2011-2014 Dodge Charger: The muscle (family) car

The 2011 Dodge Charger brought more classic late-1960s Dodge Charger styling cues to the family/muscle car; it kept its unibody construction, rear wheel drive (with optional all wheel drive), and choice of V6 or V8 engines, all hooked up to automatic transmissions.

Exciting powertrain changes took place at the top and bottom: the base engine gained 42 horsepower with a new 292 horsepower V6, and was hooked up (starting with the 2012 model year) to a fast-shifting 8-speed automatic. That meant it could be rated at 21 mpg city, 31 mpg highway - yet zoom from 0 to 60 in a mere 6.6 seconds. [Dodge Charger and other reviews and test drives] The SRT Hemi had an impressive boost, too: 45 hp, 50 lb-ft, and 1 mpg city (4 mpg highway) thanks to cylinder deactivation - cutting off four cylinders when they weren't needed. The 5.7 Hemi had the same feature; the old 6.1 V8 used in 2010 did not.

The Dodge Charger SRT8, with 470 horsepower from its 6.4 liter V8, and the Dodge Charger Fast Five Edition, Dodge Charger Blacktop, and Mopar '11 Charger all had different looks and features. The 2012 Dodge Charger Blacktop, sold in SXT or SXT Plus form, could be ordered in black, tungsten, or bright silver; it had sport seats (cloth or leather), 20-inch gloss-black aluminum wheels, a gloss black grille, 506-watt stereo with 9 speakers including subwoofer, paddle shifters, and sport mode (which changes transmission shift points).

Base Hemi gas mileage was boosted slightly (not enough to alter EPA numbers) by cutting all fuel to the engine when it wasn't needed - around 5% - 8% of the time the Charger was moving, according to Police Fleet Manager.

2014 market research showed that 27% of buyers did not cross-shop the Dodge Charger; 24% also looked at Challenger, 22% at Camaro, and 20% at 300. The Charger was seen as adventurous, aggressive, and exciting. The Charger had the highest large-car retail share in 2013, at 14%. Retail sales growth was 85% in 2011, 43% in 2012, and 11% in 2013.

Compared with the 2010 Charger, the 2011-14 had better aerodynamics, with a lower hood line, faster windshield, raked headlights, tighter wheel openings, lower sill, and flat underbody. Insiders told us that the front suspension was changed as much as they reasonably could, to lighten and liven up the steering feel and handling. The springs and struts were also retuned, for the same reason; the 2011-14 Charger felt considerably lighter than the first generation, though it wasn't.

The aluminum hood gained dual scallops, and the side profile clearly showed a "Coke bottle" or "double-diamond" styling influence. A new tail lamp design used 164 LEDs to form a "racetrack" graphic. All of these changes drew upon second-generation Charger (1968-70) styling cues.

Dodge Charger engineers tuned the cabin for sound quality rather than sound level; the car had dual-pane acoustic windshield and front-door side glass, body-cavity silencing foam, under-flush roll-framed doors with triple seals, and acoustic wheel-well liners, garnering among the best sound quality in mainstream large cars.

On AWD cars, 19-inch wheels were standard, with an active transfer case and front-axle disconnect system that improve fuel economy by up to 5%. When all-wheel drive was not required, the system automatically disconnected the front axle (using a clutch); in cold weather, it started out in all wheel drive until it detected the absence of wheel slip.

The 2011 Dodge Charger's interior materials were upgraded; a new thick-rimmed three-spoke steering wheel had better grip and four color combinations all had soft touch surfaces. 

The 2011 Dodge Charger had the webbing covered with a layer of firm foam, then a layer of memory foam.

Safety and security features included standard Keyless Enter-N-Go and stability control, with segment-exclusive Ready-alert Braking and Rainy Day Brake Support; new options included adaptive-cruise control with forward-collision warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross path detection, and a back-up camera with grid lines.

While slightly less powerful than the same engine in the 2011 Dodge Challenger, the Pentastar V6 was far more powerful and quieter than the 250 horsepower 3.5 liter, with better gas mileage; and had better acceleration than most of the "original" Dodge Charger V8 cars could provide.

Problems with this generation of the Charger included interior rattles, head failure on a small number of V6 cars which was addressed fairly quickly, and a moderately high failure rate (covered by warranty) on UConnect modules.

The Charger was made at the Brampton Assembly Plant in Brampton, Ontario, alongside the Chrysler 300C, Dodge Challenger, and Lancia Thema.

For 2013, the Charger gained a black roof option, with cold air induction and tuned exhaust on Rallye and Blacktop V6 cars, raising output to 300 hp. Navigation system graphics were upgraded. New colors were Billet Metallic, Granite Crystal Pearl, Jazz Blue, Ivory Tri-Coat Pearl, Copperhead Metallic, and Phantom Black Tri-Coat Pearl. Dodge Charger Daytona returned. The Dodge Charger Sport had the 300-hp V6, spoiler, 19-inch wheels, black grille, spoiler, paddle shifters, Sport mode, Beats Audio, and special leather on Plus.

The 2014 Charger Redline had 20-inch black chrome wheels with a red lip, Beats audio, and a V-6 with sport mode, cold-air induction, and tuned exhaust, raising output to 300 horsepower. New colors were Header Orange, TorRed, and Plum Crazy.

 

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