2017 Dodge Charger Daytona Entry Price: $27,995
Price as Tested: $45,120
This week, we’re driving the 2017 Dodge Charger Daytona, a popular full-size, four-door sedan that competes in a heavily populated segment. With an aggressive front end design, Charger Daytona arrives in Hemi R/T trim and then successfully blends the legendary Daytona package with its racing past genes. The end result is a modern day, high-tech, muscle car statement.
Reintroduced in 2006, the 2017 Chargers offer a special American style of performance and comfort in a nicely put together package. If you want a two-door coupe, you’ll be shopping sibling Challenger, which also offers similar options and Hemi engines.
Historically, the Dodge Chargers from the mid-1960s and early 1970s were great looking boulevard cruisers, available with “mild to wild” engine offerings. For those who demanded the fastest Charger, a 440-wedge or 426 Hemi would thunder the quarter-mile with the best of them, although handling back then was a nonentity. Further, when Chrysler decided to go full bore into NASCAR racing, it introduced the special swopped front end and high rear wing 1969 Dodge Daytona and 1970 Plymouth Superbird, both available for purchase at any MOPAR dealership. (MOPAR is slang for any Chrysler-built vehicle but actually defined as “Motor Parts” for you MOPAR purists.)
Regardless of trim, Chargers of old were handling nightmares compared to our nimble 2017 Charger Daytona. Ditto for the brakes as back in the 1960s four-wheel drum brakes were the norm although front disc brakes were an option. These new Chargers offer all the modern day marvels including excellent fuel mileage and almost twice as powerful engines.
Like the Chargers of old, consumers nowadays still have mild to wild engine options to choose from if a Charger Daytona is not in your future. The base Charger SE (27,995) comes with a 292 horse 3.6 liter V6, while a mid-line R/T (which starts at $29,995) features a powerful 370 horsepower 5.7 Hemi V8. For those that still demand the most, a 485 horsepower 6.4 liter (392 inch) Hemi propels the higher dollar SRT models and start at $39,995.
If you still need more go power, the ultimate is a 707-horse Hellcat Hemi Charger, which starts at $67,645. The Charger Daytona is available in two stages of dress, including our 5.7 Hemi version or the more powerful 6.4-liter Hemi.
The Hemi 2017 Dodge Chargers come standard in rear drive (AWD is available on six cylinder models) connected to a fine shifting eight-speed TorqueFlite automatic. Fuel mileage is actually quite good for a muscle car, with 16 city and 25 highway the expected EPA estimates.
Our Charger Daytona came with a bevy of standard features, including things like remote start, brake assist, hill start assist, high intensity headlamps, all the airbags, heated seats, nice stereo system with Sirius/XM Satellite, all the powers, climate control and much more.
A $1,495 Technology Group adds rear blind spot and cross path detection, adaptive cruise, stability control, forward collision, lane detection and more. I recommended this option for obvious safety reasons. The final option is a $550 Driver Confidence Group with exterior mirror upgrades, projector headlamps and enhanced blind spot detection.
Handling is surprisingly good thanks the 20-inch Goodyear rubber and fully independent performance suspension. It may be listed as a large sedan, but Charger R/T sure handles well and zero to 60 arrives in just five seconds flat.
The Charger interior is well designed, has beautiful gauges and easy to operate features. There’s also more than enough room front and rear for five-passengers. The rear seat is a 60/40 split, allowing access to the roomy trunk. As for the government safety rating, all Dodge Chargers come with five-star ratings.
The exhaust tone? Sounds just like the powerful 440-inch V8 wedge or 426 Hemi from back in 1969. This is another way of saying it’s loud and very impressive. As for reactions, we took the Charger Daytona to Watkins Glen for the NASCAR weekend and it attracted literally hundreds of interested onlookers. I’ll admit the spectators were of a performance minded demographic, but their interest in the car was intense. When told what the retail price was, there was even more interest.
Important numbers include a curb weight of 4,270 lbs., 20.2 inch wheelbase, 18.5 gallon fuel tank, and 16.5 cu. ft. of cargo space.
I have to admit I really enjoyed my week with the Charger Daytona. It is still an excellent consumer opportunity to relive past American cruisers when high horsepower and lots of room were commonplace on the boulevards. There may no longer be a Charger two-door, but the styling and mechanical prowess is so good you almost forget it has two extra doors.
Likes: Charger Daytona looks, true muscle car power, lots of fun to drive.
Dislikes: Option packages expensive, options sometime overlap each other.
(Greg Zyla is a syndicated auto columnist).