Dodge Charger 2006 Review
Michigan Ave is a patchwork quilt of decrepit bitumen, cement and bricks. It is littered with some of the most enormous car-swallowing potholes you will ever see.
Despite being sprung on the sporty side, the Dodge Charger R/T's suspension happily soaked up most of the irregularities, giving a very comfortable and quiet ride.
The cruise down the avenue to the bridge that takes motorists to Canada normally takes about 20 minutes, according to a local, but as is common in a foreign country we got lost and despite all best efforts to go over the bridge, we somehow ended up right in the heart of the city.
While probably not an unusual sight, the Charger still attracted some attention as we fumbled our way through the dingy streets and back towards the river.
We were grateful Dodge had equipped this particular R/T with the optional satellite navigation and we followed the map to the water before driving head first into a tunnel.
Just a few minutes later we emerged at the other end and pulled up at passport control where we handed over our documents and a small fee. After being asked a series of questions about why we were visiting Canada, what we planned to do there, how long we would spend there and what we were doing in Detroit, our passports were handed back with not even a stamp for all our trouble.
From the moment the key was turned and the 5.7-litre HEMI V8 rumbled into action, it was always tempting the driver to floor it to hear that raw, aggressive tone.
Despite being the same engine that is under the bonnet of the Chrysler 300C, the Charger's note has been tuned to excite. The car was a lot more refined than first expected despite its muscle-car heritage.
The power-operated and heated (optional) front seats were a treat on this windy, drizzly 4C day. Getting out to photograph the car was a chilling experience.
The R/T has 250kW of power at 5000rpm and 530Nm of torque at 4000rpm and is responsive as soon as the foot hits the right pedal. The five-speed automatic, which enables manual shifting, was smooth and never left hunting. The R/T's standard 18-inch (46cm) wheels gave it a good solid feel on the road, a little unusual in comparison to many American offerings. The optional sunroof did little to brighten up the car, with the dreary fog allowing little light into the cabin.
The rear-wheel drive R/T is set with a near 50/50 front-to-rear weight distribution for balance and traction and in the wet weather there was virtually no wheel spin on take-off.
The R/T is equipped with huge discs, lightweight aluminium calipers, and anti-lock braking system (ABS) with brake assist on all four wheels. There were no opportunities to take the Charger on some nice twisty stretches of road but there is no doubt this cruiser is well-equipped for rolling the streets.
After spending some time admiring the Canadian side of the river, braving the elements to get that "I was there" snapshot, it was time to head back over to the US.
This time there was no mistaking the route, with huge signs that almost begged you to return "to the USA". Passport control quizzed returning motorists on all facets of life before allowing us to proceed to the cashier to once again pay for the privilege of driving back over Lake Eire to the US.
A few crossed fingers and we had found our way back on to Michigan Ave and back to the surrounding suburb of Dearborn.
Back at the carpark, the key was reluctantly handed to the Chrysler rep and thoughts turned to the possibility that someday this American muscle car will join the rest of the Chrysler clan Down Under.