Test Drive: 2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T car test drives dodge
2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T. Click image to enlarge


Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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Photo Gallery: 2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T

Toronto, Ontario – The Canadian Oxford defines “sublime” as exalted and producing awe.

The folks at Dodge have their own definition. To them, Sub Lime is a neon paint hue so grotesquely green, so visually arresting that too much staring (which is quite hard to avoid) will likely cause permanent retinal damage.

My neighbours thought my Sub Lime 2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T tester was hilarious. My wife refused to get in it. My kids called it Shrek. But I quite liked it – and not only because it made for one helluva conversation starter.

Before accusing Dodge of having a bad sense of humour, we must understand that this is a heritage colour, harking back to the glory days of Mopar muscle cars. As such, Dodge has every right to paint and be-decal a Charger in this way.

Whether they’ll find 150 Canadian takers for this limited edition greenie is another question entirely.

Test Drive: 2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T car test drives dodge
2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T. Click image to enlarge

The Charger Daytona R/T was introduced in 2006 to celebrate Dodge’s 2005 return to NASCAR racing after a 27-year hiatus. Available hues were GoMango! orange, Top Banana yellow and TorRed. This year buyers can choose between Sub Lime green and a marginally less jarring Plum Crazy purple.

The Daytona edition package adds $3350 to the Hemi-powered Charger R/T’s base price of $38,425. For that money you’d hope it would be more than just a cosmetic upgrade. It is.

Dodge engineers have liberated an extra 10 horsepower from the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 via a freer flowing intake and exhaust system, bringing the total to 350 hp. Torque remains the same with 390 ft/lbs available at 4000 rpm.

Test Drive: 2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T car test drives dodge
2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T. Click image to enlarge

A happy by-product of this tuning is a more authoritative exhaust note that is fully in keeping with the Daytona’s in-your-face presence. It offers a menacing Motown rumble that escalates to a NASCAR-like howl under hard acceleration. In cruise mode, the Hemi’s voice diminishes to a distant murmur.

Handling upgrades for the Daytona include performance-tuned steering and suspension, self-leveling rear shock absorbers and chrome five-spoke 20-inch alloys with 245/45R20 performance tires.

Inside, the Daytona edition gets aggressively bolstered sport seats with body-coloured stitching, suede-like inserts and a green Daytona logo emblazoned on the headrest. The stitching theme continues on the leather steering wheel and shift knob.

Test Drive: 2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T car test drives dodge
2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T. Click image to enlarge

Just so you won’t forget what you’re driving, there’s a numbered Daytona Edition plaque on the dash (116 of 150 in this case), and the centre-stack panel is moulded in Sub Lime green. Subtle it is not.

Besides the crazy paint, the Charger Daytona R/T features an aggressive fascia with chin spoiler, a blacked out grill, and retro flat-black graphics that scream ‘HEMI’ on the hood and ‘Daytona’ on the rear flanks. The small rear deck-lid spoiler is a subtle nod to the gigantic unit on the 1970 Charger Daytona that probably took out a few low-flying pigeons in its day.

This green monster might look somewhat cartoonish, but there’s nothing funny about the way it goes down the road. The Charger’s LX platform is based on that of the previous generation Mercedes E-Class, and as a result the big sedan exhibits a refined, solid and reasonably comfortable comportment (despite the enormous footwear). Hardly the antisocial hooligan its outward appearance suggests.

Perhaps what’s most impressive is the way the honkin’ HEMI and slick five-speed Autostick automatic work in concert with the taut European platform to create an altogether unique driving experience. It’s a muscle car that’s been to finishing school!

Normally I leave manumatic transmissions alone, but the intuitive Autostick, with its crisp tap-left-for-downshifts and right-for-upshifts operation proved too much of a temptation. Gotta keep that Hemi on the boil, dontcha know.

Test Drive: 2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T car test drives dodge
2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T. Click image to enlarge

This 5.7-litre Hemi doesn’t have the brutish performance of the 425 hp 6.1-litre version in the SRT-8 cars, but nonetheless, a firm prod on the go pedal has you surging forward on a sea of torque. Further foolishness can be enticed by pressing the dash-mounted ESP button which loosens the reigns on the traction and stability control system.

Keeping all this forward progress in check are powerful disc brakes that offer a fine linear feel. The only dynamic downfall is the steering. It is accurate and well weighted, but uncommunicative.

Not that you’ll want to throw the Daytona R/T down your favourite country road. For a big, heavy car it’s surprisingly agile, but it lends itself best to impressive bursts of speed and long distant cruising.

Test Drive: 2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T car test drives dodge
2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T. Click image to enlarge

An interesting feature of the Hemi is the Multi-Displacement System that has the engine running on four cylinders under light throttle loads. Despite this, the Daytona sucked back a sobering 15.1 L/100 km of the recommended 89 octane fuel on my watch.

Matching the under hood power in this tester was an impressive 322-watt, six-speaker Boston Acoustic sound system upgrade with subwoofer ($695). Add in a power sunroof ($1050), Uconnect Hands-Free Communication ($295), side and side-curtain airbags ($405) and the Electronics Convenience Group (vehicle info centre, trip computer, wheel-mounted audio controls and universal garage door opener, $765) and the bottom line swelled to $44,985.

The Charger Daytona R/T is a well-sorted modern interpretation of the classic American muscle car. But what do the real muscle car guys think of it?

Test Drive: 2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T car test drives dodge
2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T with a 1971 ‘Cuda 440. Click image to enlarge

To find out, I rumbled over to cruise night at the local mall. The organizers eyed the green monster, gave me a ticket and waved me over to where the cars were gathering. So far so good.

Seeking some Mopar bretheren, I spied a ’71 ‘Cuda 340 and pulled in close. Owner Dave Davies of Millgrove Ontario was mildly interested in the Charger, but confessed he doesn’t care much for new cars. “I’d rather spend 40 or 50 thousand on one of these,” nodding to his classic, “than a new one.”

Another ‘Cuda owner thought the Charger’s interior looked cheap, and concluded, “This is for all those boomers who wanted a green Mopar when they were kids, but couldn’t afford one.”

‘Nuff said.


Pricing

  • Base price: $41,775
  • Options: $3,210 (Protection Group of side air bags, Frt/Rr side-curtain airbags, air filtering, $405; Electronics Convenience Group of instrument cluster w/display screen, temp and compass gauge, vehicle info centre, trip computer, alarm, steering wheel mounted audio controls, universal garage door opener, $765; Sound Group II of 322 watt 6-disc Boston Acoustics six-speaker/sub woofer, $695; Power Sunroof, $1050; Uconnect Hands-Free Communication, $295)
  • Freight: $1,200
  • A/C tax: $100
  • Price as tested: $46,285 Click here for options, dealer invoice prices and factory incentives


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About Peter

Peter Bleakney is a Toronto-based automotive journalist. He is also a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).