2011 Dodge Charger
2011 Dodge Charger. Click image to enlarge

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Article and photos by Paul Williams

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San Francisco, California – The Chrysler Group has a lot on its plate. With sales rebounding in Canada across the vehicle range, the company is launching new and improved products to sustain the momentum and remain a desirable choice for Canadian consumers.

Last week, we presented a first look at the new Dodge Durango, now built on the next-generation Mercedes-Benz GL platform; the updated Dodge Avenger midsize sedan; Dodge Journey seven-passenger crossover; and Dodge Grand Caravan minivan. These vehicles are available with the new Pentastar V6 engine, and feature significantly improved suspensions and better interior design and execution.

Additional new and improved vehicles in the Chrysler/Dodge line-up were also introduced to media at the recent San Francisco press event.

2011 Dodge Charger

This is an all-new version of Dodge’s rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive full-size sedan, and although it bears a strong resemblance to the outgoing model, the 2011 version is distinguished by some significant design modifications.

2011 Dodge Charger
2011 Dodge Charger. Click image to enlarge

Informed by the second-generation “original” Charger from the late 1960s, the 2011 Charger uses scallops on the hood and sides of the car, a revised grill and a striking tail-light assembly consisting of 164 separate LED lights that form a “racetrack” graphic.

The interior features an all-new design that is a significant improvement over the earlier model. It includes a new three-spoke steering wheel, soft-touch materials and four colour combinations.

Under the hood of the $29,995 SE and $31,995 SXT versions, the 3.6L Pentastar V6 delivers 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, operating through a five-speed automatic transmission. Notable standard features are seventeen-inch aluminum wheels, dual-zone temperature control, keyless “Enter ‘n go,” six-way power driver’s seat, a capless fuel-fill door, and acoustic windshield and front side glass. The SXT is equipped with 18-inch wheels, heated front seats and “Uconnect” touch-media centre.

The $37,995 R/T version is powered by the 5.7-litre Hemi V8 that makes 372 hp and 390 lb.-ft. torque. Like the V6, it is mated to a five speed transmission, but it also features MDS (multi-displacement system) technology to maximize fuel economy. The R/T is also available with all-wheel drive for $39,995.

The previous-generation Charger was an aggressive looking car to begin with, and the 2011 version continues the “bad attitude” image that Dodge represents. How compatible this car is with average suburban Canadian driveways is a talking point.

2011 Dodge Challenger
2011 Dodge Challenger
2011 Dodge Challenger
2011 Dodge Challenger. Click image to enlarge

The sporty and retro $26,995 Challenger SXT receives the same Pentastar V6 as the Charger, but it is tuned to deliver 305 hp (up 22 per cent over last year’s model) and 288 lb.-ft. torque (up 15 per cent). Eighteen-inch wheels are standard, as is a new suspension and special 392 Inaugural Edition.

The Challenger is rare on the market: a full-size, rear-drive, two-door “coupe,” it emulates muscle car Chargers of the 1960s and 1970s, but underpins it with modern technology.

The 5.7-litre V8 Hemi R/T offers a lusty 379 hp and 410 lb.-ft. torque for $36,390, and the $38,390 R/T Classic adds 20-inch “Heritage” wheels, a functional hood scoop and R/T side stripes along with HID headlamps, power heated mirrors and “Mini Carbon” interior accents.

But the Challenger has been pushed for power recently by revised Mustangs and Camaros, so now the top-of-the-line SRT8 is equipped with a new 6.4-litre SRT Hemi, making 470 hp and 470 lb.-ft. torque. The SRT8 392 will be available for $47,995, but a special $49,990 392 Inaugural Edition, limited to 392 vehicles in Canada (and 1,000 in the U.S.) is scheduled for limited production. These cars will be available in a choice of white with blue stripes, or blue with white stripes, both with matching interior, among other identifying features. You can bet that numbers 1 and 392 of this series will be in hot demand.

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