2012 Dodge Charger SXT Plus

While I don’t have the facts to support this assertion, I’m guessing that a pretty high percentage of the people who buy Camaros and Mustangs and, yes, Chargers, are a few decades away from how old they were in the 1960s and early ‘70s, when they lusted—yes, full-on, hard-core lust—for cars of this type.

While I don’t have the facts to support this assertion, I’m guessing that a pretty high percentage of the people who buy Camaros and Mustangs and, yes, Chargers, are a few decades away from how old they were in the 1960s and early ‘70s, when they lusted—yes, full-on, hard-core lust—for cars of this type. Or maybe they aren’t quite that late Boomer, but still of an age where the word “responsibility” actually means something, something like “the spouse and kids.” (I’m guessing that this is primarily a male thing, but that’s not always the case.)

So if you think about it, the Camaro and the Mustang both have two doors. The Charger has four. All of the cars have back seats. But the Charger actually has one that real people can actually get into sit in, not contort themselves in like someone in a Circ de Soleil performance. Yes, the spouse and the kids, perhaps.

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The Charger that I had the chance to drive for a week has an optional paint job. “Redline 3-Coat Pearl.” Or said more simply: a red-hot red paint job. A depth and richness of red that makes you know that this is a car that gets after it. It is a car that looks fast, standing still.

But then I saw that it has a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6. Pause for a slight groan. And then a smack upside the head because this 292-hp engine has the stuff needed to move. It is connected to an eight-speed ZF automatic (think of this for a minute: an eight-speed transmission when most cars available for less than the price of a modest house have six, and some even fewer), and if you want to manually run through the gears, it will oblige you. Then there is one other thing that brings us back to “responsibility” and the like, and that’s the fact that the car is rated at 19 mpg city/31 mpg highway, and in my real-world driving, I came down approximately in the middle.

Which is to say that assuming that you have other people besides yourself to drive here and there on more than a random basis, and if you don’t have the scratch to have a muscle car as your weekend-only driver, then know that the Charger is a car that gives you the best of both worlds: a car with performance and a car that is actually, well, useful and comfortable. (Yes, the Charger is available with a 370-hp HEMI, but have you seen the nearly $4.00/gallon signs? Cylinder deactivation or not, that’s still a lot of dough to contribute to Shell or BP or whatever.)

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It isn’t just the doors that make it the kind of car that you can have as your daily driver. With the SXT Plus package, which adds $2,000 to the base MSRP of $28,495, the Technology Group ($900) and the Driver Convenience Group ($575), you are getting everything from Nappa leather seats to heated and cooled cup holders (silly idea? Nope. Imagine going to Starbucks on a frosty morning and then putting your hot cup of coffee into a cold cup holder. That ability to heat the cup holders is actually brilliant) to blind-spot detection to rain-sensitive wipers.

So there you are, in a car that has sophisticated technology and an array of amenities. Why wouldn’t you want to drive it all the time?

It once was that you’d think of “muscle car” as some sort of thing that was all about nothing more than what happened when the light turned green. Comfort—naw. And while this probably won’t win drag races on Telegraph, seriously: why would you care when you can have a car that provides all this?

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Selected specs

Engine: 3.6-liter DOHC V6

Material: Aluminum block and heads

Horsepower: 292 @ 6,350 rpm

Torque: 260 lb-ft @ 4,400 rpm

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 120.2 in.

Length: 199.9 in.

Width: 75.0 in.

Height: 58.4 in.

Curb weight: 3,996 lb.

EPA: 19/31 mpg city/hwy