2015 Dodge Charger
By Tony Swan
On Sale: Fall 2014
Expected Pricing: Starting around $26,000
For a car to merit the all-new label, its makeover should include structure and engines, as well as the elements the prospective buyer can see and touch.
By that standard, the 2015 Dodge Charger rates as an extensive freshening. There are new aluminum axles and axle housings, but the chassis is otherwise unchanged and the engines, the basic 3.6-liter V6 (292 horsepower, 260 pound-feet of torque) and optional 5.7-liter Hemi V8 (370 hp, 395 lb-ft, available with R/T and R/T Road & Track models), are carryover. With the V6, the 2015 Charger is EPA-rated for 31 mpg Highway, best in class, according to Dodge.
A new supercharged Hemi is anticipated, as is a higher performance SRT model from Chrysler's in-house hot rod shop, but neither was part of the Dodge presentation at April's New York International Auto Show.
But there is one significant power delivery addition: Chrysler's 8-speed automatic transmission becomes a standard feature with the Hemi V8, as well as the V6, and is the only transmission offered. All-wheel drive continues to be available, and features a new active transfer case that automatically disconnects the front axle when it's not needed. Dodge claims this feature can improve fuel economy by up to 5 percent.
However, if the engines are familiar, the sheetmetal is almost all new: grille, headlights, hood, fenders, and rear fascia. The roof and rear doors are the only exterior panels that survive, although the base of the rearmost roof pillar has been angled aft, giving the rear window a faster slope and visually reducing the rear overhang.
Other new exterior details include projector beam headlamps, LED fog lamps, a three-piece rear spoiler (standard on R/T models), redesigned center high-mounted stop lamp, and Dodge's racetrack LED taillight array spanning the entire rear end. The wheels are also new for all four trim levels, with six different 20-inch styles, including a forged aluminum set, 20 x 9 inches.
The overall design goal was to preserve the Charger's muscle car aura of power while simultaneously making it appear smaller and lighter, even though the 2015 Charger dimensions are almost exactly the same as those of the current (outgoing) car. Response to the visual sleight-of-hand remains to be seen; this is still a full-size sedan and looks like it. But the new Charger does sustain the powerful presence that has distinguished this car since its 2006 introduction. Dodge cites the 1969 Charger as the inspiration for the 2015 redesign, from the heyday of the muscle car era. Never mind that the '69 Chargers were coupes.
The all-new interior includes new seats, extensive soft touch material on the dash, center console, and door panels, with eight different trim packages, including cloth and leather upholstery choices.
The sporty three-spoke steering wheel is new, backed by paddle shifters (optional). A new electronic feature delivers brisk shift times, 400 milliseconds, according to Dodge, diminishing to 250 milliseconds in sport mode, which also holds the selected gear to redline. Sporty also applies to the electronic power steering, updated to provide three modes, normal, comfort, and sport, that vary effort to suit the driver's mood.
New telematics abound in the 2015 Dodge Charger. A standard 7-inch TFT (thin film transistor) programmable screen nestles between the speedometer and tachometer, with programmable info including Dodge Performance Pages. The new center stack embraces a 5.0-inch touchscreen (standard) or 8.4-inch version (optional), with a next generation radio and premium audio options, as well as the available nav system. Chrysler's optional Uconnect Access provides a variety of connectivity features, including a Wi-Fi hotspot and mobile apps.
New safety features include lane departure warning and lane-keeping assist; adaptive cruise control capable of a full stop and speed resumption; and forward collision Warning-Plus, which will provide autonomous braking if the driver fails to respond to the situation.
The freshened Charger will go on sale this fall as a 2015 model.