First drive: 2015 Dodge Charger V6, R/T and Pursuit in Washington D.C. USA (video)
With all the hype over the Dodge Charger Hellcat, people seem to have forgotten that there is an entire range of 2015 Charger sedans positioned below it. At the end of the day, the biggest sellers are going to be the Charger V6 and Charger R/T models, and while everyone was busy playing with the SRTs like little kids, we snuck out with the “regular” Chargers for a spin during our recent trip to the United States. Heck, we even drove the police “Pursuit” model as well.
The 2015 Charger looks like it got a simple facelift, but apparently every body panel, except the roof and rear doors, has been changed. New features include reshaped diffused LED running lamps and tail lights, as well as a more angled crease on the front door. Whether the new face is a success is a matter of personal taste, but it looks aggressive enough with the darkened headlights.
The interior is largely unchanged, although the previous one was perfectly fine to begin with. The only obvious is new feature is the standard LCD gauge-cluster. Also, the electronic gear-shifter action has been simplified. Most upper surfaces are covered in soft-touch materials or upholstery, whether cloth or leather, with further premium touches such as cloth on the pillars and metallic trim on the dash.
The class-leading UConnect multimedia touchscreen carries over unchanged, and is available in everything but the most basic trims.
The full-size Charger is nicely spacious inside too, although only a little more so than a typical midsize sedan. The boot is generously proportioned, while there are enough cup-holders and pockets inside.
The 2015 Charger V6 feels a lot like the outgoing version, precisely because it continues with the 292 hp 3.6-litre V6 and 8-speed automatic combo. A Rallye package adds a sportier look and bumps up the power to 300 hp using freer-flowing air-intake and exhaust systems. But as before, the acceleration feels entirely adequate rather than fast, with seamless shifts and a smooth quiet ride.
Handling is also as good as it was before, with no more than moderate body roll in sharp turns and no bounciness whatsoever. The brake feel is good, while the new electric power steering offers a smidge of artificial-feeling feedback and a nice level of firmness.
The 2015 Charger R/T also gets a carryover engine, namely the 370 hp 5.7-litre V8 with fuel-saving cylinder-deactivation tech, but now benefits from the 8-speed automatic as well, replacing the old 5-speed. Any improvements in acceleration aren’t readily apparent, but it offers up a nice initial kick followed by a gradual ramp-up of speed.
It’s just as smooth and quiet a highway cruiser as the V6 version, with similar steering, handling and brakes, only with a nice V8 growl on every stomp of the throttle. It’s also a heck of a lot of fun at U-turns and on dirt trails, as it likes go drifty-drifty with the ESP off.
The 2015 Charger Pursuit is the police version of the R/T, but it can also be had with a V6. The most obvious differences from the regular car include the high-profile tyres on smaller steel wheels and a flat featureless centre-console to hold police computers and other gadgetry, moving the shifter up to the steering column. For that last reason, the transmission is the old 5-speed automatic.
We drove it around a racetrack and the handling feels noticeably softer, likely the effect of the fatter tyres as well as the extra weight of police equipment such as lights and sirens, a bigger battery and power distribution centre, ballistic door panels and steel seat-back inserts. Otherwise, we assume, it is likely the best-handling American police sedan around.
The 2015 Dodge Charger continues to be the most bang for the buck in its segment, better than ever with upgrades such as the new gearbox to go with the meaty engine choices, rear-wheel-drive, smooth quiet ride, good handling and class-leading interior. If you’re in the market for an affordable full-size sedan, there’s no car better, and we’re not even talking about the insane Charger SRT models.
For detailed specs, visit the Dodge buyer guide.