I drove a Dodge Charger SRT8, another factory hot rod. It is funny, factory hot rods always used to be two-doors; here we have two four-door sedans in a row. Dodge slips in a 6.1-liter Hemi V8 where the base 2.7-liter V6 used to live.

The Hemi puts out 425 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque that is delivered to the rear wheels via a 5-speed automatic transmission. The transmission, like many current automatics, may be manually shifted. I was not enamored with the Dodge set up; with the console mounted shift lever in "Drive" you push it either to the left (upshift) or right (downshift).

To get it back into Drive you had to upshift all the way or come to a stop. I would have preferred a separate detent for the manual selection or paddle shifters, allowing you to pop back into Drive at any time. The Charger's chassis is the best Dodge has ever built. The car is solid. The Brembo brakes were the equal of the car or better. Wheels were massive 20-inch by 9-inch mounted with 245/45ZR20 tires. There is a trend to use these massive, sticky tires. On the plus side, there is tons of grip. On the negative side, there is tons of grip.

Performance cars can corner at much higher speeds now than in the past, which tends to build in false confidence about one's driving ability. If you lose it in a corner now you are apt to be going much faster than you would on smaller tires.

The Charger SRT8 is also a little pricey although the base SRT8 is "only" $38,970. The version I drove was just under $45,000. The SRT8 is a tad thirsty; it is rated at 13-city and 18-highway. Regardless, it felt good to drive a "man's" car.



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