Living in the state of Michigan can be challenging for most car buyers. The extremely terrible roads, short but amazing summers, and dreadful long winters most Michiganders are limited to choosing one vehicle to drive throughout the year. But there is one vehicle, that I personally believe might be that greatest all-around vehicle for those looking for performance, comfort and all-weather capability. That vehicle was the Dodge Charger R/T AWD (all-wheel drive).
Unfortunately, Dodge ended the production of the V8 all-wheel-drive muscle car in 2014. While Dodge has expanded its all-wheel-drive lineup to the Dodge Charger GT (which was changed to the SXT AWD in 2019) and Dodge Challenger SXT and GT, both of those vehicles are powered by the 300 to 305 horsepower version of the award-winning 3.6-liter PENTASTAR V6 engine. Automotive journalists, as well as the car enthusiast world, have called it anything but a muscle car due to its lack of a proper V8 engine. Even though Dodge’s marketing team has boasted the brand as the only brand offering “all-wheel-drive muscle cars”.
The reason Dodge killed off the Charger R/T AWD model after the 2014 model year, is because of poor sales or so they say. They said that only 10% of the all-wheel-drive cars produced were HEMI V8 powered models. However, I would challenge them on that since half of the Charger models sold in Michigan are V8 all-wheel-drive models from prior to the 2015 model year. I have seen a ton of vehicles around the roads of Southeastern Michigan.
While Dodge does not offer the package to consumers anymore, they do however offer a Charger Pursuit HEMI V8 powered all-wheel-drive option for law enforcement agencies. This package uses the old 5-speed automatic from the R/T all-wheel-drive cars from the 2014 model year, instead of the current ZF-sourced TorqueFlite 8-speed automatics.
As an owner of two of the first-generation Dodge Durango models, I was used to the truck-like capability of the Durango to plow through the heavy Michigan snow while I relied on another car for driving in the better weather of the spring, summer and autumn season. So I started looking at vehicles that would best suit me for one solid vehicle that I knew would handle all my needs. That vehicle was a 2014 Dodge Charger R/T Plus AWD Sport.
The 2014 Dodge Charger R/T Plus is an amazingly comfortable car. Adding the AWD Sport package to the mix, makes the car look menacing on the road. The Charger AWD Sport added a Gloss Black split-crosshair grille, polished 19-inch aluminum wheels with Gloss Black pockets; steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters with sport-mode, rear spoiler, sport seats, 370 horsepower 5.7-liter HEMI V8, and the 556-watt Beats Audio system.
The Charger R/T Plus package added premium Nappa leather seating, heated first- and second-row seats, 12-way power front-passenger seat with four-way power lumbar, vehicle security alarm, LED-illuminated, front-row overhead lighting and LED-illuminated footwells. While the car was optioned out with things like heated and ventilated seats, power-adjustable pedals, power memory steering wheel, blind-spot monitoring, and cross path detection, heated and cooled cupholders, automatic windshield wipers, and headlights, heated rear seats, sunroof memory seats, and dual-zone climate control.
What makes the car a great package is customization. Since virtually everything is shared with the rear-wheel-drive version, the aftermarket for the car is endless. There are some exceptions, however. The choice of aftermarket wheels for the all-wheel-drive cars are limited since the offset is different thanks to different hubs because of the all-wheel-drive system. The tires from the factory are a 235/55 Michelins which are great for snow. But if you are looking for more grip during the summer months, I threw on a set of 255/45 Yokohama all-season tires. Also, the passenger footwell near the transmission tunnel is slightly smaller on the all-wheel-drive models due to the fact that the rear-drive shaft runs along the transmission tunnel.
The Charger’s intelligent all-wheel-drive system features a segment-exclusive active transfer case and front-axle-disconnect system to improve real-world fuel economy. No other major automotive manufacturer offers the combination of these two independent technologies. The system only engages when the temperature reaches below 39°F or 4°C, if the system detects slippage or if the windshield wipers are turned on.
Thanks to the aftermarket, you can override the all-wheel-drive system with gadgets like the Z Automotive Tazer and run the car in three different modes. Normal AWD, Forced RWD or Forced AWD. I will say the added weight of the Charger R/T AWD all-wheel-drive system over the rear-wheel-drive Charger R/T doesn’t make a difference since the Charger R/T AWD gets a better launch off of the line. I have even raced the exact car I have, however, the other drive used AWD and I used the Forced RWD option with the Tazer and the other car got a much better jump off the start and pulled to about 3/4 of a car length ahead of me.
The all-wheel-drive system is simply amazing in this car. Backed with the 5.7-liter HEMI V8, this car is great in deep snow, heavy rain and the aftermarket will allow you to do unlimited amounts of customization so that the all-wheel-drive system is far from a penalty of having equipped on the car.
This is certainly a package that needs to be brought back to the consumer market. With gas prices staying around the $3.00/gallon mark in the United States and the car getting anywhere from 14mpg to 18mpg in heavy city driving to 22mpg to 28mpg on 70 to 80mph highways and hitting even 33mpg at 55mph country roads, the Charger R/T AWD does not hit your pocket any worse than an all-wheel-drive Grand Cherokee V6. If the Durango can offer an R/T model with HEMI power and all-wheel drive, why can’t the Charger and Challenger?
The demand for such a car is back and if you don’t believe me look at the different online forums on the internet. It is a very important piece of the puzzle that is missing from the Dodge performance lineup. These Charger R/T AWD models are starting to have a cult following and are becoming rarer to find for sale. I liked my Charger R/T AWD so much, I bought a second one. So, Dodge if you are listening… you may want to consider this car and how it might be the best all-around muscle car in the snow-belt EVER!