2021 Dodge Charger

2021 Dodge Charger Review: Everyday Muscle Car

by Gerhard Horn

The Dodge Charger continues to be one of the best-selling full-size sedans in the US. The reason? Dodge steadfastly sticks to the tried-and-trusted muscle car recipe: a big engine up front with the power going to the rear wheels. A V6 is standard in the base car, but a HEMI V8 with 485 horsepower is available. Its more contemporary rivals like the Nissan Maxima and Toyota Avalon have moved on to front-wheel drive for packaging and efficiency reasons, but the Charger soldiers on with right-wheel drive. And, let's not forget about the inherent all-American charm - we'll just gloss over the fact that it's actually built in Canada. The Charger is essentially a muscle car made for everyday duty: it can complete the quarter-mile in 12.4 seconds (Charger Scat Pack Widebody) and take the kids to school in relative comfort.

2021 Dodge Charger Changes: 🚙What’s the difference vs 2020 Dodge Charger?

Last year Dodge made some upgrades to the Scat Pack, but for 2021, the focus has moved over to the Hellcat and the Hellcat Redeye, which we cover in separate reviews. There are no significant updates to the standard 2021 Dodge Charger, other than the GT AWD's 20-inch alloys, which can now be optioned on the SXT AWD.

Pros and Cons

  • Lots of power
  • Affordable
  • Large trunk
  • Relatively comfortable
  • Loads of customization options
  • No manual transmission option
  • Low-grade interior
  • Needs more driver assistance features
  • The V8 is thirsty

Best Deals on Charger

2021 Dodge Charger Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
SXT
3.6L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$30,570
GT
3.6L V6 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
All-Wheel Drive
$32,570
R/T
5.7L V8 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
$37,570
Scat Pack
6.4L V8 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
$42,245
Scat Pack Widebody
6.4L V8 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Rear-Wheel Drive
$42,245

Charger Exterior

Dodge's Charger is a blend of a handsome family sedan and aggressive muscle car. We like the way the body panels look, like they've been stretched over the underpinnings. The base SXT looks a tad underwhelming, as it's the only model in the line-up without a hood scoop and some power bulges. It does come with 17-inch alloy wheels and halogen headlamps with LED daytime running lights, though. Adding all-wheel-drive to the base model does alter the appearance, though. The AWD package includes the obvious, and 19-inch alloys, and LED fog lights. From the GT upwards, all Charger cars get 20-inch wheels and the classic hood scoop. A performance spoiler and power sunroof can be added on, too.

2021 Dodge Charger Forward View CarBuzz
2021 Dodge Charger View Out Back CarBuzz
2021 Dodge Charger Frontal Aspect CarBuzz
See All 2021 Dodge Charger Exterior Photos

Dimensions

As far as dimensions go, the only static one is the wheelbase, which is 120-inches on every Charger. The longest model is the Scat Pack Widebody, measuring 201 inches in length, 57.8 inches in height, and 78.3 inches in width, excluding the mirrors. All other trims vary in length from 198.4 to 200.8 inches, standing between 57.8 and 58.5 inches tall, and 75 inches wide without the side mirrors - variations depend on trim and drivetrain. With so many configurations available, the Charger can weigh anything from 3,957 pounds to 4,373 lbs.

  • Length 198.4 in
  • Wheelbase 120.0 in
  • Height 57.8 in
  • Max Width 75.0 in
  • Front Width 63.4 in
  • Rear Width 63.8 in
  • Curb Weight 3,964.0 lbs

Exterior Colors

There are 13 exterior colors to choose from in the official palette, and all are available across the entire line-up at no extra charge. The paint palette looks like a toddler emptied a packet of Skittles on the floor, and the names are just as exciting. Available colors include F8 Green, Frostbite, Go Mango, Granite, Hellraisin, IndiGo Blue, Octane Red, Sinamon Stick, Smoke Show, TorRed, Triple Nickel, Pitch Black, and White Knuckle. A gloss black painted roof can be optioned on from the GT, while a variety of stripes and decals, and satin black hood/roof paint, can be added from the R/T upwards.

  • F8 Green
  • Frostbite
  • Granite Pearlcoat
  • Hellraisin
  • Indigo Blue
  • Octane Red Pearlcoat
  • Pitch Black Clearcoat
  • Sinamon Stick
  • Smoke Show
  • Torred Clearcoat
  • Triple Nickel Clearcoat
  • White Knuckle Clearcoat
  • Go Mango

Charger Performance

The newest Dodge Charger is available in three engine options and four power outputs. Entry-level SXT models have a 3.6-liter naturally-aspirated V6 delivering 292 hp and 260 lb-ft of torque. The GT has the same engine, but it's slightly more powerful at 300 hp and 264 lb-ft. The R/T has a 5.7-liter naturally-aspirated HEMI V8 with up to 370 hp and 395 lb-ft of torque.

A 6.4-liter naturally-aspirated V8 engine is standard on the Scat Pack and the Scat Pack Widebody - it has never been easier to get the whole family sideways thanks to rear-wheel drive and 485 hp/475 lb-ft. This model can sprint from 0 to 60 mph in a claimed 4.5 seconds.

If you live in a cold-weather state in the USA, you might have to stick with the V6 powertrain and the lower-tier models as these are the only models available with all-wheel drive. The system has a rear bias, but it still feels wrong ordering a muscle car with AWD. Our recommendation is to grow a pair, get a V8 and put some winter tires on it.

2021 Dodge Charger Rear-Facing View CarBuzz
2021 Dodge Charger Rear Angle View CarBuzz
2021 Dodge Charger Instrument Cluster CarBuzz

Engine and Transmission

All new models use an eight-speed automatic transmission, albeit featuring different ratios best suited to the applicable engine. The SXT and GT can be ordered with all-wheel drive, but why would you?

Speaking of, these models are powered by a naturally-aspirated V6 engine. The power outputs are so similar that you can't tell the difference. It would be unfair to call the V6 weak. Despite the base-spec Charger's 4,000 lbs curb weight, the V6 provides adequate power to shuffle around town and get to freeway speed. But here's a tip for you. If you have your heart set on an entry-level Charger, don't test drive the V8 models, they will ruin the V6 for you.

The R/T makes do with an older HEMI V8. It's a 5.7-liter powertrain, and it delivers 370 hp and 395 lb-ft, which is not a lot considering the engine's size. Still, it is brisk in most driving situations and comes with that famous all-American V8 rhythm; a blue-collar V8, and not some fancy hand-built high-revving Italian V8.

The top-spec models are only available with a 6.4-liter V8 packing a 485 hp/475 lb-ft punch. Only available in rear-wheel drive, it's relatively easy to provoke sideways action. This engine provides a lot of performance at the price, which is one reason the Charger keeps selling so well.

  • Engines
    3.6L V6 Gas, 5.7L V8 Gas, 6.4L V8 Gas
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, RWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

When it comes to handling and driving, the V6 models feel more contemporary, but still cumbersome compared to its front-wheel-drive competitors from Japan. It serves a purpose, but that's about it. The V8 models are way more fun, even when driven slowly. In fact, the Charger is surprisingly fun at slow speeds. It emits a low grumble, letting other drivers in the area know that there's something dangerous in the neighborhood. Step on it, and it will growl like an old-school muscle car. Noise plays a significant role in the Charger's overall character, and the V8s provide a soundtrack that grabs your soul by the neck and throws it around like a limp doll - but in a good way.

The Dodge Charger sedan has traditionally been slated for not handling properly, opting for a comfy ride instead of a pleasurable driving experience. Yet Dodge claims the Scat Pack can pull .98g on a skidpad. For those who don't speak car nerd, it basically means there's enough grip to corner with confidence, and then some. The steering is indeed vague, but you can add some weight on models where you can select driving modes.

In Track Mode, the traction control will let you have some wayward fun before it intervenes. Even in this supposedly stiff setup, the Charger provides a compliant ride, with only larger bumps finding their way into the cabin. And the cabin is well-insulated, but the V8 soundtrack reigns supreme. Those who don't like an ever-present growl may find it annoying.

Charger Gas Mileage

The rear-wheel-drive V6 has EPA-estimated gas mileage figures of 19/30/23 mpg city/highway/combined. Adding all-wheel drive has a negative effect, with the consumption dropping to 18/27/21 mpg. Rated at 16/25/19 mpg, the 5.7-liter V8 is already showing signs of severe thirst. Models with the 6.4-liter V8 only manage 15/24/18 mpg. At least Dodge had the good sense to include a large fuel tank. Rated at 18.5 gallons, it's large enough for the most frugal model to cover up to 425 miles of mixed driving between refills. There's a good chance you won't be able to match the EPA's figures, but we reckon most buyers know what they're in for when purchasing a Charger.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    18.5 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 19/30 mpg
* 2021 Dodge Charger SXT RWD

Charger Interior

There's space for five in the Charger, though the rear headroom is in short supply due to the sloping roofline. Thankfully, there's loads of legroom throughout the cabin. Being a low-slung performance sedan, the Charger can be tricky to get in and out of. Factor in some heavy doors, and it can feel like quite a chore. The thick C-pillars create large blind spots, too. This is incredibly annoying, considering blind-spot monitoring is one of the driver assistance features locked behind a paywall. It's not the best quality interior, but it is ergonomically pleasing.

2021 Dodge Charger Dashboard CarBuzz
2021 Dodge Charger Gear Lever CarBuzz
2021 Dodge Charger Infotainment System CarBuzz
See All 2021 Dodge Charger Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

The Charger makes up for what it lacks in safety by being comfortable. The base model gets a six-way power-adjustable seat for the driver, and further up in the range, it's upgraded to an eight-way power-adjustable seat with power lumbar support. Performance seats are also available, as is seat heating and ventilation. Front passengers have eight-way adjustable seats as standard.

The front legroom is 41.8 inches, while the rear legroom is 40.1 inches. The front offers 38.6 inches of headroom, while passengers in the rear get a scant 36.6 inches.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater
  • Front Leg Room 41.8 in
  • Front Head Room 38.6 in
  • Rear Leg Room 40.1 in
  • Rear Head Room 36.6 in

Interior Colors and Materials

Dodge relies on comfort more than quality. If you wondered why it can offer you so much bang for the buck, here's your answer. The Charger misses the mark on two fronts. The first is a lack of any sort of design language; it's almost as if all the interior elements were loaded into a blunderbuss and fired into the cabin. At least it was a logical blunderbuss because the significant controls are neatly located within reach.

The second problem is quality - or rather, a lack thereof. Overall, the plastics are hard and scratchy. To save money, Dodge stamps out large panels of the stuff. Cloth upholstery is standard, and premium cloth is standard higher up in the range. Black is the main color option, or a combination of black and Caramel, or black and Ruby Red, with the latter two options available as part of package upgrades. This also unlocks Nappa leather, Alcantara, or suede, depending on which package is added.

To get a semi-decent interior, add the Carbon/Suede Interior Package for an additional $1,595. It's pricey, but it adds real carbon fiber trim and a suede headliner. This package is only available for the V8 models.

Charger Trunk and Cargo Space

The Charger offers 16.5 cubic feet of cargo space - not class-leading, but not terrible either. It's enough for daily errands and the odd weekend away with the family. The Charger's trunk is also oddly shaped, narrowing significantly closer to the rear bench's seatbacks. It's possible to fold the rear seats down in a 60/40 split, but Dodge does not supply a claimed figure for how big the cargo capacity is in this configuration.

Interior storage space is average. Examples include a standard glove compartment, dual cupholders up front, and door pockets for front passengers. There's also a full-length center console with a power supply.

2021 Dodge Charger Armrest CarBuzz
2021 Dodge Charger Rearmost Seats CarBuzz
2021 Dodge Charger Trunk Space CarBuzz
  • Trunk Volume
    16.5 ft³

Charger Infotainment and Features

Features

Dodge adds most of the standard features you want from base level. The SXT comes with manual dual-zone climate control, a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, a manually adjustable steering column, and remote keyless entry and engine start. Add AWD or upgrade to the GT, and you get automatic climate control, eight-way power adjustment for the driver with four-way lumbar support, paddle-shifters on the steering wheel, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror.

The GT adds houndstooth cloth seats with performance bolsters, LED front and rear map pockets, and a performance suspension. As the first V8 in the line-up, the R/T gets an active exhaust and a speedometer that goes up to 160 mph. The V6 models only read up to 140 mph..

The Scat Pack has a lot of power, so the additional kit's focus is on that. Line Lock with launch control is standard, as are Brembo four-piston performance brakes. It adds some luxury in the form of heated front seats and a heated, leather-wrapped steering wheel.

The Scat Pack Widebody is not just a style option. The Brembo's are upgraded to six-piston units, and the Bilstein suspension is adaptive. To add to the interior visual drama, you also get a flat-bottomed steering wheel.

Infotainment

The SXT has a seven-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth connectivity, via Uconnect 4. There are six speakers as standard. Seven inches seems like enough, but this particular unit just looks sad against the backdrop of a big interior.

Upgrade to the next trim, or add AWD, and you get the bigger 8.4-inch screen with Uconnect 4C, which adds a Wi-Fi hotspot, HD Radio, and an Alpine six-speaker sound system. All other models are equipped with this setup, although a package upgrade can add Uconnect 4C with navigation to any model. A nine-speaker Alpine sound system is available for the lower-rung models optionally, while a 19-speaker Harman Kardon unit can be added to the upper trims.

2021 Dodge Charger Problems and Reliability

Dodge Charger owners seem to be pleased with their vehicles. The facelifted model, first introduced in 2019, scored 80 out of a possible 100 points from JD Power. For the last two years, it has remained static at 83 points. Owners rated the quality and reliability and the driving experience as the things they enjoy most.

The NHTSA reports four recall alerts for the 2019 Charger; an incorrect front wheel and brake package installation that may cause tire damage, missing airbag warnings on the sun visor, and driver warnings that may not illuminate appropriately in the instrument cluster. The last recall also pertained to some 2020 cars, but it does not apply to the regular model since it was for police cars specifically where the reverse camera was faulty in 'stealth mode'. No recalls have been issued for 2021 so far. Every Charger is covered by a 36-month/36,000-mile limited warranty and a 60-month/60,000-mile powertrain warranty.

Warranty

  • Basic:
    3 Years \ 36,000 Miles
  • Drivetrain:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles
  • Corrosion:
    5 Years \ Unlimited Miles
  • Roadside Assistance:
    5 Years \ 60,000 Miles

Charger Safety

The NHTSA's review of the Dodge Charger for 2021 resulted in an overall score of five out of five. It scored four stars in the frontal impact category, but full five stars for both side-impact and rollover crashes. Dodge's performance in the IIHS test was a mixed bag. It scored "marginal" in the small overlap crash on the driver's side, while the headlights received a "poor" rating. The LATCH system also received a "marginal" rating for ease of use. Four other tests yielded top scores of Good, however.

US NHTSA crash test result

  • Overall Rating
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
  • Side Crash Rating
  • Rollover Rating

Key Safety Features

Dodge takes an unorthodox approach to safety, offering only the traditional active and passive safety features as standard. You get ABS, stability and traction control, a rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring, rear sonar for parking assistance, and six airbags. That's standard on all models, not just the entry-level cars.

All of the driver assistance features are locked behind a paywall; adaptive cruise control can be optioned on, as well as forward collision warning, lane departure warning with lane keep assist, blind-spot monitoring, and rear cross-traffic alert.

Verdict: 🏁Is the 2021 Dodge Charger a good car?

Looking at rivals for the Dodge Charger in the same price bracket, you'll note that it's a sea of drab and dreary. Perhaps the sedan is responsible for its own demise, with crossovers at least offering something interesting to look at and a lifestyle to go with it. Dodge's main aim for the Charger was obviously performance and driver enjoyment. It's a laugh-out-loud kinda car, and we respect that.

To keep it cheap, sacrifices had to be made. Every model in the line-up has a somewhat shoddy interior, and the standard features list is not exactly comprehensive. All of the good stuff is stuck behind a paywall, and you have to add extra if you want any kind of luxury tech or driver assistance systems. The infotainment system deserves to be praised, however.

What the Dodge lacks in features, it makes up for in character. By saving a penny here, and a few bucks over there, Dodge provides real muscle cars at an affordable price. You get a comfortable interior with the basics, rear-wheel drive, and a massive engine up front. The Charger is unashamedly honest about what it is, and we appreciate that.

🚘What's the Price of the 2021 Dodge Charger?

The entry-level SXT RWD has an MSRP of $29,995. You will need to add on $3,600 if you want the SXT with AWD. The RWD GT starts at $31,995, with only $3,000 needed to add AWD from this trim upwards. Then, it's a hefty price jump to the R/T V8, which retails for $36,995. The Scat Pack starts at $41,095, with another big leap to get to the Scat Pack Widebody at $46,595. These prices exclude Dodge's destination charge of $1,495, and other licensing and registration fees.

2021 Dodge Charger Models

There are five trim levels in the Dodge Charger line-up; SXT, GT, R/T, Scat Pack, and Scat Pack Widebody. The SXT and GT are equipped with the same 3.6-liter naturally-aspirated V6 engine. The GT is more powerful, but not so much that you'd notice a difference in performance. The V6s are the only models available with AWD, which also adds on a few extra features. The R/T gets a 5.7-liter V8 with 370 hp and 395 lb-ft, while the Scat Pack models are powered by a 485-hp and 475-lb-ft 6.4-liter V8. All engines are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission.

Unlike most model line-ups, the primary difference between the various models is the engine options. The base SXT is equipped with automatic halogen headlights with LED daytime running lights and 17-inch alloy wheels. On the inside, it has a six-way power-adjustable driver's seat, manual dual-zone climate control, cloth upholstery, cruise control, and remote keyless entry and engine start. The infotainment suite has all the latest connectivity features, but its seven-inch size looks small in such a big cabin. For charging purposes, it gets two USB ports and two 12-volt outlets. Safety-wise, you get the traditional fare and obligatory rearview camera, as well as rear sonar. Adding AWD throws in 19-inch wheels, and upgraded suspension, performance brakes, and a Sport mode. On the inside the climate control is automated. From this spec onwards, the upgraded Uconnect 4C 8.4-inch infotainment system is standard.

The GT gets 20-inch Satin Carbon alloy wheels, projector LED fog lamps, a performance hood with a functional hood scoop, and a performance spoiler color-coded to your choice of exterior paint. Inside you get LED map pocket lights, and performance-oriented seats.

Moving up to the R/T sees the addition of V8 power, active dual rear performance exhaust tips, and a speedometer that reads up to 160 mph. One level up, the Scat Pack adds an even more powerful 6.4-liter V8, but adds Brembo brakes, a high-performance suspension, limited-slip differential, launch control, line lock, a heated steering wheel, and heated front seats. If hitting top speed is your aim, this is the trim to opt for.

The Scat Pack Widebody has the same engine as the Scat Pack. It enhances the driving experience further by adding even more powerful brakes and adaptive suspension. The Widebody package also adds a performance fascia, mail slot air opening, fender flares, side sills, and integrated front and rear fender flares for an even more aggressive look.

See All 2021 Dodge Charger Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

We think Dodge's approach to standard features is quite smart. It caters to the customer who wants a bare-bones muscle car, and the person who wants to add more safety and convenience.

While there are many packages on offer, there are three worth highlighting. The first is the Plus Group, which is both a style and convenience package. It includes 20-inch alloy wheels, sports suspension, heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, auto-dimming rearview mirror, and the 8.4-inch version of the infotainment system, to name just a few. The price depends on the model you opt for, but expect to pay $3,095 on the SXT and $2,095 on the Widebody. The Technology Group adds adaptive cruise control, advanced brake assist, auto high beams, full-speed forward collision warning, lane-departure warning, and rain-sensing wipers, at a cost of $1,895. Annoyingly, if you want blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic assist you'll have to pay another $1,295 for the Driver Convenience Group, which adds these features, amongst a few other niceties.

Other packages include a cold weather package for $695, to add heated front seats and a heated steering wheel, while navigation and the upgraded Uconnect 4C with the larger display can be optioned on for $995.

🚗What Dodge Charger Model Should I Buy?

All models are essentially the same car, with only minor feature differences between them. All of them will transport a family of five in comfort. The real choice here is in engine specs. Every drivetrain has its merits, apart from the 5.7-liter V8, which is just old and out of place compared to the larger V8. The V6s are underwhelming, but thanks to the optional AWD, they're the safest vehicle from this lineup if you live in a cold-weather state.

Since this is a muscle car, we'd have the Scat Pack. It has 475 hp on tap and a soundtrack that will make your ears bleed. Dodge also ensures the engine doesn't overpower the rest of the car and adds more powerful brakes and a sportier suspension. It also has the right kit for smokey burnouts. If you want something even more aggressive, you can add the Widebody kit and even larger brakes, and adaptive suspension. These trims also benefit from a few additional luxuries such as heated seats and a heated steering wheel.

Check out other Dodge Charger Styles

2021 Dodge Charger Comparisons

Chrysler 300 Chrysler
Dodge Challenger Dodge
CompetitorHorsepowerMPGPrice (MSRP)
Dodge Charger292 hp19/30 mpg$30,570
Chrysler 300 292 hp19/30 mpg$31,370
Dodge Challenger 305 hp19/30 mpg$28,870

2021 Dodge Charger vs Chrysler 300

There are various sedans available in this price range, but only the Chrysler 300 offers the same blend of V8 power and American pride in comparison to the new Dodge Charger. Sold by the same mother ship, Stellantis made sure they don't tread on each other's turf too much. The Chrysler is more of a luxury offering, while the Charger is built for performance. This much is apparent by just looking at them. The Dodge Charger is a car with an aggressive stance, while the 300 is more elegant. The Charger can also be had with a 475-hp V8, while the most powerful engine available in the 300 is the same 5.7-liter V8 used in the mid-spec Charger, but putting out slightly less power at 363 hp. It depends entirely on how much luxury or fun you want to have when deciding on a winner in this competition. The Chrysler offers leather seats with heating and cooling functions and even climate-controlled cupholders. The Dodge comes with line lock and can smoke a set of rear tires within one glorious afternoon. Choose your weapon.

See Chrysler 300 Review

2021 Dodge Charger vs Dodge Challenger

Due to the lack of V8-powered sedans, there is only one other rival that provides a combination of reasonable space and old-school muscle, and that's the Dodge Challenger. It uses the same platform and engines as the Charger, and its interior is more spacious than its natural rivals, the Ford Mustang and Chevy Camaro. Everything said in this review is true of the Challenger as well. The main difference is a lack of rear doors and an obvious dip in rear headroom and legroom. Still, it's perfectly fine for two adults over short distances. The 16.2 cube trunk is also nearly as big.

Choosing between these two boils down to choosing style over practicality. The Challenger's retro design is appealing, and there's less than a $2,000 difference in cost between the Dodge Charger and Challenger. If practicality isn't a priority, it might be worth looking at the Challenger as a more interesting, yet equally enjoyable, alternative; if you need the rear-seat space, the Dodge Charger is best.

See Dodge Challenger Review

Dodge Charger Popular Comparisons

The most popular competitors of 2021 Dodge Charger:

58
Photos
Back
To Top