2015 Dodge Charger SXT AWD Sedan

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I see that AutoTrader advertisements are featuring a number of Dodge Chargers, specifically the “General Lee” of Dukes of Hazzard fame, and several white, late-model four-doors similar to my latest test car.  It was a 2015 Dodge Charger SXT all-wheel drive sedan and was painted Ivory tri-coat pearl.  Inside it was Tungsten (gray) cloth sport upholstery with the front bucket seats both powered and heated.

The General Lee was a 1969 Dodge Charger driven by the Duke cousins Bo and Luke, in the television series The Dukes of Hazard. The car is known for its special horn, its high speed chases, stunts, long jumps, and for having its doors welded shut, leaving the Dukes to climb in and out through the windows.  The car’s name is a reference to the Gen. Robert E. Lee and it bears a Confederate flag of America (representing the army which Robert E. Lee commanded) on its roof, and also has a horn that plays the first twelve notes of “Dixie”.  On average, one General Lee Charger was used up per television episode, and legend has it that between 250 and 32o automobiles were destroyed during filming of the series.  Stunt drivers were known to enjoy the long jumps, but they reportedly hated the landings.

Shortly after the “Dukes”, the Dodge Charger was nonexistent for nineteen years before its re-introduction in 2006.  That’s when it came out as a four-door, rear-wheel drive sedan with styling that was supposed to harken back to the 60’s and 70’s glory days.  All-wheel drive has been subsequently added as an option to the car, and my test Charger was equipped as such.  The SXT model I drove represented the model sixth down from the Charger SRT Hellcat, one of five V-8 hemi-powered machines, and it sits atop the four V-6 models that the company offers.

Base price of my Charger was $32,995.00, and as options it had the fancy paint ($500.00), and navigation/backup camera ($995.00), so with freight of $995.00 the total M.S.R.P was $35,485.00.  I thought it was pretty reasonable, and some omissions responsible for the decent list price included the solid roof and the cloth seating.  But it was a quite attractive automobile and handling, guidance, ride and road noise level are were satisfactory to this reviewer.

Equipment on the SXT included remote engine start, hill start assist, XM radio, 8.4″ touchscreen for audio and navigation, 276-watt stereo, and Chrysler Corporations proprietary UConnect infotainment system.  Interior space amounts to 104.7 cubic feet and trunk space is 16.5 cubic feet.  The two spaces can be blended together by virtue of the 60/40 split-folding rear seatbacks.

Power for the Charger that I drove comes in the form of a 3.6 liter Pentastar V-6 with 292 horsepower and 260 lb. ft. of torque.  A Rally group, not present on my test car, pushes horsepower to 300.  My 292-horsepower Dodge was rated at 18 mpg-city, 27 mpg-highway, and 21 mpg-combined (EPA).  Observance of mileage came in at a respectable 24.5 during a week with the car.  Attached to the Pentastar was a Torqueflite eight-speed automatic transmission with a sport mode.

The Charger was pretty sitting in the driveway, particularly up front (I backed it in the driveway at all times, driving the wife nuts), and the look is new for 2015.  Wheels were 19″ polished aluminum with graphite pockets and tires were P235/55R19 Michelin Pilot HXMXM4 mud and snow radials.  Dual chrome exhaust finishers were under the rear fascia.  It was a good ride and is to be recommended to the value- and style conscious full-sized sedan shopper.


2013 Dodge Durango R/T AWD

2013 Dodge Durango

Horace and John Dodge started building auto parts in 1900 (for Ford and Oldsmobile), and fifteen years later went into full-fledged auto production.  Dodge Brothers Corporation came to that decision when brother John became, in his own words, “tired of being carried around in Henry Ford’s vest pocket”.  Dodge became part of Chrysler Corporation in 1928 and Chrysler has since 2011 had an alliance with Turin, Italy’s Fiat.

Of my several dozen cars and trucks owned over the years, only one was a Dodge.  I think it was a 1975; a half-ton van that I owned for about two days.  When I got home with it my next door neighbor suddenly decided he had to have it so that he could start a plumbing business; hence I sold it to him.

Also, I have vivid memories of my brother’s 60’s-vintage Coronet 440 with a 383 V-8 and 3-speed column-mounted manual transmission.  It was particularly fast and on one occasion I took a high school friend for a ride so that I could show him how easily it “pegged out” at 120 mph.  On this night it seemed sluggish while accelerating past the 110 mph mark, at which time buddy Bruce suggested I should trying putting it in third gear.  My tale of brother Vince’s Dodge brings to mind the 1958 hit “Beep, Beep” by the Playmates, in which the driver of the little Nash Rambler is unable to get his car out of second gear while going 120 mph.

My latest brush with Dodge was this last week when I received a 2013 Dodge Durango R/T AWD to test.  The Durango is a full-size SUV built on the Jeep Grand Cherokee platform (since 2011) and with the R/T you get a 5.7 liter, 360 horsepower V-8 with 390 ft.-lbs. of torque.  It came in Maximum Steel metallic clear coat and had the R/T specific black leather interior.  The transmission was a six-speed automatic and fuel economy ratings were 13-city and 20-highway.  I drove to Denver and back with the Durango and registered 19 mpg, and for the week observed a 16 mpg reading.  The hemi engine features cylinder-deactivation to enhance the economy.  And of course the R/T features all-wheel drive with a 2-speed transfer case for extreme 4 x 4 situations.

The R/T Durango is next to the top of the lineup with a base price of $38,595.  Options on the test vehicle included a technology group for $1,595, two leather interior packages for $2,090, navigation system for $795, and second row captain chairs and console for $1,095.  Thus, total M.S.R.P. including freight came to $45,165.  It was loaded with tilt/telescope, 6.5” nav screen, power mirrors/windows/locks/seats, proximity keyless entry with pushbutton starting, heated buckets, adaptive cruise control, blind spot/cross path detection, seating for six, and Sirius satellite radio.  The backup camera was on hand as was a park assist warning system.  Red “R/T” stitching was on the seatbacks of all four buckets.

Exterior styling of the big Durango was understated – 20” pretty alloy wheels with Goodyear Fortera 265/50R20’s, dual chrome exhausts, big monochrome crossbar grill, self-leveling high intensity headlamps, and fog lamps.  The sound (inside and outside) was in accord with the all-business looks – a constant hemi rumble.

Driving to Denver’s Auto Show in the Durango was pleasurable with a superb ride and lane guidance.  The car feels big (and is, at 5,300 lbs. and 200” overall length); this reviewer wouldn’t mind looking at one at trade-in time.