Mountain Wheels: Dodge’s all-wheel-drive Charger GT provides seasonal adaptability
For a state that gets an enormous amount of snow and features highways that are often virtually impassable, you might wonder why law enforcement agencies such as the Colorado State Patrol still opt for what look like fair-weather police cars — the ones you might see in your rear-view mirror in Florida.
Turns out that is not exactly the case with the fleet of State Patrol Dodge Chargers roaming our passes and keeping things safe during the best and worst of times. Like the many SUVs used by police and emergency departments across the state, they have a little bit extra under the hood and end up being ideally suited for their all-weather role.
All-wheel-drive is the big secret, something that’s been available for the Dodge Charger Pursuit police edition, with an optional 5.7-liter Hemi V-8, pushing those machines to 370 horsepower. They also get upgraded disc brakes — just as Elwood notes in “The Blues Brothers,” “It’s got a cop motor … it’s got cop tires, cop suspensions, cop shocks.”
And if you’d like to enjoy a slightly more stylish but still large, stable and secure build of the Charger for your eventual all-season traveling, you are in luck. The new civilian Dodge Charger GT, priced at $34,995 (plus a $1,495 destination fee) gives you a 300-horsepower variation of the same dang car, with a load of flashy appearance upgrades to make it look and feel more like muscle car than patrol vehicle.
I immediately found out why Charger works as a police vehicle. It’s big, solid and it rides pretty well, with a tall seating position that’s totally the opposite of muscle cars like Mustang and Camaro, supplemented by very well-bolstered sport seats in this GT edition.
Granted, while Charger has been a platform for factory-issued engines up to 717 horsepower and custom builds double that (the 1,525-HP Speedkore Demon, for instance), 300 horses might seem a little light, but you’d be surprised.
It actually seems to be enough power to confidently maintain correct speeds up to and through the tunnel, and while the car’s boisterous looks will either convince other drivers that you are in fact an officer of the law or challenge you to drag races, that is all up to you. It’s got the full package of Performance Pages on the navigation and instrument screens for you to measure your G-forces and slalom times, should you wish to do so.
A bulging dome on the hood, just a little faux-feeling here, and the car’s added aerodynamic and darkened-out trim treatments do make it pretty sharp looking.
The most tangible sensation is how large the Charger feels, especially if you’ve driven smaller sedans or become used to SUV scale. It takes up a whole lane, it feels big and burly, and it was even able to absorb a ski bag through the ample trunk and into the split rear seats, something I did much earlier this year.
During those long-ago drives, it also responded to curves with some enthusiasm, grounded all the more by that full-time AWD. Steering is commensurate with the vehicle’s mass but not overly tough and braking adequate but not as precise as a Brembo-equipped, high-output model.
You do get a bit more dynamism if you put it into sport mode, which sends all of the power to the rear wheels, a summertime setup that gives the car added versatility.
Minus the explosive wall of power, the big news here is the GT’s upgraded exterior. Air dams, a blackened-out grille and that imposing monobrow rear brake light bar all significantly punch up the Charger’s visual appeal.
Andy Stonehouse’s column “Mountain Wheels” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Stonehouse has worked as an editor and writer in Colorado since 1998, focusing on automotive coverage since 2004. He lives in Greeley. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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