2006 DODGE CHARGER SRT8
ON SALE: Now
BASE PRICE: $35,995
POWERTRAIN: 6.1-liter, 425-hp, 420-lb-ft V8; rwd, five-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT: 4180 lbs
0 TO 60 MPH: 5.2 seconds (mfr.)
FUEL MILEAGE (EPA combined) : 16.7 mpg
SRT upgrades include stiffer springs and suspension bushings, specially tuned dampers and larger antiroll bars. The suspension is lowered one-half inch from the base Charger, and the car rides on 20-inch forged aluminum wheels fitted with Goodyear F1 three-season tires, 245/45R-20 in front, 255/45R-20 in the back. Four-piston Brembo brakes are standard all around.
Charger joins SRT versions of the Chrysler 300C and Dodge Magnum using the 6.1-liter Hemi and is the most aggressive of the bunch. We sampled all three at Laguna Seca, and the stiffer-sprung Charger, with the ability to completely switch off the cars ESP (Electronic Stability Program), felt the fastest around the track. The Chargers ESP has three levels: all on, which cuts the engine when it detects wheelspin; partially on, which allows wheelspin but will kick in to cut the engine and apply brakes when yaw sensors detect too much sideways movement; and all off, which also increases the throttle response and triggers more aggressive shift points from the five-speed automatic transmission. The unit is fitted with autostick, which keeps the gear you select, even if you bang up against the rev limiter.
On the smooth roads leading up to Laguna, we found the ride and handling to be fine, the heavily bolstered seats to be firm and comfortable, and the loud exhaust note a real joy to listen to. At cruising speed, the exhaust note goes away to a steady purr. Get back on the throttle, and all the meanness returns.
While the aggressive stance, big wheels and tires, and SRT badges give away what lies beneath the hood, the car is very well mannered until you trounce the throttle.
The Charger name harks back to Dodges muscle car prowess during the 1960s and 70s. This new version has all the right muscle-car DNA, and even if it does have four doors, its still a blast to drive.