The 2010 Dodge Charger symbolizes two significant elements of Chrysler's past -- first, the heyday of V8-powered, rear-drive muscle cars; and second, the ill-fated merger with Daimler-Benz. The former lives on in the Charger R/T and SRT8 models, both of which boast rowdy V8s that will perform smoky burnouts with the best of them. And the latter is evident underneath the Charger's skin, where you'll find some suspension components from old Mercedes E-Class and S-Class sedans, as well as a Mercedes-sourced five-speed automatic transmission. Add it all up and you've got an appealing and well-built car that reminds us why big, powerful sedans have always had an enthusiastic following.
Like its platform mates, the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Challenger, the Charger comes with less muscular engines, too. There are two V6s available, one with a rental-car-grade 178 horsepower and one that puts out a more respectable 250 hp, albeit with an outdated four-speed automatic in rear-drive form (all-wheel drive nets a five-speed). But let's be honest -- most front-wheel-drive V6 family sedans offer more than 250 hp these days, and they weigh considerably less than the porky Charger. This Dodge was made with one kind of engine in mind: the classic broad-shouldered American V8.
Yes, it's the Charger's honking "Hemi" V8s that deserve the most attention here. Even the R/T's "little" 5.7-liter V8 makes a beastly 368 hp, and tricks like variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation technology allow it to approximate the fuel economy of the 250-hp 3.5-liter V6 (which really says more about that engine's inefficiency). If that's not enough, the SRT8 goes whole hog with a 6.1-liter V8 pumping out 425 hp. However, the SRT8 is unavailable with all-wheel drive, meaning the V8-powered R/T AWD is perhaps a uniquely attractive offering for enthusiasts who require all-weather performance.
However, if you are mainly looking for a comfortable large sedan -- and V8 performance isn't a priority -- we suggest looking beyond the Charger to top family sedans like the Buick LaCrosse, Ford Fusion, Mazda 6 and Nissan Altima. Ford's new Taurus is another to consider, especially as its SHO variant packs a considerable wallop thanks to its turbocharged V6. All of these models can provide better efficiency and interior packaging. But if big V8 power is on your sedan-shopping checklist, the 2010 Dodge Charger is right up your alley, particularly with the demise of the similar Pontiac G8 GT. Cars like this are a dying breed, but for now, the Charger leads the charge.