We normally put 1,000 miles on our test vehicles. However, with the new Dodge Charger Pursuit, we didn’t really need to do that. Everything you need to know about the NextGen Charger is immediately obvious.
The first 10 seconds in the car and you notice the overall visibility out of the Dodge Charger has improved by more than 15 percent. The windshield glass goes much farther back at the top and traffic lights are now visible. The A-pillar is narrower and the outside rear view mirrors have been lowered. The side glass is both taller and lower. The sheetmetal near the C-pillar is more open and the back glass is larger. The visibility–360 degrees–is now excellent.
Then 10 seconds later you notice the greatly improved gear-shift selector arc. The column-shifted police Charger comes out of Park and into Drive with an easy, smooth and ergonomic pull. And it goes from Drive back to Park just as naturally. The First Mile
Within the first mile, you feel the better throttle response from the new 3.6L Pentastar V6 compared to the old 3.5L V6. The Pentastar V6 has more peak torque, but more importantly is has more total torque at all engine speeds, i.e., a flatter torque curve.
Then the first time you make a turn, you can feel the improved steering response. The new Chargers have an Electro-Hydraulic Power Steering (EHPS). The benefit of the electronically controlled steering pump is no hydraulic pump and hoses (less leaking hose and pump maintenance) and almost zero power drain on the engine (better fuel economy). EHPS is smooth and even at all speeds. The change from hydraulic assist to electric assist is totally transparent to the driver. The steering was just as well-tuned for driving at 120 mph as it was at 60 mph and as it was for parking lots.
Back to that first time you make a sharp turn, and noticing the much more responsive handling. This quicker steering response doesn’t come from EHPS. Instead, it comes from a subtle change in suspension alignment–just a bit of negative camber. The front end feels lighter. The Charger is more nimble and is much more responsive to steering inputs. The improved turn-in response is remarkable.
Finally, an hour or so into the shift, when it is time to transport prisoners, you notice yet another huge change. Both the front and rear doors open much, much wider on the NextGen Chargers. The rear seat is still the same size, but the rear doors now swing open almost 90 degrees. That makes prisoners much easier to get into the back seat. 3.6L Pentastar V6
The NextGen Charger Pursuit got a NextGen V6 engine. The 3.6L Pentastar V6 has replaced the 3.5L V6. The 3.6L V6 is a double overhead cam (DOHC) engine with Variable Valve Timing (VVT). Thanks to VVT, the engine torque is at least 90 percent of the peak torque between 1,600 rpm and 6,400 rpm. Torque is what gives throttle response. Horsepower is nice, but torque wins drag races.
Compared to the older 3.5L V6, the new 3.6L Pentastar V6 produces 33 percent more horsepower, 11 percent more torque, 11 percent better fuel economy and 33 percent longer scheduled maintenance. With the 3.6L Pentastar, Dodge joins Chevy and Ford in producing a near-300 hp V6 for police. Forget that the base Charger Pursuit has a mere V6. Instead, think that the base Charger Pursuit has a nearly 300 hp engine, compared to 250 hp for the benchmark Ford CVPI. And the Charger V6 is 3 seconds faster to 100 mph than the Ford CVPI with the same top speed. The 3.6L Pentastar V6 is much better than the old Dodge 3.5L V6 in every way.
For exhaustive coverage of the durability and reliability testing on the new Pentastar engine during its development, go to www.hendonpub.com. Click the Resources tab, then the Article Archives tab. Search under Police Fleet Manager magazine for Charger Pentastar V6. A total of 160 different tests were conducted on engine dynamometers for a total dyno time of 57,000 hours. That is an equivalent of 12 million miles.
Once installed in the vehicle, 74 different tests were conducted for engine durability and on-board diagnostics. That proving ground testing was equivalent to 3.8 million customer miles. The 3.6L Pentastar V6 is one of the most carefully developed engines in Chrysler’s history. This V6 replaced all the other V6 engines in the corporation. A lot is riding on this engine; and Chrysler Powertrain treated it that way. Minimal Maintenance
The 3.6L Pentastar V6 runs on 87-octane, regular unleaded gasoline. The 3.6L V6 is also E85-compatible, FlexFuel rated. It will automatically handle any combination, any mix of fuel, from pure gasoline to E10 gasohol to full E85 ethanol. The spark plugs are good for 100K miles, and the HOAT engine coolant is also rated for 100K miles. The 3.6L V6 and 5.7L V8 powertrains are all covered by a five-year/100K mile powertrain warranty that includes seals and gaskets.
The new engine uses standard petroleum motor oil. Synthetic oil is not required. The oil change interval for normal retail driving is now 8,000 miles. The police oil change interval is 6,000 miles. On the topic of oil, the Pentastar V6 comes standard with an auxiliary engine oil cooler. However, it is impossible to see the cooler since it is located in the valley between the two banks of cylinders. New Lower Control Arms
Everything that was a problem on the 2006-2010 Charger has been aggressively fixed; that includes the troublesome front lower control arms. For 2011, these arms have a new load carrying design, one developed for heavy-duty use. In addition, the bushing material itself is now more durable. Ball joints are now sealed for life. This, too, is intended to improve durability during police use. Finally, the Charger now uses 22mm lugs nuts, replacing the troublesome 21mm nuts. Up to 4mpg Better
The 3.6L V6 gets better mileage than the 3.5L V6 it replaces. The new engine is EPA rated at 18 mpg City, 27 mpg Highway and 21 mpg Combined. We put 400 miles on the 3.6L V6 Charger in combinations of routine calls for service and dedicated traffic enforcement. Our mileage ranged from 20.1 mpg for traffic enforcement with idling to 22.3 for routine calls for service and no idling. In fact, in our week of policing with the car, we hit the EPA “combined” estimate of 21 mpg right on the head.
In an apples-to-apples comparison, this is a full 4 mpg better than the average fuel economy we are getting from our older Charger 3.5L V6 patrol cars, driven in the same way, under exactly the same conditions, doing the same patrol tasks. The improvement of the new V6 over the HEMI would obviously be much greater. Ed. Note: A very special thanks goes to Chief John Cox, Captain Eric Chin and Lieutenant John Moore of the Purdue University Police Department for the extended use of their 2011 Dodge Charger Pursuit.