Today’s Charger has all the hallmarks of the original, with rear-wheel drive, a rakish fastback appearance, bulging rear fenders, aggressive design, and a Hemi V8 engine under the hood. If the extra two doors bother you, wait for the upcoming Dodge Challenger to arrive. Those of us with clients to cart and tots to tote will revel in the added convenience of those rear portals to the accommodating back seat, knowing that, in certain levels of trim, we’ve got an all-American V8 under the hood. And, in performance-tuned 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 trim, a monstrous, bellowing all-American V8 at that.
Well, in theory. The window sticker of our Charger SRT-8 test car says that the motor came from Mexico, the transmission from Germany, and the Charger is built in Canada. See? The issue is not door count – it’s not a real Charger if it ain’t ‘Murrican, now is it? Reality check: the 2006 Dodge Charger is no longer an American car. DaimlerChrysler AG, a German company with a North American headquarters located in Michigan, builds the Charger and just 70 percent of its parts are sourced from the U.S. or Canada. That’s less domestic content than an Ohio-built Honda Accord or Kentucky-built Toyota Camry. But, Honda and Toyota don’t make rip-roarin’ performance machines out of their bread-and-butter sedans. Dodge does, with the help of its Street and Racing Technology (SRT) team, and the company has wasted no time getting the 425-horsepower 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 to market.
We grabbed the first opportunity we had to sample this high-powered muscle car, diving into a Bright Silver Metallic example loaded with just about every option and coming in a five-spot over the $43,500 barrier. With fond memories of the Chrysler 300 SRT-8 sedan, which is essentially the same package, we anticipated the Charger SRT-8’s arrival, but sometimes high expectations can kill an otherwise thrilling experience. After a week behind the wheel, our team of test drivers wasn’t won over, and while we recognize the brilliance of the engineering behind this car, we’re lukewarm about the results.
Pop the hood, and the motor beckons with its black valve covers and orange-painted, reinforced cast-iron cylinder block. To achieve substantial gains in power over the 5.7-liter version of this engine, SRT bored out each cylinder by 3.5mm to bump total displacement to 6.1 liters, and bumped the compression ratio from 9.6:1 to 10.3:1. High-flow cylinder heads were added, floating pin pistons cooled by oil jets were installed, and the Charger SRT-8 uses a larger diameter intake manifold with shorter runners for better high-speed engine tuning. Larger diameter valves and reshaped ports also maximize air flow into the engine, and a performance camshaft profile lets more air in and out of the cylinders to allow for greater peak power output at higher revs. Hollow intake and exhaust valve stems are filled with sodium to help dissipate heat, and powdered metal connecting rods offer greater strength and durability. SRT also encased individual tube exhaust headers in stainless steel, and the engine exhales through a 2.75-inch rather than 2.5-inch exhaust system. Other drivetrain modifications include a modified oil pan designed to return oil to the sump at high engine speeds, a forged steel crankshaft, and upgrades for the rear differential, axle, and prop shaft.
After all is said and done, and you’ve got the engine properly broken in, the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 will rip to 60 mph in about five seconds, cover the quarter-mile in the mid-13s, and can run up to 100 and back to a resting stance in the mid-16s as long as you’ve got the tank filled with premium fuel. But this is more than a straight-line car. Thanks to its red-painted Brembo four-piston calipers which clamp down on vented 360 x 32mm front and 350 x 26mm rear discs, the Charger SRT-8 posts a 60-to-zero distance of 110 feet according to Dodge, thanks in no small part to ABS and brake assist technologies. SRT also tunes the Charger’s suspension with revised dampers, recalibrated spring rates, beefier bushings, and thicker anti-sway bars. The suspension, a short- and long-arm design in front coupled to a five-link arrangement at the rear, rides half an inch lower than a stock Charger, and a set of Nivomat self-leveling rear shocks are also included. The 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 rides on 20-inch forged and polished aluminum wheels wearing Goodyear Supercar F1 three-season tires measuring 245/45 in front and 255/45 in back (Goodyear Eagle RS-A four-season tires are optional). A rack-and-pinion hydraulically-assisted steering system comes equipped with a 16:1 ratio, taking 2.75 turns from lock-to-lock and producing a 38.9-foot turning circle despite the massive rubber. Dodge also recalibrates the stability control system to allow more slip-‘n-slide during aggressive driving, and if you’re really feeling lucky, Chrysler says it can be completely disabled. . Styling tweaks that make the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 stand out include a redesigned front fascia with integrated brake cooling ducts, an air dam to reduce aerodynamic lift, and a blacked-out grille with an SRT badge. In back, integrated lower strakes in the rear fascia are designed to better direct airflow, the dual 3.5-inch exhaust outlets get larger cutouts, and there’s a decklid spoiler. These, however, are subtle changes. Not so the blatant hood scoop that brings cool air into engine bay. The Charger SRT-8 is available in three colors: silver, black, and red. Inside, deeply sculpted and significantly bolstered SRT sport bucket seats with leather trim, performance suede inserts; and contrasting red stitching are the most noticeable changes over a standard Charger. Other modifications include a unique carbon-fiber trim on the steering wheel that offers improved grip, special dash trim, a 180-mph speedometer, dark-faced gauges, and a display that can be configured for oil temperature, oil pressure, and tire pressure. Every Charger SRT-8 interior is decorated in a dark gray/light gray two-tone treatment.
Standard equipment for the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8, which starts at $38,095 including the $675 destination charge and $2,100 gas-guzzler charge, includes leather and suede seats, power windows with driver’s one-touch down feature, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, air conditioning, a tilt/telescopic steering wheel, power door locks with keyless entry, a CD player, and six Boston Accoustics speakers. Safety features include multi-stage front airbags with occupant classification sensor, ABS with brake assist, and stability control. Our test car came equipped with SRT Option Group 1 ($675 – dual-zone automatic climate control with air filtration, one-touch up/down windows, automatic headlights, heated front seats); SRT Option Group II ($845 – 200-watt Kicker subwoofer, 275-watt Kicker amplifier, 11 Kicker speakers, security alarm); SRT Option Group III ($2,550 – Sirius satellite radio with one-year subscription, DVD navigation system, auto-dimming rearview mirror, UConnect Bluetooth wireless communications, six-disc CD changer); side-curtain airbags ($390); and a power sunroof ($950).
If this isn’t enough excitement for you, there’s a new Super Bee limited-edition coming for 2007. Commemorating the original Super Bee, a 1968 Dodge Coronet and member of Dodge’s “Scat Pack” performance group of cars, the 2007 Dodge Charger SRT-8 Super Bee is painted Detonator Yellow with a flat-black hood and trunk lid face, Super Bee logos on the front and rear fenders, and contrasting yellow stitching for the seats, steering wheel and shift knob.
Dodge says that the Charger SRT-8 will go 0-60 mph in under five seconds. That’s great – just great – if you’re lucky enough to try it out. As far as that goes, count me out, as my driving time was spent on busy city streets going stoplight to stoplight. Ah well – it’s already abundantly clear how much fun the Charger SRT-8’s 6.1-liter Hemi engine is, and safe to say that few powerplants offer as much golly-gee-whiz fun as its 425 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of peak torque. Loved it in the 300C SRT-8, loved it in the Magnum version, dug it in the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8…and the Charger is just the same. Indeed, what you’re buying when you shell out the premium for that SRT-8 badge is the engine and the suspension. Just one question: why not a manual transmission? Sure, the five-speed automatic transmission with manual shifting works fine, and is tuned to the SRT-8’s engine. But still – here sits a rear-wheel-drive beast, and it just seems so, uh, corporate to have an automatic transmission managing the output.
Perhaps that’s the problem with the Charger SRT-8. It’s a roughneck car in a corporate world, whereas the 300C SRT-8 and the JGC SRT-8 fit in better with the suits but still have the muscle for a bar fight. Perhaps the Charger version is just a little closer to rocking a mullet, and just doesn’t fit in with what people expect from a $40,000 car. It goes like a bat, sounds great, and handles nicely, with a suspension that has been tuned and dropped compared to the regular Chargers. The brakes are huge, they’re Brembos, and they stop the thing on a dime. All this is true. Yet, while it’s fun to drive, and makes one thirst for more time and an open road on which to spend it…it also leaves you secretly wishing that it was one of its brothers, preferably the 300C SRT-8.
Now that’s as fine a car as there is on the road – dollar for dollar. And maybe that’s the problem with the Charger SRT-8. It’s compared to the more grown-up Chrysler 300C SRT-8, with its more affluent appearance. The thing about the Charger is that it never lets you forget what it is, unlike the Chrysler 300C SRT-8. In the 300C version, the low rumble is muted, and the car feels more sedate during day-to-day driving. The Charger, on the other hand, drives like a jumpy cat when you’re going from stoplight to stoplight, with its hard ride, loud engine and, okay, the overt temptation to light up a radar gun when the light goes green. Just one thing, though, before you punch that throttle: with a gas guzzler tax and lousy fuel economy, playing hide-and-seek in the Charger SRT-8 is quite an expensive proposition.
Christian Wardlaw’s 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 Driving Impressions:
How can anyone complain about this 6.1-liter Hemi V8, unless they want to perform a smoky burnout? Good luck with that – even brake-standing this thing, you barely get wheelspin. That’s probably for the best – keeps people in line. Nevertheless, the car moves with alacrity, more so when you manually shift. It sounds great, thumps at idle, shrieks at redline, features astounding mid-range response, and shifts with precision. Upshifts lag too much when toggling the AutoStick, and fuel economy isn’t great, obviously. Our 16.6-mpg average included lots of highway driving.
Around town the brake pedal feels OK, and the binders indefatigable, but running hard the pedal has too much travel and feels mushy, like there isn’t enough pressure in the system. I pumped the brake once to build some boost, and that seemed to resolve the issue. I don’t recall this happening in our Chrysler 300 SRT-8 last summer, so maybe a problem with our test car? One thing common with the Chrysler is slow steering, with little road feel and too much column shake. Though the Goodyear Eagle F1 Supercar tires offer extraordinary grip, the suspension feels a little woozy when it should be stiffer, and too stiff when it should offer better compliance. Plus, there’s more body roll and head toss than I expected. Lumpy pavement is not this car’s friend – it likes glass-smooth blacktop, and that’s especially true when it comes to ride quality. The Charger SRT-8 is stiff, rough, like a truck. Lots of shake comes up through the steering column, and severe bumps upset directional stability. Sectioned concrete produces plenty of head bob. Grandma will not like to ride in this car.
But this isn’t supposed to be a cushy cruiser. It’s supposed to be fun to drive. And it most definitely is, in a meat-headed, run-fer-pinks sort of way. It’s great fun to listen to, it goes fast and stops quickly in a straight line, and inspires men with confidence issues to challenge you at every traffic light. But it’s work to drive on a twisty road with less than perfect pavement.
Finally, outward visibility is a problem with this car. It’s hard to see overhead traffic signals if you pull too close to the intersection. The C-pillars are quite thick, making it hard to reverse from slanted parking spaces. The rear decklid spoiler cuts view of cars behind you, making it tough to discern unmarked patrol cars (though it also cuts headlight glare at night). The greenhouse is squat, contributing to a feeling of claustrophobia. However, the side mirrors work nicely, and the corners are easy to judge for parking. I also liked the view of the hood scoop from the driver’s seat.
Thom Blackett’s 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 Driving Impressions:
Having had a few quick laps behind the wheel of a 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 at Willow Springs raceway, I was particularly interested in experiencing this car as an everyday driver. On the track, the Hemi worked its magic in throttling me down the straightaway at triple-digit speeds, with an exhaust roar that unapologetically interrupted numerous conversations along pit row. No surprise there, as 425 horsepower and 420 lb.-ft. of torque have a tendency to get things moving quickly. Power delivery is fairly linear, though there’s a definite surge after the revs climb a bit, accompanied by the “WHOMP” of the exhaust. However, in the sweeping and tight corners the front end felt disconnected. The steering could have been tighter and more responsive, but that wasn’t the real issue. What bothered me was how subtle undulations in the pavement made the Charger SRT-8 feel unsettled, not a welcome occurrence when dancing around a gradual arc near full throttle.
It didn’t take long driving around Orange County to realize that’s just this Dodge’s way, be it on the track or the street. That big steering wheel still feels disconnected and, at times, a bit too light. Ah, but yes, there’s the power from that Hemi, enough to authoritatively launch more than 4,100 pounds, though engineers have all but neutered the powertrain in terms of burnout capability. Turn off the traction control, crank the wheel to the side to unload some weight from the rear inside tire, and you get the 20-inchers to sing a bit, but exercises in pavement penmanship are all but impossible. Maybe that’s just as well, as SRT-8 pilots will only have to worry about speeding tickets and not those having to do with excessive noise and dangerous driving.
Ron Perry’s 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 Driving Impressions:
Have you ever anticipated something like a dream vacation, a meal at a five-star restaurant or maybe a first date with the girl (or guy) of your dreams and then after experiencing it, you’re so disappointed you sit there in disbelief? That was my experience with the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8. From the moment I heard it was on the schedule I couldn’t wait for it to roll into the parking lot. After driving the Charger R/T model (I loved it by the way) I was excited to see what 75 more horsepower would add to the experience. To my disbelief, I exited the SRT-8 at the end of the day shaking my head and wondering why Dodge had tuned it like this.
Now don’t get me wrong here, the Charger SRT-8 is fast. Really fast, if you are already moving and have the rpm’s up. Power off the line is minimal. Even with the traction control off and in manual mode, it won’t spin the tires. Not even when doing a brake stand. From a dead stop, stomping the pedal gets you a delayed response until the tach hits about 2,500 rpm and then you’d best be holding on tight and paying attention. The Charger SRT-8’s manners at speed are wonderful. I just would have enjoyed myself a lot more if the Charger had the ground pounding, off-the-line torque I was expecting. I was happy with the throttle response at speed and the overall ride and handling – though the ride is a bit stiff. Proper use of the horsepower can force the car through turns and the feedback as to what is happening at the rear wheels is excellent. I was never surprised by the suspension doing the unexpected. Steering and brakes are just right, delivering the right amount of feedback.
Just as with the driving experience, the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 suffers in comparison to the Chrysler 300C SRT-8 when the topic is comfort. It’s a strange thing – maybe the quality of the interior has something to do with the comfort of the car. After all, the seats are comfortable, and the plastics are acceptable. It’s a big sedan, so there’s plenty of legroom and elbow room. Functionally, the Charger is a comfortable ride. What makes it less so is that it feels as though the cabin was lifted straight out of a regular Charger, or a Magnum, and the result is disappointing. One doesn’t feel that way – at least less so – in the 300C SRT-8 or the Jeep Grand Cherokee SRT-8. This is the case despite upgrades such as power sport seats, red stitching and side bolsters. There’s also a carbon fiber finish throughout, and leather on the wheel, plus cool blacked-out instrument gauges. It’s all nice, but not quite enough, something that likely has to do with what the SRT-8 starts out with. A normal Charger is less refined on the inside than the 300 or the Jeep Grand Cherokee, and the result is a feeling that you and a pal took a regular old sedan and turned it into a 425-horsepower monster, as opposed to the feeling you get when you buy a fine machine off the lot.
Christian Wardlaw’s opinion of the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8’s Comfort:
Big car + big doors = easy entry and exit. Once inside, you would think that these appealing, super-bolstered sport seats would be more comfortable, but I couldn’t get properly situated behind the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8’s wheel. One reason is the lack of a cushion tilt adjuster. The chair raises, but flattens out as it goes higher, so to get proper thigh support I needed to sit low. That made it a bit uncomfortable to put my left elbow on the tall door panel sill for cruising. Add those stiff bolsters and my ever-widening frame, and sitting in here for a day’s drive is not nearly as appealing as, say, a Volvo. A tilt and telescopic steering wheel helps make the car more comfortable.
Rear access is hampered by the sloping roofline, so watch your head. Since the rear seat’s H-point is so tall, though, it’s still pretty easy and once they’re tucked inside, your passengers will be happy. The Charger SRT-8 is surprisingly comfortable in the back, where you sit high on a bolstered bench with lots of foot space. Leg room, however, feels tighter than a standard Charger. It’s not uncomfortably tight, since you sit high with terrific thigh support, but with a tall person up front and another tall person in back, the tall person in back will have his legs flush against the soft front seatbacks. Headroom is also at a premium, even for a guy with a short torso like me. The fold down armrest is nice; locating the dual cupholders there with hard plastic surrounds where your elbow will rest is not.
Finally, note that this is a loud car. Engine rumble, exhaust roar, tire whir, wind whoosh – it’s all here. A squeak was evident on sectioned concrete highway, but otherwise I heard no untoward gremlins inside. Not that I could if I wanted to.
Thom Blackett’s opinion of the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8’s Comfort:
For a brief period of time during college, my ride was a trashed 1977 Ford pickup, transportation that set me back $600, plus the hundreds that went into making it move forward when the transmission wasn’t slipping. The best parts of that pile of dung were the seats bolted through some 2x4s and the rusty cab floor. They were supposedly out of an unfortunate Chevrolet Cavalier Z24, and they seem to have been resurrected for use in the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8, at least in looks and the use of the fabric inserts. The resemblance is uncanny but the side bolsters, covered in cheap leather, are substantial enough to keep a good-sized driver in place during hard cornering.
There’s plenty of head and leg room up front, both seats offer power adjustments, and the driver benefits from a tilt and telescoping steering wheel wrapped in leather. Rear seat passengers will find sufficient room, provided Daddy Longlegs isn’t riding shotgun, but the dark leather interior and thick rear pillars make it feel a bit claustrophobic back there.
Ron Perry’s opinion of the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8’s Comfort:
I love the seats in the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8. The leather with the suede inserts and the excellent bolstering make you feel like you’re driving a racecar. They also have enough adjustment to get your seating set just right. The seats really give you that feeling of being tucked in and safe, yet the interior of the Charger feels spacious. Even the backseat room surprised me. Getting in and out is easy and once inside you will find plenty of head and knee room. The leather is soft and of high quality, and the use of the suede inserts really adds to the comfort. This is a car I would make a long road trip in whether in the front or the back seat.
The 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 has pretty much been slammed for quality issues such as gap tolerances and plastics since it’s introduction, and the SRT-8 is just the same, even though upgrades in the interior make it a nicer ride. For around $40,000, it’s fair to expect more in terms of quality, a point that could be fatal for a normal car. Normal is the farthest thing from what the Charger SRT-8 is, however, thanks to that 6.1-liter Hemi sitting up front and the suspension mods below. The quality of this car is in the nuts and bolts, indeed, and that’s enough to make it easy to look beyond odd gaps and bad plastics…maybe.
Christian Wardlaw’s opinion of the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8’s Quality:
Except for the seats, the SRT-8 is standard-issue Dodge Charger, with silver plastic trim that is not a bit offensive, soft-touch upper dash and door panels, a mesh cloth headliner, and chrome accents to break the monotony. Seats feature soft and smooth leather bolsters, pebble-patterned cloth inserts, and twill lower cushion sides to reduce squeaks. And with a price tag north of 40 grand, the center console plastic is thin and cheap feeling, and gloss levels are a smidge too high for the dash pad. Still, the Charger feels like a quality piece of work, even if it doesn’t exude it.
Our test car’s build quality was OK, but could have used more attention to detail. The plastic on one of the steering wheel rocker switches was cracking and flaking at low mileage; the center console trim didn’t line up properly with right side of the center stack dash pad; the overhead sunglasses storage compartment had flushness of fit issues; the center console lid was wiggly and felt vulnerable to breakage; the glovebox door didn’t fit flushly; the chrome shifter surround popped off in my hands during a stress test; and the upper dash pad over the gauge cluster exhibited too much flex. On the outside, the Charger SRT-8’s hood was on straight but had huge old-school gap tolerances. The front fascia fit at the wheel wells wasn’t consistent from side to side; the front door gaps were inconsistent from side to side; the right rear plastic trim at the C-pillar was poorly fit; and the rear fascia fits at the taillights were inconsistent.
Thom Blackett’s opinion of the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8’s Quality:
Covering the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8’s seats is cheap leather and 1980s-era fabric inserts, where better leather and suede inserts are more desirable. The dash has some soft-touch materials, though hard plastics are used liberally on the doors and less conspicuous areas of the interior. An alloy-like finish on the instrument panel and steering wheel spokes looks like a nice touch, but tap the panels only to discover that you’re looking at insubstantial plastic. Using a mesh headliner dresses things up a bit, but there’s no escaping the gap between engine quality and that of the interior parts. Exterior build quality was marred by a few points, such as the front fascia that didn’t line up correctly with the hood or the fenders and various gap inconsistencies.
Ron Perry’s opinion of the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8’s Quality:
Dodge has really come a long way with the build quality of its cars but there is still room for improvement, as our test car showed. Outside, even though the body panels were tight, the panel seam widths on the Charger varied wildly from panel to panel. The seams around the hood on one side would almost swallow a Bic pen while the other side was much tighter. Headlight fitment was also off.
Inside, the biggest quality fault is the cheap plastic that Dodge uses extensively throughout the interior. The door panels, which looked and felt horribly cheap, were the low point. I find it odd that there is such discrepancy because the seats with their red stitching and embroidery really portray the look of quality. Add to that the nice gauges and the faux aluminum trim and things really come together. The look just gets lost when you have to touch the plastic or use the cheap switches to raise and lower the windows, for instance. The 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 has a lot going for it and with a little more attention to detail it could be great.
Whoever the hard working designer is who came up with the Charger’s styling, he or she should get a hefty increase in pay, and, maybe a day in their honor. This is one sweet-looking ride, from the aggressive shoulders to the strong, vertical rear, and that wonderful cross-hair grille. It looks mean yet also smooth, all at the same time. Inside, the design is too much like the Magnum, with too much cheap-looking plastic and a wide, flat expanse of a dashboard that seems to lack refinement in design and execution. What people see as you drive by is a strong and sexy sedan; what you see on the inside smacks too much like a parts bin car that lacks its own unique personality. That said the Charger SRT-8 functions properly, with controls within easy reach and plenty of compartments. The function of the design lends itself to a day-to-day driver, but, sadly, the style of the design is one that many people will tire of after a few months.
Christian Wardlaw’s opinion of the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8’s Design:
“Wow, now that’s a man’s car.” That was the response of a family member upon pulling up to his home in the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8. This car drips testosterone, from its angry scowl, sharp-edged fenders, and gaping hood scoop to its oversized rear wing, giant chrome exhaust outlets, and broad shoulders. Massive 20-inch wheels front red-painted brake calipers. Long, low, and lean, the Charger SRT-8 says: “Don’t screw with me” at a glance. But, of course, every Corvette, Porsche, and BMW wants to take you on.
Inside, the Charger SRT-8 is plain, dressed up with white-faced gauges that glow a cool blue hue at night, embroidered sport seats, and a badge on the dash. Otherwise, the cabin is straight out of a standard Charger, a two-tone affair with silver trim and chrome accents. Nice, but not very nice.
As for control layout and design, there are few faults. The biggest has to do with the steering column, which is straight out of a Mercedes. That means the cruise control stalk can sometimes be mistaken for a turn signal stalk, and that the clunky turn signal stalk also incorporates the wipers. The other main problem is with Chrysler’s navigation radio, which employs the company’s confounding corporate station pre-set methodology that requires a two-step button-pushing process. And while the display screen is bright and features high resolution, it’s not a touch screen which means lots of toggling to scroll and select before pressing the “enter” button. The good news is that there are big volume/power and tune/audio knobs for the stereo located right where you expect them to be, and that the station presets are arrayed on driver’s side of display. Otherwise, I had no complaints.
Thom Blackett’s opinion of the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8’s Design:
There are two common approaches to building powerful sedans – confine all of the work to below the surface, creating what is commonly referred to as a sleeper, or take the approach Dodge has with the 2006 Charger SRT-8 and bolt on a more aggressive front fascia, a hood scoop, honeycomb grille inserts, shiny 20-inch wheels, Brembo brake calipers, a rear spoiler, and a few SRT-8 badges so folks will know this isn’t just a tire and body-kit job. And for the truly inconspicuous wall flower of a car buyer, there’s the interior’s red stitching, SRT-8 logos embossed into the headrests, and SRT gauges. As such, the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 is sure to be a favorite of laser-gun toting deputies out for a little target practice.
Ron Perry’s opinion of the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8’s Design:
The Dodge Charger SRT-8 is a nicely designed car. The exterior is bold, powerful and instantly recognizable even at a distance. Designers chose aggressive 20-inch wheels and highlighted them with big red Brembo brake calipers. With its broad shoulders and large diameter wheels, the Charger SRT-8 really looks like it is ready to pounce.
Inside is where the designers went all out. From the red stitching on the seats to the subtle carbon fiber motif engraved into the leather on the steering wheel, there is no mistaking that you are in the Charger SRT-8. The use of aluminum-look trim along with the subtle use of chrome on the handles, shift gate and ashtray really accent each other nicely. Designers also used nice big gauges all lined up in a row directly in the line of vision. The interior is a nice piece of work and had Dodge chosen better plastics, the interior would be spot on.
With a superb Hemi engine, a capably refined five-speed automatic transmission and a retooled suspension – not to mention huge performance brakes and a smoldering design, the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 is just the right car for folks who still want a bit of roughneck in their ride and have the money it takes to sample that 425-horsepower engine on a regular basis. On that score, it won’t disappoint, as long as you’re okay with the two-grand gas guzzler tax and really lousy fuel economy. If, on the other hand, you expect more from the interior, and more in terms of quality fit and finish from your $40,000 ride, the Charger falls a bit short. No matter. If you want smash mouth performance but are no longer crazy about doing burnouts in the parking lot, check out the Chrysler 300C SRT-8 model. Either way, thanks to the car nuts in the Chrysler Group’s SRT division, DaimlerChrysler has you covered. When it comes to off the lot performance models, the SRT team is doing special things with the vehicle lineups at Chrysler, Dodge, and Jeep.
Christian Wardlaw’s Advice about the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8:
The 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 is the kind of car that people will buy no matter what any critic says. So let me put it this way: after driving all three versions of the Dodge Charger, my favorite is still the SXT with the 3.5-liter V6 engine and the upgrade wheels. That’s the Charger I recommend to the masses for its size, its style, and its overall performance. Comparatively, the Charger SRT-8 is a beast of a car, a handful when the pavement writhes, astonishingly quick in a straight line, and bluntly beautiful. It’s worth every penny to fans of raw performance machines, die-hard Buy American types, and people looking for gotta-have-it cool factor. (Huh. A Dodge is cool. Don’t see any pigs flying outside…) But if you’re cross-shopping this with a loaded BMW 330i or Infiniti M because the sticker prices are about the same, you’ll be happier in the luxury car. Trust me on this one.
Thom Blackett’s Advice about the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8:
Despite its comfortable interior, go-fast looks, and of course that 425-horsepower Hemi, the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8 is not a car I’d be keen on paying for over a span of 48 to 72 months. I still don’t like the awkward rear beltline or the Mitsubishi Galant tail design, even with that body-colored spoiler and dual chrome exhaust pipes. The front end, especially equipped with those scalloped headlights, is suitably menacing, but it all goes to pot aft of the B-pillar. Plus, the steering needs more feedback through a smaller steering wheel and smoky burnouts should be on the menu.
Ron Perry’s Advice about the 2006 Dodge Charger SRT-8:
My advice isn’t really aimed at the potential buyer, it’s aimed at Dodge. If you are going to use the name Charger on a performance car, give it some attributes of the original. You guys really need to build a limited production model of the Charger SRT-8 with a five- or six-speed manual transmission and lower first gear setup. Create a car that truly harks back to the original Charger, a car you can smoke the tires with and exit corners with controlled oversteer. A car like this would really fill the enthusiast need until the Challenger hits the streets.
As for my advice to potential buyers, don’t spend the extra cash on the SRT-8. Just opt for the Charger R/T and save yourself some money. The added expense just isn’t worth the little bit of extra fun the SRT-8 provides.
Price of Test Vehicle: $43,505 (including $675 destination charge and $2,100 gas guzzler tax)
Engine Size and Type: 6.1-liter V8
Engine Horsepower: 425 at 6,200 rpm
Engine Torque: 420 lb.-ft. at 4,800 rpm
Transmission: Five-speed automatic with manual shift feature
Curb weight, lbs.: 4,160
EPA Fuel Economy (city/highway): 14/20 mpg
Observed Fuel Economy: 16.6 mpg
Length: 200.1 inches
Width: 74.5 inches
Wheelbase: 120 inches
Height: 58.2 inches
Leg room (front/rear): 41.8/40.2 inches
Head room (front/rear): 38.7/36.2 inches
Max. Seating Capacity: Five
Max. Cargo Volume: 16.2 cu.-ft.
Competitors: Acura TL A-Spec, BMW 330i, Cadillac CTS-V, Chrysler 300 SRT-8, Infiniti M45, Jaguar S-Type R, Lexus IS 350, Lexus GS 450, Mazdaspeed 6, Mercedes-Benz C350, Volvo S60 R
Photos by Ron Perry