New face, same attitude: 2014 vs 2015 Dodge Charger

At the 2014 New York Auto Show last month, Dodge reaffirmed its commitment to the muscle car with the unveiling of the refreshed 2015 Charger (along with the Challenger coupe).

When that big red sedan descended from a scissor lift and rolled onto the stage, it was apparent that this new Charger is the same as the old one, but different. 

That’s exactly what it needs to be. Cars need to evolve to stay relevant, but the Charger is inherently more traditional than most. 

Has Dodge struck the proper balance with the 2015, or are you better off snatching up one of the last 2014 Chargers while you can?

Exterior design

The biggest change by far for 2015 involves the Charger’s styling, specifically the front end. 

The old car’s scowling face is gone, replaced by a wider grille and slimmer headlights that make for a somewhat Dart-like front fascia.

Although Dodge says most parts are new, the rest of the exterior looks basically the same as last year, featuring a curvaceous shape and side sculpting that reference the classic two-door 1968-70 Charger. 

That Charger is an automotive icon, and the modern version is one of the most distinctive-looking sedans on the road.

Considering how limited the changes were, the 2015 looks quite different from the 2014, which is exactly what was needed to keep the car fresh.

There will probably be some detractors who say the new look doesn’t fit the Charger, but then again that was the case back in 2005, when the then-new four-door Charger was considered somewhat heretical by hardcore fans.

Both versions look pretty darn good, though, so it would be hard to fault someone for making either choice.

Interior design, comfort, amenities

Like the exterior, much of the interior of the 2015 Charger is carried over from the 2014 model.

However, the new model does get a different steering wheel and an automatic-transmission shifter that looks like it operates a large piece of industrial machinery. In reality, the shifter isn’t connected to anything, because it’s fully electronic.

Techists will appreciate the new 7-inch reconfigurable TFT gauge cluster. There’s also an optional 8.4-inch center-stack display featuring Chrysler’s Uconnect infotainment system.

While tech sells, the changes here probably won’t be as meaningful to performance-minded buyers. Too many bells and whistles can be distracting, after all.

Powertrain

Those buyers are probably more interested in the size of the Charger’s engine than the size of its touch screen, and neither version disappoints. 

For 2015, the base Charger SE and SXT once again come with a 3.6-liter V6, which produces 292 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, just like the 2014.

A new 2015 Rally Appearance Group package bumps V6 power to 300 hp and 264 lb-ft, although it appears identical to the Redline package offered on 2014 models. 

Naturally, there’s also a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 available on the 2015 Charger R/T and R/T Road & Track, which produces the same 370 hp and 395 lb-ft it did in 2014 models.

Two eight-speed automatics shift the 2015 Charger, each with AutoStick manual shift capability. The five-speed automatic that was available on certain 2014 models is thankfully gone.

Also gone is the all-wheel drive option for the HEMI V8 2015 Charger (V6 cars still get it) and the SRT performance version, which should reappear soon.

Model omissions aside, the 2015 Charger teams the 2014’s winning engines with new transmissions, which sounds like a pretty good deal.

Performance

Those new transmissions will likely be the only things that contribute to any increased performance in 2015 models.

Things will get more interesting when the next Charger SRT arrives. 

Dodge is reportedly developing a supercharged V8, codenamed “Hellcat” for the Challenger, and since the Charger rides on the same platform it wouldn’t be surprising if the the new engine found its way into the four-door muscle car.

The Hellcat is rumored to produce around 600 hp, which would blow the doors off the 2014 Charger SRT’s already-impressive 470 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque.

Price

The 2015 Dodge Charger doesn’t go on sale until the fourth quarter of this year, so pricing hasn’t been announced yet. 

Since the the new model is just a refresh, though, it’s hard to imagine it costing much more than a comparable 2014 version.

It’s also possible to have both cars. Through Dodge’s “Double Up” promotion, buyers can lease a 2014 Charger (or Challenger) for one year and then trade up to a new model without any increase in payments.

Sounds like a pretty good way to decide which version is better.

Cool factor

The Charger is an incredibly cool car. Its aggressive styling makes it a standout even among other big V8-powered sedans.

While General Motors had to reboot the Pontiac G8 into the Chevrolet SS, and Ford has completely exited the rear-wheel drive sedan field, the Charger has soldiered on since it came power-sliding back into Dodge dealers in 2005.

So the difference in cool factor between the 2014 and 2015 Chargers will largely come down to people’s feelings about the styling, but the important thing is that a mainstream sedan this loud, brash, and unadulterated exists in the first place.

The new 2015 Charger is the one that will keep the muscle-car faith in showrooms, and that is very cool.

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