by John Tallodi
The Dodge Charger is that rare breed of full-size performance sedans that still make use of big capacity engines to provide driving excitement, and the Daytona derivatives add their own unique style to this time-honored formula. For 2018 there have been no major changes to the performance focused Charger Daytona and both it and the Daytona 392 continue with only minor modifications over the 2017 model year cars.
Big and comfortable, the Charger offers more than enough space both in the front and rear for up to five adults. The controls are easy to use, and the big trunk and generous amount of interior storage spots make the is car ideal for larger families. Material quality is a weak spot in certain areas and the hard plastics detract from an otherwise pleasant interior.
The Daytona features a number of suspension and performance upgrades over the base Charger and the improvements in handling and cornering ability are immediately apparent. This may be a big car but it attacks the bends with conviction and there is very little body roll or lurching when driving with enthusiasm.
The ride can get harsh over rougher road surfaces and upgrading to larger diameter alloy wheels will only make matters worse. Highway cruising is not an entirely silent affair either, tire and wind noise make their way into the cabin and the engine can become intrusive when pushed, although this last trait may not be an issue for most shoppers.
The base Charger Daytona is fitted with a 5.7-liter V8 which produces 377 horsepower and 395 lb-ft of torque. Moving up to the Daytona 392 gets you a 6.4-liter V8 which makes 485 hp and 475 lb-ft. Both are rear-wheel drive and come fitted with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
Either option provides strong performance but the additional power of the 6.4-liter engine will make it the default choice for most shoppers. It posts a sub-5-second 0-60 mph time and some serious in-gear acceleration times too.
The fuel consumption penalty is minimal too as the base model gets 16/25 mpg in city/highway driving while the Daytona 392 offers 15/25 combined mpg.
The Daytona and Daytona 392 come equipped with a host of standard features that come fitted to the lower trim levels and some noteworthy items include keyless entry, power front seats, 7-inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as well as Bluetooth streaming and dual-zone climate control. The Beats Audio Group offers a premium audio system including 552-watt amplifier.
The Daytona trim also means that you get an active exhaust, upgraded sport suspension, Nappa/Alcantara leather upholstery and styling elements from the R/T trim. Daytona 392 trim adds the bigger V8, upgraded brakes and Scat Pack grille badging.
Safety items include hill start assist, LED daytime running lights, electronic roll mitigation and rear park assist system. The Technology Group adds adaptive cruise control, advanced brake assist, auto high beam control, power heated mirror, forward collision warning, lane departure and lane keep assist systems.
There is also a Driver Confidence Group which adds updated headlamps, power heated mirrors, blind spot and cross path detection and rearview camera. The rearview camera is also part of the Navigation and Travel Group pack which also adds navigation. A power sunroof and performance tires are available standalone options.
The Daytona/Daytona 392 offer a lot of old-school muscle for a reasonable outlay. Specification levels are rather good too and the interior is spacious and comfortable. The compromise comes in the form of heavy fuel consumption, a hard ride and an interior that could do with some further refinement. But forget such trivial issues and rather focus on the torquey V8 power and good handling dynamics, this full-sized performance sedan is worth serious consideration.