The new Charger design is worlds better than the previous edition. The front end that looked misshapen and clunky in the previous iteration now looks menacing and cool. The LED running lights that curve around the headlight trims are a big part of that. It’s not as tough in standard trims as it is in Hellcat mode, of course, but that’s a little like saying Mike Tyson doesn’t look as tough now as 20 years ago – you still don’t want to mess with him.

The Charger is a bit of a curious animal. Even the name of this trim, the SXT Rallye AWD, implies a sportiness and a playfulness that’s not really borne out by the rest of the car. It’s a capable car, a big, stoic workhorse, but it’s more draughthorse than racehorse.

The 3.6L Pentastar V6 is mated to an eight-speed auto, shunting its 300 hp and 264 lb-ft of torque to all four wheels. The 300 hp is up from 292 and torque up from 260, the bump coming courtesy of the $195 Rallye group add on. To help handle the extra power you get a rear spoiler and a more aggressive R/T spec front fascia plus performance tires.

The engine is one of Ward’s 10 Best Engines, and for good reason. Is it as raucous as any of the eights on offer? No, of course not. But it does have a pleasing note and it does surge forward with some confidence. If the V8s are the heavyweights, the Pentastar is a middleweight that still packs a solid punch. Or maybe it’s a bear hug.

Fuel economy wise the Pentastar is rated at 12.8/8.6/10.9 L/100 km city/highway/combined. I saw 12.8 for my week of mostly city driving, lots of cold weather idling and a little more “see, it’s actually kind of quick” accelerating than I ought to admit.

Nissan’s 3.5L V6 in the Maxima puts out almost identical power figures but far better economy, 10.9/7.8/9.5, plus it sounds glorious. The Chevrolet Impala edges the Charger just slightly in the power stakes and makes marginally better economy too at 12.5/8.2/10.6. So while this Pentastar is a rewarding and very strong engine with a smooth, quiet nature that makes it the ideal workhorse in this application, you might expect an update to it soon.

Of course, neither of those are available with a V8, so the Pentastar might not need to compete in outright numbers with them. And the R/T is only $2,300 more in base MSRP, so why wouldn’t you just get the hemi?

(Spoiler: Yes, you can.) Can You Drive a Rear-Wheel-Drive (RWD) Car in Winter?

Well, you can’t get AWD with the Hemi for a start. And just because there IS a muscle-car edition (or three editions) of this large family sedan, it’s not the only reason it exists. Large family sedans might not be en vogue these days but they are still worthy chariots for mid-large family. Like highway cruising? This does it supremely well, with a gentle lope that eliminates ugly engine noise and provides confident overtaking ability.

Got three kids and a wife/husband who still likes being with you? The Charger will fit three sullen teens and their emo haircuts in the back without any of them having to touch each other. Shoulder room is generous, but the middle passenger will have to straddle a fair high transmission tunnel. The middle passenger is also the only person who doesn’t get a heated seat. There are two USB ports back there for your kids to charge their devices. Maddie said, “if I had an iPad I could use it in this car Daddy!” I think that she was dropping me a hint.

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