Dodge, Road Test Reviews

2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T – Road Test

2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T -

Warning: This car is dangerous… if you’re a miserable old fart and hate everything and everyone – because this car will put a smile on your face a mile wide!!

You cannot drive this car without a smile on your face! It’s unbelievable. I picked the Charger Daytona R/T up at Chrysler and smiled all the way home. When I picked my wife up at work I told her: “See this smile? It won’t go away!” She thought I’d lost my mind. The next day she took the car to work. On returning home she had this humungous smile on her face and agreed – it just wouldn’t go away. You can’t drive this car and be unhappy. It’s also dangerous to the general population. People stop and stare at it, they gather in groups in the parking lot not saying anything, just staring. It’s no use trying to engage them in conversation, they look at you like you’re an alien and they quietly walk away. Skateboarders stop and stare, while family men in SUV’s and minivans almost drive off the road taking a second look. Anyone over 40 – the ones that remember the original Chargers – do a double-take and just about twist their neck off as you drive by. My wife got even more looks – a chick driving a Charger Daytona?!!
2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T -
2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T -
Then there’s the sound of the duel exhaust. Oh… it’s so sweet! There is nothing like the sound of a V-8 engine and this car has the perfect sound. The deep growl and burble of the V-8 brings back memories of when I was 18 and bought my first car – a 1973 Dodge Charger with a 318 V-8. I grew up with V-8’s, but somewhere along the road I ended up with 4-bangers and V-6’s. Maybe it was the price of gas, or maybe bad choices in the cars I bought, either way, I wound up in Japanese cars and eventually got married, and that was the end of my V-8’s.

Like cassettes, 8-tracks and LP’s, the younger generation has missed a piece of history that will never return. But at least those of us that can remember the days when virtually all cars were powered by 8 cylinders, can thank the big three from Detroit for going retro! The European and the Asian manufacturers can’t provide us with nostalgia – only Detroit can do that – and if they keep making niche cars like the Charger, Mustang, PT Cruiser, HHR and the like, they just might survive.

First Impressions
Back to 2006…. The Dodge Charger Daytona R/T strikes a great blend of being old, but new at the same time. It feels like it looks when it’s driven, but far more comfortable than cars of old. From the dials and large steering wheel, of yesterday, to the SatNav with GPS and killer stereo of today – this car works perfectly blending old and new. Getting comfortable has never been easier with electrically adjustable pedals, and a steering wheel that is tilt and telescopic. The large leather/suede bucket seats are heated and hold you snugly in place – unlike the bench seat in my ’73 Charger. Both driver and passenger get 8-way power adjustments and a manual lumbar control. Everything is within easy reach, with only the switch for the sunroof a bit of a stretch. The power door lock button could have been better marked, it just blends in with the power window buttons.
2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T -
My test vehicle (#14 of only 200 Charger Daytona R/T’s in Canada) was painted a copper/orange color that Dodge calls “Go ManGo!” and is also available in “Top Banana”. The color jumps out in the bright sunlight – pictures just don’t do it justice. The color is continued on the center console, dash and contrasting stitching on the seats and other areas of the car. It makes the car unified and complete, not like stuff has been added as an afterthought.

The back seat area is very large and accommodating. The doors open wide and entry and exit is superb. Once back there it’s almost limousine comfortable with tons of leg, knee and foot space. Hip, shoulder and headroom are also very generous. The optional Rear Seat Video System was included in the car and it is quite clever in its execution. The center consul houses the player and screen that pops up and faces the rear occupants. Headphones are included as well. Trunk space is plentiful –as it should be for a car of this size.
2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T -
The 6-disc in-dash stereo/SatNav is an all-in-one unit manufactured by Boston Acoustics and features a 276-watt amplifier. When I first got in the car it was quite confusing, but after playing with it for a minute or two it was very easy to operate. My wife insisted on music from the ‘70’s and early ‘80’s as being the only variety for our listening pleasure, so I got to hear CD’s I hadn’t listened to in a while like Bob Seger, Kiss, AC/DC etc. All of which sounded clean, clear and LOUD on the car system.

2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T - www.Road-Test.orgTaking the Charger on my unusual test loop, it was solid and powerful. With 350 HP on tap it’s very easy to let it rip when overtaking a slower vehicle. My wife complained that it should have a manual transmission to use all that manly power a bit better. My problem with that would be, the tires – they’d be bald with all the burn-outs I’d be doing at every stop sign ;>)

The steering isn’t as sharp as other cars, but it not a concern like it would be for a smaller and more nimble car. Again it’s in perfect keeping with the entire car. The suspension is nicely tuned also – very forgiving when needed – while firm enough that you know you will make that corner – and not end up in the farmer’s field. Probably helping in that regards are the Daytona’s Performance Steering/ Suspension, load leveling and height control as well as beefy 235/55R18 tires and aluminum rims. When the roads got twisty and the speed increased, there was never an inclination that you were ever over-driving the car, it was very well planted.

2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T - www.Road-Test.orgThe Charger R/T comes with a 340 hp 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 with 390 lb.-ft torque driving the rear wheels. The HEMI has a Multi-Displacement System (MDS) that seamlessly deactivates 4 cylinders in just 40 milliseconds to improve fuel economy by as much as 20% when full power isn’t needed. Mated to the HEMI is a 5-speed automatic with Auto/Stick to give the next best thing to a manual transmission. I’m not a big fan of these types of shifters, but this one wasn’t too bad. I liked the fact that you don’t have to move the shifter into a designated part of the shift gate, you can move the lever at anytime (left to go down, right to go up) to change the gears. For those hungry for even more power, you can purchase the Dodge Charger SRT8 with a 6.1-liter V-8 and 425 hp.

Standard features on the R/T include: 4-wheel disc brakes, speed control, keyless entry, engine immobilizer/theft deterrent system, 60/40 split folding rear seat, leather-wrapped steering wheel and shifter knob, the aforementioned audio system and dual exhaust.

The Daytona R/T package adds: flat-black decals, the two exclusive colors, a rear deck-lid and front chin spoiler, specially tuned (extra 10hp) HEMI engine with special HEMI orange engine cover, body-color accent stitching on the seats, and steering wheel, matching body-colored center stack and shifter bezel, power adjustable pedals, automatic climate control, unique rims with bigger tires and performance steering and suspension.

Additional options on the test vehicle were: power sunroof, 6-CD SatNav with GPS, UConnect Hands-free Communication, and the Rear-seat DVD System.

Stop & Go…
0-60 mph: 5.6 seconds, Braking: 70 – 0 mph: 169 feet (Source: Car and Driver magazine)

I tried to get the tires smoking, but the best I could do was a chirp in first gear. Braking on the other hand was easier…stomping on the brakes brought the 4,100-lb. beast to a halt in an amazingly short distance.

2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T - www.Road-Test.org2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T - www.Road-Test.orgSafety
On the safety front, the Charger comes with Traction Control, ABS, and Electronic Stability Program (ESP) with Brake Assist as well as the multi-stage front air bags and seatbelt pre-tensioners.

Pricing for the 2006 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T
As tested: $ 29,720 [$46,175 Cdn]
Base price for the Charger R/T starts at: $32,395 [$37,745 Cdn]

Fuel Consumption: [Mid-grade 89 octane]
The 5.7L, 350 HP V-8 is rated at 17 mpg City [13.9 L/100 kms] and 25 mpg Highway [8.8 L/100 kms]
I averaged miles and miles of smiles
Though this vehicle is very reasonable on consumption, my wife didn’t seem to care, which is extremely unusual! In her mind, this feel-good car would be worth any additional expense. …. for everything else there’s MasterCard!

The sound of that exhaust is addictive
Goes like stink and stops on a dime – terrific brakes for such a big heavy car
Excellent fit and finish with a gorgeous paint color
Loads of smiles (from you and others) as you drive
A sports car with 4 doors and room for 4
Fantastic stereo system

I can’t afford to buy one on my PaddockTalk salary
If you’re a bank robber this ain’t the car for you…everyone will see you!
The outside temperature, trip meter and the odometer were all in one line, you have to choose only one, even though there’s plenty of room in the gauge cluster for all three at the same time

Would I Spend My Money On It?:
I’m searching for loose change behind the sofa right now.. how much will a pint of blood get me?

Back Seat Driver Test: 9 out of 10
Very comfortable, nice amount of space. The center tunnel was large, but there was plenty of room to accommodate 3 people back there. For 2 it was luxurious.

Immediate Competition:
Ford Mustang GT, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum are the only real competition.
The Pontiac Grand Prix GXP, Ford Five Hundred, Toyota Avalon, Chevy Impala are similar in size and price range.

By The Numbers…
10 – Quality
10 – Noise, Vibration & Harshness (NVH)
10 – Cargo Area/Trunk Space
10 – Special Features (Sat Nav/Heated Seats/ Sunroof etc)

10 – Ease of Entry/Exit
10 – Front Roominess
8 – Rear Roominess
10 – Driving Position/Controls

10 – Drool Factor
10 – Fit & Finish

10 – Engine
10 – Transmission
8 – Ride & Handling

Ownership Value
9 – Bang for the $$
8 – Fuel Economy

143 Total / 150

Copyright © 2006 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text: Iain Shankland / Images: Iain Shankland / Gail Shankland

Also Published at: PaddockTalk

This entry was posted in: Dodge, Road Test Reviews


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