By KEVIN WEAKS
Dodge says its cars – particularly the muscular Dodge Challenger and Charger – are very popular among the brave men and women currently serving in the U.S. armed forces. I can attest to that, having lived near Ft. Campbell, Ky., for a time. The highway between Ft. Campbell and Clarksville, Tenn., was full of ’em.
Because our servicemen and servicewomen continue to be big Challenger and Charger customers, the automaker this summer began offering a new special edition appearance package for both models, appropriately called the Stars & Stripes Edition.
“Dodge is known for delivering custom looks straight from the factory. We also have a strong following of buyers who are in the military, as well as many buyers who are patriotic,” said Steve Beahm, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ head of passenger car brands in North America.
“The Stars & Stripes Edition is an opportunity to deliver a custom look with unique elements that speak to those performance enthusiasts who want to extend their passion for their country to the Charger and Challenger.”
We’re not talking red, white and blue here. It’s a little more subtle that that. For an additional $1,995, the Stars & Stripes Edition adds some cool touches like a large satin black stripe with a silver edge outlining it on the driver’s side, 20-inch black wheels at the corners and special badging to identify the model.
THERE’S EVEN A FLAG
Inside there are black interior accents with special black-on-black seats that have a bronze star embroidered into them. There’s more bronze with accent stitching and a special badge on the instrument panel. Of course, you can’t have a Stars & Stripes Edition without actually having the American flag somewhere. You’ll find it outside on both front fenders in low-visibility, military-spec black.
You have to love the names Chrysler gives its available car colors: Destroyer Grey, F8 Green, Granite Crystal, IndiGo Blue, Maximum Steel, Octane Red, Pitch Black, Triple Nickel and White Knuckle. The Stars & Stripes package is available with any of them.
The Charger’s flashier colors — Sublime and Go Mango — aren’t included in that list. But one color, in particular — F8 Green — fits neatly into the Stars and Stripes scheme in part because it resembles the hue of military fatigues. The press photo shown here has the Challenger wearing that color with the Stars and Stripes package. Just imagine it’s the Charger and you’ll understand why it’s arguably the best exterior paint for the military tribute package.
THE SEATS GET A BRONZE STAR
Take a seat in the Stars & Stripes package-clad Charger or Challenger and you’ll be greeted by an interior with black-on-black seats that have a bronze star embroidered into them. Black interior accents are scattered throughout the cabin and bronze accent stitching provides a dab of contrast.
You’d think with a Stars & Stripes package there would be some sort of power upgrade, like maybe a tank engine. But it’s strictly an appearance package, and it’s only available on select trim options of the four-door muscle car.
The SXT and SXT all-wheel-drive trims don’t get it, but the Charger GT rear-wheel-drive version does. The GT trim is powered by a 3.6-liter V-6 unit that produces 300 horsepower. All that power goes to the two rear wheels courtesy of a TorqueFlight eight-speed automatic transmission.
If you’re not a fan of the Charger GT RWD, you can opt for the Charger R/T, which is powered by an all-too-familiar engine: the iconic 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine. This unit produces 370 horsepower. The same TorqueFlight eight-speed auto sends power to the two rear wheels, enabling the R/T to sprint from 0 to 60 mph in under six seconds.
The real power package is in the Charger R/T Scat Pack with a naturally aspirated 392 HEMI V-8 engine, which, in turn, produces a stout 485 horsepower, harnessed by that TorqueFlight eight-speed. It only takes 4.5 seconds for the Charger R/T Scat Pack to go from a standstill position to a $200 speeding ticket.
Pricing for the 2019 Dodge Charger GT starts at $31,495. Meanwhile, the Dodge Charger R/T starts at $35,995, while the Charger Scat Pack starts at $39,995. Throw in the Stars & Stripes package at any of these Charger trims and you’re looking at prices that add up to $33,490 for the Charger GT, $37,990 for the Charger R/T, and $41,990 for the Charger Scat Pack.
CHARGER AND CHALLENGER UPDATED FOR 2020
The Challenger and Charger are automotive dinosaurs (the very first Dodge Challenger went on sale in 1969 as a 1970 model, so 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of the legendary Mopar muscle car).Their basic platform was first used in 1997 on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but Dodge keeps finding ways to update the pair and keep customers interested. That’s created a lineup of trim levels, appearance packages, and engine options from the aforementioned Stars & Stripes Edition all the way up to the 700-plus-horsepower, 6.2-liter supercharged Hellcat Hemi V8.
For 2020 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is touting the upcoming Hellcat Widebody as the “most powerful and fastest mass-produced sedan in the world.” FCA said the Hemi-engined Hellcat will reach 60 mph in 3.6 seconds and have a top speed of 196 mph.
A veritable four-door rocket, the Charger packs a 6.2-liter supercharged Hemi V-8 rated at 707 hp and 650 pound-feet of torque. That’s the same basic powertrain from the Dodge Challenger Hellcat, also a survivor from the DaimlerChrysler era. The eight-speed automatic transmission is standard. The wide-body treatment includes huge fender flares that add 3.5 inches of width over 20-inch wheels, which are also 11 inches wide. The car also gets new front and rear fascias.
Speaking of Challenger, for 2020 the muscle notchback coupe retains its powertrain lineup. Entry-level models start with a 3.6L V6 capable of producing 305 horsepower , available in either rear or all-wheel-drive configurations.
The muscle car’s true heart and soul, however, beats through a 375-horsepower and 410 lb-ft of torque 5.7L V8, while those in need for even more power can turn to the optional 6.4L V8. The larger Hemi is available in the $40,000-plus R/T Scat Pack models and generates 485 horses.
No prices were posted yet for the 2020 Challenger and Charger, but dealers will be able to order the car this fall and deliveries are scheduled to start early next year.
“People say, ‘no one wants cars anymore.’ I would tell you that the 40,000 people who bought a Dodge Charger so far this year would probably agree, because to them, the Charger isn’t just a car,” said Tim Kuniskis, head of passenger cars for FCA in North America.
Union members assemble the Charger and Challenger at FCA’s Brampton plant in Canada.
Contact Kevin Weaks at email@example.com.