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First impressions of the Dodge Charger

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  • First impressions of the Dodge Charger

    Division has a couple Hemi's making their way across the state for us to drive (for a couple of hours) and tell them what we think so here goes.

    340/390 HP/TQ my ***. This pig may be slightly (and I use that world lightly) faster than a 3.27 CVPI (how did ford make a 3.55 geared car slower to accelerate) but if this is what a Hemi is... I'm glad I have a 4.6 mod motor in my off duty toy. My bone stock 3.55 geared, 300/320 HP/TQ rated 06 Mustang GT feels much stronger than the charger and I even read the manual about how to turn the ESP off. Granted my GT is a little lighter but not 4-500 lbs lighter which is what the weight diffrence would have to be to justify the diffrence in performance between the Hemi and my GT. Less than $2000 (less if you go with cheap headers) in bolt-on's and exhaust and the mustang is putting down around 310-325 HP depending on the tune. I have a feeling that Dodge is way over rating the Hemi to sell an "Interceptor" type car.

    The trunk is worthless. You can't even throw a patrol bag in there once all your standard equipment (first aid, fire ext, radios, flares, crime scene kit, etc) is thrown in there.

    Visibility out the back of the car is horrid. Could they make the trunk lid any higher and the window any smaller?

    The shifter has to be the worst design I've used to include colum mounted manual transmissions when I was stationed in Japan. The shifter is not conducive to executing a quick K turn like the CV shifter is.

    This is the first autostick (or whatever they are calling it) that I've ever driven. It is pretty much a worthless feature since it is nothing like a stick shift. If I downshift the car should immediately downshift unless the shift would put the car over the established redline.

    The way the airbags are setup, the standard 13" computer screen is not usable as it would cause problems with the passenger side airbag deployment. I have 20/20 vision but I'm sure that will be ruined if I have to look at a little 7" screen for the next 15 years.

    I'm sure there is more I will find that I don't like about the car after I drive it again wednesday night for 6 hours on patrol.

    There are a couple of things I like about the car.

    The Whelen control unit that is factory installed is very nice compared to some of the POS's that division has installed in our CVPI's.

    The suspension/steering is much tighter than the CVPI. The Charger responds much quiker and snappier to steering input and it can defianately be thrown around much easier than the CVPI without breaking the backend loose (with ESPOFF displayed in the odometer).

    The Charger stops faster than the CVPI untill the brakes get hot. The brakes leave much to be desired of once they get hot. The CVPI brakes seem to take many more emergency stops before they start to fade but that is easilly remedied by a change in pads or even better throwing the SRT 8 brake setup on the police Charger.

    The higher top end of 150 is nice for highway situations but there are few times you are going to need to go that fast and it has been my experience that most police officers have no business maxing out a CVPI at 130 let alone a Charger at 150. We train with our sidearms and long guns a couple times a year but I know the last time I was at the track in a patrol vehicle was the academy 5 years ago. I drive hard in empty parkinglots and an old air stip at a closed down army base with my mustang for fun and to improve my driving skills just like I shoot on my own time.

    Ok... I'm done with my rant. What do the guys who already drive these on a daily basis think of crash survivabilty versus a CVPI? This is not an invitation to start flaming ford for the CV rear impact issue... I have been in 2 CV's that were totalled and 2 fellow Troopers that I currently work with, were in another one that was totalled. Aside from being sore the next day we all came away without a scratch. How about mechanical reliablity? Anyone out there put 30K miles on a Charger a year? How much time do they spend in the garage aside from normal 5K preventative?
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  • #2
    I haven't driven one as of yet, but I'm hearing alot of this from guys that have.

    I also drive an 06 Mustang GT and figured the acceleration would be similar in the Charger, but I guess it's not.

    I just taught EVOC last week and we put a beating on those CV's...all between 01's and 03's, and they never faltered. And this recruit class was about the 7th or 8th we've used the same cars for. All they get is normal maintenance and keep on chugging.

    Ford is revising the driveshaft for 08 to allow the 3.55 cars to run 130. And you're right...I know of few coppers that have any business driving that fast, let alone 150. I'll keep my Ford.
    Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.

    Ronald Reagan

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    • #3
      I like mine...not as "fast" as they advertise it to be. The catch up speed is nice, much better than the CV. However, is it just me, or does the damn thing idle WAY to long when trying to turn around!!! I was on a two-lane, clocked a car speeding, and went to turn around. Not enough shoulder, so I had to do the 3-point, and it idled when going into reverse and had to catch up, then same deal when I put it back into drive...what is that!?!?! I am short so it rides nice, seems to hug the curves better, trunk space is too small...however with our decals on the body, she looks niiiiicccceee!

      Still haven't made up my mind which I like better: Charger or CV. My personal car is a GT Mustang so I was used to driving a sportier, faster car. Oh yeah, the shifter sucks too...not as quick as the CV in my opinion...too stiff!
      "...I'd never let you down, even if I could. I'd give up everything if only for your good..." 3 Doors Down

      "Strength is when your body gives out and your heart and your mind take over"

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      • #4
        We have one at our PD...we LOVED IT!!! I have driven a GT Mustang, and I thought they felt about the same??? But...we have had nothing but electrical problems with the Charger. Had to return it to the dealer after about 6k miles, got it back supposedly fixed. Car is dead anytime you shut off the engine and go to a call then return to the vehicle, won't restart. Chief has one as his take home, hasn't had the same issues yet...but we have been disappointed with the Charger after the initial excitement of the Hemi and aggressive styling of the car.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by nctroop14 View Post
          However, is it just me, or does the damn thing idle WAY to long when trying to turn around!!! I was on a two-lane, clocked a car speeding, and went to turn around. Not enough shoulder, so I had to do the 3-point, and it idled when going into reverse and had to catch up, then same deal when I put it back into drive...what is that!?
          Not just you. I've noticed this as well.

          I will say that I really like my Charger. I've had it about a year now and almost 30k on it. Not one day in the shop beyond oil changes and tires. The Continental tires that come on the Charger are crap and wear out FAST. We upgraded to the new Firehawks and they seem to be holding up much better.

          The acceleration in the Charger takes a little getting used to. You cant just stomp it and go. With a little practice though, the car will rocket out like a hemi of old.

          My list of complaints is short but important. The shifter is horrible. I thought I'd get used to it, but its just too dang clunky. The trunk space is ridiculous. I end up carrying extra gear in the front passenger seat. Lastly, the rear seat spacing is a little tight, but I've noticed that the new CV's aren't much better.

          All in all, I prefer my Charger, but wouldn't be upset if next time around I drew a CV.
          Originally posted by kontemplerande
          Without Germany, you would not have won World War 2.

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          • #6
            We've got some. They don't have enough room. Poor visibility with those reduced area windows. If you're over six foot tall, you have to stop way back from the intersection so you can see the light or you have to cock your neck to see it.

            I'll stick with my Crown Vic.

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            • #7
              Our department has 4 of the 3.5L 6 cylinders. The one I drive has about 30K miles on it now.

              I assumed the slow acceleration from the starting line was because it is a 6 cyl. Apparently the hemi also suffers from the same affliction. I believe the transmission is to blame... It shifts from 1st to second at 45 MPH and into 3rd at 80 MPH under heavy acceleration... I think the shifting could be tightened up. It would help acceleration. Also as previously stated the trans is slow to shift into gear during turn-arounds. I am not sure who the brainiac was that designed the transmission for a police pursuit vehicle to be so laggy... but they should be severely reprimanded.

              The brakes are adequate but get hot a little too quickly. I have had them fade after a prolonged hot run. The Electronic Stability Protection (ESP) (?) is incredibly annoying. I usually turn it off when the roads are dry.

              I don't have any issues with the trunk space since I don't carry alot of extra gear. The rear window is too high... but I am used to it since my personal car is a 98 Intrepid.

              The ride is smooth and the steering is responsive and tight. The interior is spacious compared to the Chevy's we also use.

              We also have the '07 Chevy in our fleet. In comparison the Chevy has better acceleration. But that is about all I like about the Chevy.

              We don't have any CV's so I cant comment on the comparison.

              Given the downfalls of the vehicle it is still a fun car to drive and I prefer it over the Chevy's in our fleet. Too bad after this year we will be going all Chevy.
              Good traffic rule of thumb - Broke down people, drive broke down cars.

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              • #8
                Nice enough car I suppose, I still see little that would entice me away from a CVPI, either as an administrator or patrol officer. The CVPI is just plain tough and does thye job asked of it. There are precious few places where an officer will find anything over 130 useful, and there are enough out there who simplay can't resist the urge to try it out repeatedly until they find themselves in over their heads.
                "That's right man, we've got mills here that'll blow that heap of your's right off the road."

                "Beautiful Daughter of the Stars."(it's my home now)

                >>>>> A Time for Choosing <<<<<

                Retired @ 31yr 2mo as of 0000 hrs. 01-01-10. Yeah, all in all, it was good.

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                • #9
                  i drive a charger full time now and have done so for a few months. if i had my choice, i'd get an unmarked or a slick top CVPI, but alas, i get what i'm given. anyway, i'm having some of the same issues: slow to accelerate out of the hole (but overall, it accelerates well imo), shifter very awkward, rear window too high to see when backing, trunk room a little small (but compared to the CVPI, everything is small)... i had some issues with the ABS turning off and we're running through brakes every 8-10k which is a little soon... overall, i like the vehicle, it has a lot of room on the inside, handles well and it certainly has it's uses (particularly for IHP work), but the CVPI remains the best and the standard in police vehicles imo. and i'll chime in with t150, 130 mph is fast enough 99.9% of the time.

                  although i can attest to the power of the lt-1 in a z28; i never drove the caprice, i was still in high school.
                  Last edited by MFP4073; 06-08-2007, 09:00 AM.
                  The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by MFP4073 View Post
                    ...... etc ......... but the CVPI remains the best and the standard in police vehicles imo. and i'll chime in with t150, 130 mph is fast enough 99.9% of the time.

                    although i can attest to the power of the lt-1 in a z28; i never drove the caprice, i was still in high school.

                    Originally posted by an excerpt from Michigan's test of 05 police cars
                    The 250 hp, 3.55-geared Ford CVPI really is comparable to the legendary Chevrolet LT-1 Caprice in terms of acceleration. The average acceleration to 60 mph for the 5.7L Caprice was 8.2 seconds. The 3.55 geared Ford CVPI hits 60 mph in 8.15 seconds. The zero to 100 mph times are surprisingly close. The Caprice hit 100 mph in 21.9 seconds, while the 3.55-geared CVPI reached it in 22.9 seconds.
                    I would concurr, I have had police cars from my fiorst 78 Fury 440 4bbl, and from model years 1979 up through 1993, the offerings were slower, but the low drag 1991 Caprices were better, then the LT-1 was put in in 94 and it was such a startling improvement, it took on supercar status in the minds of some who only had the cars between 79 & 93 to compare it to. After 96, there was no LT-1 Caprice. I had some LT-1 caprices, and I've had some Fords, I have never had probvlems with the Fords yet but the Caprices did get some transmissions. I never had a problem with any of my Plymouths except once with a 1980 which had an internal erruption.

                    The CVPI is a good running car considering it only has 281 cubic inches and is toting around a full size car, even if 300 or so pounds lighter than an old Caprice, and every one I've had has gone well over 110 - 130,000 with absolutely no drivetrain failures.

                    In an '06 now, it's a 3.27 car, and I really like it.
                    "That's right man, we've got mills here that'll blow that heap of your's right off the road."

                    "Beautiful Daughter of the Stars."(it's my home now)

                    >>>>> A Time for Choosing <<<<<

                    Retired @ 31yr 2mo as of 0000 hrs. 01-01-10. Yeah, all in all, it was good.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Visabilty is poor, putting on the damn seatbelt is a pain, engine has stalled on me twice while driving down the road (Dodge knows about that problem). The care needs more improvements to make it a car for police needs. But the speed is good and the handling is great. I still like the CV though. Our mechanic has told us that if we are at a scene with our lights on for to long, he was told by Dodge that the vehicle will shut down. Has anyone had this problem yet?

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                      • #12
                        I have not had the vehicle shut down on me... But I will say I believe the battery needs to be beefed up... when I have my lightbar on my MDC has to revert to battery power.

                        I have had the car stall on me while performing a 3 point turn trying to get turned around on a speeder. That was damn annoying... I blame the transmission again for this.
                        Good traffic rule of thumb - Broke down people, drive broke down cars.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by t150vsuptpr View Post
                          The CVPI is a good running car considering it only has 281 cubic inches and is toting around a full size car, even if 300 or so pounds lighter than an old Caprice, and every one I've had has gone well over 110 - 130,000 with absolutely no drivetrain failures.
                          Then please explain why both v-6 police offerings either best it, or are almost nose for nose with it in every single performance catagory. V-6's, which by the way, are a full litre point one smaller. Sorry, the Crown Vic is stupendously underpowered. Doubly so when you take into account it's a RWD V-8.

                          And to those of you who think the Charger brakes are heating up faster than the CVPI, could you please explain why the testers at the MSP testing program (and are all pursuit intructors for the Michigan State Police) called them the "best brakes in the tests."???? Most of them commented on how no matter how hard they tried, they could not get them to fade? And that was after doing some fairly nasty things to them with the sole purpose of getting them to fade?

                          And to the original poster:
                          Every single magazine and police department who have tested the HEMI Charger agree that the Charger is not only faster, it is much much faster. It is two seconds faster to 60. It is 3 full seconds around the racetrack at Grattan Speedway. It takes eight tenths of a mile less to get to 110 (0.3 as opposed to 1.1 miles) You could not be more wrong about the acceleration.

                          Please see:
                          http://www.michigan.gov/documents/ms...p_182663_7.pdf
                          Last edited by lawhog; 06-10-2007, 12:43 PM.
                          Fighting the good fight, one beer at a time.

                          "Defense aint for no nice people." Neamiah Warrick, first year starting Saftey, Michigan State University 2006

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Trooper4985 View Post
                            My bone stock 3.55 geared, 300/320 HP/TQ rated 06 Mustang GT feels much stronger than the charger and I even read the manual about how to turn the ESP off. Granted my GT is a little lighter but not 4-500 lbs lighter which is what the weight diffrence would have to be to justify the diffrence in performance between the Hemi and my GT.
                            You are wrong, it is almost 550 pounds heavier.
                            2006 Mustang GT 3483 (internetautoguide.com~ base GT coupe)
                            2006 Charger R/T 4030 (police version is a little heavier)
                            Fighting the good fight, one beer at a time.

                            "Defense aint for no nice people." Neamiah Warrick, first year starting Saftey, Michigan State University 2006

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                            • #15
                              I put together an impromptu comparison for my Department on the Charger with the V8 Hemi motor. In a VERY short nutshell, I found the car to out-accelerate, out-maneuver, out-stop the CVPI, and to top it off it gets 2 1/2 MPG real world than the CVPI plus the initial cost is about $500 less than the Ford. It makes sense from both the patrol and admin perspective. It makes even more sense with the V6, since the performance is the same as the CVPI across the board with better MPG and much lower initial cost. Add in that Dodge puts in a lot of the wiring and other police goodies at the factory, which cuts install time, eqipment, and associated costs.

                              I drove the test Charger Hemi for a couple of hours. It wasn't the sweet acceleration that got to me....it was the fact that this pig of a car stops 40 feet shorter than the CVPI in 60-0 tests. This thing will stop on a dime and give you 9 cents change! And for those of us in an urban setting, stopping quick is a lot better than quick acceleration.

                              The trunk, when you take out the spare tire, is manageable (barely). The rear seat....well, the way they set up the cage in this particular car, I could sit in the rear seat, with cage, and have my knees out in front of me. In the CVPI my knees are spread as far as they can go (6'0" tall). Getting into the Charger's rear seat took a little bit of contorsion, though. That's a small door with a low roof line. But once in, I was OK.

                              And, that is one MEAN looking police car!

                              I drive a 2003 Mustang Mach 1. It has a 4 valve motor, which dynoed at 327 HP (with calculated 16% drive train loss) with 5 speed manual transmission. It's a low 13 second car in the 1/4 mile (my best is 13.3 at 106 MPH, 2.0 60 foot time) in stock form with street tires. I know my cars, I know how to drive fast safely, and I know pursuit driving in urban settings. This Charger is definitely the way to go, IMHO.
                              Last edited by IMachU; 06-10-2007, 12:51 PM. Reason: dang spelling again!!

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