Downside: The Charger SE weighs 3,800 pounds, a heavy load that makes its presence felt in sharp curves. The car is suspended well -- four-wheel independent suspension with stabilizer bars front and rear. But rear weight shifted noticeably in the test car, causing the back end to slide a bit in fast corners.
Ride, acceleration and handling: Excellent ride. Joyful straight-line acceleration. Curve-dancing was slow-dancing but good dancing nonetheless.
Head-turning quotient: The Charger SE's slightly retro, muscular body drew crowds and raves -- with the exception of a few disgruntled souls who were upset because it wasn't the R/T.
Body style/layout: The 2006 Dodge Charger is a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive sedan with a traditional notchback trunk.
Engines/transmission: The standard 3.5-liter, 24-valve V-6 engine in the Charger SE develops 250 horsepower at 6,400 revolutions per minute and 250 foot-pounds of torque at 3,800 rpm. The 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 in the R/T produces 340 hp at 5,000 rpm and 390 foot-pounds of torque at 4,000 rpm. Both engines get five-speed automatic transmissions that also can be shifted manually.
Cargo and fuel capacities: The new Charger has seating for five people. Maximum cargo capacity is 16.2 cubic feet. Fuel capacity is 18 gallons of recommended regular unleaded gasoline.
Mileage: I averaged 26 miles per gallon in highway runs.
Safety: Standard four-wheel anti-lock brakes, traction and stability control. But side and head air bags are optional.
Price: Base price on the tested 2006 Dodge Charger SE is $22,320. Dealer invoice price on the base model is $20,758. Price as tested is $23,220, including $225 for the "Inferno Red Crystal Pearlcoat" exterior paint and a $675 destination charge. Dealer's price with options and transportation fee is $21,640. The R/T starts at $29,320. Prices sourced from the Dodge Division of DaimlerChrysler AG and Edmunds.com.
Purse-strings note: The born-again Charger is a cultural icon being released this summer in conjunction with the movie remake of the TV series "The Dukes of Hazzard." Some dealers will seek premiums.
Disclosure: My nephew, Tobi Gadison Brown, plays the "Younger Cop" in the movie. Talk about change! I guess the new Hazzard County, the fictional home of cousins Bo and Luke Duke, has an affirmative action program.