2024 Dodge Charger Up Close: Is This the Coolest American EV Ever?

Đăng ngày 06/03/2024 lúc: 10:312398 lượt xem
2024 Dodge Charger Up Close: Is This the Coolest American EV Ever?

Nobody got more hate after announcing that the Hemi-powered Dodge Charger and Challenger were dying after the 2023 model year than Dodge brand boss Tim Kuniskis. The feedback, according to the executive in a chat with Cars.com, was brutal. And that’s understandable; Dodge has spent the last nearly 20 years building its aura around affordable performance, with big engines, ever-increasing horsepower, loud noises and a fuel-economy-be-damned, pedal-to-the-metal attitude. And now, the fearless leader was telling the faithful that those days were done — because the world was going electric, and Dodge had to change or die.

Well, nobody likes to be told they need to change what they eat or their days are numbered, but the smart ones take the advice and do it, and that’s what Dodge did in creating the new 2024 Charger. Based off Stellantis’ (Dodge’s parent company) new STLA Large platform, the Charger arrives this summer in its initial form: a two-door muscle car. And anyone who expected that it would be anything other than absolutely wild hasn’t been paying attention to what Dodge has been doing under Kuniskis’ direction these past several years — because the brand may have just dropped on us the coolest American electric vehicle to date.

This EV Ain’t About Efficiency

The thing to keep in mind right off the bat is that the goal of the Charger is not, nor has it ever been, about efficiency. One reporter asked Dodge representatives during the unveiling of the car to journalists last week, “Are you worried about what the environmentalists will say about this car?” On the inside, I was thinking, “Have they ever been worried about that at Dodge?”

EVs have always been pushed as a green-science prerogative, meant to save the planet and stave off a future Earth that looks more like Tatooine. And while that is indeed a worthy and noble goal, for a significant portion of the buying public (the ones who bought and love their V-8 muscle cars in particular), it’s a nonstarter. But it’s not like these vehicles are inefficient; the brand says the R/T’s range is 317 miles, which is just alright for a car with a battery this big but isn’t a bad number itself. So Dodge is doing Dodge, skipping any green messaging for the new Charger and instead combining EV technology with its muscle-car aesthetics to try and provide an alternative product that will still pave a way forward into an electric future, but with a very different enthusiast appeal. And I’d call it a smashing success.

First, the way the 2024 Charger looks could not be any better. It’s styled as if the 1968 Charger never went out of production and just continued on for the last half-century until the version we see before us rolled off an assembly line. But it’s not exactly retro-styled; the details are thoroughly modern. The racetrack taillights have depth to them; the super muscular haunches cover a body that’s as wide as it can be without requiring cab lights like a Ford F-150 Raptor; and the low-slung roof and stance don’t for one moment scream “high-floor electric car” like a Ford Mustang Mach-E or Chevrolet Blazer EV do.

The new Charger’s styling is carefully crafted to hide what this thing actually is, and it does so with style drawing from a heritage that few other brands can match. And after looking at the same Tesla Model S for the last 12 years, the new four-door Charger (especially in Peel Out orange) is practically a style revelation. This is an electric car that doesn’t look like a science project or melted bar of soap; it looks like a badass American muscle car because that’s exactly what it is.

An Interior With Style, Not Just Screens

Too many EVs have interiors that are nothing but screens. Your typical Tesla interior is literally nothing but a steering wheel, screen and some seats — nothing else artistic, stylistic or interesting. That spartan look has been accepted by large numbers of people, but one way competitors are going to win back customers is with actual style, which the new Charger has in buckets. Yes, there are the requisite massive screens instead of actual gauges and buttons, but Dodge didn’t go too far in that direction.

Unlike many other brands, Dodge has actually styled an interior to match the sheet metal. The Charger’s interior is racy, swoopy, dark and brooding — menacing almost. You can opt for an ambient light feature with 64 colors, which isn’t really new or interesting anymore since a lot of brands have this, but it’s used to excellent effect in the Charger’s interior to create an even more wicked ambiance.

The new Charger feels considerably tighter inside than the outgoing model. The old Charger felt airy and spacious, with a flat dash that was some distance away from those in the front seats. The specs sheet says that there’s more room in nearly every dimension inside (except rear-seat legroom, which shrinks by 3 inches), but it also says overall passenger space drops by a significant 17 cubic feet. I think that it has to do with the fact that the floor is higher in this new Charger to accommodate its huge battery pack.

The hip point is also higher, but you don’t feel like you’re sitting high at all; it feels like you’re in a swoopy sports coupe with a decently upright windshield. The 2024 Charger’s interior doesn’t have the enormous space the old Challenger had, but it’s by no means the tight confines of a Ford Mustang coupe or Chevrolet Camaro. Visibility out is good in every direction except aft; the narrow rear window and high head restraints of the back seats make for a gun-slit view out the back window.

The other curious bit about the Charger is its steering wheel, which is no longer round. It’s flat on the top and bottom, a shape commonly referred to as a “squircle.” It has the unfortunate optical illusion effect of feeling more tall than wide, however, and it’s going to be interesting to see how people react to it. It’s frankly necessitated by the enormous optional 16-inch digital instrument panel display behind the wheel; if this were a traditional round steering wheel, a large portion of that massive display would be obscured by it.

Worried About the Potential Price

The hardware under the 2024 Charger’s hood seems like a winner regardless of energy source: electrons or dinosaur juice. The advertised outputs are in keeping with the Dodge ethos of “overpowered everything” regardless of whether or not you’ve chosen a gas or electric powertrain. A 3.3-second 0-60 mph run for the Scat Pack with the Stage 2 upgrade kit is plenty fast, and knowing that this isn’t going to be the quickest version of the Charger by a long shot makes us wonder just how insane the upcoming SRT Banshee is really going to be.

But we’re also very curious as to how the upcoming gas-powered versions, which will have the impressive twin-turbo 3.0-liter Hurricane inline-six engine, are going to perform, as well. They’re likely going to be significantly lighter than the all-electric variants, whose enormous 100.5-kilowatt-hour battery pack leads to a porky 5,800-pound curb weight. Everything we’ve driven so far that’s been equipped with a Hurricane six-cylinder has been extremely enjoyable, and stuffing that kind of power (even in the base 420-hp standard-output form) into what is surely going to be a much lighter version of the Charger is going to be highly entertaining.

We should have our first spin in the new Charger Daytona (what Dodge is calling the electric variants) sometime this year, with customer deliveries of the R/T Stage 1 and Scat Pack Stage 2 launch versions planned for this summer. With this gorgeous shape, sexy interior and the promise of some seriously fun features, the 2024 Dodge Charger Daytona looks like it could be a fascinating experiment to see if the traditional Dodge fans can get on board with some 21st century tech.

According to reviews: Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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