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2006 Dodge Charger

2006 Dodge Charger New Car Test Drive
by Jeff Voth

The General Lee is perhaps the most recognizable Dodge Charger of all time. A star in its own right, it first made headlines in 1979 as the onscreen getaway vehicle for Daisy Duke and the boys from Hazzard County. Oddly enough, everything old is new again, as the car reappears in a full-length movie version of the famous TV show late summer 2005. Somehow, I think I may wait for the DVD version to arrive in stores before watching it.

1969 Dodge Charger

The 1969 Dodge Charger featured in the show was a bright orange,two-door racer with sleek lines and a muscular attitude. Marketed originally as a family man's sport coupe, its strong points were quick acceleration and straight-line speed. Though it could handle all road surfaces with a certain amount of athletic proficiency, cornering was not its forte.

Growing up as a teen in the mid 70's, I can attest to the fact this era in automobiles was all about cruising the boulevard with unlimited horsepower and a full tank of high-octane gas. Saturday night meant dining on burgers and fries at the local Big Boys restaurant, or sitting curbside sipping a frosty mug of at A&W root beer, while watching an endless parade of hot rods.

The all-new 2006 version of the Dodge Charger is a worthy successor to the nameplate. Like its predecessor, the new Charger is equally capable of quick acceleration and straight-line speed. But unlike the original, it now features four doors and loves to tackle winding roads with abandon, offering cornering ability equal to many of the best sport sedans in the market today.

The benefit of designing the 2006 Charger as a sedan means that three people can sit in the backseat very comfortably. I will gladly wager Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane's badge on the fact that Daisy would have appreciated a full backseat in the original Charger, instead of the claustrophobic compartment she shared with Bo and Luke Duke on their backwoods adventures.

Built in the same Brampton, Ontario assembly plant that produces the Chrysler 300C and Dodge Magnum, the new Dodge Charger is a significant deviation from most other family sedans. The only other car to offer modern coupe styling with 4-door functionality is the 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS 500, placing it in heady company.

2006 Dodge Charger

The 2006 Dodge Charger is available in three separate models, the SE, SXT and R/T. Within the R/T model there are three distinctive packages including the R/T, R/T with Road/Track Performance and the Daytona R/T for the ultimate experience. Later in the year, expect to see the Charger SRT8, which will insert even more performance and exclusivity to the line-up.

The Dodge Charger SE and SXT offer a 3.5-liter high output V-6 engine, coupled with a five-speed automatic transmission and AutoStick. It develops 250 hp @ 6400 rpm and 250 pounds per foot of torque @ 3800 rpm.

Performance of the Charger is excellent. It has more than enough power for any kind of driving conditions. On the backroads and highways of North Carolina and Virginia where the car was tested, passing slower vehicles was effortless. Highway cruising was quiet at every speed, even when traveling well above the posted limit for short periods of time.

The Dodge Charger R/T boasts a 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 and offers a multi-displacement system, (MDS) which improves fuel economy by up to 20% by depending on driving conditions.

In Charger trim, the infamous HEMI engine delivers 340 hp @ 5000 rpm and 390 lb-ft of torque @ 4000 rpm. An additional 10 hp is available by ordering the optional R/T package with Road/Track Performance, or as standard equipment on the Daytona R/T.

The two-day test session included track time in Durham, North Carolina andat the Virginia International Speedway. The difference in horsepower of the HEMI engine is most easily noticed here. Blasting down the main straight of the track at over 120 miles per hour, the R/T and Daytona R/T were a force to be reckoned with.

Brakes on all models are 4-wheel disc with ABS. Other break features included are All-speed Traction Control, Electronic Stability Control, (ESP) and Brake Assist.

Steering is power rack and pinion with independent front and a multi-link independent rear suspension. Wheel sizes range from 17-inch stamped steel on the SE to 17-inch cast aluminum on the SXT and 18-inch polished aluminum on the R/T.

2006 Dodge Charger Interior

Inside, the Dodge Charger SE and SXT come standard with a long list of features and appointments. Manual air conditioning along with power windows, mirrors and door locks, remote keyless entry and power trunk release are included. A comfortable manual tilt/telescoping steering wheel offers cruise control settings. Finding a suitable driving position is easy with manually adjustable lumbar support on all Charger models. The SXT adds an 8-way power driver's seat and an optional 8-way power passenger seat to keep everyone happy.

Tunes play from an AM/FM radio with single CD player and four speakers. The SXT offers an optional Boston Acoustics 6-speaker audio system with a 276-watt digital amplifier, (DSP). A rear seat video entertainment system is also available on the Charger SXT.

The Dodge Charger R/T includes all of the features found on the SE and SXT models, but adds considerably more standard equipment and available option packages.

Leather seating is standard, as is a leather steering wheel and the 276-watt Boston Acoustics stereo. To further increase the sound of your music, a 7-speaker, 322-watt sound system with digital amplifier and subwoofer can be ordered. The Charger R/T and Road/Track Performance package adds heated seats for added comfort and a 9-land steering gear for increased response.

The Charger Daytona R/T further improves performance by adding a high-performance exhaust system, perforated suede insert performance seats with a Daytona logo, body-color stitching and a special instrument cluster that features a 160 mph speedometer. A rear decklid and front chin spoiler compliment the intense Go ManGo! or Top Banana paint schemes with flat-black graphics including red and black heritage R/T badging.

The 2006 Dodge Charger has finally come of age. While all those forty years and over have fond memories of the 60's and 70's as the "golden age" in automobiles, we also realize that time doesn't stand still and nothing beats a 4-door sedan for comfort. By offering sporty performance and fastback styling, the new Dodge Charger tries and succeeds in many ways, to offer the best in both performance and practicality. I think even the boys from Hazzard County would be proud.

For more information visit the Dodge website here.
2006 Dodge Charger
Mid-size Sports Sedan
Model options:


120.0 inches
Overall length:
200.1 inches
Engine size:

3.5-liter SOHC 24-valve V6
5.7-liter HEMI Multi-displacement V8

5-speed automatic


Power rack and pinion

4-wheel disc with ABS and Brake Assist

Air bags:
2 (front)
Fuel mileage city/hwy:

V6- 19/27
HEMI- 17/25


SE: $ 22,995
SXT: $ 25,995
R/T: $ 29,995
Daytona R/T: 32,495