REVIEW: 2016 Dodge Charger SXT Premium AWD

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Our hearts say get the Charger Hellcat, but our minds say that the smart buy is the Charger SXT Premium AWD.

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What is it? 

The 2016 Dodge Charger SXT Premium AWD is a full-size, four-door sedan with a sporting personality.  You may be associating the word “Charger” with the word “Hellcat”, which has the extremely powerful, 707-horsepower supercharged engine.

Our test vehicle this week does not have that engine, and we’ve driven the Charger Hellcat, and it is indeed an amazing car.  But the Hellcat is a “one night stand” kind of car, and this Dodge Charger SXT Premium AWD is the one you want to marry.

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Counterpoint: 5 Reasons 2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat is Best Sedan On the Market

New for 2017

Changes for the 2017 Charger SXT AWD include the fourth-generation Uconnect infotainment system, a Hyper Black wheel finish with the Rallye Package, and the option of retro-chic houndstooth cloth seats.

Pricing and trims

The 2016 Dodge Charger line starts at under $28K.  On the other end, the Hellcat Charger can run up into the low $70Ks.

Our 2016 Dodge Charger SXT Premium AWD  had both the $595 Rallye and $5,995 AWD Premium packages and came in at a very reasonable $39,580.

We found that this full-sized sedan has the power, panache, safety options, and luxury amenities of a European sports sedan costing twice what this Charger does.

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Safety

Full-size sports sedans double as family cars, regardless of their sporty personality.  Therefore, it was refreshing to see that our test vehicle included all of the modern active safety options on the market.

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With those safety features comes adaptive cruise control, which we loved and put to good use in our testing.

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Our Charger SXT Premium AWD included Superior rated forward collision prevention with auto-brake, lane departure warning, blind spot and cross path protection, and an outstanding rear-view camera.

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The 2016 Charger did well in tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), except for its “Marginal” rating in the small frontal overlap test.

Performance

With 300 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque, the Dodge Charger SXT Premium AWD is smooth and responsive.  It also has more than enough power for passing and sporty driving.

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The eight-speed automatic transmission is a perfect partner to this Dodge’s able engine.

Shifts are smooth, and the engine is quiet.  We did notice that the engine lugs a bit when we were light on the throttle around town – the transmission was in too high of a gear. But mostly, you forget about this drivetrain.

If you toe the throttle, it comes alive and delivers more than enough thrill for the occasional back-roads blast.  The Rallye option adds the paddle shifters.

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Ride and handing

The ride comfort of the 2016 Dodge Charger SXT Premium AWD was a good match for the broken up pavement of our streets here in late springtime New England.

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This Charger smoothed over even the roughest patches of potholes, with its low-profile, 55-series tires aptly coupled with a relatively soft suspension.

With all-wheel drive helping to put the power down, even brisk starts could not break a wheel free.  Turn-in was good for such a large, softly-sprung car, and handling reflected an old-school, rear-wheel drive American sedan in all the best ways.

Seating

The Charger’s power seats were heated and ventilated, and they were excellent.

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The red and black leather looked and felt great – they were perfect match for this car’s personality.  Comfort was good, but the bottom seat cushion was a smidgen short for this six-foot-tall tester’s legs.

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The rear seats are generous in size, and have more than enough legroom for adults, even when the front seats are all the way back.

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We were impressed that Dodge added heat to the rear seats as well as individual HVAC vents and a pair of USB ports.  You won’t find that in a full-size European performance sedan for less than double the price point of this Charger.

Cargo

Like an old-school American sedans, the Charger has a big, deep trunk.  Unlike many cars today, there is a compact spare underneath.

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Infotainment and controls

Along with the ride comfort, the infotainment system and controls of the 2016 Dodge Charger SXT Premium AWD were standouts.

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FCA Group does an excellent job of integrating modern technology with a user interface we can easily understand.  Synching a phone is easy.

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Finding a radio station is simple, and changing the HVAC settings is quick.  The navigation system is intuitive.

If we had one suggested improvement, it would be to divorce the heat and ventilation for the seats from the screen and make them toggles on the car’s dash.  We tired of setting them each time we entered the vehicle.

Overall

After a week with the 2016 Dodge Charger SXT Premium AWD, we felt that it would be a very easy sedan to live with.

The AWD system makes this a true four-season vehicle, and with some winter tires, the Charger would be just as all-weather capable as any crossover.

Those looking for a large, spacious sedan, with ample power, a great ride and a modern take on the classic Detroit sedan should look closely at this Charger.

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Here’s a specific search on BestRide.com for a Charger SXT AWD – input your location to find what’s available near you.

Test car:  2016 Dodge Charger SXT Premium AWD

Base price: $31,995

Price as tested, $39,580 (includes $995 destination charge)

Options:

AWD Premium Group: $5,995

Rallye Preferred Package 28H: $595

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John Goreham

John Goreham