Nothing makes me happier than driving a car that reminds me of when I was in my youth, absorbed by the mystique of muscle cars. Given that, imagine how much fun I am having with the 2012 Dodge Charger R/T, and yes it’s got a 5.7-liter V8 Hemi putting out 370-horses the old-fashioned way, without help from a turbo. I think that is what I love about this car; it’s just a classic, big, rear-wheel drive retro muscle car that reminds me of my own 1969 Plymouth GTX. But I digress.
The 2012 Charger was redesigned for a much more aggressive stance and look. Chrysler did a spectacular job with the remodel, the rear is very reminiscent of the ’69 and ’70 Charger. Overall, the lines are crisp and the hood is awesome.
As usual for a Chrysler, the Charger interior is understated. That doesn’t mean it isn’t very nice, it is just different from most cars and uses a mix of leather and suede, which is a nice change for me and very comfortable in cold and hot weather. My test car has heated and cooled front seats, and both sides are power. The gauges are large, easy to read, and very well laid out.
Just about everything in the car runs from an almost eight and a half-inch color monitor in the center of the dash. The operations are easy, and unlike years past in Chrysler products, they did a super job simplifying the operations of the sound system, vehicle settings, and climate control. The navigation system and rear camera operate from the same monitor and are easily accessible.
My Redline Pearl test car has the Road & Track package, which believe it or not, has nothing to do with the fact that first and foremost it is an R/T. So it’s an Charger R/T Road and Track. Seems redundant to me, but I wasn’t asked. For $4000, the Road & Track package comes with a TON of content, but most notable is a Sport Mode for the suspension, shift paddles, 20” wheels, rear spoiler, heated/cooled cup holders, and a whole lot more. This is one of the better value packages I have ever seen.
For just $995 retail, you get the Garmin navigation system and backup camera, but just as important is U Connect, Chrysler’s awesome telematics system that give you real-time gas prices, weather, traffic, sports scores and more. This package is also very well priced.
I have to note too, that this car has one of the best paint jobs I have ever seen out of a factory. There is an extra charge of $500 for the 3-coat pearl paint. If you see this paint in the sunlight, you’ll think it’s worth every penny.
Now for the bad side of this car: it has a 5-speed automatic transmission. Chrysler has been a real leader in 7 and 8-speed transmissions, something I suspect they learned in their partnership with Mercedes. I can only assume there is some engineering issue with the Hemi. The 6-cylinder version of the Charger has the 8-speed automatic already and it is a terrific performer, not to mention the highway fuel-economy would jump with more gears.
There is nothing fancy about this Charger, but there’s a FEEL about this car that makes you want to drive somewhere. It is the sound, the handling, and the feeling of being in a big ol’ American-made muscle car with all the amenities of modern day cars.
The Dodge Charger is a big car, make no mistake. It has plenty of room inside and has a really large trunk. For me, this is the perfect compromise car, especially for spouses. On one hand, we have a safe, roomy, family sedan that gets 25-miles per gallon on the road. On the other hand, we have a retro muscle car that will excite you every single time you press the accelerator to the floor. I don’t think it gets better than this, especially for the money.
What I liked most: The feel, the sound, the looks, and the horsepower.
What I would change: Give me a 7 or 8-speed automatic, or a 6-speed manual.
MSRP: Base price, $29,995. As equipped $37,665.
Fuel Economy: 16 in town/25 highway
2012 Charger R/T in a few words: A wonderful retro rear-wheel drive Muscle car.