The 2023 Dodge Charger Is Full of Highs and Lows
The 2023 Dodge Charger offers a mixed bag for people interested in a large sedan. On the plus size, it provides generous seating space and easy-to-use controls, including a good infotainment system. Plus, there’s no mistaking the performance, which ranges from quick to gobsmackingly fast.
However, it’s also, well, old. The platform dates back to 2006 and, despite occasional updates, feels about as current as the band AC/DC. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. In fact, U.S. News still ranked it No. 2 in the large car category, even while calling out its various highs and lows.
The 2023 Dodge Charger offers incredible muscle car performance
Let’s get the V6 out of the way early. As the base engine, it’s perfectly adequate for the task, moving the Dodge Charger to 60 mph in about 7 seconds, according to U.S. News. Baby it on the road and fuel economy of up to 30 highway mpg is possible. However, most drivers don’t buy Chargers for the V6. Not when there is a range of V8 engines to choose from.
With either the mid-range 5.7-liter or 6.4-liter Hemi options, the Charger comes alive with a sweet exhaust rumble. Check the boxes for the range-topping Hellcat, and you’ve got a seriously quick car that can hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and smoke almost anything in a quarter-mile race. Gas mileage doesn’t fall off that much from the V6, with the less powerful V8s still returning as much as 16/25 mpg city/highway. However, the Hellcat struggles to break 12 mpg in the city or 21 mpg on the highway.
The modern Charger is functional but dated
The Dodge Charger is incredibly modern by 1973 muscle car standards but almost embarrassingly outdated by 2023 standards. It’s a large, heavy sedan and drives like one. Steering is light but vague, and the suspension is either harsh or wallows, depending on the option package. Fortunately, the brakes are excellent and more than up for the job of stopping even the most powerful model.
Inside the 2023 Charger, it’s 2015, as that’s the last time it got a significant makeover. It’s quaint in a way, especially in an era with large touchscreens taking up room, but some of the surfaces are cheap looking and build quality is OK at best. That’s acceptable for the $34,000 SXT base model but not a $78,000 Hellcat.
Who should buy a Dodge Charger?
In its review of the 2023 Dodge Charger, Car and Driver said, “The Charger brings nostalgia to the full-size sedan segment, but after a decade of updates, its vexations can no longer be solved with more horsepower.” But that’s only half right.
More horsepower won’t solve the Charger’s shortcomings or make it better. Still, don’t discount the nostalgia factor. Without nostalgia, the original 1960s Dodge Chargers are thirsty, crude, under-braked barges that rusted out in five years. Yet, to people who owned one, there’s magic in looking at the car’s clean lines and remembering the good times.
The Charger has a loyal fan base of people who love old-school muscle cars. It appeals to them because they either remember the era fondly or missed the 1960s muscle car era completely and live vicariously through Bullitt and the Dukes of Hazard. It’s a car for people who feel a big V8 sedan makes sense, especially one that sounds like it belongs on the starting grid at Daytona.
However, people who say the Charger is a throwback to the heyday of muscle cars are also missing the point. What they fail to appreciate is the current Charger is the heyday of muscle cars. Bo and Luke Duke’s 1969 Dodge Charger couldn’t hold a tire iron to the current one. A 2023 Charger with the Scat Pack will out-accelerate, outrun, out-brake, and flat-out decimate the 1960s Charger in any category. So, while the 2023 model year may be long in the tooth, it’s also the best muscle car ever.