2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack review: '60s muscle-car reboot shows off tire-screeching torque, hides its tech

Pricing Unavailable
  • Body Type Coupes

Roadshow Editors' Rating

8.0 Overall
  • Performance 8
  • Features 8
  • Design 8
  • Media 8

The Good The 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack shows true muscle-car heart with the steady rumble of its 6.4-liter Hemi V-8 and tire-screeching torque. Performance settings let you fine-tune steering and throttle, and launch control optimizes drag-strip starts. UConnect brings easy-to-use connected navigation and digital audio to the dashboard.

The Bad The big V-8 sucks down the gasoline like it was 1969, making frequent fill-ups a requirement. Performance settings aren't readily apparent in the infotainment system.

The Bottom Line The 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack and its sibling variants maintain Dodge's muscle-car legacy through historical reference and raw power, yet contain enough tech features for modern practicality, if not good fuel economy.

Press the start button and the engine fires up like a gunshot. Hammer the gas and the rear tires smoke. It's the 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack and it is pure muscle madness, with a little tech twist.

Muscle cars aren't known for their handling, so with the Charger R/T Scat Pack I was expecting a lot of tire-screeching, hard-accelerating, engine-burbling fun instead of finessing the curves on a mountain road. The car did little to change that perception, but it gave me a new appreciation for its barking power.

This Charger also endeared me to its design, partly due to the gorgeous B5 Blue paint job. I've been a fan of Dodge's Challenger design, old and new, over its muscle-car coupe competitors, the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro . But the Charger won me over with its roofline, creating big expanses of glass all around, the deeply scalloped sides, and the bumped up aluminum hood, vented to feed the big V-8 underneath.

2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack
The Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack draws its design influence from Chargers of the 1960s. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

As a full-size sedan with a roomy rear seat, the Charger boasts a little more practicality than the coupe muscle cars of today.

Displacement rules

Dodge offers the Charger in nine variations, climbing the power ladder from a 292-horsepower V-6 all the way up to the 707-horsepower supercharged V-8 in the Hellcat. The Charger R/T Scat Pack sits on the high side of the scale, with a 6.4-liter naturally aspirated V-8 under the hood making 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque.

Earlier this year, CNET editor Antuan Goodwin reviewed the Charger R/T , which comes with a 5.7-liter V-8 putting out 370 horsepower. The addition of Scat Pack to the model name ups the engine size to the same V-8 as in the Charger SRT 392. That "392", shown on the Scat Pack's fenders, is Dodge's call-out to old-school cubic inches.

Base price for the 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack comes in at $40,990, delivered. The model I drove added the UConnect navigation system and Nappa leather interior package, bumping the total to $43,280. You won't find the Charger R/T Scat Pack in the UK, because it would drink all the petrol, and although Australians would love it, Dodge doesn't make it available down under.

2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack
Whether you call it 392 cubic inches or 6.4 liters, this big V-8 makes a lot of power. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

What sets the Scat Pack apart from lesser trim-level Chargers is that 392 Hemi V-8 engine, a performance tune on its fixed suspension, Brembo brakes with four-piston calipers and Goodyear RS-A tires wrapped around 20-inch wheels.

The muscle is apparent when you first start up the Charger R/T Scat Pack. The instrument cluster flashes, the engine barks, and you feel the engine's torque -- even sitting still. Sensitive throttle tuning had me screeching the tires frequently, although I found it easy enough to modulate an easy cruise.

Whenever I wanted a thrill, I slammed the gas and the Charger R/T Scat Pack unleashed its power, sounding off from its exhaust, ripping the tires, and bulleting down the road. Even cruising at 30 mph, punching the gas produced wheel spin.

Keeping all that power under control isn't easy. Under full acceleration the Charger R/T Scat Pack tends to slew sideways a little. A hard manual downshift under power makes the rear jump out. This Charger is not well-mannered, but it can be fun.

2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack
The fixed suspension's performance tuning gives the Charger R/T Scat Pack a firm ride. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

The suspension creates a firm ride quality, not too harsh for longer trips and mostly tuned to keep the body flat in the turns. An electronic limited slip differential helps handling, letting the rear end float out a bit in the turns. Given the weight of the Charger R/T Scat Pack, I never felt it was truly nimble enough for hairpin mountain turns.

For the turns, I made good use of the Brembo brakes' comfortable stopping power.

Dodge gives the Charger R/T Scat Pack an eight-speed automatic transmission with a manual shift mode. Its overdrive gears help bring the highway fuel economy to 25 mpg, but the city number is down at 15 mpg. This is one thirsty engine, and the antics it encourages won't help. My average came in at 16.6 mpg, which means limited overall range from the 18.5 gallon tank.

Stealthy tech

As much as Dodge emphasizes traditional muscle in the Charger R/T Scat Pack, it sneaks a bit of modern technology into this beast. It took me a little digging, but I finally found customizable drive settings affecting throttle, transmission and steering response in the Dodge Performance Settings app, accessible through the car's infotainment system. The electric power-steering system changed its feel through these settings, but I noticed less of a change on the throttle.

2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack
Despite its muscle-car identity, you can change the drive feel of the Charger R/T Scat Pack through these settings. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

For a quick switch to higher performance, I only had to hit the Sport button on the Charger R/T Scat Pack's dashboard. Hitting the Super Track Pak button served as shortcut to the Performance Settings app, also bringing up the onscreen Launch Control feature. Blasting off with launch control engaged modulated the power output to the rear tires, minimizing wheel spin.

Along with those performance tech features, the Charger R/T Scat Pack also offers Dodge's UConnect infotainment system, showing on the main 8.4-inch touchscreen LCD. Instead of overcomplicating its interface, as some automakers have done, Dodge keeps UConnect fairly simple, eschewing external switch gear for onscreen controls. A lower ribbon shows main functions such as navigation, phone, radio, media and apps, making for quick and easy access. The only change I would like to see here would be unifying radio and media sources under one audio menu.

The navigation system maps show good resolution and can be viewed in perspective or plan format. I found them very easy to read and use. The system includes the usual destination options, such as manual address entry and a points-of-interest database. Onscreen address entry uses a responsive keyboard, and voice command let me say entire address strings. It took a while to parse street and city, but it was accurate.

2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack
Dodge's UConnect system includes a built-in data connection, which powers an integrated Yelp app. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Oddly, Dodge doesn't make a big deal about its connectivity, but UConnect includes a dedicated data connection along with a small collection of apps. My favorite is built-in Yelp connectivity, making it easy to find businesses and other destinations with an easy keyword search. Although Yelp is buried under the apps menu, selecting a search result connects with navigation, letting you quickly engage route guidance.

The Charger R/T Scat Pack includes a few streaming music apps on its UConnect system, but these require a smartphone paired to the system.

Along with music apps, the car includes the usual digital audio sources, such as a USB port for plugging in drives and iOS devices. The music library interface shows album, artist, song and other categories. Satellite radio requires a subscription but offers a huge number of channels and powers a fuel prices app.

To make the Charger R/T Scat Pack even more high-tech, Dodge offers a adaptive cruise control and a blind spot monitor system. Those weren't optioned on the car I drove, but add some nice convenience elements and could prevent a crash.

2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack
When it comes to fuel economy, the Charger R/T Scat Pack isn't all that practical, but it sure is a lot of fun. Wayne Cunningham/CNET

Self-competition

In some ways, the 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack stands alone. It is the only sedan that truly hearkens to a muscle-car heritage. You might consider its competition to be any of the Charger's numerous variations.

As a performance car, it's all about the raw power, capable of tearing the rubber off the tires with a few screaming launches. Its sound and motion will thrill gearheads. On the practical side, it boasts plenty of room for passengers and good visibility all around with that high greenhouse.

Its automatic transmission makes it an easy driver, although the raw power can also make it a handful to control. And as Dodge derives all that power through displacement, fuel economy is just not good. Expect to get very familiar with your local gas stations.

The tech here is intriguing, with some features buried in secret sport settings affecting steering and allowing efficient, fast launches. The ability to monitor real-time torque and g-forces on the instrument cluster is a far cry from the analog gauge era. And as a carryover from other Dodge vehicles, the UConnect system offers excellent and easy-to-use modern navigation, stereo and connected features. UConnect almost seems antithetical to the muscle car aesthetic, yet any driver should quickly grow to appreciate its usefulness.

Tech specs

Model 2015 Dodge Charger
Trim R/T Scat Pack
Powertrain 6.4-liter V-8 engine, eight-speed automatic transmission
EPA fuel economy 15 mpg city/25 mpg highway
Observed fuel economy 16.6 mpg
Navigation Optional with live traffic
Bluetooth phone support Standard
Digital audio sources Internet streaming, Bluetooth streaming, iOS integration, USB drive, satellite radio, HD radio
Audio system Harman Kardon 275-watt six-speaker system
Driver assistance Rear view camera
Base price $40,990
Price as tested $43,280

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