When you see the 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8, words like thug, punk, disreputable, angry and aggressive come to mind. It is all those and more. Despite sharing many components with the slightly softer (and more urbane) Chrysler 300 SRT8, the new Dodge Charger SRT8 is in a class of its own.

The Charger has the same mega-powerful 470 horsepower 6.4 liter HEMI V8 as the 300 SRT8 and it will put out 470 lbs-feet of torque just like its Chrysler sibling. In application however, it’s a different tale. The Charger SRT8 has a sense of immediacy coupled with bravado when doing the simplest things. It’s louder in terms of both visual and audio overload while still managing to make your commute comfortable.

The Charger SRT8 has been completely updated and revised. It has an almost-frisky demeanor with its tighter steering and excellent, new adaptive dampening suspension (ADS) system, which allows the shocks to instantly adjust the dampening from comfy to firm at the push of a button. Brakes are Brembos all around and stopping this hefty car from 60 mph takes only 120 feet. Overall feel is far tighter than the first generation while, somehow, Dodge managed to dial in a less frenetic ride. I have no idea how they managed that.

If any car deserves a better transmission…

I like what Dodge has done with its updated five-speed automatic. It snaps off shifting under power and the paddle-shifting manual mode holds those gears right up near redline. It’s surprisingly sporty, but could you imagine this bad boy with a manual? I know the demand for manuals is well below 10 percent in the United States. Still, how cool would that be?


The 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 I drove through the Angeles Crest Highway and on to Willow Springs, Calif., averaged about 22 mpg. I don’t drive (ahem) economically. This was a great return on my mileage and for a monster engine.

Out of all of the new SRTs for the 2012 year, the Dodge Charger SRT8 has the best-looking interior. Its slick stitching on the fabric door panels is a sweet addition. I wish the trim around the instrumentation was polished aluminum or steel, but it still looks good in the odd substance they choose to use. The front and back seats exceed all of the SRT models for me. It could have something to do with me being a chunky monkey and needing solid padding, or it could be my love of the styling of the seating surfaces.

If you want to blow your friend’s minds, especially if they shelled out a ridiculous sum for their car’s puny stereo, show them the Charger SRT8’s system. This baby has a 19-speaker, Harmon Kardon audio system with 900 watts, standard. The engineers did some serious voodoo to make it sound the way it does both under the hood and behind the wheel.

I truly admire the new Dodge Chargers and the SRT8 just blows me away. The old one ran about $42,000 and gave folks a nifty option to a mid-level performance sedan. A car like this makes you laugh out loud, which is a feeling few cars instill. It has attitude, bravado and my god what a great soundtrack.