I hadn’t actually intended to write up this particular rental car/travel adventure. Rather, I just documented the car photographically as I do many rental cars; and I had a few pictures in mind to use in something I am slowly working on putting together about modern car ergonomics. But then I was looking at the rest of the pictures I took during this trip and it occurred to me that I’d managed to capture what will probably be my last ride in a new Mopar car, in what may be its best natural environment. That seems worth writing about.
It was nearly a year ago when I wrote a post about hoping that someday travel would get back to normal for me. At the end of that, I mentioned that somewhere in the future might be a trip to what is very nearly the geographical center of the U.S. Actually I meant about 200 miles up and to the left of there — Norfolk, NE.
Well, that happened, and I had a wonderful time meeting some truly great people/colleagues. Plus there’s a car story to boot. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Since I am now a Norfolk booster (as will become abundantly clear throughout this article), I have to note that the proper pronunciation of “Norfolk” is not the same as the city in VA but rather “Nor-Fork”. Because that’s what the founders — a group of German Lutherans who were fleeing the “over crowded” hinterlands of Wisconsin in 1866 — intended when they settled on the North Fork (get it?) of the Elkhorn River in Nebraska. I have to guess that these particular Lutherans were not familiar with Virginia and so maybe were ultimately surprised to find that their new town shared the name of another place with a different pronunciation.
Actually, this happens all of time. Or it did, back before the Internet. Back when you had to go find some giant book to see maps of another place and may never meet or hear someone who could pronounce the names of the places you mighta coulda found in that book. It’s not as if you could just call those people up and ask them or listen to them on YouTube or TikTok or something. Telegraphs don’t do a particularly good job of demonstrating actual pronunciation.
Anyway, Norfolk’s founders blithely proceeded to believe that they’d named their town “Norfork” until contact with the outside world indicated that there was another place incorporated 160 years earlier that had the same name, pronounced differently. Since then, they’ve benefited from the natural conversation starter (unless the individual Norfolker is too polite) of correcting people who call Norfork, Norfolk.
Hey, I’m totally in these people’s camp, being someone who is constantly being told by friends and associates that the popular songs from my youth do not actually contain the lyrics that only I hear. (Yes, there’s nothing that a million men on Mars will ever do that can take me away from you… Geeze, there’s a website for everything, no?) Anyhow, back to our story…
At the airport in Omaha last week, I found myself behind the wheel of a brand new (6900 miles on the odometer) 2023 Dodge Charger SXT, rear wheel drive version.
This was a rental car after all, so it was the most basically optioned stripper version of the least expensive car. It had the minimalist “Houndstooth Cloth” seats and the 8.4″ touch screen entertainment package.
Can I just say that “Entertainment Package” always seems a much more promising a term than what actually presents? I hear that phrase and I’m expecting something that vibrates or somehow incorporates clowns or exotic dancers…or at least mints. None of which came with my SXT. In fact, the rental car/fleet package even managed to delete the sunroof. So if one were able to find and purchase this particular SXT, they’d expect a sticker price of around $32,500 (the all wheel drive version is about $3,500 more). From the looks of things at this moment, you could probably argue-down the dealer for an even better deal. Dodge is currently advertising $1000 incentives.
This car came in what’s called “TorRed”. When I selected “Charger” from the various choices presented in my Avis app and found the car in space A28 at OMA, I was initially a bit worried about the bright red color and thought for a moment about rejecting the selection. I used to have a “thing” about speeding tickets, and a bright red car back in those days would have been exactly what I did not need to be driving on flat, straight, roads. But then I remembered that I’m a geezer now and that’s not an issue.
Onward turns out not to be difficult in Nebraska. Even in the rolling hills of east and north-central Nebraska, the roads are remarkably flat to a New Englander like me. I am told that it gets considerably flatter in more western portions of the state. I can’t wait to see that. Maybe next year.
In fact, I’ve had a non-work-related trip to Nebraska and the Badlands of South Dakota on tap for several years now. The fact that I wound up in this general vicinity for work is coincidental. The non-work trip is to go with a couple of friends to visit the vast fossil beds in that part of the country. Nebraska is an area rich in easily accessible fossils. The majority of these are from the Oligocene (34 million to 23 million years ago), Miocene (23 million to 5.3 million years ago) and into the Pliocene (which ended about 2.6 million years ago). About 2 million years ago, “something” drove about 70% of Nebraska’s mammal population into extinction. Presumably just leaving the cows (which from what I can tell quickly filled in the gap). Increasingly, science believes that this “something” was a massive dose of radiation from several close-to-Earth supernovae. They blew a huge hole in our ozone layer and the rest was (pre)history.
Something to think about.
But before things got all radioactive, it looks like it was quite the party on the plains about 20 million years ago. In fact, aside from a distinct lack of giant camels, horned gophers and hippos, I’d say that the landscape of Eastern Nebraska looks quite similar today as it did in the Miocene.
Which brings us back to the 2023 Charger and how at some point in the past this car would have probably blended into the crowd of other American four-door, rear wheel drive, sedans (aside from the TorRed coloring) like a camel/bear-dog/tapir on the plains…but now it’s the end of the line for this creature, and so it’s remarkable.
Yes, one might say dinosaur (which is a whole different geologic age, but as this is not Geology Classic, we’re not going there).
Marking the end of 57 years and seven generations of Charger, Dodge has called 2023 the end-of-the-line for conventional ICE-powered Chargers. In fact, Dodge has a special-edition “Last Call” range of Chargers available in 2023 to honor the last year of production.
Last Call edition cars come with these badges under the hood. Oh, and Hemi V8s. All of which would be much too exotic and entertaining for my pedestrian rental Charger which got along just fine with its 3.6 liter V6. Although I probably wouldn’t have complained loudly if Avis had decided to offer one of the Last Call cars. That would be a whole other article I suppose. Instead, what I got and you’re getting here is a discourse on the pleasure of driving what turned out to be a refreshingly retro American car with features that one might have taken for granted not very long ago, but which seem surprisingly rare now in a new car.
Take this instrument panel. Analog gauges, regardless of the fact that the one on the right is a bit redundant. I never actually looked at it since the info it presented was also announced in big digits in the display between the gauges. I suspect that if I’d bothered to look into the owner’s manual (it’s rare that I don’t read the manual in a rental car, but for the most part it wasn’t necessary to read up on how to operate this particular car), I could have figured out how to change the central information on that display. I’d do this if it were mine. As it was, it was fine. The info on what gear you’re in is a bit squashed on the right and largely unnecessary, as I find all dashboard displays of gear selected to be. It was nice to see the little indication of which of the 8 forward gears I was in. Being used to only 6 in my own car, having 2 more seemed extra special. I only wish it had gone up to 11.
One of the things that I very much liked about this base level Charger was that it did not have any of the lane-minding, flashing, beeping stuff that seems to be necessary on nearly every rental car I get nowadays. Perhaps I’m a Luddite, but I have spent 45 years behind the wheel and have kind of gotten used to using the steering wheel, mirrors, and my albeit imperfect rotating head to watch blind spots. Adding something that beeps at me and shakes the wheel until I figure out why it’s doing that and then how to turn it off is actually more distracting than helpful to me. No disrespect if you like those features and I’m sure that all cars will have them soon enough, but it was nice to drive something brand new that didn’t even offer the option and therefore didn’t require me to figure out how to turn it off.
If one were purchasing their own 2023 Charger, you could get all of those things in a $1900 “Technology Group” option package. I would expect that most Chargers on dealer lots probably have that package. Just not the stripped rental version I had in Nebraska.
One piece of technology that I do enjoy in a rental car is smartphone – CarPlay in my case – integration. The Charger implemented this in a surprisingly easy to use, non-obtrusive way. Instead of putting its entertainment/HVAC/informational displays on a ginormous LCD (like a particularly silly Kia I had recently), the Charger gave me a pretty svelte 8.4″ screen nicely plopped where a radio should be. This makes the dash look like a car’s dash should.
Man, this is sounding more like “Old Man Yells at Cloud” by the moment.
So, I like my touch screens, but at least until I develop those really old guy sausage fingers (technically known as “dactylitis“…your challenge today is to use that word in the course of conversation), I’m fine with pressing on something that doesn’t extend the entire width of the dash.
The touch screen could also be switched to display the HVAC controls, although this too was redundant.
That’s because just below the screen were perfectly serviceable buttons and a knob that would do whatever you could get by jabbing away at a screen. The same was true actually for the radio, which had a nice set of knobs and buttons. My overall impression was that in this car the digital stuff was a kind of unnecessary add-on to fully functional analog controls and information sources. I don’t know if this would ultimately start to bother me if I had to live with it as my own, but at least on a rental it was nice to experience a car that didn’t depend on having screens in order to operate its basic functions. In short, the Charger had a refreshingly (to me) simple human-machine interface. This is something that I don’t think is easily found on many “things” (including cars) created in the past decade or so.
This simple interface stuff extended to another area that increasingly represents a pet peeve to me…the transmission selection control or shifter. The Charger offered P-R-N-D (no L, but really, how often do you use that anyway…in a modern car?) and a simple button on the side. That button was in the perfect place to be depressed by your thumb when pulling the lever out of Park. I intend to write a whole separate article (that will be Old Man Yells at WEATHER) about how confusing – and I contend, dangerous – some shifters are nowadays. Suffice to say at the moment that this Charger’s shifter was entirely logical, fully integrated without flappy paddles or console buttons, and without drama.
All in all, the Charger seemed smooth, logically controlled and rather well-built. That last quality of course can’t really be evaluated on a car with under 7,000 miles on the clock. But at least there were no weird rattles, odd pulling motions, or anything plastic flying around the cabin…yet. Maybe the only downside was that I did sort of feel at times like I was driving a police car given the black slightly rubbery interior, and the fact that Chargers also seem to be the police cars of choice in the parts of Nebraska I visited. I did see them pretty much everywhere. I thought about parking next to the police version — for a photo opp — that was at one of the high schools I was visiting. But I was a bit pressed for time and I guessed that typically police officers may not be so keen on impromptu photo opps.
The Charger impressed me as something of an automotive blast from the past that I was glad – and somewhat surprised – to have experienced in a brand new car. Albeit a brand new car that will no longer be available after this year. It will soon be gone just like nearly every other American car in this class/category. Yes, I know that term needs to be used generously and loosely, given that this car was built in Canada and probably contains parts from the 4 corners of the world. Nevertheless, as far as domestic offerings from the Big 3, what’s left after 2023 is the Chevy Malibu (also popular in rental fleets), Mustang, and Corvette. Of these, the Malibu and lower level Mustangs probably have the most in common with this low-trim Charger. Other than those two cars, after this year, apparently you’ll have to find something other than a domestic offering (for what that’s worth) if you want to drive a car that at one time was as common on U.S. roads as camels were in Nebraska in the Miocene.
Take my word for it, there were a lot of camels in Nebraska in the Miocene.
Perhaps my feelings of automotive nostalgia were especially keen given that I was after all in the hometown of another American icon of days gone by, Johnny Carson. Johnny’s presence is all over Norfolk, ranging from this huge mural in the center of downtown, to his well-preserved boyhood home, to an information and artifact-filled exhibit at the local museum, to the theater named after him at the local high school. I will bet that the high school students in Norfolk represent about 90% of all people in the U.S. under that age of 21 who know who “Johnny Carson” is. Oh well. Another thing that makes Norfolk special.
For those readers interested in seeing even more Johnny in Nebraska, there’s this “special” where he goes home to Norfolk and interacts with people such as his 100 year old former English teacher. “Special”. There’s another word that used to mean something in TV, but doesn’t anymore in an age where there are no “regularly-scheduled programs” and everything is special. Anyway, there are some nice shots of Johnny in his dad’s (then his and now Jay Leno’s) 1939 Chrysler driving around Norfolk.
I too am looking forward to returning to Nebraska. I’ll be back, although if it’s next year, I won’t be driving a Charger as those will have cycled out of the rental fleet and I’ll probably wind up in something with a giant LCD panel like what I usually get.
If I’m lucky though, I’ll still be able to catch next year’s FFA (Future Farmers of America) week festivities at at least one of my schools. Because Friday’s “Drive Tractor to School” day definitely seems worth planning to see. At least for a city/suburban/motorized equipment guy like me.
Oh, and I also need to find a way to be in Omaha on Soap Box Derby day.
This city has a well-maintained dedicated Derby track. I spied it while driving into town and went back specifically to photograph it before heading to the airport. How cool is that?
Yeah, pretty cool.
Excellent write up. I too appreciate vehicles that have a minimum of obtrusive, usually quasi functional, gizmos. The rural Midwest, my current home, is a land of subtle magic.
First, I enjoyed your writing about the location. My grandma was born in Newman Grove (pronounced Newman Grove) Nebraska, which is 35-40 miles southwest of Norfolk. I was a little kid when my family went through there in the 60s but have not been back since. She was one of those less stoic Norwegian Lutherans (with a maiden name of Johnson – like probably 1/3 of the state). This is an area I would love to visit as an adult. Drive your tractor to school day sounds like the greatest thing ever.
Oh, the Charger. First, I feel wildly under-informed because there was no mention of rear seat leg room or your inseam measurement. That aside, I still find these cars kind of compelling. I like the big, brash “American-ness” about these. I have said before that I miss auto manufacturers that each had a unique way of reflecting their countries of origin. Beyond big American pickups, everything has become quite homogenized.
Finally, I am right there with you on the love for analog gauges, and physical knobs and buttons. They all probably operate through some sort of electrical gizmo, but these day’s I’ll take all the analog I can get. And yes, I’m a geezer too.
Newman Grove…I just looked it up and the population actually dropped by around 50 people between the 2010 and 2020 census. That’s significant since the 2020 population according to the Bureau of the Census was only 667 folks. They have their own pretty tiny school district and what seems to be relatively huge Agricultural Education program…with over 40 kids in it, that’s got to be pretty much all of the secondary school students. It’s the oldest continually operating FFA chapter in Nebraska! In other words, there’s a reasonable chance that I’ll be there at some point in the next couple of years.
Big, brash American-ness pretty much sums up my feelings about the Charger too. I think that came through even better in a basic (i.e., non-flaming muscle car version) model like the SXT that I drove.
And no, I didn’t ride in the back seat, so I can’t say much about that. And I think that unless a person has the inseam measurements of an NBA forward or an NFL linebacker, then they can fit into the front seat of pretty much any full-size car. At least that’s what I tell people who are around 6′ tall and say that the front seat of my car is too small.
A very well written article, I enjoyed it.
For me, as an outsider looking in from Europe, the Charger more or less (less I think) is the successor to the Ford Panther cars. These regrettably died off around 10 years ago, and the four door Police and government sedan cars often seemed to have been replaced by Chargers (along with big SUVs). Taxis, also often a Panther, have been replaced by small SUVs.
Now even the Charger is dying so there probably will be no more 4 door sedans as their successor for the police patrol & FBI cars?
I’ve noticed and often comment upon the fact that almost all police vehicles now are Ford Explorers, or blacked out Surburbans (for the extra special officers/functions I guess). The Chargers seemed to make an appearance in some states, but I’d imagine that as those age out of the fleets, they’re going to be replaced with Explorers. Here in MA, I believe that the last Panther-based police car pretty much vanished 10 years ago.
I can only guess as to whether this shift is because there’s no demand for a car-based police vehicle or if there are just no car-based police vehicles being produced. I tend to feel that the Explorer is too big for one officer to sit around in all day…but then again, I’m no expert on policing.
Most Chargers I see are state or highway patrol, in the towns/cities/suburbs Explorers and Tahoes are definitely the norm, never Chargers. Seemed like it was the winner among sedans by attrition, the Taurus and fleet only Chevy Caprice were pretty short lived replacements for the Crown Vic
Great write-up, both for the car and the non-car content. A few random comments:
The Charger: I’m glad you got the opportunity to drive one of these Chargers in its natural habitat while that’s still possible. I haven’t rented a car in well over a decade, but if I did, I’d seek out a Charger if possible.
Redundant Speedometer: My 2006 Crown Victoria had a similar setup (digital speedometer next to an analog one), and in 12 years of owning it, I hardly ever looked at the analog gauge. This, despite me being a big fan of analog gauges. I think the reason is that when I look down at a speedometer, I’m looking for a precise speed (i.e., am I going 64 or 67… that can make a big difference), so it’s quicker to get that precision by looking for a numeric readout as opposed to an exact placement on a dial. By contrast, if I’m looking at other gauges, like the tach or fuel gauge, I’m looking for a general placement rather than precision, so it’s quicker to glance at a gauge. Just my two cents there.
Norfolk Pronunciation: I live in Virginia, so I’m accustomed to the NAW-fok pronunciation, which seems downright odd to most out-of-staters. My sister lives in Norfolk, Massachusetts, where it’s pronounced Nor-FOLK. Now I learn there’s a third pronunciation of Norfolk. I’ll keep that in mind next time I’m in the Cornhusker State.
Western Nebraska: I definitely recommend a trip to western Nebraska. I’ve been there a few times and love it. If you’re out that way and are seeking an especially off-the-beaten-track destination, check out the Toadstool Geological Park in the NW part of the state, especially if you’re interested in geology. Very neat place.
FFA Dress-Up Days: I’ll share your photo with my daughters later today. They both vastly prefer rural life than the urban/suburban place we live now – and at their school the only dress-up day is pajama day.
Geographic Center of the US: And since you referenced this place (in Kansas), I’ll share a photo of when we drove there two years ago. As a geography enthusiast, this was a must-stop for me.
I’m with you in that digital speedometers actually do make more sense for those reasons.
I in fact agree with you and Paul re. the digital speedometer. I’d leave the speed indication there (if the Charger were my car) unless there was the option of more useful info. That would be in my opinion “range” info. I love having the computed range (miles remaining until there’s the need to fill up) displayed. I have this selected in my car. It’s sort of related to Jim Klein’s comment (below) about the Tesla, but from a considerably lower-tech perspective. If I have range calculated, I can figure out when I need to stop for gas in a way that is most convenient for the route I’m traveling.
I forgot all about Norfolk, MA. I’m sure that a number of folks there pronounce that as “NAH folk” 🙂
Thanks for the pic from the Geographic Center of the U.S.. You can be sure that when I do actually make that NE trip that’s not associated with work, I WILL go to that exact spot (even as it means traversing the depth of NE). Because that’s exactly the kind of thing that I do.
Anyway, it’s useful (to me).
More likely than not the Charger had a little 4 button arrow array on the left spoke of the steering wheel.
Up and down controls the info in the center cluster display from current speed (as you had it set) to fuel economy and range remaining, to component temperatures, to tire inflation pressures etc. The left and right usually control submenus within some of those, for example Fuel Economy can show either instant with overall average or just instant for some reason, and the temperatures are toggled through from left to right once on that landing spot.
The Speed is handy, that’s what my daughter keeps the Jeep’s at, I prefer the fuel economy display(s).
The awkward question about digital speedometers: Are they actually accurate these days? Traditionally, speedometer accuracy has been at best a kinda-sorta thing, even assuming the speedometer had the right gears for the axle ratio and tires, and a digital speedometer was promising a level of precision it couldn’t necessarily deliver.
Modern cars and trucks SHOULD be able to provide fairly precise speed readings (the ABS sensors measure the actual rolling speed of the wheels, for one, to say nothing of the possibility of using GPS data to calculate instantaneous velocity), but with modern technology, “should” and “does” don’t always overlap.
Have there been any tests or studies done on this point? I honestly don’t know.
That’s a good question. It seems like someone should have the answer via a study, but like you I honestly don’t know.
I suspect that the digital speedometer display probably leads to less user error (i.e., fewer people who legitimately say that they “don’t know how fast I was going”). On the other hand, even if they’re better able to read the number, is the number correct? Or, more to the point, how accurate is the number?
My 2008 car’s analog speedometer – which is fed its input from the computer (i.e., there’s no mechanical speedometer connection) – is programmed to read 3mph slower than actual road speed. Crafty German engineers figured out that this was somehow how a good way to help owners avoid speeding tickets. Crafty owners (who seem to have time on their hands) have been figuring out ways to change that programming for quite some time.
Yeah, that car is nice! Like the shifter simplicity. Similar to my 2015 Honda Accord V6. It’s a modern car, but without all the nanny buzzers and reminders. Luckily it has only 34,000 miles on it so I plan to keep it for many more years. Kept my 1998 Accord for 17 years.
Ahh, Nebraska, the heartland of our nation. Good people there!
Beautifully written article. I too recently rented a Charger, and a Chrysler 300 and two Challengers over the last year, for good measure, and found myself enjoying the retro vibe of a rear wheel drive full-size car. My Charger rental was somewhat better equipped than your fleet-spec example, but still only had the V6, which seemed to strike a very nice balance between gas mileage and acceleration. In contrast, both Challengers were Hemi-equipped and seemed almost a caricature of muscle cars, especially in heavy city traffic. The 300 was a top-of-the-line luxury car with every option and the Hemi, and while I liked it and performed its duties well, it’s very much not my style.
The Charger is the perfect conveyance for a trip through the Great Plains states, its natural habitat, as Eric703 states above. I like central Nebraska and Norfolk, too, and enjoyed driving even I-80 with its cross-country travelers making time at 85 mph. Even the U.S. highways are nice drives, given the lack of congestion and tidy little towns ideally spaced along the road to provide enough variety to break up the rolling countryside.
Those photos of long, straight and well-maintained roads could have come right out of North by Northwest. All they need is a crop-dusting biplane.
That scene was supposed to have been shot on location along US 41 between Chicago and Indianapolis, but it clearly was not because of the total lack of trees. I just looked it up and the scene was actually shot along the Garces highway near Bakersfield, California.
I had a rental charger equipped like yours a few years ago. I rather liked it. It reminded me a lot of my 300M. A larger car with an automatic that still felt a little playful, something I never could really say about many other large American cars. I still would like one maybe for my next car a nice used one would fit either one with some good options and the Penta star or maybe one with a Hemi. Not sure yet.
Spring for the Hemi, any version, for the SOUND if nothing else.
I fell in love with Nebraska the first time we drove across it on Hwy 30 in the summer of 1961, headed to the Rockies. The eastern part was just like western Iowa, but then it starts getting less and less dense, and the formations of bluffs overlooking the Platte River were a significant change. And there were curio shops selling Indian and Western trinkets and such. The air lost its humidity; the sky became bigger and bigger. The sense of the vastness of the West became palpable.
By the western end of the state, I knew we were in a totally different part of the country. Just some dry farming ranches (before irrigation became common there), and big distances between towns. And as we crossed into eastern Colorado, we started looking to see the first glimpse of the Rockies, which could be seen over 100 miles away on a really clear day. Of course getting into the Rockies was a whole other world again.
In the 70s, I used to make a point to get off I-80 and drive the old two lane highways to re-experience Nebraska, starting a bit west of Lincoln.
It’s been 6 months since I’ve rented a car from Avis, but for my pleasure trip this coming weekend, Avis offered me the choice of “mystery car”, which is a new thing to me.
But for $85+tax for 3 days, I’m willing to roll the dice. Maybe I’ll get something as interesting as this!
I’ve seen the “Mystery Car” turn up in my choices, but I’ve never taken it…it seemed like something that needed Monty Hall or Bob Barker to reveal it to me 🙂
It would be a pleasant surprise! Since I’m traveling alone and light, I really don’t care if a get a Mirage or a Suburban, although I have some miles to put down, so I’m hoping not a Suburban.
I may not be from Nebraska, but from NW Illinois and I truly miss the mid-west.
The Charger is a really nice car, and I stress CAR because I am not an SUV fan. It has a nice look, great ride, comfortable to drive and (I think) fairly reliable. However, for me it’s been turned into a negative due to the street racers and punks doing all the take overs of the streets/intersections. It’s gotten so bad out here in southern California that nearly everyone I know is now associating the Charger/Challenger’s to thugs and crime. So sad, but true. A couple years ago I was looking for a nice roomier car and the prices on most were sky high due to the micro chip shortages and pandemic stuff. However, for some reason the Charger’s were more readily available and the deals were quite good. In fact, based on comfort and price, the Charger was the winner by a mile. But I still ended up buying a 2021 Chevy Malibu LT because of the better MPG and the fact that I couldn’t stomach driving the same car as so many of the punks doing street takeovers.
An interesting article about a car that seems special Today, because it was the norm for so many decades. A six cylinder, four door, base equipped, rear wheel drive, sedan. Of course this modern sedan goes, handles, stops, is safer, and gets much better fuel economy than the “more doors of yore.”
The funny thing is that it seems that it’s all you really need. I’ve got a ’07 V6 F150 and I find it perfectly suitable for almost every task, handles and stops well, and is comfortable, quiet, and plenty fast. It will go a bit over 100 mph. indicated. I also had an ’07 V6 Mustang, which was great also.
I’m also at the Geezer stage, and while I also have faster cars, (two Mustang GTs ), I just drive like a sensible person and keep up a steady pace. One thing that I do like in my dotage, color! That Charger is a nice bright red, I’ve got two red cars, a bright blue one, and a beautiful Forest green truck. Well, there’s also a bright silver Ford Flex, too. No more black cars!
I also prefer analog gauges, and real knobs for the radio and H/VAC, and a normal key ignition. Now I’m going to go outside and look for a cloud.
But, nary a CD player. My final criteria for a “buy/don’t buy”.
Agree, but my new 6.2L Camaro suffers similarly and I’ve found a 23 hour Spotify playlist is a pretty nice substitute cranking through the Bose speakers.
“Managed to delete” the sunroof you say??
I wouldn’t say DELETE is the correct word for a feature that is an option in most every instance – certainly in low to midrange family sedans priced around the $30k mark…..
Merely an option that this particular rental car didn’t have.
My own experience with these cars consists of a 2006 300C Hemi bought used, and a 2017 Charger R/T Hemi bought new. I realize there is no dearth of modern Mopar haterzz, but these were both rock solid, well put together, very enjoyable cars. Also very reliable in my experience. Make my next version a Sublime 6.4L Chally, please.
ANOTHER ONE BITES the DUST 🎵! And another one’s gone 🎵. Just one more great American car riding off into the Sunset, like so many others. This OLD 🐕 DOG has seen too many axed in the name of progress. Another one bites 🎵 the 🎶 dust 🎵 . Wonder 🤔 what will happen when ELECTRICS run out of power with no charging port for miles 🤔?
The same thing that happens when a gasoline car runs out of gas with no station for miles, you call a tow truck or AAA brings their charger truck (which they have). It’s not that hard to avoid running out of charge. If you can decipher a fuel gauge, you can also decipher a battery charge gauge and plan for a refill.
Nebraska has Tesla Superchargers every 75 miles or so along I-80 and more are being added constantly. The car will actually advise you when and where to stop and for how long in order to cross the state most efficiently, it self-adjusts stops and times based on speed, wind, traffic, temperature etc. You don’t fill up from 0-100%, but rather stop a couple of times to fill from 25-75 or so which is far faster in the aggregate.
I had my EV at an Earth Day event on Sunday. Somebody asked me what the AAA was for an EV. I paused like I was thinking hard and then said AAA, they have charge trucks.
Truth is if you carry the level 1 (120 v AC) EVSE (fancy acronym for the charger) that comes with the car when you’re travelling away from home you can always find a normal electric outlet long before your completely out of juice.
I’m more worried about getting a flat then running out of juice. My EV, like many newer cars, doesn’t have a spare tire. The manufacturers deleted those to save cost (and weight).
Yeah, the time I drove across Nebraska in the EV I took one of the mounted snow tires/wheels with me in the trunk. I figured it would get me to where I needed to go without having to wait for anyone. That’s not an EV-only thing (as you mentioned), many regular cars don’t have any kind of spare anymore either.
Anyone who drives an EV is usually quite aware of their state of charge, especially outside of town, I’d venture it’s more likely that a gasoline car driver will run out of gas or overheat or throw a belt or burst a hose or have their engine break down for whatever reasons…A flat tire is probably the most likely and even that’s exceedingly rare.
Yep, I’ve done the same thing in the BMW which came with run-flat tires but anyone who values spinal health ditches those a.s.a.p. Except, in a wagon (with no spare tire well), I often figure that I don’t want to be killed by a mounted tire flying around the interior in the event of a crash, so I opt for the tire repair kit and compressor instead. Fortunately, I’ve never needed to use that in 15 years. Because, as you note, a flat tire is in fact exceedingly rare.
Great. Now I’m sure I’m going to get a flat out on the road tomorrow 😉
That’s what the tie-downs are for in the load space…Or the upper net/doggie partition part of the cargo cover thingy if you have that. Or the roof rack basket – so many options, the whole reason for having a wagon! :-)… The middle of Nebraska is not the place to need to find a slightly abnormal tire size and rating. My specific paranoia was regarding slicing a sidewall and not being able to reinflate. Which, as a matter of fact, I noticed was an issue with one of the tires on the car when I swapped them for the winters last fall – a deep slice in the sidewall but no puncture as of yet, probably a result of my wife hitting a curb, but clearly not a good idea to keep using it.
Don’t fret, Stellantis (ask a doctor if it’s right for you), is heavily advertising the new Dodge Hornet to fill the gap left in the Dodge lineup, which I’m sure will be a resounding success.
“ask a doctor” LOL!
Ok, so I’ll try a Hornet if it come along in the rental queue, but it’s not the same as a 4 door RWD sedan. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
It does, on the other hand, have a NINE speed transmission. It’s not 11, but it’s one better than 8. 😉
Trust me the ZF8 is FAR superior to the 9-spd. I was not at all pleased with the 9-spd in my 500X, no doubt the same unit, but every ZF8 I have owned or driven has been sheer genius as far as transmissions go.
We don’t drink
We don’t smoke
Norfolk! Norfolk! Norfolk!
It’s interesting how cyclical things can be despite all the change that has happened/is happening. When I started high school the Crown Vic and the Mustang were really the only traditional American rear drive “sedans” left in the market, and the Panther was never a “cool car” like the Charger is. Most of what was available at the time were unmemorable greyscale FWD sedans, traditional SUVs and pickup trucks, and the general feeling was that hybrid drives were the future. It seems like that’s right where things will once again settle in the upcoming years, just combine the boring sedans and traditional SUVs of 20 years ago into one as boring crossovers, substitute the inevitability of hybrids with the inevitability of full EV, and consolidate the fans of dinosaurs back into one car, once again being the Mustang coupe(I have to assume most would-be Challenger and Camaro buyers will inevitably flock to it once again).
When Chrysler came out with the LX platform that underpinned these during high school they seemed like a short lived aberration before the company would inevitably go bust or dodge brand get folded(like Pontiac and the G8), first the 300 and Magnum wagon, then the Charger by senior year and then the Challenger when I was in trade school. I never expected them to last as long as they did, and while I’m sad to see it finally go and will miss them dearly, I’m glad they existed long enough to keep my spirits up in spite of the industry that for my whole lifetime has been hellbent on selling analytical appliances boiled down to one bodystyle and one or two color shades rather than personalized dream machines American automakers once thrived on. But I was into cars before them, and will remain so with the ones I like gone, nothing’s changed. I’m just happy me and any other fan of dinosaurs has the choice of a car like this on the used market for the foreseeable future.
XR7Matt, well said.
I really enjoyed this well-put-together travelogue / pop culture map / nostalgia piece / car review. I suppose the impending death of the Camaro, and now the Charger, has me inching toward realizing the sea change in automotive technology that seems like it’s about to wash over everything mainstream in a big way.
I liked that this Charger, though a relative strippo model (which, by the way, is still equipped way, way nicer than any car either would have owned), had the redundant (as you said) controls for things, like the speedometer and HVAC controls. As if its designers knew there were fans of this car that like to do things the old-fashioned way. I’m glad your experience with this one led you down the path of writing comprehensively about it. And introducing many of us to “Norfork”, Nebraska.
Thank you Joseph.
It is indeed a sea change; and looking at some stories here on CC reporting on happenings on streets and highways in other parts of the world, I personally feel like the seas have changed, the tide is out, and many of us here are only starting to wonder where all the water went. Well, we’ll catch up soon. Meanwhile, I was happy to catch the end of the line.
All of which led me to wonder how much electrification is happening out there on farms in the plains. I heard a lot in the course of my work out there about thriving diesel mechanics programs (down to the secondary school level), but not much about EV technician training programs (something I’m actually involved with back here on the East Coast). I’d hope to learn more about that in the near future.