First Drive: 2011 Dodge Charger


2011 Dodge Charger header

For years I’ve felt that the American auto brands each needed a sport sedan the evoked the best traditions of the brand while offering a stylish yet affordable option for the American car market. Specifically, they needed cars that would appeal to American men who didn’t want to break the bank buying a high end sports car or a pricey European sedan.

After Dodge gave me the opportunity to drive the completely redesigned 2011 Dodge Charger R/T AWD through the winding roads of Highway 1 outside of San Francisco, I’m convinced that Dodge has a winner that will satisfy this demand. The new Charger should have huge appeal for guys looking for performance, aggressive styling and value. As you can see from the photos we took, the car is beautiful and it was a joy to drive as well. For a car that starts at $25,995, buyers will also get tremendous value. The V8 equipped R/T starts at $30,995, which is $2,000 less than the 2010 edition.

The Charger has been completely redesigned from the ground up for the 2011 model year. The iconic feel of the vehicle remains, but you can see the new, sleeker design that is bound to turn heads. This is the second generation of the Charger since it was reintroduced and it evokes the 1971 Charger. The aggressive front end and the fastback design evoke the muscle-car feeling many of us love, and the new back end is a significant improvement over the previous version. Dodge has made a new commitment to interior design, and it shows on this vehicle. The quality of the materials gives this the feel of a more expensive car without sacrificing the Charger’s attitude. Dodge wants to appeal to the car enthusiast, and you notice the difference as soon as you sit in the vehicle.

2011 Dodge Charger by Golden Gate Bridge

I drove the Charger through some winding roads in the Bay area and the new suspension lived up to the promise. I drove the all-wheel drive version with the 19-inch wheels and the 5.7-liter Hemi V8 with an estimated 370 horsepower with the automatic five-speed transmission (the base version features the new Pentastar 3.6L V6 with 292 horsepower). The acceleration was excellent and the drive was very comfortable as the car easily handled the sharp turns. This is a big, four-door sedan so you expect to have the power, but the improved handling makes a truly impressive vehicle. When you consider all the passenger room and trunk space you get as well, you realize that you don’t have to sacrifice practical considerations in exchange for style and performance.

Dodge CEO Ralph Gilles calls the Dodge Charger the “signature vehicle” of the Dodge brand, which is good news for the brand’s prospects. I was equally impressed with the other Dodge vehicles I drove in San Francisco, and I believe that the brand is on the verge of a renaissance with Gilles at the helm. You have to drive this car to truly appreciate what Dodge has achieved, and I highly recommend taking it for a test drive regardless of the kind of vehicle you have in mind. Whether you buy it or not, at least you’ll have some fun!

2011 Dodge Charger

2011 Dodge Charger

2011 Dodge Charger


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