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2017 Charger offers active exhaust system, Daytona trim

2017 Dodge Charger Daytona (left), 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona (center) and 2017 Dodge Charger Daytona 392 (right)

The 2017 Dodge Charger holds a special place in many Boomers’ hearts when they think back to the 1970s version that muscled its way into so many garages. Today’s Charger is a Charger by name, but far different in its base trim from those buff, iconic coupes.

Now a sedan that seats five, the 2017 Dodge Charger has just a few updates for the model year, including a new Daytona trim, Apple and Android Play access and a new active exhaust system for high-end trims. Relative to the competitors in this class, the Charger is a muscular and athletic performer that embraces its lack of refinement in an effort to establish its particularly “powerful” space.

The Charger comes in SE, SXT, R/T and SRT Hellcat versions. I recently drove the SXT with upgraded all-wheel-drive option at $29,995. Exterior styling is not as aggressive as those iconic models, nor is it comparable to the model of just five years ago. This is an aggressive design starting from the front slat grille and moving across the chiseled hood and over the roof line to the shorter trunk that wraps into bold rear-lamp treatment.

Wheel wells are less muscular than previous models’ but are capable of handling anything from 18-inch to 20-inch rims. The distinct chiseled side panels add a real flair to the otherwise bland sheet metal. On the whole, it’s a fun look that gets attention.

Inside the cabin, there is plenty of front and rear passenger head- and legroom. Seating is wide and comfortable with easy manual controls on the base V-6 model. From the tech side, you get three USB ports, an SD card reader, a six-speaker audio system and the Uconnect infotainment system with Bluetooth and a 5-inch touch screen. New as an upgrade this year is an 8.4-inch screen.

Material quality in the base model has been rated as cheaper or basic, with some hard plastic still prevalent. Upgrade to the SXT or higher versions, and you get some great, soft leather and upgraded trim. The Charger has LATCH car-seat systems in each of its three rear seats. At 16.5 cubic feet, trunk space in the Charger is average, but the split-folding rear seats open up a lot more storage space.

Maybe the most dramatic adjustment to driving the Charger is the thick pillars that somewhat obstruct an otherwise perfect viewing situation. With my power seats and mirrors, I felt just fine, but I can see where some people might not feel completely comfortable with the sight lines.

Engine options

Charger does not lack any power performance, and the options are numerous. The base SE and SXT trims come with a 292-horsepower V-6 engine, an eight-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive. Optional AWD is available for only V-6 models. You’ll pay either $2,000 or $2,250, depending on the trim. The R/T and Daytona trims have a 370-horsepower V-8 engine. The R/T Scat Pack, Daytona 392 and SRT 392 have a 485-horsepower V-8. Finally, the SRT Hellcat has a 707-horsepower supercharged V-8.

My SXT delivered a fun and responsive ride. Suspension is slightly tuned to more firm but it adds to the crisp handling and overall ability to go wherever you point it — and to go hard, if you like. The base rear-wheel-drive Dodge Charger gets an EPA-estimated 19 mpg city and 30 mpg highway. All-wheel drive gets 18 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.

The 2017 Dodge Charger starts at $27,995, one of the lowest prices among large sedans. You get a lot for your money — the standard potent V-6 engine being the big perk. The standard rear-wheel drive, which tends to deliver better handling than front-wheel-drive vehicles, is a great value.