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.