An American icon, imported from Detroit!

2015 Dodge Charger SXT Plus AWD

Sunday Drive

By Craig and Deanne Conover

                Once again Dodge saw fit to send us what has really become an American Icon in their lineup with the Dodge Charger; it goes without saying that having a muscle car parked in the driveway is a fantastic way to impress the neighbors! Even though it was not the fire breathing 707 horsepower Hellcat, the V6 equipped Charger was more than adequate for our everyday needs, plus the tires and fuel will last longer. Rumor has it that the Hellcat can burn through an entire tank of gas in 9 minutes on the track!

The Dodge Charger is the last of a full sized, real American made family sedan (since the death of the Ford Crown Victoria), that features rear wheel drive, or all wheel drive as it was in our case. With the 2015 model year comes the second update to the new Charger since arriving in 2006, which brought back the Dodge icon to the American public and the entire automobile industry.

                With this upgrade, almost every body panel around the vehicle has been changed, with a huge emphasis on the front end where the engineers have pulled styling elements from the legendary 1969 Charger and adding a more modern look to the details, bringing it more in line with the new Dart and Durango.

                The blacked out grill and new LED fog lamps, along with the half crescent LED daytime running lights give the Charger a very unique new look up front. The windshield washer nozzles have been fitted under the hood so as not to stand out in the sleek design. Around back is where the engineers have left the design pretty much alone, giving into popular consensus that most customers are already enamored with the current look of the signature wraparound LED taillight design.

Since bringing back the Charger in 2006 Dodge has done such a great job of marketing the new look along with its Hemi and SRT versions, let alone the new Hellcat. It’s hard to remember that there is actually a V6 family version that gets really good gas mileage for such a large 4 door, and quite frankly is a very nice performance vehicle in and of itself.

After a week with the V6 SXT Plus that touts a 3.5 liter engine that cranks out a nice 300 horsepower, and with all wheel drive is practically a magnet on the road, we were more than impressed. We even managed just over 22 mpg for the week of normal driving.

Our charger came in beautiful pitch-black exterior color and fine black wheels, no chance to make the mistake that we might be highway patrol this time. Our last Charger came in white and people were continually slowing down when we approached made it fun to be impersonators, until they realized we were just another car on the road.

Generally the Chargers comes only in a rear wheel drive version, which is great for all those muscle car enthusiasts of days gone by when the those kinds of cars ruled the road. The SXT can be had with all wheel drive as was the test driver we had for a week. Having had the Chargers cousin the Challenger for a week last fall in a rear wheel drive only version, it was very interesting to feel the difference in driving the two.

The Charger with the AWD seemed to smooth out the ride somewhat and get through the corners with less wheel slippage, keeping the vehicle more in check where with the rear wheel drive it was easier to lose the rear end with all that power churning out from under the hood. Being totally honest, the AWD would work much better for a daily driver here in Utah as it would conquer the snow with much great agility than the rear wheel only vehicle.

Although we are the first to admit, especially Craig… that he does have a slight addiction to speed and would be more drawn to the track version of the Charger with either the Hemi 5.7 or 6.4 liter engines, along with a full track pack and the Dodge inspired launch control. Of course keeping ones license intact would become the largest issue at that point, and making it to the track could also become a very pricy hobby.

The real market will tell, but we surmise that 96 percent of all drivers looking for a more ‘American Muscle Design’ will be smitten with the Charger and be perfectly happy with the V6 version as we had plenty of power no matter what kind of driving situation presented itself. Our son JaCoby even pointed out, that he felt moving up the Hemi would be a decision that would be hard to make for the short periods of time, that more power would be needed, giving the V6 the millennial endorsement.

Inside the dash was exactly what we would have hoped for from since the redesign of the Dart, with a 7- inch LED customizable screen that is located in the center cluster between the speedometer and tachometer. It was easy to move through different options via control buttons on the steering wheel, with everything for transmission temperature to navigation within easy access.

There were also controls on the steering wheel for Bluetooth hands free phone and voice activation of the navigation and other options. The 8.4- inch touch screen located in the center of the console, another addition taken from the Dart, is one of the best and easiest to use on the market today.

It controls everything from the radio, Bluetooth, navigation, heating and cooling, to the heated seats. The design and screen layout are very well done and easy to use. Where some manufactures have had to hire new technology only staff to help with training folks on how to use their new car, we have found that with just a few minutes in a Dodge…. we became self trained for the coming week, a testament to the ease of use with the new system.

There are also controls for the volume and changing channels directly below the screen that are easily accessible and understand, along with HVAC controls below that for adjusting temperature and fan speed, just in case one doesn’t want to do it via the screen.

The SXT comes complete with the keyless entry and pushbutton start, a system that Dodge is putting in most of their vehicles even at lower trim levels, which is great, we have always found it much easier to just have the key in pocket or purse, touch the door handle to unlock the doors, and push the button to start the car, no need to actually insert a key any longer our technology is past that point. We even noticed that the new Ram pickups will come with this option also, a big step in the truck world where everyone else still requires the key. Must be some kind of a ‘man thing’.

The interior design of the Plus with the Rallye group addition was extremely rich with Black leather seats that were inset with white leather centers. Of course they were nice and comfortable with seats that were heated and cooled… options included on our tester, along with back seat heaters to keep friends comfortable in the winter months.

Other options included heated mirrors, ParkSense rear backup assist system, front lower LED lamps that add to the ambiance of the night drive, and illuminated cup holders in the rear seat. Excepting for the larger engine the Plus model of the Charger was loaded with all the options that we would want on our own car.

                The Charger is still one of the few true American Muscle cars left in the market today with very strong ties to its original heritage. The SXT Plus version is the perfect family sedan with just that little extra flair and flourish that all dads will really enjoy. See one today at Doug Smith Dodge 523 West Main Street in American Fork, 801-492-1110, Doug Smith Dodge at 1339 North Main in Spanish Fork, 877-629-6450 or Larry H. Miller Dodge 1825 N University Pkwy, Provo, (888) 245-3833.

Base Price: 32,995

Price as Driven: 38,475

Craig and Deanne Conover have been test-driving vehicles for over 6 years and have had the opportunity to drive many makes and models. They receive a new car each week for a weeklong test drive. Craig has worked in the Newspaper industry for over 21 years and been with The Daily Herald for 13 years - and Deanne is a Veterinarians assistant at Mountain West Animal Hospital for 12 years. They both love having the unique opportunity of trying out new cars. They reside in Springville, Utah. Check out other reviews at heraldextra.com/sundaydrive. cconover@heraldextra.com