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REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE
2015 Dodge Charger R/T Road & Track model

This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Sun, Jul 19, 2015

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

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A rebel without a cause (John Grafman)

Story and photography by John Grafman Right now the Dodge Charger is the most controversial car in America. Actually, that would be the ’69 Charger known as the General Lee from television’s famed Dukes Of Hazard series. More specifically, it’s the roof of the orange Dodge garnished with the Confederate flag that’s the cause of debate from sea to shining sea. In terms of the show, the flag was symbolic of rebelliousness, and nothing much deeper or darker than that. Coincidentally, “rebel” is the probably the one word that completely captures the essence of the 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Road & Track model. The current model bucks the trend of many, if not all, of its competitors, and in several ways it even goes against the grain of the sixties muscle car that inspired the modern Charger R/T. While the cars from the sixties and seventies had charisma and beefy motors, they fell short in so many ways. The 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Road & Track handles, brakes, and steers in ways the ’69 never could have dreamed of. The new Road & Track does share a healthy dose personality with the cars that the Duke boys drove with “devil-may-care” gusto. Yes, this is badass! Driving the Dodge like a normal, responsible human being is a true exercise in self-restraint. Cruising around in the 2015 Dodge Challenger all over the San Fernando Valley with this radiant red paint color, I may as well turn myself into the police now. Perhaps the law might be more forgiving if they can avoid spending valuable resources on police chases and roadblocks. As it is, the only way this could stick out more is by installing a huge hoop wing on the tail deck, just like the flamboyant Chargers and Plymouth Road Runners in NASCAR, back in the late 60s and early 70s. A Richard Petty feathered hat would be the cherry on top! Honestly, the odds of evading the long arm of the law like the Dukes aren’t what it used to be. Besides the assets the police have today are intimidating, like the bird in the sky, and Motorola. Plus, to make it even tougher, cops are endowed with other Dodge Charger Pursuit cars as well, with the option of all-wheel drive.

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2015 Dodge Charger R/T Road & Track model (John Grafman)

For every day citizens the Charger R/T Road & Track has more than enough juice to get nearly any job done. The 5.7-liter (known as a 350 CI to the old school crowd) Hemi is endowed with 370 horsepower at 5,250 RPM, and 395 lb-ft. of torque at 4,200 RPM! Yes, that’s stump-pulling power! So, a little discretion and the assistance of an Escort 9500i radar detector, or something similar can save both embarrassment, and points on the driving record, and maybe a heartless exposé by TMZ. After personally getting to know a judge in Malibu on a first name basis years ago due to repeated times before the bench, I’d rather not relive the experience. “I swear judge, it wasn’t me, it was the car”! Still, I find it necessary to risk it, and caress the coast upwards towards the Ventura County line. Today the Valley is about as hot as the surface of the sun, and the beach is about 70 degrees. Where would you rather be? Inland it’s about as dry as a bone, like somebody left the dehydrator on too long. There isn’t a shrub or tree around town that doesn’t look like a matchstick. Just hopping over the Santa Monica Mountains, which is only about 15 minutes from the sprawl of Woodland Hills or Calabasas, it’s like landing in another world. This must be Oz! The outside temperature reading on the center console falls like a stone. For those that aren’t familiar with the terrain, the Santa Monica Mountains create a natural barrier between the scorching heat on one side of the hill, and the very moderate temps created by the Pacific Ocean. But, just like with tornados, when two varying conditions collide something is bound to happen. In this case, no trees or homes are uprooted, but the unforgiving heat does suck the cool air inland, dragging with that the moisture from the ocean, thus creating the soothing coastal cloudiness. On this summer day at the beach the overcast fog is as dense as Donald Trump! Drops of drizzle escape the thick coastal cloudiness, only to evaporate moments later. If you didn’t know any better, aside from all of those people defecting from the Valley, you’d swear this was the dead of winter along PCH. It’s obvious, the sun this morning is only going to be making a cameo appearance, and that’s it. This is indeed June gloom at its finest. The plants covering the hillsides by Zuma Beach are not entirely lush, but at least healthy from the dampness. The shops that dot the roadway wouldn’t notice the difference if the A/C units were on the fritz later this afternoon. This is still part of LA County, but it bears no resemblance to the streets, freeways and shopping malls that I just escaped from only 25 minutes ago. The semi-rugged mountains, standing testament to major geological upheaval, isolate the populations and creating a costal enclave. Mixing the outsiders in with the locals is often just fine, but at other times it’s a recipe for disaster.

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Pretty wicked from any angle (John Grafman)

At the moment, I’m feeling like a Hodad. Let’s see, I brought no surfboard, trunks, or even a damn beach towel, or any of my typical beach gear. When the engine isn’t wailing from under the hood, Deep Purple or some other geezer rock band is sneaking out from inside the cabin propelled by the $995 optional Beats audio system that includes 10 speakers, a subwoofer, and a 552-watt amp. Geez, I’ve become a regular fish outta water. Yup, that’s me, I’m a kook! In spite of my appearance today, I might be attempting to grey gracefully. But, no matter how hard I try, the Charger looks ten times better for its age. To start with, this 5.7-liter raging bull engine mated to the 8-speed automatic is a brilliant combo. It’s more than happy to turn the tires into tiny, little marbles of rubber, and black scars on the roadway. Yet, this isn’t some unwieldy monster, but rather sophisticated. Left in the auto mode, and with a gentle, progressive touch to the accelerator pedal the 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Road & Track propels forward as smooth as silk. Also, the radiating sound from engine and exhaust is rather docile. This only takes a slight tip-in of the pedal on the right, and it’s very easy to modulate. The transmission comes with adaptive electronic controls, with paddle shifters manual controls, and eco mode. The standard sport tuned suspension does an amazing job of finding a balance between handling and ride comfort. This does absorb road irregularities without complaint, or jolting the driver and passengers, far better than one would believe. And, the suspension does justice to the powertrain, so corners are not to be feared. The sport brake package that comes standard with the R/T Road & Track is a considerable upgrade over the touring brake package. This model gets two pistons per front caliper, rather than the touring’s single piston, and the larger front rotors are providing an additional 39 square inches more of swept area for greater stopping power. While the rears are the same size in both packages, the R/T features vented rear discs. Mind you, this is no lightweight at 4,264 pounds, nor is it small at 198.4”. This might not be the George Foreman of the automotive world, but it’s not Floyd Mayweather, Jr either. So, the powertrain, brakes and suspension have plenty to contend with.

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The likely view of the car when trying to catch it (John Grafman)

But, in contrast to the muscle cars from decades' back, and todays’ crop, there is no comparison at all. The R/T Road & Track is also a rebel when it comes to the concept of what a muscle car is. Unlike the current crop of performance cars, and even it’s own namesake from the 1960s, this is a sedan. The “new” Charger concept created just before the turn of the century was a coupe. Someone at Dodge thought a four-door is just more practical. Can you believe that? Honestly, it is more practical. Traditionally, a muscle car is lots of power and not much else, simple and straightforward. The 2015 Charger is a technically a tour de force, and as intelligent as nearly any car out there - muscle car or otherwise. Case in point, the Lane Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist features function brilliantly. This is part of the $1,705 optional Technology Group. The Lane Keep Assist is really a watered down automated driving system. The system sensors are keeping track of the lane markers or painted lines, and sense the driver’s steering input. If it appears the driver is unintentionally drifting out of his or her lane, the car will steer back towards the proper lane. The driver can easily overcome the resistance in the steering if indeed the intent is to change lanes. Clearly, this could drive extended distances autonomously by working in tandem with the tech options like Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop, Full Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus, Blind Spot and Cross Traffic Detection, and other features. It’s only a matter of time! The latest Charger is also unlike yesteryears’ when it comes to comfort and convenience. The 2015 R/T does offer expected features like keyless entry and push button start, power and heated seats, and adjustable steering. But, this also includes vented front seats, and power adjustable pedals with memory. The seat vents prove to be a godsend during hot days, but with the vents on high speed these do make a slight bit of unwanted noise in an otherwise quiet cabin. The robust infotainment system would have been like sci-fi, Buck Rogers material back in the day. A large, 8.4”, UConnect color touchscreen in the dash provides all of the favs, like radio, media, climate, NAV, and phone. For drivers without long arms, the reach can be a bit much, as well as clicking through the various screens. The display offers an overwhelming amount of info. In the good old days having a tach was often optional, and that was a big deal. On this model, a typical screen with the radio graphics showing presents a total of 35 various bit of info or buttons, and there are more bits possible. For those that like to push buttons, the steering wheel will delight with an abundance of those. Adding those on the face of the wheel, plus the buttons on the back, and the shift paddles, the total is 22! True, this has functionality that would impress a pilot of a stealth fighter, but it requires impressive skills to remember what does what in the R/T. In time it all becomes second nature, but it’s daunting at first.

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Inside, the Charger is all new (John Grafman)

This is a muscle car, and sure Bluetooth along with all the rest is great, but really this is about driving. So, forget all the other knob, buttons, and switches except for two. These are the all-important Sport, and Super Track Pack buttons. Those are found blending in with all the others on the center console, nestled between the audio volume and tuning buttons. These two settings really let the Charger R/T come to life by enabling changes you can feel and hear. This goes from quick to tire smoking fast at the flip of the switch. Changes include shifting and engine response, adjust the electronic stability control, and firming up the steering feel too. This Road & Track model features a unique 3.07 rear axle ratio (versus the standard 2.62 rear axle ratio) a high-speed engine controller, paddle shifters. There are also more onscreen options to take advantage of, such as adjusting the launch control. Really, this car is more than a pilot can handle, and having a co-pilot/navigator or an IT professional sitting next to the driver would be helpful. It’s not that any of these settings onscreen are so complicated, but when driving fast it’s normally best to focus on the matter at hand. All of the digital gauges that can display on the small screen tucked in-between the center cluster gauges, as well as those on the center stack are swell. However, those graphics have to be flipped through one at a time. The center UConnect 8.4” touchscreen on the Road & Track model (and on Scat Pack model) does feature active launch control, launch control RPM settings, performance timers, and performance gauges, such as g-force indicators and engine performance. Ideally, this would also be displayed in bulk or in groups, more like the Nissan GT-R. The interior is also a mixed bag, but reflects the soul of muscle cars. Surfaces are generally plastic, and there’s plenty of it. The interior is spacious, which only further emphasizes the need for pleasing materials. Nevertheless, the design exceeds expectation. The patterned metal trim offers an appreciated break in expanses of petro-panels. Of course, all this fun playing with an over abundance of horsepower does take a toll on the fuel economy. I’m sure the General can relate. Without a doubt this does far better with an innovative four-cylinder mode Fuel Saver Technology than the big engine, earth-shaking cars of yore, but this won’t be confused with a Prius anytime soon. True to the genre, the 2015 Dodge Charger R/T comes in at a reasonable $43,465. Stripped of all the toys one can option, the R/T has a remarkably low base price of $32,995. Well, there is one other option worth adding to a no-frills 2015 Charger. The questionable General Lee’s rooftop flag on the 1968 car can be replaced today with a $1,500 Pitch Black Painted Roof option. Hmmm! I can’t help thinking that the modern Dodger Charger is just like those from the past. The more things change, the more they stay the same…only better! SUMMARY JUDGMENT An affordable, kick-butt muscle car. The money saved can be used for bail later! For more information about Dodge products, go to dodge.com

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Yes, this thing has a HEMI (John Grafman)

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2015 Dodge Charger R/T Road & Track Price: Base $32,995 as tested $43,465 EPA mileage estimates (miles per gallon) 16 city/25 highway/19 combined Engine type: 5.7 Liter, eight cylinder, 90-degree V-type, liquid-cooled with variable-cam timing (VCT), Pushrod-operated overhead valves, 16 valves, eight deactivating and eight conventional hydraulic lifters, all with roller followers, fuel injection sequential, multiport, electronic, Deep-skirt cast-iron block with cross-bolted main bearing caps, aluminum alloy heads with hemispherical combustion chambers, 10.5:1 compression ratio. Horsepower: 370 bhp (276 kW) @ 5,250 rpm Torque: 395 lb.-ft. (536 N•m) @ 4,200 rpm Drive configuration: Front engine, rear-wheel drive Transmission type: TorqueFlite Eight-speed Adaptive electronic control, optional Sport mode or paddle-shifted driver interactive manual control with Eco mode Suspension Front: Independent SLA with high upper “A” arm, coil spring over gas-charged monotube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar Lateral and diagonal lower links with dual ball joint knuckles and sway bar One-piece lower-control arms — standard on Charger AWD models only Rear: Five-link independent with coil springs, gas-charged monotube shock absorbers, stabilizer bar and isolated suspension cradle Sport-tuned Suspension Standard on Charger R/T Wheels and tires Front: 20” X 8” Polished aluminum with black pockets – Standard, Polished and forged Classic II - Optional. Goodyear RS-A 245/45R20 BSW All-Season performance – Standard. Goodyear Eagle F1 245/45R20 BSW Three-season high-performance - Optional. Rear: 20” X 8” Polished aluminum with black pockets – Standard, Polished and forged Classic II - Optional. Goodyear RS-A 245/45R20 BSW All-Season performance – Standard. Goodyear Eagle F1 245/45R20 BSW Three-season high-performance - Optional. Brakes Front: 13.6 x 1.26 (345 x 28) vented rotors, 1.65 (42) dual-piston sliding with aluminum housing calipers, 249 sq. in. (1,606 sq. cm) swept area Rear: 12.6 x 0.87 (320 x 22) vented rotors, 1.65 (42) single-piston sliding with aluminum housing calipers, 264 sq. in. (1,703 sq. cm) swept area Sport Brake Package with Performance Brake Linings Overall length: 198.4” Overall width: 75.0” with mirrors Overall height: 58.2” Curb weight (lbs.): 4,264

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(John Grafman)

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