2013 Dodge Charger R/T AWD

2013 Dodge Charger R/T AWD Review

Proving that old-school can be fun.

By: Tim Healey

Web2Carz Contributing Writer

Published: March 15th, 2013

There's something to be said for V-8 power. That rumble, that acceleration, that uncanny ability to suck fuel...it's a reminder of the old days. Spend some time behind the wheel of the 2013 Dodge Charger R/T, and you'll be taken back to the days before fuel cost more than $4 a gallon--at least when it comes to power.

That's mostly thanks to the full-size sedan's large size, 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, and rear-wheel-drive platform (all-wheel-drive is available, and our tester was so equipped). Driving the Charger is like living in a time-warp in which the powertrain is old-school and the creature comforts are thoroughly modern.

A week spent in the Charger is interesting, to say the least.

  • On the Road

    We'll start with the obvious--acceleration. At 4,450 lbs, there's a lot of weight to lug around, but the 370 horsepower/395 lb-ft of torque 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 is up to the task. Stab the gas pedal and the Charger just goes, with the accompanying old-school V-8 soundtrack signaling pedestrians and slow-poke drivers to clear out. It doesn't take long to reach illegal speeds.

    Big cars aren't known for being great handlers, but the Charger tries. The steering is nicely weighted and it's generally accurate, but you never forget how big the car is, either. Its size and weight hold it back from being a truly great handler, but it handles better than anything this size should. The all-wheel-drive system helps keep the tail in place when cornering on wet pavement.

    Ride isn't sacrificed, either--it's sporty but it only gets annoyingly stiff over truly bad pavement. The Charger makes for a comfy highway cruiser--one that can be launched into beast mode at any second.

    There are some things that bug us, though. The five-speed automatic transmission feels outdated--a six-speed would do nicely in its place--and there are occasional mechanical noises that don't sound natural. Overall, the transmission doesn't fade into the background enough in light-throttle driving. We also don't like how easy it is to accidentally pop the shifter into manual mode with a misplaced hand. At least one staffer wished for an available manual transmission, as well.

    Some chassis flex also shows up at times, and that's unbecoming of a $43,000 car.

  • Exterior

    We like the Charger's shape--it has Dodge's signature "cross hair" grille, rounded edges, and a curvy hood. Taken together, the car looks big and sinister, especially with the red paint and blacked-out wheels of our tester. The only thing we don't like is the rear spoiler--it looks cool, but impedes rear vision.

  • Interior

    As befits a large car, there is plenty of legroom and headroom. The large, sweeping dashboard houses a huge center-stack screen that is home to an infotainment system, navigation system, and many audio and climate controls. Large old-school knobs take care of volume, audio tuning, and fan speed, but other controls are located in the touch screen. This is a mixed blessing--the screen is easy to use, with a huge font that is easy to read, but digging through menus to operate the heated seats and heated steering wheel is annoying. Some controls--the main radio and air conditioning functions--are redundant, but more should be.

    Interior materials are nice, but they aren't nice enough to give the Charger a luxury feel, which is a problem at this price point.

    We appreciate the large trunk, but the decklid is heavy, it takes a little extra effort to close it. The heated and cooled cupholders are a neat feature.

  • Final Thoughts

    The Charger R/T is fast, fun, and obnoxiously old-school. It's noisy and brutish, but it's a hoot to drive.

    There are drawbacks, of course. Not only did our tester guzzle gas like a college kid chugs beer on spring break, but it doesn't have the luxury feel that one would expect at this price.

    Not that Charger R/T buyers likely care. Most of them are probably ponying up for the V-8 performance, luxury be damned. There are plenty of Audis and BMWs in this price range that can give performance that is as good or better while still coddling occupants, but the customer who is plunking down 45 large on this old-school sedan doesn't care.

    All that person is going to ask will be this: "Does it have a Hemi?", and since that question is answered with a resounding "yes," that's all our prospective buyer needs to hear.

  • Specs, Features, and Prices

    Engine: 5.7-liter V-8

    Transmission: Five-speed automatic

    Drive Wheels: All-wheel-drive

    Fuel Economy: 15 mpg city/23 mpg highway

    Base Price: $32,495

    As-tested price: $43,490 (includes $995 destination fee)

    Available Features: UConnect infotainment system, navigation, Bluetooth, satellite radio, USB port, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, cooled front seats, heated and cooled cupholders, forward collision warning, rearview camera, park assist, black roof, sunroof, rear spoiler, adaptive speed control, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross path detection.

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