2012 Dodge Charger SXT road test: A sophisticated sedan dressed for street-cred

The car I drove also had the optional $1,795 Blacktop package, which includes the paddle shifters with sport mode, upgraded audio system, performance suspension, sport bucket seats and, according to the Dodge publicity, a blacked-out appearance that delivers “even more street-cred and sinister appearance.”

On the car I drove, that meant a tungsten metallic (dark gray) paint, a somber black cloth interior with black trim, 20-inch gloss black aluminum wheels and gloss black honeycomb grille.

As I looked it over in my driveway, I have to admit the Charger SXT certainly did look sinister, but not necessarily in a good way. To me, it looked more like something a homicide detective would park at a murder scene than a sophisticated, technically advanced family sedan.

2012 Dodge Charger rear seats

2012 Dodge Charger rear seats

The eerily aggressive Blacktop add-ons seem more  appropriate for the Charger R/T, which is powered by a burly 370-horsepower Hemi V-8 but, for the time being, soldiers on with the 5-speed automatic transmission.

The Chargers R/T sells itself as an aggressive, performance-oriented sedan that reminds one of the 1960s muscle-car era when Charger two-door coupes were duking it out with the hottest stuff from Ford and Chevy.

But, from behind the wheel the SXT is a different, more understated, family-oriented kind of car.

If I were the buyer, I would choose a more traditional palette for the 2012 Dodge Charger SXT and hope I could outfit it with some of the more important Blacktop features, such as the paddle shifters, suspension and upgraded sound system.

As tested, the car I drove had a suggested retail price of  $32,110. I’m guessing I could drive away in a smooth operating, nicely appointed Charger for something less than that, a sedan more appropriate and more satisfying for a buyer whose hair has long since turned to gray.

But that’s just me. You might find the Blacktop trim to be right on the mark.