Dodge Charger R/T AWD
Power: 292 hp, 260 lb-ft
Engine: 3.6-liter V6
Fuel consumption: 18/27
Price as tested: $29,395
dodge.com

Strengths:
The Dodge Charger might just be the biggest surprise of the year for me, as test drives go. I was shocked at how good it is. The new styling is spot on: aggressive but not over the top, masculine yet not overly macho. The rear taillight treatment recalls ‘69 Chargers, like the famous General Lee from “The Dukes of Hazard.” The interior is impressively comfortable, not just for its spaciousness, but in the design and quality of materials. The seats are big and plush—almost couch-like—yet supportive. The new V6 engine is more refined than the previous version. Performance isn’t overwhelming—you need the V8 for that—but this 3,961-pound car didn’t feel underpowered. The Charger isn’t exactly nimble, but it’s not clumsy either. It’s well balanced, in fact. It does pitch, dive, and sway through twists and turns because of its size and compliant suspension. But everything is predictable, and driving it fast is fun. Fuel economy for such a large car is respectable.

Weaknesses:
The touchscreen interface with navigation was the biggest blight. It has large icons along the bottom that should be easy to pick up. For some reason, the system wasn’t intuitive, whether I used the climate controls or the stereo. The navigation system was especially frustrating. It felt slow and clunky. Nothing else about the car bothered me. 

Final take:
Dodge pulled off a miracle makeover with the Charger. It feels like an all-new car compared to the previous version, but it’s not—it has been thoroughly updated. The character is just right, too. It’s exactly what a large American sedan should be: big, bold, and a bit brash, with a lot of style, performance and value for the money. And now it’s refined as well. The quality seems to be there. Hopefully it will hold up over time.