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2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 Review – Fast Company

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Filed under Automotive, Dodge, Featured, SRT, Test Drives

‘MORE POWER, PERFORMANCE, AND LUXURY’

I love the all-new 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8, the perfect family sedan for enthusiasts who need a larger sedan but also love to drive a real supercar when alone and driving on the backroads.  This newly refined Charger SRT8 has a dual personality with more power and performance mixed with new levels of luxury and infotainment.

The all-new Charger STR8 is new on the outside, inside and under the skin.  This includes a new 6.4 liter HEMI VVT V8 engine that delivers 470 hp at 6,000 rpm and 470 lb.ft. of toque at 4,300 rpm across a significantly wider rpm range; new fuel saver technology with an all-new active valve exhaust system that improves fuel efficiency by 21% on the highway, a new exclusive SRT heated steering wheel that features mounted aluminum paddle shifter for hands on the wheel shifting both on road and at the race track; a two-mode adaptive damping suspension that allows for selectable suspension tuning and also automatically adapts to road and driver inputs for optimal vehicle control; plus a 19-speaker Harman-Kardon audio system with innovative GreenEdge technology standard with 900 watts of power.

This all-new Charger SRT8 is a real supercar with performance numbers to back it up-0-60 mph in the middle 4 sec. range; quarter mile in the high 12 sec. range; 0-100-0 mph in less than 16 sec.; a top speed over 175 mph, and stopping power from 60-0 mph in 120 ft.  That’s not bad for a full-size sedan weighing 4,365 lbs.  I love it!

Even with the elevated power numbers, a 21% fuel economy increase (up to 23 mpg) on the highway is achieved by use of a new-for-2012 active valve exhaust system that allows the standard Fuel Saver Technology (four-cylinder mode) to engage over a wider rpm range for improved efficiency or the use of all eight cylinders when the extra power is needed.  The 2.75 in. stainless steel pipes are part of the new active valve exhaust system that also allows for straight through mid and rear mufflers for a throaty exhaust note under engine load. The all-new Charger SRT8 also features an active intake manifold and high-lift camshaft with cam phasing to provide maximum low-end torque, including an additional 80 lb.ft. of torque at 2,900 rpm for strong standing starts while optimizing high-end power.

The proven five-speed automatic transmission is a joy to use and features new standard wheel mounted paddle shifters that join the center console mounted leather-wrapped AutoStick shifter, allowing for a choice of spirited shifting on both the road and at the race track.  Both methods give you the ability to manually select specific gears on the transmission and get the most from staying in high rpm’s to rocket out or decelerate to slow down quickly.

In ‘Drive’ the transmission controller will automatically shift the vehicle.  The aggressiveness of the shifting is defined by the mode chose-either ‘Normal’ or ‘Sport’.  Fully adaptive electronic control of all shifting makes the powertrain more responsive while minimizing harshness.  In ‘Manual’ the shift method is defined by you choosing to use either paddle shift or AutoStick.  The ‘Sport’ mode adds a hold function to the calibration in all gears, allowing you to have full control of the shifting schedule.

Racecar handling precision is made possible by the new SRT tuned, standard adaptive damping system (ADS), fully independent suspension system.  The ADS system uses a wide range of on-road and driver inputs, such as vehicle speed, steering angle, steering speed, brake torque, throttle position and lateral acceleration, to automatically tune the suspension for specific conditions.  When you manually choose between the ‘Auto’ and ‘Sport’ settings, the shock damping characteristics are quickly changed from an everyday performance ride to a much firmer race track capable damping for more challenging driving situations.  Beside the ADS system, the front suspension includes a SLA setup with high upper ‘A’ arms, coil over Bilstein gas-charged shocks for the ADS system, 30mm solid stabilizer bar and lateral and diagonal links.  The independent five-link rear features the same ADS coil over Bilstein gas-charged shocks for the ADS system, 18mm link-type stabilizer bar, and an isolated suspension cradle to keep noise, vibration and harshness to a minimum.  The standard Getrag limited slip differential puts the power down. You guide the all-new Charger SRT8 through its paces with a performance SRT-tuned full hydraulic steering system that is improved with a new, heavy-duty pump and revised gearing to give you a more direct feel, a great feel for the road surface and on-center feel.  Just a small tug on the leather-wrapped/satin-chrome/heated/power tilt/telescoping steering wheel moves the front wheels.  It is so responsive and precise.  Maximum handling rating on the skidpad is .88g.

Quickly and safely slowing the Charger SRT8 down from speed are world-class brakes.  Up front are 14.2 in. with 13.8 in. rear, vented/slotted rotors with four-piston Brembo calipers painted red in aluminum housings.  Improved brake cooling and fade free performance at all four-corners comes courtesy of a new underbody belly pan with integrated brake ducting.  The ‘Ready Alert Braking’ system anticipates when you quickly release the accelerator pedal and may initiate an emergency brake stop.  The electronic stability control pump then engages to set the brake pads against the rotors, speed up the time required for full brake application.

The all-new 2012 Charger SRT8 rides on stunning 20X9 in. lightweight, forged and polished aluminum wheels with black painted pockets.  They are wrapped with super-high-performance 245/45ZR20 in. Goodyear F1 Supercar tires for incredible grip and a smooth, quiet ride.

World class power and performance is augmented with world-class high-performance exterior styling on the all-new 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8.  There is no mistaking the high-performance look of the all-new Charger SRT8 through the exclusive high-gloss ‘wide-mouth’ black front grille surround, Dodge crosshair next to the signature SRT badge and the 6.4 liter HEMI badges on each fender.  Cat’s-eye HID headlamp clusters light up the night and foglamps at each end of the splitter add aggressive good looks.  A new for 2012 performance-sculpted hood features a black air exhauster for added engine cooling.  From the side are beautiful wide scallops that start at the end of the rear doors and finish at the front doors for even more aggressive good looks.  The greenhouse gets a full-perimeter ‘blacked-out’ strip to give it a ‘bad-boy’ look instead of a chrome strip.  Deep side extensions help to reduce the center of gravity for added stability and handling.  In the rear Charger SRT8’s new signature ‘race track’ taillamp design with 164 illuminating LED’s that sit just below a new rear spoiler.  New 4 in. round dual exhaust tips are positioned inside of the new rear fascia that includes a new diffuser to help better manage air exiting the rear.  The SRT8 decklid badge boldly shows the Street and Racing Technology DNA.

The all-new interior is roomy, luxurious, with race inspired technology and design cues, world-class accommodations plus the latest in infotainment and high-tech goodies.  This interior is online with any real full-size super sedan in terms of passenger room and convenience.  An all-new leather-wrapped SRT-exclusive steering wheel features a unique satin chrome rim section with a flattened bottom surface that showcases the SRT logo.  The standard paddle shifters flank both side of the new steering wheel behind the new contoured palm rests.  For the high-performance look, Dark Engine Turn fiber aluminum interior trim pieces are integrated into the new instrument panel, center console and shifter bezel.  Real aluminum trim can be found on the dashboard, center console and door trim.  The instrument cluster is black with beautiful orange pointed needles around a 7,000 rpm tachometer and 180 mph speedometer.  Smaller gauges below register the fuel onboard and engine coolant temperature.  Aluminum with rubber inserts give the foot pedals another racecar cue.  Both front bucket seats are 10-way powered with power lumbar support and have unique, aggressive bolstering under the Nappa leather and Axis perforated suede insert fabric to help ‘grip’ you and your passengers, keeping them in place during spirited driving times.  Front seats are also heated and ventilated and have the SRT logo embroidered in the seatbacks.  Modified door trim panels feature unique bolster material that matches the seats. Rear seats are also heated and have a pull-down armrest with dual cupholders and storage.

The new full-color graphic Electronic Vehicle Information Center (EVIC) with exclusive Performance Pages includes timers for 0-60 mph, one-eight mile and quarter-mile times, 60-0 braking distance, along with lateral and longitudinal g-forces within the touchscreen display.  A great extra to check out you and the car’s racing abilities.

The new instrument panel’s 8.4 in. color touchscreen display-the segment’s largest standard display-also has all the same Performance Pages data as the EVIC, and is further expanded to include steering wheel angle, horsepower and torque outputs along with engine gauges.  The display is customizable to a driver selectable background.  Also new for 2012 is a standard 900-watt, 19-speaker premium SRT performance audio surround-sound system from Harman Kardon.  The system offers world premiere innovation, featuring a 32-volt TPS (Tracking Power Supply) 12-channel Class D amplifier that delivers outstanding acoustics and brings multi-dimensional, quality sound for all-interior occupants.  The new system uses GreenEdge speaker and amplifier technology to offer superior sound quality and high Sound Pressure Level outputs with minimum energy consumption.  GreenEdge amplifiers alone outperform traditional amplifier efficiency by up to 55%, representing a net efficiency of more than 90% in some cases.  The speakers are tuned for maximum efficiency and perfectly matched to the amplifier output.

The intuitive user interface for the system is controlled through the state-of-the-art Uconnect Touch on the largest standard touchscreen display in the segment.  Benchmarked against the best E-segment sedans from Europe, Asia and North America, the easy-to-use system also features Uconnect Voice to deliver world-class functionality to keep all passengers easily connected, comfortable and secure.  The Uconnect Touch system has been upgraded for 2012 adding handsfree texting with compatible Bluetooth devices, voice commands for Garmin navigation, Sirius Traffic and more iPod control features to expand on the system’s connectivity and convenience technologies.

The new Charger SRT8 features more than 65 advanced safety and security features, including standard keyless entry, Enter-N-Go and electronic stability control with segment-exclusive Ready Alert Braking and Rain Brake Support safety features to improve overall vehicle handling and performance.

In addition, standard front-row head restraints, standard full-length side-curtain airbags, driver’s knee airbag and standard front seat-mounted side-thorax airbags offer enhanced occupant protection to passengers in the event of a collision.  The available Driver Confidence Group that my test SRT8 came with includes Blind Spot Monitoring, Forward Collision Warning with Sonar Cruise Control, Rear Cross Path detection and Smart Beam headlamps.

Standard features not mentioned above include A/C and dual-zone climate control, auto-dimming rearview mirror, heated/power-remote sideview mirrors, heated/cooled front console cupholders, capless fuel filler, map pockets behind the front seatbacks, power pedal adjustment, remote trunk release, remote fuel filler door release, dual map lamps, grab handles above each door, rain-sensing wipers/washers, lighted, dual vanity mirrors, storage slots in each door, power windows/door locks with front express up/down, rear reading lamps, thick cut-pile carpeting and front/rear/cargo floor mats.

The all-new 2012 Dodge Charger is one of the world’s great super-high-performing full-size sedans and with a base price of just $45,795.00 and $50,260.00 fully loaded, the best priced of all.

It is my pick for the best all-around super-high-performance full-size sedan in the world!

COPYRIGHT: 2012: HARVEY SCHWARTZ

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Price: Base Charger SRT8 $45,795 As-Tested Charger SRT8 $50,260
  • Engine: 6.4-liter HEMI 392 V8 470 horsepower @ 6000rpm / 470 ft-lbs. torque @ 4300rpm
  • Wheelbase: 120.2 in.
  • Total length: 200.3 in.
  • Total width: 74.2 in.
  • Total height: 58.2 in.
  • Track: f/r-63.4/63.1 in.
  • Ground clearance: 4.37 in.
  • Fuel tank: 19.1 gallons
  • Headroom: f/r-38.6/36.0 in. with sunroof
  • Legroom: f/r-41.8/40.1 in.
  • EPA interior volume: 106.3 cu.ft.
  • Trunk volume: 16.3 cu.ft.
  • Curb weight: 4,365 lbs.
  • 0-60 mph: 4.5 seconds
  • EPA mileage: 14mpg/city, 23mpg/highway

 

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