$5,242 - $7,502

2009 Dodge Charger Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2009 Dodge Charger was new.


Performance: 8.1

Though only the SRT8 qualifies as a true muscle car, auto writers find that each of the Charger's four trims is fun to drive.

  • "It may no longer be a muscle car, but this is every inch a guy's car, and Dodge sells mainly to men." -- Forbes
  • "Not surprisingly, Dodge's 5.7-liter HEMI V8 is just as smooth and powerful under the Charger's hood as it is in all the other vehicles it graces. But even the 3.5-liter V6 delivers enough power to have a little fun. The Charger also delivers ride and handling equal to that of the surprisingly eager and composed Chrysler 300. However, given the promise of its Charger badge and aggressive styling, some might hope for a more aggressive setup. As it stands, the Charger is sportier than the Chrysler 300 in image only, which will be enough for most." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "Charger is fun to drive, with a rewarding exhaust note and cop-tempting acceleration. It will bring out the teenager in you, so be careful and remind your inner teenager who pays the tickets." -- About.com

Acceleration and Power

The 2009 Charger offers drivers a choice of four engines: SE's 178-horsepower 2.7-liter V6; SXT's 250-horsepower 3.5-liter V6; R/T's 368-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 HEMI with a Multi-Displacement System (MDS); and SRT8's 425-horsepower 6.1-liter V8 HEMI. Not surprisingly, test drivers prefer the powerful V8 HEMIs over the V6 choices.

While the SE and SXT feature a standard four-speed automatic transmission, the R/T and SRT8 come equipped with a five-speed AutoStick transmission, which reviewers find operates well.

The EPA reports a city/highway fuel economy of 18/26 mpg with the SE and 13/19 mpg with the SRT8.

  • "The 2.7 V6 is tepid and requires lots of room for passing and merging. Dodge says 11.3 seconds 0-60 mph. The 3.5 V6 is fine in town and has good passing punch. Dodge says it does 0-60 mph in 9.3 seconds with rear-drive. R/T has ready power from any speed. Multi-Displacement System switches between four and eight cylinder operation without interrupting power flow. SRT8 models are bona fide muscle cars, reaching 60 mph from a stop in just 5.0 seconds." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Not surprisingly, Daimler-Chrysler's 5.7-liter 340-horsepower Hemi V8 is just as smooth and powerful under the Charger's hood as it is in all the other vehicles it graces. ... The Charger's V6 might surprise you with how well it moves the nearly two-ton sedan, but once you get a taste of life with the 5.7-liter Hemi under your right foot, you'll have a tough time settling for anything less" -- Kelley Blue Book
  • The Charger R/T's "MDS seamlessly deactivates four cylinders in just 40 milliseconds when full V8 power is not needed, improving fuel economy by as much as 20 percent." -- MSN
  • "Hooked up to a quick-shifting five-speed manually selectable automatic transmission, the power plant gives the big sedan big performance." -- Edmunds
  • The AutoStick transmission works equally well in either Automatic or Manual mode. In Automatic mode, full throttle upshifts wait until redline and downshifts for passing are executed with minimal delay. In Manual mode, the transmission holds a gear to red line before shifting (unless you shift sooner, of course). Only by tromping the gas in manual mode can you force a downshift, and then only for as long as the pedal is held to the floor, ease up ever so slightly, and the higher gear takes back over, and somewhat abruptly. -- New Car Test Drive

Handling and Braking

Test drivers find that the Charger handles well for a sedan that weighs nearly two tons. Some, however, complain that its steering lacks feel. The '09 Charger offers both rear-wheel and all-wheel drive-trains. 

  • "Generally smooth and composed, but rippled pavement can trigger annoying jiggling, especially in V8 models with their firmer suspensions. R/T versions display some float and wallow over uneven surfaces. SRT8s are even stiffer but never punishing." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Steering feel is a bit vague, but the Charger handles twisty roads rather well for a two-ton car." -- MSN
  • "The R/T's standard 4-wheel disc brakes with ABS deliver plenty of stopping power, but like the steering, lack feel." -- Motor Week
  • "Stopping the Charger was impressive. The large disc brakes with standard ABS suffered no fade, and felt good even after repeated hard use." -- About.com

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