2016 Dodge Charger SRT 392 road test: Muscle meets modern with a rush of nostalgia

2016 Dodge Charger SRT 392

2016 Dodge Charger SRT 392

You hear the unmistakable rumble of a powerful V-8 half a block away and automatically you sense there is a serious muscle car in the neighborhood. Sure enough, it rounds the corner and before your eyes appears a Red-line Red Tri-Coat Pearl 2016 Dodge Charger SRT 392.

Yes, the Dodge Boys are still at it.Traditional American muscle cars have pretty much faded from the scene over the years, but there are still a few being built, and the Charger is right there in the forefront.

To us older codgers, that rowdy engine song brings to mind a golden era, mostly the 60s, when America’s roads were being menaced by the likes of the Dodge Coronet Super Bee and Dodge Charger Daytona, not to mention the Pontiac GTO, certain Chevys and Fords, and a few outliers like, say, an AMC Matador coupe with 6.6-liter V-8 engine.

Dodge Charger SRT 392 dashboard

Dodge Charger SRT 392 dashboard

But, that was then and this is 50 years beyond then.

Today’s Dodge Charger SRT 392 —- with 6.4 liters (392 cubic inches) of Hemi V-8 power that add up to 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet of torque —- is an easy match for the straight-line acceleration of those pavement scorching beasts of the past, and a vastly superior automobile in every other category —- steering, brakes, suspension, safety equipment, passenger comfort.

We’re talking a neck-snapping 0-60 mph in about 4.3 seconds and 12 seconds to complete a quarter mile. Who could ask for anything more from a 4,382-pound sedan with room for five and 16.5 cubic feet of luggage space?

Well, a few of you, for sure. Those devilish Dodge boys have raised the bar even higher with the Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat. That king of the road is powered by a supercharged 6.2-liter Hemi V-8. Its 707 horsepower and 650 pound-feet of torque will rocket that Charger to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds and past the quarter-mile mark in a mere 11 seconds.

Charger instrument panel

Charger SRT 392 instrument panel

But to heck with the Hellcat for now. All of you who can wait an extra 6/10ths of a second to reach 60 mph, stick with me and we’ll take a closer look at what the 2016 Dodge Charger SRT 392 has to offer.

First off, you can go very fast, but you can’t go very far without stopping for fuel. The EPA estimates15 mpg around town, 25 mpg on the open road and an average of 18 mpg. Good luck with that. With only a few playful foot-to-the-floor moments, and pretty many highway miles, I averaged less than 17 mpg. The good news is that gas is cheap now, even with the recommended premium grade, but who knows how long that will last.

An 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters helps to transfer that prodigious power to the rear wheels. There is no all-wheel-drive option in Dodge Chargers with V-8 engines. The shift logic is selectable in three modes: street, sport and track.

The steering, electrically assisted rack-and-pinion with three modes of stiffness, offers a fairly accurate report on what’s happening where the rubber meet the road. Should a driver fail to get the message, massive braking power is at the ready to bring those 20-inch forged aluminum wheels to an abrupt halt. Six-piston Brembo calipers clamp on to 15.4-inch discs up front and 13.8-inch discs at the rear,

Charger front seats

Charger SRT 392 front seats

The independent four-wheel suspension, sport tuned with Bilstein shock absorbers for the SRT 392, can also be adjusted three ways. Street Mode offers the most compliant ride, Sport improves handling and firms up the suspension, and Track offers maximum handling with the harshest ride.

To recount, then, you can adjust the transmission, steering and suspension three ways to suit yours driving desires of the moment. In my traffic-filled travels, the softest modes worked just fine most of the time.

Now, let’s say you want to impress friends and depress a fellow motorist leaving a stop light. Simply press the “launch” button on the center of the dashboard, press left foot on brake, push accelerator to the floor and release brake. Wham! Those 485 horses are off at a seriously raucous full gallop.

Or so they say. Each time I tried it, the engine stuttered as if taking a moment to inhale deeply before shooting off like a rocket. It was still very impressive, so I will chalk up the slight hesitation to my amateur status as a dragster.

Anyone seriously interested in extracting the maximum performance from the Charger can also check the progress by dialing up the Performance Pages.

Charger back seats

Charger SRT 392 back seats

With them you can record acceleration times from 0-60 and 0-100 mph. You can record elapsed time through the quarter mile and you can monitor braking distances and G forces through turns. You’ll even have a lap timer for those track days. Practice may never quite make perfect, but you’ll be able to chart every bit of your improvement.

By now, you may get some sense of all the fun you can have with this charged-up Charger. But that is far from the whole story. This is also a luxury car with unique design details, a host of comfort and convenience features, and a full complement of safety features.

Separating the SRT 392 from the other six Charger trim lines lines are a unique front fascia, hood, rear fascia and spoiler. And, those 20-inch wheels are finished in Hyper Black. Inside, the seats are trimmed in Red Nappa leather with Alcantara inserts. A beefy, flat-bottom steering wheel adds to the SRT’s sporty demeanor.

Also inside, the Uconnect infotainment system has an 8.4-inch touch screen. It is complemented by a 7-inch customizable instrument cluster.

 Dodge Charger trunk

Dodge Charger trunk

Among this Dodge’s standard features are automatic on/off high-intensity discharge headlights, fog lights, keyless lock and ignition, remote start, navigation, dual-zone climate control, heated and ventilated front seats, heated rear seats and power driver and front-passenger seats.

Options include a19-speaker premium sound system ($1,995), and power sunroof ($1,195).

In addition to the usual airbags and side curtains, standard safety equipment includes a back-up camera, rear park assist, antilock brakes with traction control and stability control and electronic roll mitigation.

Additional safety features are part of a $1,595 Technology Package and include blind spot warning and cross-path detection, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, lane departure warning with lane keeping assist, and emergency brake assist.

Base price of the 2016 Dodge Charger SRT 392 is $50,995. Add the options and the delivery charge and the suggested retail price comes to $57,870.

Dodge Charger logo

Dodge Charger logo

For the record, that’s about $15,000 less than you would have to shell out for a Hellcat. Is the extra performance worth the price? That’s for a buyer to decide.

Perhaps more importantly, there is some good news for the power hungry who can’t stretch their finances far enough to reach the Hellcat or the SRT 392. The Dodge Charger R/T Scat Pack is a less opulent sedan with the same powertrain as the SRT 392. Its starting price is a more reasonable $39,995.

As you can see from this brief tour, the Dodge Charger SRT 392 is a whole lot of car for a lot of money. It is certainly not the car for everyone, but, hey, wouldn’t you NASCAR fans love to pilot one on to the parking lot at the annual Daytona 500?

No doubt, you would turn a lot of heads.

Turn page for full specifications.