Dodge Charger

Dodge's 2009 Charger lineup consists of four different models, each featuring a different engine under-hood and a different appeal based on its equipment and price. First, there's the value-minded base SE, which includes a 178-horsepower, 2.7L V6 engine. Next up is the mid-range, more luxurious SXT model, which gets a 250-horsepower, 3.5L V6. Near the top of the line is the sporty and very well equipped R/T model, which brings a newly revised, more powerful Hemi V8, rated at 368 horsepower and 375 ft-lb. Finally, for those who want the most performance and exclusivity, there's the track-ready SRT8, which includes a 425-horsepower, 6.1L version of the Hemi.

SXT and R/T models can be equipped with an all-wheel-drive system, while SE and SRT8 models are only available with rear-wheel drive. The AWD cars feature Dodge's handy Action Transfer Case and Front Axle Disconnect, which powers only the rear wheels during normal driving, engaging the fronts when conditions require extra traction. The system allows for increased fuel efficiency.

The SE and SXT rear-wheel drive come with a 4-speed automatic transmission, while the rest of the models get a 5-speed automatic with Autostick manual control.

Option packages for 2009 include Popular Equipment Packages for each trim level. For instance, the SE Popular Equipment Package includes a power driver's seat and Sirius satellite radio. On the SXT, the Package includes dual-zone climate control, power heated leather seats, 18-inch machined aluminum wheels, and a 276-watt Boston Acoustics sound system. For the R/T, it brings a 368-watt Boston Acoustics surround-sound system with CD changer and steering-wheel audio controls, a security alarm, garage-door opener, and LED interior lighting.

Also of note is the Road/Track Performance Package, which brings more serious performance equipment to the R/T, in the form of 20-inch chrome-clad wheels with performance tires, a sport suspension, load-leveling shocks, performance steering, brakes, exhaust, and induction, performance heated front seats with suede inserts, and front and rear decklid spoilers.

At the top of the range is the high-performance SRT8, which includes a 425-horsepower, 6.1L version of the Hemi V8, along with a specially calibrated 5-speed automatic that has AutoStick manual control. The SRT8 rides a half-inch lower than other Chargers, and the suspension and ESP stability control system are performance tuned. SRT-exclusive aluminum-forged 20-inch wheels, a functional hood scoop, big Brembo vented brakes, and dual 3.5-inch exhaust tips are also included. Inside, the SRT8 includes special accent stitching, carbon-fiber and leather trim, and LED interior lighting, along with expanded instrumentation. A Super Bee Special Edition Package is available.

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"Dad! We launched the Hellcat!"

I had just driven my pal's 10-year-old son home from a swim meet in the 2016 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. He burst through the door, jabbering away to his dad about how much fun he'd just had and lording it over his two brothers. If you want to get on the good side of a kid, just take them for a ride in a 707-horsepower muscle car.

With the kid in the backseat and his mom up front, we pulled up to a stop light, a long straight freeway on ramp ahead of us. "OK," I said. "Green light....go!"

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