2021 Dodge Charger
2021 Dodge Charger
The 2021 Dodge Charger is Dodge’s full-size sedan, and it returns for the new year with more power than ever before.
How much more power? Try 797 horsepower on for size in the Redeye. That’s 80 more horses than the brand’s already-bonkers 717-hp, 6.2-liter supercharged V-8 known as the Hellcat. The Redeye starts with the Hellcat, and takes it further with mechanical upgrades that include a bigger supercharger, more boost, and an increased redline. The Redeye also gets a mandatory widebody kit.
From there, the Charger family drops horsepower and gains practicality, bit by bit. The Redeye sits atop the SRT Hellcat, with its 0-60 mph time of 3.6 seconds and its gas mileage of just 13/22/16 mpg.
Then there’s the Scat Pack, which uses a naturally-aspirated 6.4-liter V-8 that makes a not-insubstantial 485 horsepower. It can do 0-60 mph in 4.3 seconds, and with a gentler approach it should return 15/24/18 mpg.
The most approachable and popular of the V-8 models has the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8. It must make do with just 370 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque, but still can get up to 60 mph in under six seconds. Unsurprisingly, it returns the best gas mileage out of the four V-8s here: 16/25/19 mpg.
All the V-8 models use an 8-speed automatic and are strictly rear-wheel drive. Getting all-wheel drive requires sticking with the base 292-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 that comes with the SXT and GT trims. At 19/30/23 mpg in rear-drive form or 18/27/21 mpg with all-wheel drive, the V-6 is the most efficient Charger available.
Safety equipment includes standard rear parking sensors. Other features like adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking cost extra.
The NHTSA gave the Charger five stars overall.
All prices include applicable destination charges.
The cheapest Charger is the V-6-powered SXT, which costs $31,490. Among its included features are 17-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery, remote start, keyless entry, an eight-way power driver’s seat, dual-zone climate control, and a 7.0-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The $33,490 GT is the only other trim to use the V-6. It adds an 8.4-inch touchscreen, upgraded cloth upholstery, a performance suspension, paddle shifters, sculpted side sills, and 20-inch wheels.
The cheapest V-8 is the $38,490 R/T. It is similarly equipped to the GT, but also gets a dual-mode exhaust, a leather-wrapped and flat-bottomed steering wheel, and forged 20-inch wheels.
For $42,590 buyers can scoop up a Scat Pack. Besides its 485-hp engine, the Scat Pack gets a sport-tuned suspension, heated front seats, bigger Brembo brakes, and launch control.
The $71,490 SRT Hellcat is the cheapest way into the 700-plus horsepower club. Among its standard features: six-piston Brembo front brakes, an adaptive suspension, performance-tuned steering, blind-spot monitors, heated rear seats, and a leather-wrapped and flat-bottomed steering wheel.
The $80,090 SRT Hellcat Redeye tops the range. It is equipped like the standard Hellcat but uses the 797-hp variant of the 6.2-liter supercharged V-8.
The Charger has become synonymous with cheap speed. The only Charger that can get away looking anonymous is the base SXT, with its plainer front and rear ends and 17-inch wheels. Every other model looks the part of a go-fast sedan. Spoilers and graphics of some sort are standard fare. Hood scoop and aggressive fascias scale up from size small to XXL. The color palette consists of paint hues such as Hellraisin, Sinamon Stick, and Go Mango. If you couldn’t tell, subtlety is not on the menu here.
All this gets taken a step further with the widebody models, which border on ridiculous with their massive flared fenders and huge tires. It’s as if Dodge took inspiration from the figure cut by pro bodybuilders.
The Charger’s interior hasn’t kept pace with the updates under the hood. It’s plain and inexpensive-looking, even in versions that cost $80,000.
That said, we have nothing but praise for the Uconnect infotainment system. All models but the base trim get it in 8.4-inch guise, where it works seamlessly. Intuitive menus, easy controls, and immediate haptic response separate this system from the competition.
The Charger’s front seats are wide, mildly bolstered, and equipped with at least eight-way power adjustment. Buyers of any size won’t have trouble finding a comfortable seating position. Sportier models bring increasingly bolstered seats, but even the most aggressive of these is still agreeable for daily driving and road trip duties.
In back, the outboard passengers get plenty of space to stretch out, however, and Dodge didn’t skimp on backseat cushion comfort, either.
The Charger has 16.5 cubic feet of cargo space in its large trunk, which is more than most sedans. The rear seatbacks fold down as well for larger, bulkier items.
A good sports car inspires finesse; a good muscle car encourages juvenile behavior. The Charger is firmly in the latter category, and tempt its drivers it does. Though it can handle fairly well for its bulk, this is a beast meant for the drag strip, not the road course, even if the Hellcat and Widebody models come standard with adaptive dampers. Burnouts and peel-outs are the real order of the day.
All the engines in the Charger’s portfolio have merit, but we’d pass on the V-6 and stick with the V-8s. First up is the 5.7-liter V-8. It still strikes the best balance of power and economy of any engine in the lineup. Step on it, and it growls nicely as the 8-speed quickly snags a lower gear. Keep on it and it pulls the two-ton Charger up to illegal speeds with ease.
All these qualities are amplified with the 6.4-liter V-8 in the Scat Pack. It’s scaldingly quick, and plays a constant rock soundtrack of exhaust rumble to go with its acceleration.
The SRT Hellcat and SRT Hellcat Redeye are unbelievable on a drag strip, menacing on the street. Both share a 6.2-liter supercharged V-8; you get your choice between the 717 horsepower in the regular Hellcat or 797 horsepower in the Redeye. Even the briefest stab of the throttle in these sends the tires screaming for traction. It’s too much power, all the time—and it invariably leaves you with a silly grin after every outing.
The 2021 Dodge Charger breathes new life into the old recipe for power: more displacement. It champions big power in a big package at a relatively low price, and for that it gets our respect. Of all the models, we like the R/T for its affordable price tag, V-8 power, and good mix of features.
—by Sam Moses, with driving impressions from The Car Connection