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http://car-reviews.automobile.com/Dodge/review/2007-dodge-charger-daytona-r-t-road-test/3146/

2007 Dodge Charger Daytona R/T Road Test
August 30, 2007

In keeping with the Charger “Hybrid” (it burns gas and rubber!) ad campaign from a few years ago, Dodge has released an even greener version of the car, literally. Not in the environmental sense, of course, and although I am sure that it meets emissions standards in Dubai, it does consume a lot of fuel even though the Daytona's 350-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi offers Dodge's Multi-Displacement System (MDS) for a claimed 20 percent improvement in fuel economy.

Sharp-eyed readers will question this number as the “regular” Charger R/T only puts out 340 horsepower, yet the Daytona has 350. Dodge's engineers utilized a couple of standard hop up tricks – get more air into the engine and more exhaust out – to produce the gain in power. A less restrictive intake system and tuned muffler deliver a throaty muscle car note that turned heads every time I pulled away from a stoplight. The screaming rubber helped, too. While horsepower is increased by ten, the 345 cubic inch V8 keeps the same 390 lb-ft of torque as the 340-horse version. The engine redlines at 5,800 rpm, and sounds as good as it looks thanks to its Daytona-specific Hemi Orange engine cover topping things off.

As for its nod to efficiency, MDS disables 4 out of 8 cylinders in an attempt to save fuel in situations where you don't need all 350 horsepower, like highway driving, for example. It is truly seamless. Economy still wasn't that great, mind you, as I saw a best of 16 mpg in mixed driving. The only way you can tell if the MDS is enabled is if the dash display indicates “Fuel Saver Mode,” which to me sounds kind of wimpy. It should say “MDS Active” or something slightly more macho.

So back to the greenness of the car – the first thing anyone noticed was the paint color. Everyone I know spotted me driving around somewhere in the week I had the car. When it was introduced last year the Charger Daytona R/T celebrated Dodge's return to NASCAR and as a nod to the past was offered in three classic 1960s colors, TorRed, Top Banana and Go Mango! Visual enhancements of the package included Daytona decals on each quarter panel, a black spoiler on the trunk, a black HEMI billboard decal that takes up nearly the whole hood, an aerodynamically functional lower front spoiler, and a blacked-out honeycomb grille. R/T badges front and rear are the finishing touch. The result is the best-looking version of the modern Charger that doesn't have a light bar affixed to the roof or an SRT-8 badge on it.

Those high impact colors must have been a sales success, because for 2007 Dodge has remixed Plum Crazy Purple and Sub Lime from their 1960s vault of groovy paint codes, and so my tester is bright green beyond description, it's truly sublime. I love the color and when I took the car to my son's soccer game all of the other parents told me how their kids wanted to park next to the bright green car. It made me think that if kids love bright bold colors, why do so many of us drive bland silver cars or paint our living rooms beige? Chrysler is betting that enough adults will opt for all of their Sub Lime or Plum Crazy Daytonas.

A change from last year's Daytona is the upsizing of the wheels from 18 inches to my car's 20-inch polished alloys, which initially look stunning, but upon closer examination the polished finish is actually a plastic cover! The wheels are aluminum alloy underneath though and are wrapped in tires sized 245/45/20. In spite of the huge wheels and the Daytona's high performance suspension option, which includes special suspension tuning and self-leveling rear shock absorbers, the ride isn't unbearably stiff at all. Still, even with the quicker steering ratio there's little in the way of feedback through the wheel.

If you would prefer a non Daytona Charger R/T with 350 horsepower, the high performance suspension and 20 inch wheels you can opt for a Road/Track Performance package on the regular Charger R/T. It's basically a Daytona without the decals or bright colors. Complementing the performance suspension option is Electronic Stability Program (ESP), traction control and ABS for the four-wheel discs. Normally all of these electronic driving aids are an asset to the modern automobile, but with a car that seems destined for weekend drifts on the race track it would be better if they could be switched 100 percent off. Try to throw the Daytona around a bit with the ESP switched off and it quickly switches itself back on and kills the fun.

The handling is very good for such a large car, but when driving the Charger you are constantly reminded of its size, and although 350 horsepower might seem like a lot, the Charger just doesn't feel that fast. I'm sure it's due to the fact that it weighs in at a very muscle-car-like 4,031 pounds, every one of which is felt when you mat the go pedal, and you won't soon forget that the engine is paired with a smooth but power-robbing five-speed automatic transmission. Even though AutoStick is standard it's no replacement for a proper manual, and despite Chrysler's claims that there is no demand for such a car, the upcoming Challenger will be offered with a manual transmission. Figure that one out. Stopping is achieved courtesy of big four-wheel discs that do a good job of hauling the big sedan down from highway speeds.

Like the paint, decals and aerodynamic add-ons, the interior has also been upgraded significantly. Dodge has outfitted the Daytona with performance bucket seats featuring suede inserts and Sub Lime embroidered "Daytona" logos on the front headrests. Body-color accent stitching appears on the seats and on the leather-wrapped steering wheel too. A matching body-colored center stack bezel, a "Daytona Limited Edition" display on the electronic cluster and a sequentially numbered limited edition Daytona badge on the instrument panel completes the unique Charger Daytona R/T interior. Unfortunately the cheaper plastic bits from lower end Chargers aren't quite up to par, at least not as you would expect in a car that costs north of $30K. Feature content is up to snuff though, as the Daytona includes dual-zone automatic climate control, a trip computer, heated power front seats and power-adjustable pedals. Being such a large car the Charger does boast a lot of interior space, especially in the rear. The trunk is quite large but not as usable as you might think due to an oddly shaped opening and the rear axle that takes up space.

With a base price of $31,315 for a regular Charger R/T, the Daytona adds a mere $3,700 to transmogrify into the brightly colored and luridly stickered machine I drove for a week. My test example also had side-impact and side-curtain airbags for $440, the $630 Electronics Convenience Group, the UConnect Hands-Free Communication package for $360 which includes an auto dimming mirror, an excellent Boston Acoustics sound system for $535, and a power sunroof for $950. This brought the price to $40,845, which is $2,025 more than an SRT-8 Charger (or only $3,805 away without options). Hmmmm... tough decision as the SRT-8 is available in TorRed for 2007, one of last year's Daytona colors. SRT-8 aside, the only way I would order a Charger is with the Daytona package, as I find the standard Charger too understated and prefer the look of the Chrysler 300C.

Cruising the back roads on a warm summer night listening to the Stones' album Let It Bleed, I felt as though it could actually be 1969, and I'm only 32! So I can just imagine how a baby boomer who actually might have owned an original Charger might feel. And that is what the Charger Daytona is all about. I am a bit of a muscle car fan and every time I drove it and it turned someone's head I was reminded of Dodge's rich muscle car heritage. Sure it's not going to win over Camry or Accord buyers, but that's not the point of this car. At the parking lot of the Dairy Queen, my wife and I listened to people talking about “the green Dodge in the parking lot.” So if you've got a classic Mopar car in the garage that comes out on weekends, this Daytona would let you drive a Mopar muscle car on the weekdays too.
 

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A couple of differences from the 06 Daytona to be noted here:

My Daytona redlines at 5500, and shifts. Period.

My ESP when in the "off" position does NOT reactivate and kill the fun - although if you ping the limiter it will still shift to second. The only difference I notice then is that only one wheel is still pulling in second, but I can still do it sideways. It helps if you drive with one hand on the shifter and one on the wheel.

My tranny doesn't seem to rob much power, at least no more than any other automatic. If his was a new one, the adaptive driving didn't have time to kick in. Mine will bark second gear, or downshift to first, nail the gas and bark them on acceleration again.

My Daytona with all those options except U-connect was only 36K and change. LESS than an SRT-8.

And in addition to the plastic cladding on the wheels, the 07 Daytonas are missing a cupholder cover, and the front strut covers. Left off to save a total of $23 for Dodge. Wonder what else got left off?


REB
 

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I wonder what number he drove?
 

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