The King, Mensa Cows and Daisy Dukes
More than a few people who want to buy the 2006 Dodge Charger remember the King. Dark sunglasses. Cowboy hat. Tall, with an unmistakable gait and an unbelievable knack for winning NASCAR races, back when NASCAR was closer to cow fields than corporate jets. Richard Petty was and is America, man – and if you don’t know him, you’ve been driving an import for much too long. You can add NASCAR Dads all the way from Toledo to Tucson to that list. These guys are getting tired of their Honda Accords, and are waiting – impatiently – for something “American” that contains some value and an equal measure of punch.The 2006 Dodge Charger is that car. What the 300C is to Snoop, the Charger will be to BBQ and 12 packs – or so they hope. Based on the popular and critical success of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum, vehicles from the same platform and similar in production, the Charger promises to be a hit in much the same way as the Chrysler 300 – just in fewer numbers, and with a more weed-in-the-mouth, Daisy Dukes-and-her-blue-jean-cut-offs sort of vibe.
That there 2006 Dodge Charger is a "four door coupe," meaning that it looks like a coupe but is really a sedan. That's a bit like calling a horse a tall, non-milk-producing MENSA cow. Doesn’t matter. On the track and on the street, the Charger is sure to make an impression. Red as a Magnum and complete with a load of Dale Jr. attitude, the 2006 Dodge Charger is one heck of a load of car. Dodge is not taking chances with this one, even giving it a nostalgic name that really, truly doesn't fit. The original Charger, after all, was much more attractive and even had two gorgeous wings, whereas the new Charger sports four little doors. The original had that long snout – and this one, well, its beak looks suspiciously like the nose currently adorning the Dodge Magnum. That may well be because it is, as the Charger shares parts, paint and platform with the Magnum and the 300C. Consider it the sedan version of the Magnum wagon.
Wimps will buy the 2006 Dodge Charger SE or SXT with the 3.5-liter V6 engine, and claim themselves men. Hah. Do not be a wimp.
Sure, okay – if the wife makes you. But if you get the opportunity to be a real man, go with the 2006 Dodge Charger R/T and its 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine. Tell the little woman that it has MDS, and explain that it stands for DaimlerChrysler’s Multiple Displacement System – the thing that turns the cylinders on and off as power is needed, saving fuel. You don’t always need all eight, after all, when together they send 340 horsepower and 390 lb.-ft. of torque to the 18-inch wheels under the R/T – yet another reason you want to buy top trim.
But then again, if you don’t need that kind of power – and really don’t want to spend $30,000 for a car – that “puny” V6 in the SE and SXT should be all you really need, generating 250 horsepower at 6,400 rpm and 250 lb.-ft. of torque at 3,800 rpm. That’s a pile of horses for the low-to-mid $20,000 range.
The interior is almost exactly like the Magnum, meaning that it's well designed and offers plenty of front and rear room. This is a big car, after all, with a large trunk and miles of cabin space. Think of a sedan equivalent to the Dodge Magnum, or a Dodge version of the Chrysler 300. You will get pretty much the same ride, room and comfort in the Charger – with slight changes.
Like the King, the Charger is built to move – off dealer lots. Dodge is not playing games with this one, and has priced the Charger for virtually everyone. Sticker prices start at $22,995 for the base 2006 Dodge Charger SE, $25,995 for the SXT and $29,995 for the Hemi R/T. Standard features for the SE include 17-inch wheels, a CD player with auxiliary audio input jacks and four speakers, driver and passenger lumbar support, electric rear window defroster, manual tilt and telescoping steering column, power mirrors, power trunk lid release, power windows with driver one-touch control, and power door locks. The 2006 Dodge Charger SXT adds a 60/40 split folding rear seat with center armrest, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, eight-way power adjustable driver’s seat, fog lamps, illuminated visor mirrors, Boston Acoustics Sound System with six speakers, chrome grille, and a cargo net. The 2006 Dodge Charger R/T adds the 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine with MDS, performance brakes and suspension, 18-inch wheels, dual-exhaust pipes, heated/fold-away mirrors, and leather seats. Photos courtesy of Dodge