When you slide into the driver's seat of Dodge's Scat Pack Charger, you almost expect a bald eagle to swoop in through the passenger window and perch on the passenger seat. That's becuase – despite being assembled in Ontario, Canada, and being powered by an engine built in Mexico – Dodge's Scat Pack Charger screams "USA!"
The Charger comes in several trim levels, each offering a different power level. There's the 292-horsepower 3.6-liter V6-equipped SXT model as well as the bonkers supercharged 707-horsepower 6.2-liter V8-optioned Hellcat. You could say the Scat Pack tends toward the high side of the middle of the lineup, offering blistering performance for a lot less money than the top models.
It's possible to match the price of higher trim levels by adding options, but if you have the discipline to keep the option sheet clean, the Scat Pack Charger offers big performance at a bargain price. The one we tested came outfitted with a 485-horsepower 6.4-liter V8, an 8-speed automatic transmission and tons of in-your-face attitude.
The first thing you should know about the Charger is that it's huge when compared to most other modern sedans. That translates into a comfortable passenger cabin and a spacious trunk that can seem overwhelmingly hefty to those new to this type of car. But what the Scat Pack trim does for you is to take that heft and stick it to the pavement. High-speed curves and sharp turns don't phase this car, even though it comes with slightly narrower tires than the SRT 392 (the next level up in the Charger line).
When I drove the Scat Pack, the car remained poised as the speedometer needle leapt toward the big numbers, handling turns and rising speed with equal dignity and composure. It's big Brembo brakes make it possible to shed speed quickly, while the launch control feature enables rocket-esque straight line acceleration.
As I mentioned earlier, the Scat Pack model has slightly skinnier wheels than its higher-end siblings. But one person's narrow tires are another person's smoke machine. In the smokey burnout department, the Scat Pack Charger didn't disappoint, making as much impressive engine noise as it did tire smoke when the accelerator pedal was mashed to the floor. But the car is also well balanced for such a beast; even after breaking, the rear end was easy to keep under control.
The infotainment system was adequate, although tricky to navigate when absorbed by the ungodly amount of power the car had on tap. The navigation system was OK, but like the majority of modern systems lacked the direction-finding savvy of simpler smartphone apps like Google Maps and Waze. Configuring performance parameters wasn't difficult but was a trick to handle while on the fly. I had to scroll through several menus just to get to the sport mode configuration screen. Also, the climate control system didn't have visible dash controls for directing the flow of air to the passenger footwells. Most cars simply provide buttons with arrow indicators that showing where the cool or warm air will blow, and this tried-and-true method of control still seems to be best.
While searching online how to find the Charger's "Eco" mode, I learned the Scat Pack level doesn't come with that feature. This is unfortunate. According to the car's computer, actual fuel economy during our test hovered between 17 and 20 miles per gallon. This wasn't good news, particularly because I was driving around California, where premium fuel (this car requires it to run well) can cost close to $5 a gallon. In other words, Scat Pack may mean loud and fast, but as with its spiritual antecedents, it also means thirsty.
All in all, the Scat Pack Charger is enjoyable to drive. If you're looking for performance and space at a reasonable price, this NASCAR-sounding beast could be a good option. If your tastes tend toward this direction, fuel economy is not likely to be paramount among your concerns. Even then, there's a lot to be said for a can that gives you 20 mpg and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds on its way to a manufacturer-advertised top speed of 175 mph. You can't get 20 mpg when you're going fast, but you have to choose your battles, right?
2015 DODGE CHARGER R/T SCAT PACK – By The Numbers:
MSRP: $41,605 (includes $995 destination charge)
Power and drive wheels: 6.4-liter, 485-hp V8 engine, rear-wheel drive
Transmission: 8-speed automatic transmission
EPA fuel economy (mpg): 15/25 city/highway
Safety: Received Good ratings in four IIHS crash tests
In showrooms: Now