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Dodge moves to the frontlines with a new Charger

December 09, 2005|by KEN CHESTER, JR./Motor News Media Corp.

It is a name from the American muscle car past - selected for an all-new sedan offering from Dodge. Coupe styling meets four-door functionality with the all-new 2006 Dodge Charger sedan. Flaunting bold, provocative exterior styling and substance, the newest addition to the Dodge family is available in SE, SXT and R/T trim levels and is built at the automaker's Brampton, Ontario, Canada, assembly complex.

Introduced in early 2005 as an 2006 model, the rear-drive Charger sedan is powered by a high-output 3.5-liter 60-degree V-6 engine while the lethal R/T is propelled by Chrysler's 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 prime mover. Torque for both engines is communicated to the pavement through a fully-automatic W5A580 five-speed automatic transmission with AutoStick.

Styling cues for the new Dodge Charger include a bold front end, long hood/short deck and fastback that pays homage to Charger models of the muscle-car era. The Dodge Charger shares its underpinnings with the Chrysler 300 sedan.

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On the road, the Charger SXT equipped with the high-output V-6 is an impressive performer. Responsive, smooth and balanced - it makes you wonder why a person would really want the extra power of the Hemi V-8. The most impressive thing about the Charger sedan is that the base car is so good - impeccable road manners boasting world class handling and control - that it does not need any performance enhancements added to enjoy the ride. A few miles in this Dodge sedan will win consumers over.

The Charger rides on a robust steel chassis that serves as the foundation for the performance-tuned, four-wheel independent suspension system. Control hardware up front features a Short-and Long-Arm (SLA) suspension with high upper "A" arm, lateral and diagonal lower links with dual ball joint front knuckle, coil spring over gas-charged shock absorbers and revised stabilizer bar lower "A" arm. At the rear, a five-link suspension works with coil springs, gas-charged shock absorbers, isolated suspension cradle and a revised stabilizer bar.

The R/T model adds 18-inch touring tires and wheels (17-inch tires are standard), and specially tuned dampers for spirited ride and handling with a performance exhaust. Motorists desiring more kick from their Charger can opt for the Road/Track Performance Group which is tuned specifically for firm steering and handling, resulting in a glued-to-the-road feeling best suited for the passionate driving enthusiast.

Available on the HEMI-equipped R/T, it includes 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 adds 10 horses to the Hemi V-8 and is included in the package.

The optional Daytona R/T package also offers specially tuned chassis components, Michelin MXM4 all-season performance tires, 9-land steering gear, Nivomat self-leveling shock absorbers and the specifically tuned induction and exhaust system.

In addition, the Daytona R/T features the following: flat-black exterior graphics and decals; high-impact exterior Go Man Go! or Top Banana paint; rear decklid and front chin spoiler; red heritage R/T badging; eight-way power passenger seat; body-color accent stitching on front and rear seats; body-color accent stitching on leather-wrapped steering wheel; "Daytona Limited Edition" display on the electronic cluster; embroidered "Daytona" logos on front headrests; matching body-colored center stack and shifter bezel; performance front seats, heated with suede inserts; power adjustable pedals; and sequentially numbered "Daytona Limited Edition" badge on instrument panel.

Inside the cabin, the Dodge Charger sports a driver-oriented cockpit designed with a performance mindset. The cockpit features a sleek instrument panel with Viper-inspired gauges highlighted with white faces and silver-colored accent rings. The instrument cluster's electroluminescent display is easy-to-read in all lighting conditions.

The spacious interior and a raised command-of-the-road seating position offer passengers an extremely comfortable and versatile seating arrangement. The Dodge Charger has ample seating for five adults with plenty of storage throughout the passenger cabin.

The cavernous rear seating area features a 60/40 split fold-down rear seat to further increase the sedan's cargo hauling capabilities. A center armrest with dual cupholders adds to the pleasant accommodations. Additionally, unlike in some sedans, the rear windows go all the way down.

QUICK VEHICLE STATS

Wheelbase: 120; overall length: 200.1; width: 74.5; height: 58.2 - measurements in inches.

Engines: 3.5-liter V6 - 250 hp at 6,400 rpm and 250 lbs-ft of torque at 3,800 rpm; 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 - 340 hp at 5,000 rpm and 390 lbs-ft of torque at 4,000 rpm.

Transmission: Five-speed fully automatic with AutoStick.

EPA fuel economy: 3.5-liter V-6 - 19 city/27 hwy.; 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 - 17 city/25 hwy.

Cargo capacity: 16.2 cubic feet.

SAFETY FEATURES

Dual front air bags, four-wheel disc brakes with anti-lock, all-speed traction control, electronic stability control, brake assist, battery saver, power speed-sensitive door locks, engine immobilizer, tire pressure monitoring warning lamp and remote keyless entry. SXT adds fog lamps.

Optional safety features include power adjustable pedals, front/rear side-curtain air bags, security alarm, remote vehicle start, dash-mounted navigation system and self-sealing tires.

WARRANTY

Basic: 3-year/36,000 mile, bumper-to-bumper.

Corrosion: 5-year/100,000 mile.

PRICING

The base Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for the 2006 Dodge Charger sedan starts from $22,320 for SE, $25,520 for SXT, and $29,520 for R/T. Destination charges add $675.

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