Home2012 Los Angeles Auto Show
Consumer Reports auto experts report from the 2012 LA Auto Show
Dodge Charger Daytona

What is it? Known as the “Winged Warrior,” the first Dodge Daytona came out in 1970 as a NASCAR homologation special. Today, it still makes quite a dramatic entrance at vintage car shows where it is recognized as a prized, high-dollar collectable. We’re not sure this version, even with the famous “Daytona” name, will have as big an impact, but it certainly has the goods under the hood.

Dodge is making sure the latest Daytona is not all show and no go; all models get an aggressive 3.06:1 rear axle ratio, high-speed engine controller, paddle shifters with sport mode, and performance-tuned steering and suspension. Power comes from the oft-idolized 5.7-liter Hemi V8, putting out 370 horsepower and 395 lb.-ft. of torque all hooked up to a five-speed automatic transmission.

What is new or notable? The Daytona package includes flat black paint applied to the hood stripes, roof, and spoiler. Ensuring the cabin is as loud as the exterior, the interior is fitted with a Beats Audio system. Finally, 20-inch polished aluminum wheels round out the package.

Available in Charger R/T and Charger R/T Road & Track trim levels, this Daytona will only have a run of 2,500 units. Sticker prices start at $32,990 for R/T and $36,495 for R/T Road &Track models. The later adds unique leather and suede heated and ventilated seats, dark brushed aluminum trim surrounding the 8.4-inch Uconnect touch screen, and a badge on the instrument panel that features the build number.

CR’s take: Our last tested Charger was a V6 model that handled responsively and had a steady, comfortable ride. We also found that the car’s still cool styling impaired rear-seat access. These hot-rod versions will most certainly be faster, with a distinctive V8 rumble to match their looks. Don’t look for a smoother ride, though, or an appearance that won’t attract law enforcement—especially in the bright "Daytona Blue" paint. Subtle, these Daytonas are not.

When will it be available? First quarter 2013.

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