- Model: 2011+ Dodge Charger
- Vehicle type: Sedan
The Dodge Charger and Chrysler 300 are sheet metal brothers from the same mother. Built using nearly identical components, drivelines, technologies and subsystems, both roll out of the same factory, feature nearly identical specifications, and amount to two of the most popular sedan models on the road today.
With abundant space and size, an available HEMI V8, and all-wheel drive widely available in their respective used-car lineups, the Charger and 300 offer something for nearly any shopper.
The latest iteration of these twins came online for model-year 2011, and every unit is a four-door, five-seat sedan with space to spare. Look for premium stereo systems, climate-controlled leather seating, performance lighting, navigation, Bluetooth, Radar Cruise control, a sunroof and push-button start.
Mainstream copies of the Charger and 300 ran a 3.6-litre V6 with around 300 horsepower, and a 5.7-litre HEMI V8 engine, available optionally on many models, pegged horsepower well into the mid-300s.
Chrysler’s AWD system could be had with either of these engines, depending on the year and model. All units got an automatic transmission, with a six-speed unit for 2011 and 2012, and a new eight-speed unit introduced from 2013.
What owners like:
These machines are well-rated by owners for thrifty performance (V6), generous power (HEMI), heaps of room, good overall value, and a comfortable and easy-to-drive character. Feature content bang for the buck was also highly rated.
What owners dislike:
Some owners complain of sub-par headlight performance on lower-end models, as well as a cheap feeling to some interior trimmings.
The test drive:
Start by checking to see which recalls, if any, may be outstanding for the unit you’re considering. These models were subjected to a long list of safety-related recalls, which see dealers make corrections to the vehicle, free of charge, to address latent safety problems.
Your local dealer can look up the vehicle’s VIN number for the vehicle’s present owner to see which, if any, of these recalls still need to be performed. As recalls fix safety issues, they’re important to have completed as soon as possible.
Next, plan to give the climate control system a full workout. Set the fan speed and temperature controls to their middle positions (medium fan speed, warm air) and confirm that air is moving from all selected vents, at the temperature you’ve selected.
Turn the heat up slowly, and make sure the air flow warms. If it doesn’t, or if there’s no heat available until the temperature is set to the max, the vehicle likely needs further inspection of its radiator, coolant level, or thermostat.
In some cases, the problem is actually within the hard-to-reach climate control system, buried deep within the dash. In any case, a dealer technician is best to investigate and repair any climate control related problems you detect.
Next up, note that any malfunction warnings or warning messages lit up in the instrument cluster, should be assessed before you agree to buy. These appear in the presence of a malfunction with any number of on board systems, including the anti-lock brakes, throttle control system, traction control, and more.
In some cases, a simple reset of the affected system will fix the problem. In other cases, parts or further repair may be required. Have a technician determine exactly the cause of any such messages, and don’t try to fix problems like this by disconnecting and reconnecting the vehicle’s battery.
Move to the central command system, aka UConnect. Give this central touch-screen interface a good browse and use all features: making a phone call via Bluetooth, playing audio from multiple devices, exploring the navigation system, and even using the backup camera, which displays via this screen.
If anything seems out of whack, the system may need to be reset, which is free. It may also need to be replaced, which is very expensive. In any case, have a professional diagnose any noted problems, before you buy.
While driving, note that a pulsing or throbbing feeling from the brake pedal while stopping, a pedal that feels soft or mushy, or any unwelcome scraping or squealing sounds, typically indicate that the vehicle’s brakes are in need of attention. Assume the seller is trying to pass off a brake job on to you, until you have proof to the contrary.
Finally, remembering that regular maintenance as laid out in the owner’s manual is literally the best thing one can do to keep a modern vehicle ticking in trouble-free fashion, determine if any maintenance tasks are overdue, and plan to have them completed.
Check the service section in the back of the owner’s manual against the vehicle’s odometer, and obtain service records that indicate that every maintenance routine has been completed, on time.
Note that warranty repairs often require the owner to prove that no maintenance intervals have been skipped or stretched, and that failure of a vehicle system caused by a lack of maintenance is not covered by warranty.
One final note for anyone who will travel by Charger or 300 with rear-seat occupants on board: though the average test-driver doesn’t typically visit the vehicle’s rear seat, doing so is advised here, so that you can confirm the rear windows, locks, seat heaters (if installed), climate controls, and entertainment consoles (if equipped) are in proper working order.
Ensure all folding rear seat hardware and functionality is in proper working order, too.
Some areas of the used Charger and 300 require careful inspection, though more major issues are reported somewhat infrequently and the more commonly-reported problems tend to be less serious in nature.
Maximum purchase confidence comes after you’ve obtained a satisfactory pre-purchase inspection report from a dealer technician.