2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 Road Test & Review: Introduction
Disciples who routinely worship at the altar of high performance are well aware of the activities of the SRT group within the Chrysler corporation. Responsible for such automotive deities as Viper and Prowler, the SRT group has routinely anointed the streets with some of the hottest cars in Chrysler’s histor
For the 2012 model year, Chrysler decreed SRT become a brand unto itself, complete with a chief executive officer in the person of Canadian Ralph Gilles (pronounced Jeels).
To ensure the success of the brand, Gilles cast his net with a raft of all-new white-hot rear-drive models powered by a new 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine designed to enable its driver to absolutely positively scald the streets.
Reworked as an all-new product for the 2011 model year, the Dodge Charger was already a significant improvement over the 2010 model it replaced. This now carries into the SRT iteration of the car as well. If you’re a fighter pilot in need of a family car, the folks at SRT (with the capable assistance of the Dodge boys), have crafted just the four-door to suit your needs.
2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 Road Test & Review: Models & Prices
Itself a subset of the Dodge Charger model range, the Charger SRT8 is offered in two states of trim. These are the standard Charger SRT8 and the 2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee.
Essentially fully-loaded versions of the Charger with more powerful engines; the standard SRT8 includes, as standard equipment, a three-mode adaptive high-performance suspension system employing a set of 20-inch wheels; a three-mode adjustable stability control system, upgraded brakes by Brembo, and a rear spoiler. It also includes a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, a navigation system with a rearview camera, and a 19-speaker Harman Kardon audio system.
The Super Bee makes do with a smaller touchscreen interface and does without the adaptive suspension system, xenon headlights, and 19-speaker audio system. The model is further distinguished by a choice of yellow or black paint with Super Bee graphics and badges, a different hood and grille treatment, and cloth seats rather than the leather upholstery employed in the standard SRT8.
The 2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 Super Bee starts at $44,245, Charger SRT8 starts at $47,245. Both prices include a $1000 gas-guzzler tax and Chrysler’s $995 destination charge.
2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 Road Test & Review: Design
Coming at your prey from behind, the Charger SRT8 looks absolutely sinister. Its high-gloss black front grille, grille surround, and integrated Dodge crosshair framing the signature SRT badge, all work together to project the impression your car will suck them in and blow them out of its tailpipes. Meanwhile, the performance-sculpted hood’s black air exhauster aids engine cooling.
The Charger SRT8 is one of the few cars we’ve driven that consistently gets respect on the highway. In BMWs, Porsches, and Ferraris, we’ve frequently encountered individuals who’d squat in our path—seemingly just on general principle. When we came up fast in one of these, people got the buckets out of our way.
National pride perhaps?
Whatever it is, when we passed, they were treated to a light show, courtesy of the 164 LEDs comprising the Dodge’s “racetrack” tail lamp design. Huge, four-inch exhaust outlets projected the HEMI’s deep-throated baritone into their faces, while the tail spoiler forced the rear wheels down to the ground to help keep the tires planted on the pavement.
Of course, all of that’s subdued in comparison to the look of the SRT8 Super Bee with its bold graphics on the rear fenders and the 3-D Super Bee badge on the grille. The Super Bee’s hood gets a different treatment as well.
2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 Road Test & Review: Comfort & Cargo
Inside our Charger SRT8 test car, both front seats had aggressive bolstering under their leather and suede upholstery to help keep us in place during the decidedly spirited driving situations the Charger SRT8 permitted. By the way, those front seats were also heated and ventilated and had the SRT logo embroidered in the seat backs. Reactive headrests are standard and the rear perches are heated as well.
One of the practical benefits of the Charger SRT8 is the fact it is as much a spacious and comfortable sedan, as it is a hair-raising performance car. Five adults can ride comfortably in the SRT8. Legroom for rear seat occupants is more than adequate for extended drives. Basically, the Dodge Charger SRT8 is a long distance, high-speed transportation device in the vein of obscenely expensive big-engined European sedans—but with a decidedly American flair.
The trunk offers 15.4 cubic feet of volume, which can be extended inside the Charger courtesy of the 60/40 split folding rear seat back.
2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 Road Test & Review: Features & Controls
Behind the flat-bottomed steering wheel are paddles for controlling the five-speed automatic transmission and a full-color graphic Electronic Vehicle Information Center featuring Performance Pages. In them, you’ll find timers for 0-60 mph, one-eighth mile and quarter-mile times, 60-0 braking distance, and lateral and longitudinal g-forces.
In the center stack, the 8.4-inch color touchscreen display reports all the same Performance Pages data as the EVIC, plus steering angle, horsepower and torque outputs; as well as vital engine operating parameters via electronic representations of engine gauges. The display is also customizable to a driver selectable background.
Other standard features include Chrysler’s voice activated telematics system called Uconnect, which incorporates Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming. Garmin supplies software for the navigation system. The optional SiriusXM Travel Link system provides real-time weather, fuel prices, sports scores, and movie theater information. Additionally, real time traffic information is supplied via SiriusXM Traffic.
2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 Road Test & Review: Engine/Fuel Economy
Without question, the heart and soul of the Dodge Charger SRT8 is its 470-horsepower 6.4-liter V8, which is capable of cranking up 470 ft-lbs of torque. Producing 45 more horsepower and 50 more ft-lbs of torque than the 6.1-liter engine it replaced in 2012, the newly invigorated HEMI launches the big sedan with ease (particularly now that the Charger SRT8 is fitted with the launch control system as standard equipment for 2013) and keeps it running happily well into extra-legal speeds.
To achieve these numbers, Chrysler’s engineers fitted an active intake manifold and paired it with a phase shifting high lift cam system to optimize both low-end torque and high-end horsepower. There’s also a new active valve exhaust system, which works in concert with the Fuel Saver Technology cylinder deactivation system to produce 21 percent better fuel economy than the 6.1 was capable of. Run wide open, the exhaust system, in essence, bypasses the mid and rear mufflers to enable the engine to breathe more freely.
Oh, and uh, it also amplifies the robust sound of that V8 under full throttle.
On the other hand though, the bristling new HEMI is mated to the same old five-speed automatic transmission. Graced with a manual shift function, paddles mounted behind the steering wheel control its manual shifts. The transmission offers two modes, Normal and Sport, and can be shifted manually in either. In the normal mode, shifts are “geared” —if you will—more toward the comfort end of the spectrum. In the sport mode shifts happen more aggressively and gear changes are delayed to help the engine generate either as much speed or braking as needed to negotiate more challenging maneuvers.
Fuel consumption is quoted at 14-mpg in the city, 23-mpg on the highway and 17 combined, which explains that $1000 gas-guzzler tax.
2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 Road Test & Review: Driving Impressions
A high performance sedan on the family plan, the Dodge Charger SRT8 will comfortably and safely ferry your kids to and from school all week, look good when you go out on the town with your spouse on Friday night, and then spend the weekend at the race track— wholly competitive in whatever activity you choose.
Romp on its throttle, huge heaping clouds of tire smoke will reward your indulgence. When the rear tires hook up, the Charger slams you back against the sculpted sport seat and takes off. When the first turn presents itself, the four-piston Brembos clamp the vented rotors with absolute determination, instantly arresting the HEMI’s ferocity.
Upon turn-in, the 20-inch Pirellis exert their considerable influence onto the road’s surface, enabling the Charger to orient itself in your desired direction of travel with both poise and ease. Displaying outstanding balance for a car of its size—thanks to Chrysler’s new adaptive damping suspension system—the Charger gracefully sweeps the apex. Exiting the corner, a boot of the throttle simultaneously brings the rear end around crisply, squats the big sedan on its rear suspension, and catapults you toward the next opportunity to do it all over again.
As much as we love the way the Charger SRT8 goes, we’d be remiss to neglect to mention the five-speed automatic transmission in the car isn’t exactly state of the art. Similarly, its (now) old-school hydraulic steering system robs the engine of a bit of output and decreases the already low fuel economy rating of the SRT8 Dodge sedan somewhat.
2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 Road Test & Review: Safety/Ratings
On the other hand though, the 2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 features more than 65 cutting-edge safety and security features, including standard Keyless Enter-N-Go and electronic stability control (ESC) with Chrysler’s Ready Alert Braking and Rain Brake Support safety features to improve overall vehicle handling and performance.
The Ready Alert Braking system anticipates the potential for a sudden stop when the driver quickly releases the accelerator pedal and may initiate an emergency brake stop. The electronic stability control pump engages to set the brake pads against the rotors, speeding up the time required for full brake application. Meanwhile, the Rain Brake Support system lightly presses the pads against the rotors at predetermined intervals in wet weather. This is done to keep the rotors as dry as possible to shorten stopping distances on wet pavement.
In addition, standard front-row reactive head restraints, standard full-length side-curtain air bags, driver’s knee air bag and standard front seat-mounted side-thorax air bags offer enhanced occupant protection to passengers in the event of a collision. The available Driver Confidence Group adds Blind-spot Monitoring, Forward Collision Warning, Rear Cross Path detection and SmartBeam automatic high/low beam headlamps.
Chrysler’s Forward Collision Warning uses the adaptive cruise control system’s sensors to trigger an alarm if a collision seems imminent. The Charger’s Blind-spot Monitoring and Rear Cross Path detection, warn a driver if there is a car in the blind spot next to the Dodge SRT8. It also warns the driver if an object is about to enter the Charger’s path of travel when backing. Meanwhile, the ParkSense front and rear park assist system makes it easier to squeeze the big Chrysler into tight spaces without scratching its paint.
The IIHS rated the Charger “good” (its top rating) in frontal offset, side impact and roof-strength testing. NHTSA awarded the Dodge five stars in front-impact and side-impact protection.
2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 Road Test & Review: Final Thoughts
Given the close relationship between the Chrysler 300 and the Dodge Charger, one might be led to wonder why they should go for the Charger SRT8 over the 300 SRT8. After all, just as with the 300, in our performance testing of the Charger SRT8 we saw sixty in just under five seconds, quarters in just over 12, and seemingly unending acceleration—underscoring Chrysler’s claim of a 175 top for both cars.
Well, simply put, while the Chrysler 300 SRT8 is a luxury car with performance built in, the Charger is a performance car with an outstanding set of comfort and convenience features built in. If you want to loudly and proudly leave no doubts about the capabilities of your ride, go for the Dodge. If you need to keep the nature of your anarchy on the down low, the more subdued appearance of the Chrysler is the way for you to go.
Either way, you’ll find yourself behind the wheel of the one of the most dynamically capable American performance sedans ever built. If you’ve ever wondered what it’d feel like to be part of a Golden Age, get yourself one of the SRT8 sedans.
You’ll find out, in rather short order.
2013 Dodge Charger SRT8 Road Test & Review: Pros & Cons
• Outstanding performance potential
• Exceptional comfort
• Generous complement of tech features
• Relatively reasonable pricing (for what you get)
• Low fuel economy
• Gas-guzzler tax
• Potentially expensive insurance
• Dated transmission and steering mechanisms