Story and Photos by Steve Magnante
The New York International Auto Show recently played host to the invite-only unveiling of the restyled 2015 Challenger and Charger. Let’s take a look at the new Charger. Addressing a room packed with automotive journalists from all over the globe, Dodge President and CEO Tim Kuniskis proclaimed that the Dodge Charger exists to “make category cars nervous.” Anybody else is playing a game of catch-up or imitation.
To keep things fresh for 2015 and beyond, Dodge has given this family-sized fun machine a full body makeover that gives all models (SE, SXT, R/T and R/T Road & Track) a tighter, sleeker external appearance without sacrificing interior volume. The previous square-shouldered body treatment (in use with refinements since 2006) has been rounded so it looks as if all four wheels have been moved outward, closer to the corners of the car. It’s a cool illusion — Charger retains its generous 120.2-inch wheelbase and nimble 37.7 ft. curb-to-curb turning radius (38.7 ft. with all-wheel drive). The leaner look comes from new front and rear fascias, new front doors, new front and rear fenders and a new hood.
Along with its exciting exterior restyle, the 2015 Dodge Charger interior gains a new 7-inch customizable thin-film-transistor digital gauge cluster, thick-rim three-spoke steering wheel with available paddle shifters and eight all-new interior trim treatments. The center console is home to a new T-handle Auto Stick shift lever that controls a groundbreaking eight-speed automatic transmission. Where last year’s V-8 Charger offered five forward speeds, all 2015 Chargers (regardless of engine selected) come standard with the TorqueFlite eight speed that helps fuel economy and acceleration while weighing a mere 8 lbs. more than the five-speed automatic it replaces.
Traditional performance fans will be happy to know the legendary 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 is standard in the R/T and R/T Road & Track, but they shouldn’t overlook the award-winning 3.6-liter Pentastar® V-6 engine. With lightweight all-aluminum block and head construction, deep-breathing DOHC, four-valve-per-cylinder architecture and efficient 10.2:1 compression ratio, it delivers 292 horsepower and 260 lb.-ft. of torque plus best-in-class V6 highway fuel economy of an EPA-estimated 31 miles per gallon*. Charger SXT buyers looking for more can select the Rallye Group which bumps output to 300 hp /264 lb.-ft. thanks to cold air induction, sport-tuned exhaust and specific engine control calibrations. All this and 0-60 acceleration in 6.6-seconds!
Since its 2006 introduction, the Charger has shown the Dodge brand’s unique ability to create — and grow — marketplace niches. Proof of this came in March 2014 when combined Charger/Challenger sales in the United States passed the one million unit mark. Now, with its freshly restyled body, eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission and state-of-the-art driver-assist features, the 2015 Dodge Charger is set to attract ever more customers in the coming years.
2015: Let’s compare. The new 2015 fascia retains Charger’s sinister crosshair grille treatment but sleekly wraps the headlamps into the front. Though front overhang has been reduced, the sure-footed chassis architecture remains. This is the new look of Charger, and I dig it.
2014: The current (2011-2014) Charger fascia is an evolution of the similarly themed 2006 debut. After nine model years of refinement, perhaps the stylists agreed the design had run its course. Put yourself in their shoes and ask, “Where can we go from here?”
2015: The new 2015 tail treatment is defined by reduced overhang, rounded corners and generally softer lines that contribute a visual lightness to the design. The three-piece trunk lid spoiler (standard on R/T, R/T Road & Track, optional on SE and SXT) now sits flush on the trunk. A sharp eye will notice the subtle “flying buttress” C-pillar treatment, most pronounced where the pillars meet the tops of the quarter panels.
2014: Angular shapes dominate the current (2011-2014) tail that has more visual bulk than its replacement. Note how the individual LED tail lamp cells are visible behind the lens. The 2015 redesign employs revised LED units and lens structures to give a continuous seamless ribbon of light. Speaking of lights, the center high-mounted stop lamp has been relocated from the edge of the trunk lid (as seen here) to the inside of the rear window for the redesigned 2015 Charger. It’s out of sight until the brakes are applied.