Aggression comes in many forms but few are as

attractive as the 2013 Dodge Charger. Dressed in an optional sport appearance package, the Charger is all about cool. It’s been around since the 60s, and the Charger just never seems to go out of style.

With its gloss black honeycomb grille in front and spoiler in back, our test Charger SXT attracted plenty of attention during the test week. We also noticed something curious: When we pulled behind slower moving cars on the Interstate, many of them tended to move to the right lane so we could go by. Maybe it was because our Bright White Charger with the black grille caused some drivers to think a police car was behind them, or maybe it was just coincidence. One thing’s for sure, if a white Charger causes slow left lane drivers to move over on the Interstate, I’d pay more to buy it.

One of the big news items on this model year’s Charger is a new 8-speed automatic transmission – it’s the first domestic sport sedan to have one – that helps the rear-wheel drive Charger get up to 31 miles per gallon on the highway. AWD models get up to 27 mpg on the road.

Charger SE, SXT and SXT Plus models are powered by a 3.6-liter Pentastar V6, and the R/T model is fitted with a 5.7-liter 370-horsepower HEMI V8. Our test Charger was equipped with AWD, which seamlessly transitions between RWD and AWD as needed.

Inside the cabin, the Charger is roomy and functional. The sport cloth seats in our test vehicle looked durable and were comfortable. The driver’s power seat adjusted eight ways and had lumbar support.

Dodge has also improved its Uconnect system with Garmin navigation and enhanced 3-D maps and route guidance graphics. Controls and gauges were intuitive and simple.

The new 8-speed transmission is phenomenal, but we weren’t a big fan of the new electronic shifter. Like some other models, the top of the shifter lights up with “P, R, N and D.” The problem is, your hand is on top of the shifter and you can’t see the letters. Intuitively, bumping the shifter back two spaces moves the transmission from reverse into drive, but with this version you also have to push the thumb button to shift. Admittedly, this isn’t likely a problem once you get used to the shifting pattern.

The mid-range Charger SXT has some pretty nice features, including a smart key, remote start, a leather wrapped tilt and telescoping wheel with controls, Sirius XM Satellite Radio with a year’s subscription, and an 8.4-inch touch screen for vehicle and audio functions. For just $1,195 more you can outfit the Charger with a navigation and backup camera group.

While the car is cool, so is the sound system. Dodge has partnered with Beats By Dr. Dre to bring studio quality sound into the car by working with Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine to design and build the available 10-speaker audio system.

The 2013 Charger SXT with AWD has a base price of $31,295. With options, our test vehicle had a bottom line of $36,380, including $995 in freight.

If you’re all about the speed and not as many frills, the Charger R/T starts at $29,995, and Dodge says that makes it the “most affordable V8 sedan in America.”

When it comes to safety, the Charger is excellent, garnering a “Top Safety Pick” designation from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The government gives the Charger a top 5-star rating as well.

2013 Dodge Charger SXT w/AWD

  • Engine: 3.6-liter V6
  • Horsepower: 292 (300 in some models)
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic with paddle shifters
  • Test model base price: $31,295 ($36,380 as tested)
  • EPA mileage rating: 18 mpg city / 27 mpg highway (AWD) 19 mpg city / 31 mpg highway (RWD)