"Yeah, but it's just the R/T, though. When are you getting the Hellcat?"
The powerful and stealthy 2015 Dodge Charger R/T lives in the shadow of the more powerful Scat Pack and SRT 392 models further up the lineup, despite the fact that its own 370-horsepower V-8 is nothing to thumb a nose at. Leave it to muscle car fans to think that too much power still isn't enough.
Though not as attention-grabbing as its more powerful siblings, the 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Road & Track is the Goldilocks of the available trims, blending plenty of performance with a high level of creature comfort and value.
More than 'just the R/T...'
Even with its premium Phantom Black tri-coat pearl paint and optional 20-inch forged aluminum classic styled wheels, the Charger R/T's exterior design is a bit more anonymous looking than the SRT and Hellcat models, lacking a dramatic hood scoop or a distinct fascia design. In fact, the black paint actually hides some of the R/T's aggressiveness, I think.
However, under the hood rumbles Dodge's 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine, good for a peak 370 horsepower and 395 pound-feet of torque. No, it's not a 700-horsepower Hellcat, but 370 ponies are likely still more than the average American driver will know what to do with on public roads. That engine is mated with an 8-speed automatic transmission putting power to the rear wheels. The auto-box is the only transmission option available for the Charger, but -- as we've seen time and time again -- it's a good one.
The engine features the automaker's multiple displacement system (MDS) that allows it to operate in a four-cylinder mode during low-load, cruising situations to aid fuel economy. Save for a small icon that lights up on the fuel economy display, I didn't even notice the cylinder deactivation tech at work. The V-8 R/T nets an EPA estimated 16 city and 25 highway mpg, though I averaged over 20 mpg during my week of heavy footed motoring. Still, those aren't great numbers for a modern sport sedan.
SE and SXT models with the smaller 3.6-liter V-6 can be had with Dodge's all-wheel drive system, but the V-8 R/T and above are purely rear-drive affairs.
Our example is an R/T Road & Track model. I always understood that "R/T" abbreviated Road/Track, which makes this "Road/Track Road & Track" designation seem a bit redundant and awkward to me. The upgrades the Road & Track package add aren't awkward at all and integrate nicely into the Charger's sport sedan mission.
Where the hardware is concerned, the Road & Track gains a sportier suspension tune than the SEs and SXTs you'll see in your local rental fleet and "Heavy Duty" brakes that are more resistant to fade. The R/T R&T also gains some software smarts in the form of its UConnect Super Track Pak options: a collection of new touchscreen configurable settings that allow the driver to tweak the settings of the sport and normal modes' performance. The Super Track Pak also adds launch control and a 3-mode sport stability control system to the performance mix, making this muscley sedan's characteristics almost as tweakable as a high-performance Audi.
Meanwhile, in the instrument cluster, the Charger gains a set of Performance Pages digital gauges that all the driver to track lap, ¼ mile, 0-60 times and monitor braking performance and G-forces.
The R/T Road & Track's performance could be summed up in just three words: BURNOUTS ON DEMAND! The Charger R/T will smoke its rubber at a moment's notice with its immediately available torque. The R/T excels at straight line performance, even when you don't really want it to. In fact, I found it tricky to not rocket away from every stop, tires squealing with glee. The accelerator pedal is so sensitive -- perhaps too sensitive, if you ask me -- and the V-8's torque is never more than the slightest toe twitch away. I found myself sometimes wishing for a little less tip-in when daily driving and more distinction between the Normal and Sport driving modes. (Oddly, I didn't run into this issue with the 700-plus horsepower Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat, which had a much easier to modulate throttle despite being massively overpowered.)
The right pedal takes just a bit of getting used to, but once you're under way, the Charger is a peach. The sedan rides quietly without rattles or groans, smoothing out the roads and making commuting comfortable. Highway passes are immediate and met with a satisfying V-8 rumble.
On the tight switchbacks of a mountain pass, the Charger feels a bit out of its element with its the wide body and soft sport suspension. Meeting the more gentle and sweeping bends of country roads, however, the Charger R/T Road & Track surprises with its responsive steering. Yes, there's a bit of roll when cornering, but the compliant suspension that only seems to help the sedan's ability to stick its 245mm wide treads to the undulating asphalt. Along with the torquey V-8 engine -- which lends itself to a low-revving, almost lazily quick driving style on the twisty bits -- the softer suspension tune feels like a good fit for the sedan's performance envelope.
More than 'just a muscle car...'
The Charger R/T has much to offer beyond its engine bay. The sedan also boasts a well-put-together cabin that starts with the well bolstered, but comfortable Alcantara and Nappa leather-trimmed performance seats added by our Road & Track package. From there, the driver contacts adjustable pedals -- a rarity, even in luxury cars -- a heated steering wheel and heated and ventilated front buckets. The rear seats, by the way, are also heated.
In the center of the dashboard is the UConnect infotainment system which is upgraded with an optional Navigation package. I've said it before, this is one of my favorite infotainment systems because of its simple, well-organized interface and smart Garmin-powered navigation. I particularly appreciate the row of shortcut keys that allowed me to quickly jump from navigation to audio to seat controls without much clicking through menus.
Voice command is a bit slow to recognize, but was also extremely accurate in my testing. Addresses can be entered in one go (number, street, and city) without having to wait on multiple prompts, so even with the slight delay in recognition, the driver spends less time waiting and watching the Uconnect screen.
Our example was also equipped with Dodge and Chrysler's flagship Beats Audio system, a $995 upgrade that features 10 Beats premium speakers -- including a trunk-mounted subwoofer -- and 552 watts of total system amplification. Surprisingly, I didn't find the system to be as bass-heavy and muddy as I expected it to be. Though the thump and rumble were only an menu tweak away, the flat EQ curve was reasonably balanced in its reproduction.
More than 'just a Dodge...'
The Charger is available with a full loadout of modern driver aid technologies. Our example featured blind-spot monitoring, forward collision alert and braking intervention, full-range adaptive cruise control, lane keeping alert and lane departure prevention, rear park distance sensors, cross traffic and pedestrian alerts and more. However, none of this tech is standard at the R/T trim level and was all added as part of either the $695 Navigation and rear camera package, a $1,795 Technology group, or a $295 Driver Confidence group.
The 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Road & Track starts at $35,995, about $3,000 more than the standard R/T. On top of that, we've got the aforementioned tech and driver aid packages, $995 for the Beats Audio upgrade, $995 for the 20-inch Classic forged wheels and $500 for the tri-coat pearl black paint. A $1,195 sunroof rounds out the list of options before we get to the $995 destination charge.
As tested, this particularly well-equipped R/T Road & Track rolls off of the lot at $43,460 thanks to a Customer Preferred Package 29R discount. With its unique driving experience, well-sorted tech, and high level of comfort, the Charger feels like a pretty good value for the money spent.
The Charger is currently unavailable in the UK, where the brand has no presence, and in Australia, where the only model in Dodge's lineup is the Journey minivan.