Driven: 2015 Dodge Charger SXT

Driven: 2015 Dodge Charger SXT

OK, I’ll admit it.

Even the V6 version has an aggressive stance | Larry Edsall photos

Even the V6 version has an aggressive stance | Larry Edsall photos

OK, I’ll admit it. I was a little deflated when I realized the 2015 Dodge Charger I would be driving for a week wasn’t the one powered by the 707-horsepower Hellcat engine that enables your full-size, street-legal four-door family sedan to travel at super speedway speeds usually reserved for NASCAR stock cars.

In fact, the 2015 Dodge Charger SXT I’ve been driving doesn’t even have a Hemi in it.

The SXT is just one step up from the base SE model, which means that the powerplant beneath the hood has only six cylinders. Not only that, but there’s no leather on which to sit, no GPS with which to be guided, not even a backup camera with which to see what’s behind you.

SXT is a step above the base version but offers headed cloth seats

SXT is a step above the base version but offers headed cloth seats

Another admission: When I first sat behind the steering wheel of the gray-colored test car (Dodge calls it Billet Silver Metallic but that’s just a fancy name for gray), my thought was: rental-car special edition.

But now that I’ve been driving the SXT for a few days, I’ve changed my mind. Sure, we love Hemis, and that Hellcat must be awesome, but this Pentastar V6 pumps out a very eager 292 horsepower, and it moves it through a willing eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic transmission to the rear wheels — that’s right, the rear wheels where, well, if not God then at least where Henry Ford and Carroll Shelby and even Enzo Ferrari intended.

Although a full-size sedan with plenty of room inside for people, real adult people, or for bulky infant and toddler safety seats, and even with the V6, the SXT comes off the line nicely, gets up to speed quite sufficiently and is a calm and comfortable cruiser, EPA rated at 31 miles per gallon on the highway, though only at 19 mpg for city driving.

The Charger SE is the base model and starts at $27,995. The SXT version adds fog lamps, UConnect with an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, Alpine audio, heated front sport seats with 12-way power adjustment on the driver’s side, heated exterior mirrors, remote start, auto-dimming rearview mirror, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, dual-zone climate controls, overhead console with garage-door opener, 18-inch wheels and all-season performance tires (which seems an oxymoron — you have either all-season tires or performance tires), but at least our test example rode on Michelin Primacy mxm4 rubber.

Base price for the 2015 Dodge Charger SXT is $29,995. Ours included no options so the as-tested sticker was $30,990 with destination charges.

The 2015 model year brings a substantial makeover for Dodge’s full-size sedan. Nearly every body panel is new, and more refined, giving the Charger more of a luxury-car look without being less sporty or aggressive in appearance. The rear-wheel-drive architecture gets new electric power steering gear, new cast-aluminum axle housing, updated suspension tuning, new available electronic driver-assist technologies, the new touchscreen instrument-panel display, and front and rear LED  this lighting.

Speaking of lighting, the small curved front and rear side marker lights sculpted into the leading edge of the front wheel well and the trailing edge of the rear wheel well may be small, but they really enhance the car’s profile and separate it from more mundanely styled sedans.

Speaking of subtle but effective touches, the tray on the center console in which you might put your cell phone or change — or your car key since this car has a push-button starter — has a nice insert with the historic Dodge Brothers emblem and a note that this car was Designed in Detroit. (Well, actually, in the Detroit suburb of Auburn Hills, but that’s pretty close, and they can’t say Imported from Detroit for this one since the Charger is built in Brampton, a suburb of Toronto, Canada).

And don’t disdain the standard cloth-covered sport seats until you try them. They are comfortable and hold you nicely in place should you get a little aggressive at the wheel, and should you want such a thing, they heat up quickly on a chilly morning.

I may have been disappointed when the 2015 Dodge Charger SXT arrived in my driveway, but now I’m disappointed that it’s gone away after only one week.

Lights at wheel wells help set Charger apart from other big sedans

Lights at wheel wells help set Charger apart from other big sedans

2015 Dodge Charger SXT

Vehicle type: 5-passenger, four-door sedan, rear-wheel drive
Base price: $29,995  Price as tested: $30,990
Engine: 3.6-liter V6, 292-horsepower @ 6,350 rpm, 260 pound-feet of torque @ 4,800 rpm Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 120.2 inches  Overall length/width: 198.4 inches / 75.0 inches
Curb weight: 3,966 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 19 city / 31 highway / 23 combined
Assembled in: Brampton, Ontario, Canada

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