Many sedans have ramped up their aggressive styling in recent years, but few deliver it with as much swagger as the 2017 Dodge Charger, which offers powerful engine options, a sporty real-wheel drive layout, and an all-wheel-drive capable setup.
The Charger’s robust exterior includes futuristic headlights and a taillight array spanning the aft. Available trim options are the Daytona, Scat Pack, and Hellcat, which come in colors like Yellow Jacket, ToRed, Octane Red, Go Mango, Destroyer Grey, and Contusion Blue (seriously). Many of the bells and whistles are inspired by the automaker’s performance background, and the Rallye name also pays homage to the Charger’s heritage — it’s the trim that replaced the R/T in 1972.
The Rallye is a restrained form of racy that features the front-end styling of the R/T trim, as well as its gloss black grille, 20-inch wheels (19 inches for the all-wheel-drive model), rear spoiler, and sport suspension.
Inside, the Charger’s dash layout is one of the most intuitive among sedans. At the heart of that dash is the latest iteration of the Uconnect infotainment system, which features Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration and an easy-to-use installation process.
Our test model also came with heated and cooled seats, a heated steering wheel, and a remote starter, all key items that conspire with all-wheel drive to make the Charger a decent option for braving rough New England winters.
The base engine in the Charger is a 3.6-liter V6 that makes 292 horsepower. When you select the Rallye package, output increases to an even 300 horsepower. Additionally, there are three V8 engines to choose from, starting with the 370-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 found in the R/T. SRT and 392 models come with a 6.4-liter V8 making 485 horsepower, while the range-topping Charger Hellcat comes with a supercharged 6.4-liter V8 that makes a staggering 707 horsepower.
All engines send power to through an eight-speed automatic transmission, striking a blend of power management while maximizing efficiency — at least as much as can fit in a 392-cubic-inch V8.
Rear-wheel drive is standard across the lineup, while the V6 is available with all-wheel drive, like our test model. This gives the Charger added traction in the winter, but the added drivetrain components result in a large hump that cuts into front passenger legroom.
Our test model came with paddle shifters as well as a tap-shift function on the shifter. A Sport mode button livens up the throttle response and shift mapping, but the button is located on the dash. It would be more intuitive if placed near the shifter, or — even better — on the steering wheel for power-on-demand.
The Charger delivers great acceleration and strong brakes. Given Rallye’s sport suspension, we would have expected less body roll. It doesn’t inspire confidence while cornering at higher speeds.
Our test model also came equipped with adaptive cruise control and LaneSense, which is an advanced lane-keeping system. It uses a camera to look at the road ahead. If you drift out of your lane, the system applies a slight adjustment in the steering wheel. These systems can be intrusive, but Dodge’s version is subtle enough.
The 2017 Dodge Charger starts at $27,995 for a base SE trim. The SXT trim starts at $29,995, and a V8-powered R/T trim starts at $34,895. The Rallye model we drove is based on the SXT, and is a $1,695 package. The black roof was another $1,000. Factor in those options and the available all-wheel drive (a $5,995 package that includes the safety tech and many of the other in-cabin goodies), and our test model clocked in at $41,180.
Engine: 3.6-liter V6
Transmission: 8-speed automatic transmission
Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
Power: 300 horsepower
Miles per gallon: 18 city / 27 highway/ 21 combined
Also Consider: Buick LaCrosse, Ford Taurus, Chevrolet Impala