got way more interesting cars now than we did say, 10 years or so ago. But the 2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 comes about as close as possible to melding Dodge heritage into one glorious automobile as you can imagine. And when I talk of Dodge heritage that the newest Charger embodies, I'm not talking of just the muscle era. This Charger also brings back the flamboyance of those fifties era Dodges I loved so much. And it is as big and roomy as any of the larger sixties models I used to peer at, nose pressed hard against showroom windows. The Charger is fascinating because there are so many wonderful characteristics and nuances that it contains. It's bristling with technology, making it not only one of the most contemporary cars in Dodge's illustrious history, but it also outshines much of the competition--including some well-known import performance brands when it comes to gadgetry that works efficiently, intuitively and well. And while the SRT8 can sure burn up that pavement in short order--say, 4.1 to 4.5 seconds to 60s in an informal survey of the auto rags--this is an amazingly comfortable and docile car in everyday traffic. That is until you tramp on the accelerator pedal. And then it's "Hallelujah!!" Don't expect angels' trumpets either when you do your tramping. The exhaust note is absolutely indescribable. Just loud. Deep. And truly frightening to competitors no doubt. Apparently, engineers used something called an "active valve" exhaust system and some special mufflers to help come up with the exhaust sound, along with some tinkering to the engine itself. The engine is of course, the 6.4 liter Hemi V-8 engine, good for some 470 horsepower channeled through a five speed automatic transmission. The engine has what Dodge calls "Fuel Saver" technology, rsulting in 17 miles per gallon overall, with 14 city and 23 highway miles per gallon. Annual fuel cost is $3,350, basede on 15,000miles per year, and gasoline of $3.55 a gallon. One thing's for sure. You better have some deep pockets to pay for the gasoline. The government says on the Monroney window sticker that you'll spend $5,150 more on gasoline over five years with this baby! Our test model had a base price of $44,995, a price which includes quite a lot of standard equipment, including technology like three mode electronic stability control, high speed engine controller, hill start assist, rain brake support, ready alert braking, adaptive damping and a level three sport mode. Option packages brought the final price to $50,675. There's also cool things like a reconfigurable instrument gauge display in color, and a special SRT screen setup that allows you to set up a picture of an SRT in your particular color, as well as offering a host of special gauges you can click into that will display track times, coolant, oil and transmission and intake air temperatures, handling measurements, and tons of other stuff to enthrall you. I loved the UConnect navigation andf touchscreen system, it's competely intuitive, self-explanatory and can be mastered quite well without consulting manuals. The graphics were large and clear, too. There are other nifty little things about this big car. The heated steering wheel system goes into action instantly. There's cool double stitching everywhere, and the seats are among the best in the industry, providing support without strangling you. And then there's the automatic damping system that you set yourself with a control inside the car. There's auto mode, which offers a wide range of on-road and driver inputs – such as vehicle speed, steering angle, steering speed, brake torque, throttle position and longitudinal/lateral/vertical accelerations – which automatically tune the suspension for specific conditions. There's also a sport mode which sets the suspension for "maximum" performance and handling with a firmer ride and more spirited driving settings. And lastly , there's the track mode which gives you the sportiest most aggressive shift pattern of all. And of course, the suspension will be at its firmest setting. Problems? The only two things we were concerned about were more challenges, not truly problems. One is the very low ground clearance at the front end of the car. You do not want to come flying up or down a ramp, or you will be paying for it dearly. Fortunately we didn't have any incidents, thanks to a warning posted on information distributed with the car. So you be warned, too. The other issue, which we suspect maybe taller people won't have, is that there is no comfortable place to grip the back trunk lid with its wall-to wall taillights, to close the lid. Our hands slipped off several times and narrowly avoided a pretty painful injury. Other than those minor points, the Charger is just plain flawless and fascinating as it goes about its tasks. Quite a car.