Full 2010 Dodge Charger Review
What's New for 2010
The 2010 Dodge Charger receives standard side curtain airbags and minor exterior styling tweaks, but is no longer available with front-seat side airbags. There was also an extensive reorganization of its trim level structure and options availability halfway through the 2010 production run.
The 2010 Dodge Charger symbolizes two significant elements of Chrysler's past -- first, the heyday of V8-powered, rear-drive muscle cars; and second, the ill-fated merger with Daimler-Benz. The former lives on in the Charger R/T and SRT8 models, both of which boast rowdy V8s that will perform smoky burnouts with the best of them. And the latter is evident underneath the Charger's skin, where you'll find some suspension components from old Mercedes E-Class and S-Class sedans, as well as a Mercedes-sourced five-speed automatic transmission. Add it all up and you've got an appealing and well-built car that reminds us why big, powerful sedans have always had an enthusiastic following.
Like its platform mates, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Challenger, the Charger comes with less muscular engines, too. There are two V6s available, one with a rental-car-grade 178 horsepower and one that puts out a more respectable 250 hp, albeit with an outdated four-speed automatic in rear-drive form (all-wheel drive nets a five-speed). But let's be honest -- most front-wheel-drive V6 family sedans offer more than 250 hp these days, and they weigh considerably less than the porky Charger. This Dodge was made with one kind of engine in mind: the classic broad-shouldered American V8.
Yes, it's the Charger's honking "Hemi" V8s that deserve the most attention here. Even the R/T's "little" 5.7-liter V8 makes a beastly 368 hp, and tricks like variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation technology allow it to approximate the fuel economy of the 250-hp 3.5-liter V6 (which really says more about that engine's inefficiency). If that's not enough, the SRT8 goes whole hog with a 6.1-liter V8 pumping out 425 hp. However, the SRT8 is unavailable with all-wheel drive, meaning the V8-powered R/T AWD is perhaps a uniquely attractive offering for enthusiasts who require all-weather performance.
However, if you are mainly looking for a comfortable large sedan -- and V8 performance isn't a priority -- we suggest looking beyond the Charger to top family sedans like the Buick LaCrosse, Ford Fusion, Mazda 6 and Nissan Altima. Ford's new Taurus is another to consider, especially as its SHO variant packs a considerable wallop thanks to its turbocharged V6. All of these models can provide better efficiency and interior packaging. But if big V8 power is on your sedan-shopping checklist, the 2010 Dodge Charger is right up your alley, particularly with the demise of the similar Pontiac G8 GT. Cars like this are a dying breed, but for now, the Charger leads the charge.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2010 Dodge Charger is a large sedan available in base, 3.5, Rallye, R/T and SRT8 trim levels. Rear-wheel drive is standard and all-wheel drive is optional on all but the base and SRT8. Standard equipment on the base Charger (formerly the SE) includes 17-inch alloy wheels, air-conditioning, full power accessories, heated side mirrors, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, keyless entry, cruise control and a four-speaker stereo with a CD player and an auxiliary audio jack.
Stepping up to the Charger 3.5 (formerly SXT) nets you a larger V6 engine, 18-inch wheels (AWD only) and satellite radio. The Rallye adds 18-inch alloy wheels (RWD), foglamps, power driver seat, power-adjustable pedals, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat and a rear armrest. The Chrome & Leather package adds 18-inch chrome-clad wheels, automatic headlamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, a power driver seat, heated front seats, leather upholstery and an upgraded six-speaker sound system. Chrome-clad 20-inch wheels are optional on the Rallye.
The Charger R/T adds to the Rallye with Chrome & Leather package (minus the chrome wheels) the V8 engine, an iPod interface, an auto-dimming mirror, steering-wheel-mounted audio controls, Bluetooth and a touchscreen stereo faceplate. You can also get the Road/Track package that includes 20-inch chrome-clad wheels, sport-tuned suspension and steering, a rear spoiler, heated sport seats and Alcantara upholstery. The Super Trak Pak adds performance tires, a different axle ratio and upgraded brakes and shock absorbers. Optional on the Rallye and R/T is a Media Center package that includes a navigation system.
The SRT8 is equipped a lot like the R/T with the Road/Track package, but adds the bigger Hemi V8, high-performance brakes, a hood scoop, a limited-slip rear differential and different exterior trim. The SRT Option Group II adds upgraded instruments, auto-dimming mirror, Bluetooth, the touchscreen stereo interface and a 13-speaker surround-sound system with iPod interface. The SRT Option Group III is essentially the R/T's Media Center package.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2010 Dodge Charger is available with four engines, one for each trim level. Rear-wheel drive is standard, and all-wheel drive is optional on the 3.5, Rallye and R/T. The all-wheel-drive system can automatically or manually disconnect the front driveshafts to slightly improve fuel economy.
The base Charger gets a 2.7-liter V6 that produces 178 hp and 190 pound-feet of torque. A four-speed automatic is standard. Considering the engine's meager power output, fuel economy is a lackluster 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. The 3.5 and Rallye are powered by a 3.5-liter V6 good for 250 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque. This engine gets a four-speed automatic with rear-wheel drive and a five-speed auto with all-wheel drive. Fuel economy ratings are 17/25/20 mpg with RWD and 17/23/19 mpg with AWD.
The Charger R/T is powered by a 5.7-liter V8 making 368 hp and 398 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic is standard. Fuel economy rates 16/25/19 mpg with RWD and 16/23/18 with AWD. The Charger SRT8 is the king of the hill, with a 6.1-liter V8 that produces 425 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. It, too, gets a five-speed auto. In track testing, the SRT8 went from zero to 60 mph in 5.3 seconds. Its fuel economy ratings are 13/19/15 mpg.
Antilock disc brakes and stability control are standard on all Chargers except for the base, which has them as options. Side curtain airbags are also standard, but front-seat side airbags are on longer available for 2010.
In government crash tests, the 2010 Dodge Charger achieved a perfect five stars for frontal crash protection and rear side crash protection. In the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety frontal-offset crash tests, the Charger received a top score of "Good." In the IIHS side-impact test, however, the Charger received the second-worst score of "Marginal."
Interior Design and Special Features
The Charger's cabin features good materials quality and simple controls, though the styling is on the bland side. The seats are softly cushioned but comfortable overall, and those included with the Road/Track package and in the SRT8 provide plenty of lateral support. The Charger's large size and long wheelbase translate into a generously sized cabin with plenty of rear legroom. Unfortunately, the Charger's sloping roof line makes rear-seat access more challenging than in other sedans, and rear headroom is a bit less than normal as well. The trunk can hold 16 cubic feet of luggage, a smallish figure for a large sedan.
The V8-powered 2010 Dodge Chargers are guaranteed to plaster grins on enthusiasts' faces, as they sound great and deliver massive forward thrust on command. However, most of that fun is had in a straight line, as even in R/T or SRT8 trim, the Charger's light and uncommunicative steering doesn't instill much confidence on winding roads. Ride quality, however, is quite pleasant. Among the lower-level engines, the 3.5-liter V6 is a decent choice for those on a tight budget, but it's neither powerful nor fuel-efficient relative to competing V6s, and the rear-drive version comes with an anachronistic four-speed automatic. The base 2.7-liter V6 is sluggish, not efficient and barely passes muster for rental car duty.