By Steve Magnante
Please hover your cursor over each image in this post for more information on what’s happening in the photo.
No matter your age, sooner or later you’ll realize that life’s too short to drive a boring car. But just because many of us live in places where deep snow makes winter driving a hassle doesn’t mean we have to compromise. All hail the mighty 2014 Dodge HEMI® Charger All-Wheel Drive (AWD), a car for all seasons – and all reasons. With its spacious four-door body and cavernous trunk, it’s great for growing families and also for singles who want a bit more room than a pony car can offer.
As the AWD nomenclature implies, the all-wheel-drive system delivers carefully measured power to the front wheels. I spent two weeks with a HEMI®-powered Granite Crystal metallic AWD beauty during the first half of a particularly brutal February and came away amazed at its ability to drive through snow-covered streets. And this on its standard-issue Michelin Pilot all-season radial tires.
While the regular rear-wheel-drive Charger is a great all-around package, Dodge engineers conjured the all-wheel-drive version to help when there could otherwise be a loss of traction in inclement weather. But don’t get the wrong idea that this all-wheel-drive system is a heavy, cumbersome affair. On the contrary, the AWD was thoroughly engineered and designed to be useful on summer days when fun is the name of the game.
AWD has long been a component available to super car designers looking for optimized road course performance. Most of today’s top exotic cars have it, and the Charger’s system is calibrated to be helpful on a road course where the application of power to the front tires delivers neutral handling characteristics and makes powering into, through and out of sharp corners a quicker occurrence than with RWD alone. The intelligent on-demand transfer case uses multiple sensors to direct a portion of the engine’s power to the front tires seamlessly, without the need for driver activation. It’s always there, ready to serve. Best of all, an automatic front axle disconnect feature neutralizes the front drive system when it isn’t needed.
Because my personal experience with all-wheel-drive vehicles is thus far limited to pickup trucks, I was curious to see how Dodge driveline engineers packaged all the nifty bits beneath the Charger’s sleek body. Beyond that, as the former owner of a classic 1968 HEMI® Charger R/T (one of 264 built with the 727 Torqueflite automatic transmission), I wanted to see how far we’ve come since the old days of leaf springs, live axles and drum brakes. I took the car over to the good folks at Brookfield Motors Dodge in Brookfield, Mass., where the Kruzewski family has been selling new Dodge vehicles since 1958 – including a real-live 4-speed HEMI® Charger back in 1967. Let’s take a closer look and see what makes the new AWD 2014 Dodge HEMI® Charger stick – hover your cursor over each image in this post for more information on what’s happening in the photo.