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2006 Dodge Charger SXT (Video Clip)

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Michel Deslauriers
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There is life without Hemi

2006 Dodge Charger SXT (Photo: Michel Deslauriers, Auto123)
There is so much media hype surrounding the Dodge Charger these days that everyone seems to be crazy about it. Its instant popularity goes to show how a good advertising campaign can put a nice shiny glaze on the product you're trying to sell.

Actually, the additional shiny glaze isn't really necessary in this case, as DaimlerChrysler doesn't need to sweat very much in order to sell its full-size LX platform triplets, including the Dodge Magnum and Chrysler 300. They have contributed to Chrysler's newfound profits, at a time when many manufacturers are seeing a drop in their sales numbers. Yet nothing has generated as much attention as the mighty Hemi engine. So much, in fact, that a lot of other elements of the LX platform vehicles are overshadowed, such as the available AWD hardware, as well as less powerful but also less thirsty V6 engines.

So this Charger SXT is not equipped with the 5.7-litre V8, but rather a 3.5-litre 24-valve V6 with 250 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque. This powerplant is easily capable of hauling the mass of this big sedan. Of course, it doesn't have a V8's soundtrack, but it does sound quite nice under acceleration. It says "High Output" on the flanks of the SXT, and they're right, as this 3.5 boasts more horsepower and torque per litre
2006 Dodge Charger SXT (Photo: Michel Deslauriers, Auto123)
than all the other engines available in the Charger, the 190-hp 2.7-litre V6 (in the base SE), the 425-hp 6.1-litre V8 (SRT-8) and the 350-hp 5.7-litre V8 (R/T Daytona). The 5-speed automatic works flawlessly, and you can even use the AutoStick function to hold a gear when, for example, you're climbing a mountain or towing. You can expect 0-100 km/h times of about 8.5 seconds, of course it's not as quick as the R/T, but it's more then enough. Also, I managed an average of 12.8 L/100 km with a mix of city and highway driving, which isn't bad.

Like I said, this V6 is fine for me, except when I had three of my colleagues aboard as well as some video equipment in the trunk. I could feel that the extra mass started to take its toll as we were in a hurry. In the SXT's defence, though, I was trying to catch up a bunch of exotic cars such as Lambos, Porsches, Lotus' and T-Rexes while we were all heading down to a lapping day on a racetrack. I guess I needed a Charger SRT-8 for that particular mission, but hey--four adults in comfort with all our gear, try to beat that, Gallardo!

Handling is surprisingly good for such a big car. The suspension always seems to know what to do in any situation. It feels soft and compliant
2006 Dodge Charger SXT (Photo: Michel Deslauriers, Auto123)
when driving over potholes and frost heaves, yet stiffens up just a little during highway cruising. This Charger always feels confident and sure-footed, and this is transmitted to the driver who will also feel a high level of confidence behind the wheel. When driving a Magnum a couple of months back, I noticed some bounciness in the front end when hitting a bump on the highway, something that I did not feel aboard the Charger. I bet DaimlerChrysler recalibrated this sedan's suspension a tad, in line with its more sporty pretensions. The steering is a little on the light side but offers a fairly good feel of the road, and if you're expecting a fire-truck size turning circle with this big sedan, it is not the case.
Michel Deslauriers
Michel Deslauriers
Automotive expert