by John Tallodi
Accomplished full-size performance sedans are a dime a dozen these days, but when it comes to customizability, driving excitement and big V8 engines, the Dodge Charger has them all beat.
There are more sensible options in the range than the Charger SRT 392, but this big V8 beast slots in one level below the range-topping Hellcat and offers a blend of power and practicality that could make it the pick of the range. For 2018 this big sedan continues with minor trim and option changes.
Step into the Charger and it is immediately apparent that the development money was not spent in the cabin. The overall look and feel of the dashboard and controls is fine although the acres of plastic and certain materials feel a bit sub-par. Competitors may offer better quality interiors but at this level none can match the Charger’s price/performance ratio.
The interior space is huge however, the front seats offer great support and you would have to be transporting NBA players in the rear before you would start getting complaints about a lack of head and leg room. The trunk too is big with a wide opening to make packing in bulky objects hassle free.
The quality of the switchgear and other trivial issues are quickly forgotten when you take the SRT by the scruff of the neck and drive it as the manufacturer intended. The big sedan feels taut and alive as it tackles mountain passes, the suspension keeps the heavy chassis planted and there is an impressive level of body control even in extreme driving situations.
Ride quality is firm though and it only gets harder the more performance upgrades you spec for your Charger.
The Dodge Charger SRT 392 comes equipped with a 6.4-liter V8 pumping out 485 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque. It sends its power to the rear wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The big naturally aspirated (no turbocharger) V8 provides strong torque delivery from very low down and never feels anything but rapid, it rips to 60 mph in well under 5-seconds and delivers superlative overtaking performance too.
The market for big American V8 sedans is fast dwindling thanks to the move towards downsizing and more efficient engines but the consumption figures of 15/25 mpg in city/highway driving are commendable for the power available although unlikely to be achieved if the SRT is driven as intended.
The SRT 392 comes very well equipped, featuring most of the items on lower trim levels such as rear parking sensors with rearview camera, power front seats with heating and ventilation and an 8.4-inch touchscreen.
It also adds an adaptive suspension, upgraded brakes, leather interior, navigation system and safety items such as rear-cross traffic alert and blind spot monitoring systems.
The available Technology Group Package is well worth a look and includes adaptive cruise control, advanced brake assist, automatic high beam headlamp control, lane departure warning with lane keep assist and forward collision warning systems, rain sensitive windshield wipers and a power tilt/telescope steering column.
A Harman Kardon Audio Group Package adds a 19-speaker audio system and amplifier. Various bright paint schemes can be chosen with names like Yellow Jacket, Contusion Blue and Octane Red. A black painted roof and power sunroof are also available as a stand-alone options.
When it comes to dollar per horsepower you will have to go a long way to beat the Dodge Charger SRT, it may be a bit lacking in cabin material quality but there is ample space for five occupants and specification levels are excellent too.
Add to this performance levels that are well above the class average and shoppers hankering after some old-school American muscle will be very satisfied.