Review and photos by
Chris Chase, CanadianDriver.com
The 2006 Dodge Charger was the third model to use Chrysler’s (DaimlerChrysler, at the time) full-size, rear-wheel drive LX platform, following the 2006 introduction of the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Magnum.
The Charger was a mainstream variant of the upscale Chrysler 300, and ostensibly a sedan sibling to the Magnum, which shared the Charger’s drive-train options. Those included a 2.7-litre V6 (180 hp to start, later upgraded to 190), a 3.5-litre V6 (250 hp) and a 5.7-litre Hemi V8 (340 hp). A 425-horsepower, 6.1-litre V8 was reserved for a high-performance SRT8 model.
The base V6 used a four-speed automatic transmission, while the other engines got a five-speed auto. In 2007, an all-wheel drive option was added to all models except the SRT8. The interior was redesigned for 2008; 2009 models got more substantial updates, including a Hemi engine with variable valve timing that boosted power to 368 hp without impacting fuel consumption. All-wheel drive models also got a new centre differential that disconnected when the system’s added traction wasn’t needed, which did have a (positive) impact on fuel use. Finally, 2010 models were fitted with “Decel Fuel Shut-Off,” which, as its name suggests, cut off fuel delivery to the engine during coasting. This, according to Natural Resources Canada, had no effect on fuel consumption.
Speaking of fuel consumption, NRCan’s figures for the 2006 Charger were 11.4/7.7 L/100 km for the 2.7-litre model, 12.5/8.1 with the 3.5-litre, and 13.9/8.8 when fitted with the 5.7-litre Hemi. The SRT8’s rating was 16.5/10.9 (all figures city/highway). The available all-wheel drive system affected V6 the most, boosting the 3.5-litre’s consumption to 13.9/9.0 L/100 km, though its effect on the Hemi was negligible.
In the reliability department, Consumer Reports gives the Charger an average/below average rating (depending on model year), citing a number of trouble spots.
Front suspension noise is common, though the cause appears to be something of a mystery.
These cars are apparently very sensitive to low battery voltage. If a Charger (or Magnum, or Chrysler 300) won’t start, a weak battery is possible, simple and relatively inexpensive solution. Another cause for a no-start Charger is a bad key fob battery.
A pair of rubber couplers in the driveshaft assembly, designed to reduce the likelihood of driveline damage, is prone to wear and eventual failure itself, which in turn wrecks the driveshaft and can take other rear end components with it. Click here and here for some more information. Apparently, this is a problem on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class platform, from which some of the LX’s suspension and drive-train is derived.
The transmission in LX cars is known for fluid leaks from an electric connector, and a shifter that won’t move out of park thanks to a plastic clip that breaks easily. Here’s a thread detailing the latter, along with a DIY fix.
In V8 cars, a noisy cooling fan is caused by the fan blades hitting the fan housing/radiator shroud.
The Charger scored well in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) frontal offset crash test, earning a “good” rating, but fared far worse in side impact tests, where it scored no better than “marginal,” with side airbags, and “poor” without them.
By contrast, in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) tests, the Charger scored five stars in frontal crash protection, and four and five stars, respectively, for front and rear seat side impact protection.
Used Charger values, per Canadian Black Book, start at $9,525 for a base 2006 model, and range up to $30,775 for a 2010 SRT8 with extras like a sunroof, DVD entertainment system and navigation. A 2009 Hemi-powered R/T, which got the newer, stronger version of the V8, is an attractive package at $21,800; R/T prices start at $15,425 for a 2006 model.
For many car nuts, the Charger is an alluring package, even without V8 power; the 3.5-litre engine provides decent, if not breathtaking, performance. With the V8, in either R/T or SRT8 form, the Charger is a heck of a grocery-getter. There are some reliability troubles to be aware of, but the driveshaft problem is the only truly troubling one. This is a car that must be shopped for carefully, so look for one with service records and that checks out with a mechanic, with particular attention to be paid to the driveshaft assembly.
Black Book Pricing (avg. retail) February, 2011:
|Year||Model||Price today||Price new|
I’d check out three spots on the web if you want information about your Charger, or someone else’s, if you’re into buying one. Start at ChargerForums.com, and if that doesn’t fix you up, try 300CForums.com and LXForums.com.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006201; Units affected: 654 (Also affects other models)
2006: On certain vehicles equipped with a 2.7L engine, the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) tube may contact the brake tubes, which may result in a brake fluid leak and potential engine compartment fire. A brake fluid leak may also result in extended stopping distances. Correction: Dealers will inspect the brake tubes for damage and replace if necessary. A clip will also be installed to secure the brake tubes to the right front shock tower in order to maintain proper clearance to the EGR tube.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006218; Units affected: 345 (Also affects other models)
2007: On certain vehicles equipped with the 42RLE automatic transmission, the Powertrain Control Module (PCM) may cause a momentary lock up of the drive wheels if the vehicle is traveling over 65 kph and the operator shifts from drive to neutral and back to drive. Correction: Dealers will reprogram the PCM.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2006373; Units affected: 5,886 (Also affects other models)
2007: On certain vehicles, the Anti-lock Brake System (ABS) control module software may cause the rear brakes to lock-up during certain braking conditions. This could result in a loss of vehicle control and cause a crash without warning. Correction: Dealers will reprogram the ABS electronic control unit.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2008233; Units affected: 374 (Also affects other models)
2008: On certain vehicles, incorrectly manufactured rear axle hub nuts could, in time, loosen, and allow the halfshaft to disengage from the wheel hub assembly. This could cause the vehicle to lose propulsion which, in conjunction with traffic and road conditions, and the driver’s reactions, could increase the risk of a crash. Correction: Dealers will replace the rear axle hub nuts.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2008402; Units affected: 728 (Also affects other models)
2006-2009: On certain vehicles, the gearshift cable may become disengaged from the steering column mounting bracket and cause an incorrect transmission gearshift position display. This could allow the vehicle to move inadvertently, resulting in a crash causing property damages and personal injuries. Correction: Dealers will install a redundant locking mechanism to ensure proper retention and shift linkage function.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2008402; Units affected: 16 (Also affects other models)
2009: On certain vehicles, the tire pressure monitor (TPM) sensors may not transmit the actual tire pressure. This could result in the driver not being aware of low tire pressure. Correction: Dealers will replace the TPM sensors.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2009323; Units affected: 1,172 (Also affects other models)
2009-2010: On certain vehicles, the front wheel spindle nut – which retains the hub, rotor, and wheel assembly – may have been omitted during vehicle assembly. This could allow the wheel assembly to separate from the vehicle while driving, which could result in a vehicle crash causing property damage, personal injury or death. Correction: Dealers will inspect for presence of the front wheel spindle nut, and repair any vehicle missing the nut.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2010151; Units affected: 8,902 (Also affects other models)
2010: Certain vehicles equipped with automatic transmission may have been built with a Wireless Ignition Node (WIN) module exhibiting a binding condition of the solenoid latch. This may result in a condition where the FOBIK (Ignition key) can be removed from the WIN module prior to placing the shifter in PARK. This could result in unintended vehicle movement, which may cause property damage, personal injury or death. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the WIN module.
Transport Canada Recall Number: 2010151; Units affected: 2,611 (Also affects other models)
2010: Certain vehicles may experience a separation at the crimped end of the power steering pressure hose assembly resulting in power steering fluid leak which could result in a fire. Correction: Dealers will inspect and, if necessary, replace the power steering pressure hoses.
Crash test results
Used vehicle prices vary depending on factors such as general condition, odometer reading, usage history and options fitted. Always have a used vehicle checked by an experienced auto technician before you buy.
For information on vehicle service bulletins issued by the manufacturer, visit www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
For information on consumer complaints about specific models, see www.lemonaidcars.com.
Chris Chase is an Ottawa-based automotive journalist. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).
Read more Test Drives on CanadianDriver.com