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2013 Dodge Charger Super Bee Road Test by Bob Plunkett

2013 Dodge Charger New Car Review

By Bob Plunkett

On a blacktop race track at Chrysler's Michigan vehicle test facility, a juicy 2013 SRT8 Super Bee edition of Charger -- Dodge's 4-door sports sedan wearing the nameplate of a 1966 muscle car icon -- runs the straightaway at lickety-split speed in our special test drive.

This modern muscle car flashes the menacing face of a bulldog and wears shapely body bulges over the sleek profile of a coupe despite a pair of doors hanging off each side.

It also carries the formidable credentials of a street-legal racer:  A lowered chassis with taut suspension tweaked for performance, massive 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Goodyear Eagle RS-A performance tires, big four-piston brake calipers and a humongous 6.4-liter V8 engine that's a high-tech rendition of Chrysler's fabled HEMI plant with hemispheric combustion chambers.

The 2013 Charger SRT8 Super Bee special edition, named after Dodge Super Bee muscle cars produced from 1969 to 1971, deletes some luxury equipment and electronic gadgets from the 2013 Charger SRT8 to pare the price tag and forge a leaner muscle machine dressed in a distinctive can't-miss-me paint job.

The original Charger, stuffing a 426 HEMI V8 behind that rocket-shaped prow, ranks among the swiftest of street-legal cars, which perhaps is why TV's Duke brothers -- Bo and Luke -- always out-gun Boss Hog the sheriff in their souped-up "General Lee" Charger on "The Dukes of Hazzard."

And it was a Charger stock car -- #88, the Charger Daytona steered by Buddy Baker at Talladega Superspeedway in 1970 -- that first ran over 200 mph for a closed-course lap.

A modern race car called Charger competed in the NASCAR Nextel Cup, and in 2006 Dodge rolled out a street version conformed as a 4-door sports coupe.

For 2011, Dodge recast Charger with a long wheelbase for big-car scale and the engine mounted up front with torque applied to the back tires for classic rear-wheel-drive (RWD) or optional all-wheel-drive (AWD) traction.

For 2012, Dodge produced Generation 2.0 of the top-dog Charger muscle car labeled SRT8.

And for 2013, Dodge builds Charger in 11 different trim variations drawing from three different engine options.

Choose editions ranging from mild to wild with MSRP tags stretching from $25,995 to $46,250.

The 2013 line begins with Charger SE stocking a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 engine.

Charger SXT, SXT Plus and SXT AWD also pack the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and comprise the core models for Charger.

Charger R/T, R/T Plus, Charger R/T Max, R/T Road & Track and R/T AWD carry a 5.7-liter V8 modern HEMI engine.

Charger SRT8 and SRT8 Super Bee employ the massive 6.4-liter HEMI V8 for world-class ride and handling.

The Pentastar dual overhead cam (DOHC) 3.6-liter aluminum-block V6 engine mates to a 5-speed electronic automatic transmission with AutoStick shift-it-yourself side-tap gear control like a manual or an optional ZF 8-speed automatic with top-class power and fuel efficiency.

The V6 delivers impressive power numbers -- 292 hp at 6350 rpm and 260 lb-ft of torque at 4800 rpm.

Despite the V6's high output, EPA fuel numbers look good -- 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway with the 5-speed automatic, or 19 mpg city, 31 mpg highway with the 8-speed.

Charger's R/T models (with the initials abbreviating a designation of "Road and Track" in recognition of Dodge's muscle car heritage) tote the 5.7-liter V8 HEMI which produces 370 hp at 5250 rpm and 395 lb-ft of torque at 4200 rpm through the electronic automatic 5-speed with AutoStick.

Note that this HEMI comes with standard fuel saver technology (FST) which can switch seamlessly and transparently to a fuel-saving 4-cylinder mode when all that horsepower is not needed for romping.

Fuel scores for the 5.7-liter plant net to 16/25 mpg (city/highway) with the RWD version and 15/23 mpg (city/highway) for AWD.

Charger SRT8 treatment starts with a big-block 6.4-liter HEMI FST V8 that kicks out 470 hp at 6000 rpm plus 470 lb-ft of torque at 4300 rpm.

Torque is channeled to the rear wheels through the electronic automatic 5-speed W5A580 transmission teamed with AutoStick manual shift controller and steering wheel paddle shifters with "Track" mode for performance shifting and gear holding feature plus "Sport" mode for stiffer suspension damping rates.

Charger's standard suspension consists of an independent front SLA arrangement with high upper A-arms plus coil springs over gas-charged monotube shock absorbers and stabilizer bar. The rear independent 5-link design has coil springs and gas-charged monotube shocks plus stabilizer bar and an isolated rear suspension cradle.

The SRT8 suspension is lowered by half an inch and tuned tightly for performance with tailored spring rates and bushings, big anti-sway bars in place plus anti-skid controls via an electronic stability control (ESC) device.

Tires vary by trim. Charger SE and SXT roll on 215/65R17 Michelin Energy Saver touring tires. Charger SXT Plus, the R/T and R/T Plus use 235/55R18 Michelin MXM4 BSW all-season tires while R/T AWD scores the 235/55R19 Michelin MXM4. Charger SRT8 Super Bee gets the 245/45R20 Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires and SRT8 offers 245/45R20 Goodyear F1 Supercar 3-season performance tires.

For more information on Dodge vehicles, click here.