It’s not what I’d call the most American of automobiles: a product with design roots in Mercedes-Benz and Renault sedans, built straight outta Brampton, Ontario, with a Mexican engine, then sold by a company with headquarters in Amsterdam and London and a majority shareholder from Italy. Yet in actual practice, rather than theory, the Dodge Charger is a four-wheeled version of Lee Greenwood. What makes it such an American icon, exactly?
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And much like Lee Greenwood, the Dodge Charger is proud to be Canadian.
A 2015+ Charger would be my pick of the Chargers because even FCA can learn how to build a car after a decade, and a 2015+ Charger gets you the world-class ZF 8-speed automatic for the V8 Chargers.
The alternatives that I will suggest for the LW are an MB W212 E550, and a 2nd-gen Cadillac CTS-V. The W212 was a true return to form for the E-Class, and DIY labor will save you a lot of money. I have more faith in a W212 lasting than I do a Charger. But you still have to pay German parts costs, Airmatic is a known failure point on the E550s, and I don't know if an E-Class will satisfy the LW even with a visit to AMR or Weistec. As far as the CTS-V, it will handle better than the Charger, and I prefer its motor. You also have access to the LS aftermarket which can really make a CTS-V sing.
A 3rd-gen CTS V-Sport would be on the list too if not for the LW's desire to ride into Valhalla, shiny and chrome. As far as the V8 Genesis G80, while it would be on my shortlist, it doesn't have the drama of the Charger.
Drift? A Camry? The art of purposely over applying power to the rear wheels and and using throttle response to "steer" through a corner. Who writes to which he has no knowledge?
Not all of the original "drifting" was done in RWD cars, and much of it remains handbrake-initiated to this day, even in pro competition. It's remarkably easy to get a Camry sideways on a racetrack, even without using the footbrake. Weight transfer via throttle is the key. Using this technique in abundance, I can run Summit Shenandoah in 1:54 in a 2012 Camry SE on all-seasons, with passengers.
As far as who I am: I'm just zis guy, you know? But I'm also the fellow who holds two NASA fastest-lap records in FWD cars and who has a framed check from the Grand American Road Racing Associaton, earned in an FWD car, right next to a shelf of trophies earned in FWD cars, including one mixed-class race at Mid-Ohio where I beat seven S197 and SN95 Mustangs, plus one Corvette, using a Honda Civic DX. 🙂
I bought a 2016 RT brand new for 26.9k the last week of December. I’ve read just about every review possible and evidently the ZF transmission from 2015 on lowered the 0-60 times at least a second. Car and Driver has seen 4.9 seconds, maybe 5.1 if they didn’t delineate between the RT and RTRT. Either way 13.6 quarter mile times is standard across the board. Interestingly I found a list of all the sixties and seventies “muscle cars” ranked by quarter mile times with a production Cobra at the top of the list and Corvettes mixed in there, which I consider better than muscle cars, but a 13.6 quarter mile time slots in at position 18. It’s like the golden era again but mine takes corners better than anything I’ve ever driven except for very lightweight cars.
With nearly every new article, I find myself struggling to find the subject of it.
You’re certainly possessed of a certain style, and it’s served in maintaining your reader-base.
Today’s article, purportedly about Toyota Camrys, quickly diverged towards Dodge Chargers; a comparison/connection that's tenuous, at best.
Your columns fall under the the category of “Advice”, yet hardly any that’s useful is actually given.
I’m sorry to sound somewhat harsh here, but to me, it appears that you’re playing to an extremely limited base.
I wish I were in there.
I’d stay away from anything FCA and choose something w a little more character like a ‘94-‘96 Impala. Ideally I’d keep the Camry for the daily grind and save some dough for a really fun weekend machine, like a Honda S2000 or a C4/C5 Corvette.
Thanks for posting this Jack. In regards to reliability, I guess I simply hold the Camry to a different standard. I know how good the old ones hold up: I was running a '96 ES300 as a winter beater a few years back, the original struts finally started to get noisy.. .at 209k miles. Ditto the paint, my '96 4Runner has barely any stone chips that penetrated past the E-coat in 24 years of use, the Camry had rusting stone chips after the second winter. Also, this early run of 2012-2014ish Camrys have had some issues with torque converters. Toyota started "pulsing" the converter on/off rapidly as a way to give partial lockup at lower speeds to improve fuel economy and give a more direct feel as it lugs the engine down to 1200rpm around town. Some torque converters started shredding themselves, Toyota extended the warranty out to 8yrs/150k miles, ours just aged out this month, and is showing some very slight early signs of low speed locked-torque converter "rumble" (could just be my paranoia too). So all of the glaring decontenting in terms of material quality on our 2012 have drive me nuts since day one. A Chrysler product needing balljoints by 75k miles? That's simply part of the deal and I won't mind banging that job out in my garage on a nice weekend. Maybe a weird mentality to have but there you have it.
At the far end of the "tinker with something fun" scale, I'd been dreaming of an old G-body to build a decent street 350 for. But even I'm not crazy enough to pitch that as a safe/reliable conveyance for daycare runs and for my wife to use in a pinch. I really wish there was something modernish and child seat friendly-ish with a V8 that didn't clock in at 4000lb+. A modern day Monte SS based on the Camaro with a more upright greenhouse, basically. A Charger is still at the top of the list, but I might just at least try to see what it's like to put my son in the back seat of a Challenger.
Ex-cop Pursuit model is intriguing, 8spd trans at a very nice pricepoint, I'd even get some steel wheels and a column shifter! But like many, I associate people that drive ex-cop Chargers with "nutjob cop impersonator"
Just FYI-the cop Charger never adopted the ZF 8 speed (to this day even). Nobody can (or will) tell me why but my guess is that the old 5 speed is cheaper and avoids the updates to the steering column shift the upgrade would entail.
Great article Jack! Always enjoy reading your take on things...
Although not a Charger, I had a brutal 3 year relationship with a 2006 Dodge Magnum R/T AWD...her name was Bertha...by the end of our fling, she had more names than that. Understanding Grisha likes to tinker, with that generation of LX platform, you will do more than that (read blood, sweat, tears, rust, marriage counselling, oh and a hard hit to your savings).
When she ran right, she was awesome. She spent the same amount of time being repaired than she did giving me miles of smiles. More often than not, she was a nasty heartbreaker. Earlier this year, after much mental anguish and admitted defeat, I traded her in on a gently used '18 Dodge Durango R/T with the 5.7 and a s--t ton of warranty...
Like Hagerty always recommends, buy the best you can buy with the $$$ you have.
You will love the 5.7...plenty of power, likes the gas stations if you do a lot of stop and go. That was the only thing on the Magnum that did not give me headaches, I could average under 10 litres/per 100km on highway trips and mine had over 180,000km when we parted ways.
There's so many aftermarket goodies available to put your own stank on the newer models too, my two cents says go that way. Best of luck Grisha!
I own a genuine miracle I guess-a 2012 Charger R/T with 100K. One strut, an evap vent, and the dreaded blend air door actuator repair, that’s it. Still tight and rattle free. And no, it’s not a garage queen. It’s my wife’s daily driving appliance and has been treated as such.
BTW-avoid used cop cars unless you’re interested in an engine swap. Idle time adds a huge number of mileage equivalent wear. Ford estimates 30 miles per idle hour, and we probably idle half the time. We have cars with 100K but 17000 Engine hours, which works out to about 340K in miles. Add in the stark interiors with the dead-flat cop seats and you gotta figure a civilian Charger is the better bet.