August 31

Reflecting on the Dodge Charger Models by Year

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Last Updated on September 1, 2022

Reflecting on the Dodge Charger models by year, we can learn a lot about one of America’s most popular rides. For example, the Dodge Charger is an iconic muscle car that heralds from the golden age of muscle cars—the ‘60s. It’s said, “the second-generation Charger has one of the most famous silhouettes in cinema.” And a lot of people do recognize early generations of the Dodge Charger. But, has the car lost its shine over the years? 

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Dodge launched the first-generation Charger in 1966—exactly 20 years after debuting a concept car with the nameplate Charger. The company created five generations almost continuously for two decades before retiring the nameplate for two decades and bringing it back in 2006—40 years after the launch of the first-generation Charger.  

In the United States, Dodge used the Charger nameplate on subcompact hatchbacks, full-size sedans, muscle cars, and personal luxury coupes. The current version (seventh generation) is a four-door sedan.

Dodge Charger: Over the Years infographic

Dodge Charger Models by Year

Generation 7 (2011-present)

In 2011, Dodge launched the seventh generation Charger. Design inspiration came from the second generation Dodge Charger sedans (1968-1970). The exterior of the 2011 Charger features similar slope lines, but a more modern front end and more elegant stylings. The cab  is similar to older Chargers, but with higher quality and more refined. Gauges are located in the same place but modernized. The driver-centric, one-piece instrument panel is inspired by the panel used on the 1971 Charger. Parts that were once plastic have been upgraded to metal. And the AM/FM radio plus cassette player, has been upgraded to a Garmin-based 8.4-inch navigation screen/infotainment unit. 

In 2015, Dodge made history when they installed the Hellcat engine into their latest Charger and the car could produce (from-the-factory) 707 hp. 

Generation 6 (2006-2010)

This four-door sedan is a departure from earlier Chargers, which were mainly coupes. It was built on the same platform as the Chrysler 300 Sedan and the Dodge Magnum station wagon. The Charger brought power back to the nameplate with several engine options beginning at a V6 178-hp 2.7-liter engine and topping out with a 425-hp 6.1-liter Hemi V-8. 

The car maintained a coupe-like stance with its rear-sloping roof, pinched windows, and sloped rear windscreen. This generation featured a wrapped-around plastic bumper, with two fog lights at the bottom, the Dodge trademark double round headlights, and crosshair grille.

Generation 5 (1981-1987)

This is the model that ended the Charger nameplate for two decades. After producing a lackluster Generation 4 Charger (1975-1978), Dodge took three years to come up with the fifth generation. And it wasn’t worth the wait.

The fifth generation had been transformed into a three-door subcompact hatchback, which was about 20 inches shorter than previous Chargers. That meant smaller engine options. The car’s inline-four cylinder engines offered horsepower ranges from 62 hp to 84 hp. The company eventually introduced a Shelby Charger, which increased power output to 107 hp. This allowed the car to compete with the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang.

Generation 4 (1975-1978)

During the mid to late 70’s, the car market was moving away from muscle cars and toward high-end luxury vehicles, and the Dodge Charger saw notable changes in that vein. First, the platform changed. The fourth generation shares the same B platform as the Dodge Cordoba. Second, the muscle car lines were replaced with a sedan’s sharp, stately lines. And third, the full-width grille was replaced by a smaller one bookended and guarded by round headlights. The Dodge Charger was now a luxury grand touring coupe. 

Powertrains include a 5.2, 5.9, or 6.6-liter V-8, ranging from 150 hp to 225 hp. Transmission options include a three-speed manual, a three-speed auto, and a four-speed manual.

Generation 3 (1971-1974)

Dodge played with the appearance of the third generation. Distinctive features include a split grille, optional rear spoiler, and optional pop-up scoop located on the hood. The car also had a shorter wheelbase, was wider and rounder compared to previous generations, and featured a semi-swept roofline. 

A wide range of engine options allowed for a power range of 110 hp to 425 hp. However, the popular Hemi engine didn’t meet environmental standards introduced in the early ‘70s, so models beginning in the year 1972 came equipped with either a 3.7-liter I-6, a 5.2-liter V-8, a 6.3-liter V-8, and the 7.2-liter Magnum V-8.

Generation 2 (1968-1970)

Dodge abandoned some of the more sophisticated touches of the first generation and created what was later to be called the Coke bottle look.

The car still sported the same four rounded headlights, but with a thinner metallic bumper, and its grill was flush with the hood’s edge. Changes to the rear were more obvious. Taillights were installed into a cavity at the rear and a clear panel was placed over the taillights.

The 1969 model Charger became famous from the show, The Dukes of Hazard (1979-1985), where an orange Charger with a blue “01” painted on the door became known as the “General Lee”. The 1969 Charger 500 competed in NASCAR, but never won. 

Generation 1 (1966-1967)

The first generation of Dodge Charger debuted as a two-door fastback. It was built on the same B platform as the Dodge Coronet. It resembled the Coronet and had more of a luxury fastback than a muscle car feel to it. 

The interior featured an electroluminescent dashboard, a full-length center console, a wood-grain steering wheel, front bucket seats, and semi-bucket back seats that folded down to increase luggage space. 

Only V8 engine options came with the first generation of Chargers, and power output topped out at 425 hp. 

Which Dodge Charger is best? 

After reflecting on the Dodge Charger models by year, to some degree, the answer to this question will depend on your values. 

If you like old cars, get the second generation, because of its iconic appearance and great performance. If you don’t want the hassle of finding parts for old cars, purchase new. All models beginning in 2015 feature a Hemi engine with various power outputs and have great stylings.
Also, while you’re at it, take a look at what other vehicles Municibid has to offer. There are options for people looking for classic rides and for those looking to drive something on the daily. What you find may just surprise you!


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