Dodge Charger Daytona 392 Essential Expert Review

2018 Dodge Charger Daytona 392 is a throwback to an age that never existed

2018 Dodge Charger Daytona 392

What you need to know

The Dodge Charger Daytona 392 isn’t the most powerful Charger for 2018. That distinction goes to the absurdly powerful Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat that boasts both 707 horsepower and an unfathomably high price. With a claimed top speed of 204 mph, FCA says it is “the quickest, fastest and most powerful sedan in the world.” But its limited availability means it is beyond the reach of nearly anybody who is dying to have one. For us mere mortals, there is the Charger Daytona 392. Its 6.4-liter (392 cubic inch) HEMI V-8 engine blasts out 485 horsepower and 475 lb.-ft. of torque, which should be more than enough for anybody anytime. The Charger Daytona 392 modifies the standard muscle car formula (massive engine in midsize car) into massive engine in big-by-today’s standards car and dresses it up with sophisticated technology that enables it to do more than simply go fast in a straight line.

Driving Today Expert Rating

Poor | GOOD | Better | Best

New for 2018

FCA has reshuffled the Charger deck for 2018. There are 10 Charger sub-models, from the SXT featuring the 292-horsepower 3.6-liter V-6 Pentastar engine to the aforementioned 707-horsepower Hellcat. You could say that the object of this review, the Dodge Charger Daytona 392, is third-ranking among the 10. It is outranked by the SRT Hellcat and the SRT 392. The latter features three-mode (auto, sport, track) Bilstein adaptive damping suspension and available Brass Monkey wheels as key differentiators versus the Daytona 392. For this model year, red Brembo brake calipers are available on the Daytona 392 and the Charger R/T Scat Pack, a lower-buck, high-horsepower variant that is sandwiched between Charger Daytona and Charger Daytona 392 on the model’s food chain.    

Driving it

Having 485 horsepower at the whim of your right foot is a very pleasant to live with, although the HEMI’s guttural exhaust note did put off one staffer’s 16 year-old-daughter. “That’s gross” was the direct quote. No matter. The car isn’t meant for her. It is meant for those perhaps dwindling few who still treasure the visceral feel of raw horsepower applied to pavement via a car’s rear wheels. We can attest that it was fun then, and it is still fun now. What is even more fun is the Charger Daytona 392 is a car that actually corners. Yes, it is bigger than a many cars you’ll encounter these days, but the mammoth 40-aspect tires and reasonably sophisticated suspension enable the Daytona 392 to handle like no classic muscle car ever dreamed of handling. Ride comfort is a bit stiff, but if you want something softer buy a minivan.

Key competitors

No direct sedan competitors; Ford Mustang 5.0, Chevrolet Camaro SS are high-horsepower coupes

Price range

Base:  $41,340

Fully Equipped: $46,340

Typically Equipped: $47,000

Best feature

Substantial power and torque that recall another era in a vehicle that has contemporary niceties like connectivity, automatic climate control and full infotainment

Lacks

Common sense (but so what?)

Typical buyer

Male/Female – 88/12 percent   Married/Single/Separated or Widowed – 45/22/33 percent

Median age – 42   Median Income – $96,500

Safety

NHTSA Crash Test Ratings

Overall 5-star  Frontal 4-star   Side 5-star  Rollover 5-star

Forward Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Crash Imminent Braking, Dynamic Brake Support

IIHS: Not chosen as Top Safety Pick

Fuel Economy (EPA miles per gallon city/highway/combined)

Lowest: 18 / 15 / 25          Highest: 23 / 19 / 30 (Charger SXT w/V-6)

Predicted Reliability

POOR | Good | Better | Best

Predicted Cost-to-Own (versus key competitive vehicles)

Poor | Good | BETTER | Best

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