2012 Dodge Charger SRT8
Dodge Charger SRT8 performance sedan is back for 2012 with more power and panache
We recently tested the 2012 Chrysler 300 with V6 and eight-speed transmission, and we came away very impressed. The new 300 really upped its game with a much classier interior, a handsome exterior, and surprisingly strong performance. So we thought, if Chrysler could do that much with their six-cylinder offering, we were salivating at what the new super-performance Dodge Charger SRT8 would be like. Well let's just say this: It's not a home run. It's a World Series Grand Slam!
New for 2012
The Dodge Charger was redesigned last year, but 2012 brings back the SRT8 model to the lineup. Like AMG is to Mercedes, and M Division is to BMW, Street and Racing Technology (SRT) is Dodge's special high-performance division. And when you consider the regular Hemi products the company turns out, you know that the SRT8 is really going to be something special.
It's obvious the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 is exceptional the first time you see it. This is a big car, and it makes an imposing presence wherever you go. Adding to the car's aggressive lines, the SRT8 raises heart rates with a unique grille with black honeycomb design, a functional hood scoop, unique front and rear fascias and rear spoiler. Sitting on massive 20-inch forged alloy wheels, the Charger SRT8 looks wide, muscular and tough. Our tester's bright silver metallic added a level of tastefulness to the design, like a linebacker wearing a custom-fit Italian suit.
SRT8 Hemi Power
That refinement carries over to the driving experience, making the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 an incredible value, and taking it one giant step towards challenging the much more expensive European brands.
Under the hood of the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 is a new 6.4-liter V8, pumping out 470 horsepower and 470 lb.-ft. of torque. Start it up, and there's a rich, deep throbbing idle. Teamed to a five-speed automatic with paddle shifters on the steering wheel, the acceleration is epic. Just put your toe into it, and it feels like the big Hemi idles up to 60 mph. So effortless.
Performance, MPG, and Handling
Give it the spurs and hang on. The automatic delivers rapid-fire shifts that give a nice little punch in the back while power comes on like a freight train with a soundtrack that would do a NASCAR racer proud. Dodge says does 0-60 in the mid 4-second range, which we believe, and a 175 mph top speed, which we can't argue with. With this much go power, you'll be using the brakes, so you'll be thankful Dodge put massive Brembo stoppers on all four corners to haul the Charger SRT8 down to speed without breaking a sweat. Thanks to Fuel Saver Technology, we even averaged 17 mpg, which is amazing for such a big, powerful beast.
If you think the Charger SRT8 is just a straight-line rocket, you're in for another surprise: The SRT8 handles just as impressively. For the daily drive, you can leave the adaptive damping suspension in "Auto" mode and get a firm, but well controlled ride that swallows up the interstate in surprising comfort, yet still gives plenty of feedback and sharp steering response when carving up the turns. This is a big, wide car to be sure, but those big 20-inchers have plenty of grip, and this car loves to play.
The 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 can also be dialed up into "Sport" mode at the push of a button, and it really firms everything up an impressive amount. Too much for the street most of the time, really, but if you want to go to the local autocross event or hit the track, you're good to go.
Regardless of your destination, the Charger SRT8 makes sure you're traveling in comfort and style. Similar to the 300 we recently tested, the Charger also gets a fresh interior that looks and feels much more upscale. Deep-set gauges are framed by a fat leather-wrapped, heated steering wheel. Speaking of the steering wheel, Dodge places the remote controls for the audio system on the backside of the spokes. It feels odd at first, but it's such a natural reach that you soon wonder why everyone doesn't do this.
While those are fun to play with, the Dodge Charger SRT8's jumbo 8.4-inch touchscreen display offers even more fun, including a Performance Page that displays all sorts of shenanigans, with instantaneous G-forces, lap times, 1/4-mile times and 0-60 times. When you're not having fun with that, it also houses the 19-speaker, 900-watt Harmon Kardon sound system. It's hard to imagine anything that sounds as good as a 470-hp Hemi, but is sure comes close!
Along with the thumping tunes, the Charger SRT8 is a great place to spend time. Real carbon fiber trim gives off a serious performance vibe. And we loved the standard leather and suede-trimmed seats trimmed in bright red—a little bit of custom hot rod that just makes you smile every time you get in. The front buckets are big, comfortable and supportive, the rear seats offer plenty of room, and there's a good sized trunk out back. And if you hate lukewarm coffee or warm soda, there are even heated and cooled cupholders up front.
SRT8 and Super Bee Pricing
The 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 is the premium level Charger, so it's lavishly equipped at $47,295. The few options include a power moonroof ($995), a Driver Confidence Group, which among other things includes Blind Spot with Rear Cross Protection (a bargain at $745), Adaptive Cruise Control with Forward Collision Warning (nice, considering how quick this thing is, $795).
If you don't want or need all the luxuries, Dodge also offers the SRT8 Super Bee. You'll lose the big screen center console display, the leather seats, the killer Harmon Kardon audio system, navigation, the adjustable suspension, paddle shifters, etc. It's a much more focused performance machine. But starting at $42,495, it's also a tremendous saving. Plus, you get the very cool and retro Super Bee graphics on the outside of the car, and embroidered Super Bee logos on the striped cloth front seats.
So, at nearly $50K, we find ourselves thinking of the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 as something of a bargain. Performance wise, it's fantastic, with incredible power and strong handling. It also provides a surprising amount of refinement and excellent build quality that makes it extremely livable day-to-day. It's gorgeous to look at, inside and out, roomy and equipped as comparably as high-end luxury machines costing much more. There's even a 5-year/100,000 mile powertrain warranty. Just fantastic. Now excuse us, we want to hear that 470 horsepower Hemi sing one more time. www.dodge.com
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