When I picked up the 2016 Dodge Charger SRT 392, I had absolutely no idea what I was in for.
Engine: 6.4-liter V8
Power: 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
EPA Fuel Economy (MPG): 15 city, 25 highway, 18 combined
CAN Fuel Economy (L/100 km): 15.7 city, 9.5 highway, 12.9 combined
Price (USD): Starts at $52,090 including destination fees
Price (CAD): Starts at $57,890 including transportation fees
Bright blue, with an angry scowl on its face, I thought this was just another family sedan with a bigger-than-usual engine. I got in, took note of the bright red seatbelts, tried to get comfortable in the driver seat, and poked the ignition.
Then something under the hood barked out an angry warning and it caught me totally off guard. Before that, I had no idea that this a car would turn out to be so much more than just a family sedan with a bigger engine. This is a legitimate four-door muscle car.
But I wasn’t the only one surprised by the Dodge Charger SRT. Everywhere I went, it elicited reactions and a ton of quotable moments. Here’s a list of the more memorable ones.
“That’s some kind of blue!”
The pickup location for my weekly press car isn’t far from my parents’ place, so I dropped by to see how they were doing.
As my mother opened the door, she barely noticed me and just exclaimed how eye-catching the Charger’s paint job was. The bright “B5 Blue” that this tester has is a throwback to the Chargers of yesteryear. For 2016, Dodge offers the Charger and Challenger in a number of attractive paint finishes, including “Go Mango” orange, “Plum Crazy” purple, “B5 Blue” and “Sublime” green. The best part of these attractive paint jobs is that they come at no additional cost.
“I heard you coming from a block away!”
As I walked through the door, my sister mentioned that she could hear the Charger coming from at least a block away. The Charger SRT features a massive 6.4-liter V8 engine that bellows as it reaches its 485-hp peak output. And the noise that escapes the two tailpipes is absolutely perfect and very, very loud.
“YES. I’M THERE!”
An all-caps text message showed me what kind of enthusiasm some car fans get when they see the three letters SRT. My friend reacted with joy when he heard that I was in possession of the new Charger SRT for a week and jumped at the opportunity to come check it out. He wasn’t disappointed with what he saw.
“Uhh, this thing is kind of slipping around back here.”
This was uttered from a rear-seat passenger after an aggressive start. Indeed, this four-door muscle car features rear-wheel drive, and that includes all the shenanigans that go along with it. With your foot down to call all 485 of those ponies, the rear tires struggle to find traction, and there’s definitely a bit of shimmy as they grasp at the asphalt for grip.
Both the rear and front seats are poorly bolstered, though, featuring flat and upright seatbacks that are not very comfortable. This is the biggest criticism to be found in the Charger, although the rest of the interior is also in need of a thorough modernization. With the exception of the digital dash and intuitive UConnect infotainment system, the interior seemed dull and boring, and far less exciting than the exterior of the car.
“Was that wheelspin?”
The same passenger noted some wheelspin when I backed out of a spot — and I promise I wasn’t driving that aggressively at all. The Charger SRT has so much power going to its rear wheels and is so responsive and excited to get going that it can mock the chirping of a bird even in reverse.
“That sounds amazing!”
One tiny bit of misbehaving I will admit to is downshifting and gunning it in a tunnel. The resulting roar was epic. The Charger features easily accessible paddle shifters and three driving modes that will adjust the way the car behaves. Throttle response, shift points (in automatic mode), traction control, steering, and suspension are all adjusted through the driving modes, between mild (called Street), hot (named Sport), and spicy (called Track). An important element of the drive modes is that you can pick and choose between all the settings to tailor the ride exactly as you like it. So if you want a light steering feel, but aggressive downshifts, you can mix and match until your heart roars like the the 6.4-liter Hemi does.
“What does this button do?”
Right next to the button that allows you to adjust drive modes is another inconspicuous button labeled “Launch.” Pressing this button enables launch control and the various settings associated with it. When perfectly set up, the Charger SRT can hit 60 mph in just 4.5 seconds, which is amazing, though hard to repeat. As mentioned before, the Charger struggles with traction, but when it gets going, it will definitely get you laughing maniacally. Launch control will help you get spectacular launches time after time, as long as your tires aren’t bald yet.
“Is that a Hellcat?”
The legend of the Hellcat seems to have hit the mainstream. Upon parking in the AutoGuide.com garage, some construction workers noticed the Charger SRT and immediately asked if it was the 707-hp Charger SRT Hellcat. While that model uses a supercharged 6.2-liter V8 that makes much more power than my tester, it seems a bit excessive, because no one needs that much power.
Considering a Charger SRT 392 starts at a reasonable $52,090 including destination ($57,890 CAD), while jumping to the SRT Hellcat will set you back a whopping $68,740 ($83,435 CAD), the normal SRT 392 has more than enough power, it seems like a deal, and regular people will think it’s a Hellcat anyway!
“Please tell me you’ll do a burnout.”
I’ve been in plenty of cars and, for whatever reason, my initial reaction to the Charger SRT 392 was one of limited excitement. Returning it, though, was a tough pill to swallow. It was a mechanical bull on the easiest setting, one that’s fun and exciting without being scary and intimidating.
And people asked me to do burnouts everywhere I went. I’m always happy to oblige.