The Dodge Charger wears many hats. It debuted in 2006 at the Chicago Auto Show as a creative adaptation of Chrysler’s rear-driven LX platform, already in use on the Magnum and the Chrysler 300. Yet the Charger was a big risk for Dodge, and not only because it meant associating Dodge’s famous muscle car moniker with a four-door, but because outside of the luxury market, with such offerings as the 300 and the Cadillac CTS, and Ford’s soon-dead Panther, there were no rear-wheel-drive sedans in America. Impalas and Malibus had all been tamed under front-driven platforms.
Truly the Charger had to ride a fine line. It needed to satisfy the die-hard muscle fans with big, tire-smoking performance, but it also had to be a volume seller with economy and drivability. After all, this was 2006, right around the nadir of the American carpocalypse, when the money was drying up and everyone bought used. It had to win the hearts of performance enthusiasts everywhere and serve as a baddy-chasing cop car, but also cart your kids to the beach. Dodge would only get one shot at a full-size sedan.
So they fitted the Charger with a pair of big, Hemi V8s, and two more efficient V6s, the straight economy 2.7 and the beefier, middle-of-the-road 3.5. Unfortunately, they fitted all of them with an automatic transmission. Though the 3.5 made a respectable 250 hp and 250 lb-ft of torque, the car still weighed 3,727 lbs. That’s a heavy chunk of iron to haul, despite the nearly 300 lb advantage over the 5.7 Hemi.
Thus it isn’t uncommon to find V6 Charger owners a little underwhelmed by the power pulsing out of that 3.5. Fear not, sensible parents, your commuter car can be a muscle car. We can help. We’ll start with exhaust, which will improve both power and presence.
Our favorite exhaust for a 2010 V6 Charger is easily this Borla cat-back system. Since your V6 Charger had to serve as an unobtrusive commuter car, Dodge stifled it with a nice, quiet exhaust, which also hampered the power. The buzz around the forums report that a more open, free-flowing Borla can free up to 10 extra horsepower.
Then there’s the sound. Creating a great exhaust is about more than just opening up the pipes, or even doing so to allow for more power. It’s also about the sound. Cut-rate exhausts often aren’t designed to sculpt the sound coming into your cabin, and often they come with drone. This occurs, in the simplest terms, when sound waves resonate within the cabin and crash back into each other. It’s a loud, annoying tone that ends up distracting you from your driving experience.
But Borla Exhausts are designed per vehicle to cancel out drone, providing you with a pleasant sound sans drone. We got a moment with David Borla to discuss exactly what synergy between a driver and an exhaust note means.
And in case you were wondering about the sound, here’s a heaping helping of awesome.
Now that we have exhaling taken care of, what about the air going in? We can help with that. Like your exhaust, your air intake was designed for silence, rather than speed. So it can only allow so much air in. But the more air that gets into your engine, the more power it can make. That doesn’t mean you should just ditch the intake altogether. First because you could suck all kinds of harmful crap into your engine, and second because the temperature of that air matters.
A K&N cold air intake not only allows for a higher flow of air into the engine, it also includes an air dam that separates the cold air coming into the engine from the hot air already in the engine bay. The result is an extra 11.68 horsepower. From a mod that takes 20 minutes to bolt on.
Plus, the included K&N cone filter is washable. It is an oil-soaked cotton filter, rather than a paper filter like most on the market. So it will catch more particles and is 100% washable. You’ll only need to wash it every 100,000 miles, and it’s warrantied for a million.
Now all we have to do is make sure the fuel keeps up with these mods. That’s where DiabloSport comes in with their excellent Trinity tuner. This programming module plugs directly into your Charger’s OBDII port, right under the steering column, then talks to the computer, giving it some new equations for when to add fuel. Just this one safe, simple mod can add up to 15 horsepower and 20 lb-ft of torque. It also includes great features like virtual gauges, a diagnostic tool, and a quarter mile timer.
It should be noted that when these were tested, they were tested alone, each without the other mods. So just because you get 10, 12, and 15 horsepower from them doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get 37 extra horsepower from all three together. But it does mean that you’ll probably get more than any of these mods alone, and it definitely means you’ll get more than stock.
Some Chargers were built to be daily commuters, and some were built to be muscle cars. But switching from the former to the latter doesn’t require much effort. All of these mods can be accomplished in an afternoon with simple hand tools.
Check back Wednesday when we take advantage of the massive weight advantage of the V6. It’s handling, suspension, and brakes, coming up on AutoMods!
1. Borla 140197: Increase horsepower while turning heads with a muscle car sound. This cat-back exhaust even looks awesome.
2. K&N 57-1543: Bolt up this dyno-tested cold air intake for an easy 11 horsepower. Installs in minutes, warrantied for a million miles.
3. DiabloSport T1000: Make sure your modded engine is getting enough fuel. This programmer plugs straight into your computer and works in seconds.
Which vehicle should we AutoMod next? Maybe we can offer some suggestions for your own project? Drop your suggestion in the comments, and if we decide to feature it, we’ll send you a $100 StreetsideAuto.com gift card to get started. The winner will be selected the last Friday of every month.
Andy Sheehan is a blogger, aspiring novelist, and relentless hoon. He plans to will his 2002 Subaru WRX Wagon to his firstborn, plans his daily commute around the swoop of its roads, and doesn’t plan to ever buy an automatic. A cool-car omnipath, he loves the common Mustang or Chevelle, but hunts for the weird and wonderful Velorexes and Cosmos of the autoverse. And when he can afford a garage, he’s going to turn an MX-5 into a race car.