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May 22, 2007 > Dodge Charger HEMI

Dodge Charger HEMI

Yes, this Charger does have the famous Dodge HEMI engine. And just what does HEMI mean, you ask? HEMI is short for using "hemispherical combustion chambers" in the engine's head. In other words, the area in the engine's head where the fuel mixture burns is one half of a sphere (or looks somewhat like a softball cut in half). In most other engines, this space is not shaped like this; many other shapes are used. The hemispherical shape is supposed to be more efficient and, therefore, produce more power.

Our test Charger was a 2007 R/T AWD (all-Wheel Drive) model. Its 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 produces 340 HP and 390 foot pounds of torque. Other Charger engine options include a 190 HP 2.7-liter V-6, a 250 HP V-6 and the top of the line SRT model with a 6.1- liter HEMI V-8 that puts out 425 HP and 420 foot pounds of torque.

The test Charger was equipped with the standard 5-speed automatic transmission. You can manually select a gear or just use Drive and let the transmission select the gears. The All-Wheel Drive system puts 38% of the power to the front wheels and 62% to the rear wheels. You can also order a Charger as a rear wheel drive only model.

Dodge has created a long list of options and option groups for the 2007 Chargers; you need to spend some time going through them to customize the car to fit your personality.

The Charger R/T AWD drove just like I thought it would. The ride was smooth (too smooth for a performance car). Its HP and torque would rocket it from turn to turn; the brakes did a great job of slowing its 4031 pounds for the next turn. That's when the Charger tripped up, in the turns. It doesn't like fast hard turns; the combination of too soft springs and shocks lead to a lot of body roll and pitching. The steering wheel needs to be cranked over a lot to get marginal suspension performance. It likes straight roads, not twisty mountain roads.

Another complaint concerns the two different control stalks that come out of the left side of the steering column; they are too close to one another. One is for the cruise control and the other one triggers the wipers, turn signal, and high headlight beams. Because of their close spacing, I would occasionally use the cruise control lever as the turn signal. It was too easy to make a mistake.

The Charger R/T AWD's EPA ratings are 17 city and 24 highway. In normal, day-to-day driving I averaged 15.67 MPG. To boost the fuel economy, Dodge added a Multi-Displacement System (MDS) to the V-8 HEMI engine. This system shuts down four of the eight cylinders when full V-8 power is not needed, such as steady speed freeway driving. This improves the fuel economy by 20% without sacrificing performance when it is needed. MDS works well; I did not feel it switch on and off.

The base price for the Charger AWD is $32,215. With a few option groups, the tester's total sticker was $37,865. If you want some serious HP, the monster motor SRT starts at $38,695. The least expensive Charger is stickered at $21,575.

By Dick Ryan
Freelance Automotive Journalist
Member of the Western Automotive Journalists
RRYAN@FRK.COM


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