The RWD Dodge Charger Is Dead as Muscle Car Goes AWD Only

At least it still has a few rear-wheel-spinning party tricks up its sleeve.

Big changes are happening in Detroit. Once the home of V8 power and rear-wheel drive, Mopar muscle will soon be devoid of such machines. We already knew that Dodge was dropping the Hemi from the Charger’s stable, but it’s also taking rear-wheel drive from us, too. Moving forward, all Dodge Charger models will be all-wheel drive.

Regardless of the powertrain you choose—one of the two 3.0-liter twin-turbo inline-six engines or the electric Daytona powertrain—all Chargers will spin all four wheels. Interestingly, Stellantis’ STLA Large platform, on which the Charger is based, is flexible enough to accommodate front, rear, and all-wheel-drive layouts, even with internal combustion. That means it can house engines mounted both transversely and longitudinally. In other words, Dodge could’ve made the Charger rear-wheel drive if it wanted, but evidently, it decided against it. Perhaps, the prospective market for rear-wheel drive Chargers was too small to make offering both drivetrains financially worth it.


Fret not, though, muscle car aficionados: Dodge will still let you engage in tire-smoking shenanigans. In addition to the Charger’s typical drive modes, such as Eco, Sport, and Track, the Charger also has what Dodge calls “Race Options,” of which there are five: Line Lock, Drift Mode, Donut Mode, Race Prep, and Launch Control. Three of those Race Options are purposely designed for rear-wheel-drive thrills.

Line Lock is like any other muscle car’s line lock, in that it holds the front wheels. However, in the Charger’s case it also completely removes torque from the front axle, allowing drivers to smoke their rear tires. Donut Mode is essentially the same thing, in that it allows only the rear tires to spin, but it also lets the car rotate around either of its front wheels without traction control intervention. Drift Mode gives the driver a choice of three slip angle levels while sending most of the torque to the rear axle and only using some front-axle torque to help maintain a drift. It also sets the front dampers to their softest setting and the rear dampers to their stiffest, and permits different wheel speeds without setting off any system error codes.


With neither a Hemi V8 nor rear-wheel drive in sight, the new Charger might not win over the most fervent Mopar diehards immediately. However, it’s still a rear-biased American muscle car, with a minimum of 420 horsepower from the Hurricane straight-six, and several tire-torching drive modes, and it comes with either two or four doors. Rear-wheel drive might be gone, but all hope is not lost.

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