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2011 Dodge Charger (photos)

The Dodge Charger comes out with a new infotainment center using a large, 8.4-inch screen, but its engine and transmission feel a decade old.

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Wayne_Cunningham.jpg
Wayne Cunningham
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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1 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
Dodge freshened the Charger for its 2011 model year, inside and out, but did not go particularly far with the drivetrain. However, the new infotainment center is an impressive piece of technology, a big touch screen that minimizes the need for plastic buttons.

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2 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
Although inspired by the mid-'60s car of the same name, the new Charger bears only a passing resemblance to that earlier model. This car has modern, and macho, lines, with big contours in the sides, a curving roofline, and a spoiler on the trunk lid.

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3 of 19 Josh Miller/CNET
Dodge fits the Charger with its new Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6, an engine making 290 horsepower. It is adequate for the Charger, but not particularly powerful.

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The Charger easily seats five, with plenty of legroom in the rear seats.

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The suspension is fairly standard, fixed technology. It has a somewhat rubbery feel but does a good job of damping out bumps and keeping the car from wallowing in the turns.

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Despite this sedan's size, the trunk of the Charger is not huge. It fits one standard CNET editor comfortably, but two would be a crowd.

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The cabin of the Charger is surprisingly nice, and has such amenities as a push-button ignition, heated and cooled seats, and even heated and cooled cup holders. The infotainment system uses a large, 8.4-inch touch screen in the dashboard.

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Dodge gives the Charger a hydraulic-electric power-steering unit, but the feel is on the numb side.

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There are two buttons for voice command, one for the phone system and one for other infotainment functions. A more integrated system would be easier to use.

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The monochromatic display on the instrument cluster not only shows trip information, but also brings up route guidance information.

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The five-speed automatic transmission is primitive for this day and age. Dodge optimizes fuel economy by stretching out the gear ratios, making second gear handle low to moderate speeds.

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The infotainment system uses Garmin software for navigation, with excellent route guidance.

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Sirius Travel Link brings in all sorts of useful data for drivers, such as the weather forecast and gas prices.

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The Bluetooth phone system copies over a paired phone's contacts, making them available onscreen and through voice command.

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The Charger's stereo offers many digital audio sources, such as Bluetooth streaming audio, iPod integration, and even an SD card slot.

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The system lists the folders from a USB drive, and can even parse MP3 tracks so as to show music by artist and album. The system will also display album cover art.

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The stereo even allows a free-form search through music libraries, making it easier to go directly to a particular song or album.

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The Alpine audio system delivers rich sound with very good vocal reproduction.

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The backup camera includes distance lines. The car is also available with blind-spot detection and adaptive cruise control.

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