Full 2014 Dodge Charger Review
What's New for 2014
The 2014 Dodge Charger receives no significant changes.
You know the old saw about judging books by their covers? Well, we've got a new version: don't judge the 2014 Dodge Charger by its styling. Whether you love the Charger's cartoonishly muscular body or not, there's more to this full-size sedan than meets the eye. It may look like an adolescent boy's four-door fantasy, but the Charger is actually one of the best large sedans we've driven.
It's hard to think of something American drivers want that the Charger doesn't have. Interior space? No problem; the Charger's got ample room for 6-footers front and back, though rear headroom can be a bit tight. Ride comfort? The Charger's well-tuned suspension ensures that most impacts barely register in the cabin. Technology? Check out the 8.4-inch touchscreen interface, which is both easy on the eyes and intuitive to operate. Plus, with its rear-wheel-drive layout and available V8 power, the Charger can serve as a legitimate performance car for drivers so inclined. The optional all-wheel-drive system makes it viable for snow-belt shoppers, too.
If the Charger has an Achilles' heel, it's fuel economy. Granted, the optional eight-speed automatic returns an impressive 31 mpg on the highway with the V6, but the base Charger V6 and all V8-powered Chargers come with an antiquated five-speed automatic, and fuel economy suffers accordingly.
Otherwise, it's hard to find fault with Dodge's big sedan, especially when you consider how much bang for the buck it provides. If you're in the market for a car of this size, we'd also suggest checking out the new 2014 Chevrolet Impala, which lacks the Charger's sporty personality but delivers generous comfort, space and technology; the sleek 2013 Toyota Avalon, which boasts an available 40-mpg hybrid variant; and the surprisingly upscale 2014 Kia Cadenza, as well as the Charger's platform-mate, the more restrained Chrysler 300. But whatever you make of the Charger's in-your-face styling, know that a world-class car lies beneath.
Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options
The 2014 Dodge Charger is a full-size sedan offered in SE, SXT, R/T, SRT8 and SRT8 Super Bee trims.
Standard equipment on the SE includes 17-inch alloy wheels, a five-speed automatic transmission, automatic headlights, keyless ignition/entry, cruise control, dual-zone manual climate control, a six-way power driver seat, 60/40 split-folding rear seats, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 4.3-inch touchscreen interface and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, an auxiliary audio jack and an iPod/USB audio interface. Note that Bluetooth can easily be added to the SE via the optional Connectivity Group.
The SXT adds an eight-speed transmission (optional on SE), heated mirrors, foglamps, remote ignition, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat (with four-way power lumbar adjustment), a leather-wrapped steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, an 8.4-inch touchscreen interface, Bluetooth audio and phone connectivity, satellite radio and upgraded speakers. With all-wheel drive, the Charger SXT comes standard with 19-inch wheels.
The SXT offers a number of optional packages. The Plus package adds 18-inch wheels, leather upholstery, a heated steering wheel, an eight-way power front passenger seat (with four-way power lumbar adjustment), heated rear seats and LED interior lighting. The Rallye Appearance Group adds a slight power upgrade for the V6, 20-inch chrome wheels, performance tires and brakes, a sport-tuned suspension (rear-wheel-drive only), a rear deck lid spoiler, a Sport mode for the transmission, shift paddles, sport seats and a 10-speaker Beats by Dr. Dre sound system. The Blacktop package is essentially the same as the Rallye but with painted wheels and a blacked-out grille, while the Redline package is essentially the Blacktop package with red trim on the wheels.
Since the Blacktop and Redline packages aren't available with AWD, Dodge provides an AWD Sport package with much the same content. All three packages are also offered on the V8-powered R/T.
Also available on SXT is the Navigation Group, which includes a Garmin-sourced navigation system and a rearview camera. Opt for the Driver Confidence Group and you'll get rain-sensing wipers, xenon headlights, automatic high-beam control, a driver-side auto-dimming mirror, a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-path detection, the rearview camera and rear parking sensors. The Driver Convenience Group contributes heated and ventilated front seats, driver memory functions, power-adjustable pedals and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. A sunroof is a stand-alone option.
The R/T starts with the SXT's standard equipment and adds a V8 engine with a five-speed transmission, xenon headlights, 18-inch wheels, performance tires, upgraded brakes, the same sport-tuned suspension as the Rallye (rear-wheel-drive only) and sport seats with cloth upholstery.
Like the SXT, the R/T trim can be tricked out with numerous options packages. The R/T's Plus package mirrors that of the SXT, while the Road & Track package adds a black grille, 20-inch wheels, a rear deck lid spoiler, upgraded brakes, a driver-side auto-dimming mirror, a Sport mode for the transmission, paddle shifters, leather trim and the Driver Convenience Group mentioned above. The Driver Confidence Group is also available with the Road & Track package, while the Super Track Pak (Road & Track package required) tacks on a performance-oriented three-mode stability control system, performance brakes, sportier steering and an even firmer state of suspension tune.
Rounding out the R/T lineup, the R/T Max package essentially starts with the R/T Plus and adds the Navigation, Driver Convenience and Driver Confidence Groups, as well as adaptive cruise control, forward-collision warning, blind-spot warning and rear cross-path warning systems. Note that these features are widely available on other Chargers.
The SRT8 ultrahigh-performance model starts with most of the R/T Max's equipment and adds a bigger V8 engine, a three-mode adaptive sport suspension, 20-inch wheels, the three-mode stability control system, launch control, upgraded brakes with red Brembo calipers, a rear spoiler and other racy styling cues. Inside, there's an SRT steering wheel with paddle shifters, exclusive SRT sport seats with leather trim, a color vehicle information center in the gauge cluster with "Performance Pages" and an optional 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.
The SRT8 Super Bee is a less luxurious, more affordable version of the SRT8, so it starts with most of the base R/T's equipment and adds the bigger V8, 20-inch wheels, unique exterior graphics, black Brembo calipers, "Z-stripe" yellow and silver cloth upholstery with Super Bee logos on the front headrests, and heated rear seats. Notably, the Super Bee is the only Charger other than the base SE that doesn't come standard with the 8.4-inch touchscreen: The 4.3-inch unit is standard, and the bigger screen is only available as an extra-cost option. The Super Bee also makes do with the entry-level six-speaker audio system.
Powertrains and Performance
The 2014 Dodge Charger SE and SXT come standard with a 3.6-liter V6 that produces 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque. Add the Rallye Appearance Group, Blacktop package, Redline package or AWD Sport package, and engine and exhaust tweaks lift output to 300 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic is standard on the SE, while an eight-speed automatic is optional for the SE and standard for all SXTs. Rear-wheel drive is standard, but the SXT can be equipped with all-wheel drive.
The SE returns an EPA-estimated 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway and 21 mpg combined. With the eight-speed automatic, fuel economy jumps to a laudable 19/31/23 mpg.
In Edmunds performance testing, a rear-drive SXT accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 7.1 seconds, an average time for a full-size sedan.
The Charger R/T gets a 5.7-liter V8 good for 370 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive are standard, with all-wheel drive optional for all but the R/T Road & Track. In Edmunds testing, a rear-drive R/T accelerated from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 16/25/19 with rear-wheel drive and 15/23/18 with all-wheel drive.
The Charger SRT8 is powered by a 6.4-liter V8 making 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque. A five-speed automatic and rear-wheel drive are standard. In Edmunds testing, it hit 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds. Fuel economy predictably brings up the rear at 14/23/17 mpg.
Standard safety features for the Charger include stability and traction control, antilock disc brakes, front seat side airbags, a driver-side knee airbag, side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. Optional features include a rearview camera, a blind-spot warning system, a rear cross-traffic warning system and a forward collision warning system that comes bundled with adaptive cruise control.
In Edmunds brake testing, a Charger SXT with 20-inch wheels came to a stop from 60 mph in 113 feet, a remarkably short distance for a large sedan. An R/T was essentially the same, while the SRT8 with higher-grip summer performance tires (an upgrade over the all-season tires on the others) managed an even shorter 108 feet.
In government crash testing, the 2014 Dodge Charger received a top five-star rating for overall protection, including four stars for frontal impacts and five stars for side impacts. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety awarded the Charger its highest rating of "Good" in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength crash tests.
Interior Design and Special Features
You might expect the brash-looking Charger to have a cheap interior, but that's decidedly not the case. Dodge uses much better materials now than it did in the first-generation Charger, and the result is a surprisingly upscale environment. We also like how the center stack is angled toward the driver, a welcome change from the related Chrysler 300's relatively flat dashboard. Another highlight is the 8.4-inch touchscreen interface, which features user-friendly virtual buttons, an intuitive menu structure and crisp, colorful graphics. Shame it doesn't come standard on the SE or Super Bee, as the default 4.3-inch unit in those models is much less satisfying.
The Charger's imposing dimensions provide every passenger with a luxurious amount of space, though the car's rakish rear roof line can restrict headroom for taller backseat occupants. Also keep in mind that compared to front-wheel-drive full-size sedans, the Dodge has less available legroom in the rear center seating position due to intrusion from the transmission tunnel. In addition, the trunk's 15.4-cubic-foot volume is merely adequate for a large sedan, though 60/40-split-folding rear seatbacks are standard for occasions when you need more room.
The 2014 Dodge Charger's standard 3.6-liter V6 is quite pleasant, delivering satisfying power with only faint hints of coarseness. However, we strongly recommend pairing it with the eight-speed automatic, which shifts wonderfully and yields superior fuel economy besides. The base SE's workaday five-speed automatic is frankly outclassed by most rivals.
Unfortunately, both of the Charger's available V8 engines are also stuck with a five-speed automatic, but that's where the negatives stop. The R/T's 5.7-liter V8 delivers plenty of poke for most folk, and although we wouldn't mind more rumble from the exhaust, you'll hear a nice throaty roar if you put the windows down. As for the SRT8, it's a lunatic, delivering its matching 470 horses and torque with unmistakably American gusto.
Unlike classic Dodge Chargers, the latest model brings more to the table than just strong acceleration. Its supple suspension calmly soaks up rough pavement, although, opting for the 20-inch wheels and tires will result in a firmer ride. Meanwhile, the Charger's noise insulation and high-speed stability are beyond reproach. In corners, body motions are admirably well-controlled, though you'll want one of the sportier models for maximum fun. Overall, if you need a large sedan in this price range, you'll be hard-pressed to find one that's as rewarding to drive as the 2014 Dodge Charger.