It’s the heavyweight battle between two of America’s most powerful sport sedans — the Dodge Charger SRT 392 and Chevrolet SS. If you’re reading this article, the appeal of a sports car may be starting to wane. Or perhaps your growing family isn’t willing to hoist themselves into that excuse of a backseat in your cramped Challenger or Camaro. Don’t fret, as you won’t have to relinquish your need for speed anytime soon.
With the Chevy SS or Charger SRT, you can skip telling your grandchildren the tragic story of selling your prized pony car for a mundane sedan. But you have to make an informed decision. Which is the better performer? Which is the better value? All will be revealed in a classic sedan showdown. You pick the winner.
The refreshed front and rear fascia on the Charger certainly gives the SRT a more modern look without compromising its muscular styling. Its edgy front fenders were smoothed, and new attractive HID headlights with unmistakable signature LED daytime running lights flow seamlessly into the design of the grille. The changes certainly make the Charger look more upscale. The front bumper’s integrated splitter and a fear-inducing hood scoop further accentuate the muscular curves of the SRT.
The subdued Chevy SS features less aggressive styling with more of a luxury-appointed feel. Bright chrome trim outlines the grille, fog lamps, fender vents, windows and door handles. While it may add a touch of class, it’s far less sporty than the blacked-out trim on the Charger SRT. Simply put, the styling of the SS is too tame for a car that is being marketed as a sexy sport sedan. Even six years later, the Pontiac G8 GXP is a far more attractive car.
The performance comparison would inevitably be an easy win for Chevrolet had it chosen to fit the 2015 SS with its new 455 horsepower 6.2-liter LT1 V8 engine found in the sixth-generation Camaro. But instead, Chevrolet continued with the tired 6.2-liter LS3 V8 that made its debut seven years ago in the 2008 Corvette.
Even with the LS3, the SS is no slouch with 415 horsepower and 415 pound-feet of torque. Unlike the SRT Charger, the SS is available with a six-speed manual transmission at no extra cost. According to Motor Trend, the speedometer registers 60 miles per hour in only 4.5 seconds, and the quarter-mile whirls by in 12.9 seconds at 110.8 miles per hour.
The Charger SRT features a 392 cubic-inch Hemi engine with a herculean 485 horsepower and 475 pound-feet at your disposal. Despite it’s substantial power advantage, Dodge’s mid four-second zero to 60 estimate and mid 12-second quarter mile pass isn’t that far off from the SS. That’s likely due to SRT’s 4,365 pound curb weight — a meaty 390 pounds heavier than its Chevrolet competitor.
While both cars technically compete in the midsize segment, their length is much closer to a full-size sedan. But once you get behind the wheel, you’ll believe you’re driving a sports car until you catch a glimpse of the car seat behind you.
Of the two, the SS is certainly the more nimble handler with a magnetic ride control suspension that enables the SS to feel extremely athletic and lithe despite its near two-ton weight. The system uses electromagnetic coils that adjust damper fluid consistency to provide precise handling without compromising a smooth ride. It’s also completely customizable — allowing the driver to toggle between tour, sport and performance modes depending on your mood.
Like the SS, the Charger SRT features an adaptive dampening system of its own. Developed in counterpart with Bilstein, the SRT’s suspension was designed to accommodate different driving preferences with selectable street, sport and track driving modes. Steering feel is incorporated as well, with maximum feedback given in the SRT’s most aggressive track mode.
The Charger SRT is available with an optional technology group package for an additional $1,500. It features adaptive cruise control, advanced brake assist, and a full speed forward collision warning system that automatically applies maximum pressure to the SRT’s epic six-piston Brembo front brakes if the driver is not responding. Lane departure warning, rain-sensing wipers, automatic high beam headlamp control, and blind spot and rear cross path detection are also included.
The Chevy SS arguably has the coolest tech feature with an automatic park assist system that enables hands-free parallel parking. If you live in a city, this will quickly become invaluable. Not to mention, with a $795 replacement cost per wheel, it would also give you peace of mind if you’re worried about getting too close to the curb.
The nine-speaker Bose system in the SS doesn’t have the fortitude of the optional 19-speaker Harmon Kardon setup in the Charger, but the latter will set you back nearly $2,000. A heads-up display projects speed and navigation directions on the windshield of the SS, which also comes equipped with a built-in Onstar 4G LTE Wifi hotspot. This is vastly superior to Dodge’s Uconnect system in the Charger that only has 3G data coverage and a much slower network speed. Rear cross traffic alert, lane departure warning, side blind zone alert and forward collision alert complete the impressive list of technology equipment in the SS.
While it’s easy to be swayed by the Chevy’s tech-driven automatic park assist and 4G LTE Wifi, the Dodge offers more safety features with its adaptive cruise control and advanced brake assist that aren’t available on the SS. It’s certainly a toss up.
The Chevy SS has a starting MSRP price of $46,575 for 2016, while the Charger SRT comes in higher at $50,995. While there’s only a $4,420 difference between the two competitors, a fully optioned SRT climbs higher with the technology group package, Harmon Kardon audio system and Laguna performance leather seats. A power sunroof and 275/40/ZR20 Pirelli P Zero summer tires round out the expensive option list. At that price, why not splurge for a Hellcat that starts at $63,995 for an extra 222 horsepower?
Meanwhile, if you check all the boxes when ordering an SS, you’ll quickly find that it comes equipped with most features standard. The only option is a $900 power sunroof, unless you want a full size spare tire and wheel for an extra $500. If you opt for the automatic, you’ll have to pay a $1,300 gas guzzler tax.
If you play your cards right, this could be used as a great bargaining chip if you’re trying to convince your wife a stick-shift is the way to go. So for only $46,575 with similar SRT premium options already included, a fully equipped six-speed manual SS definitely appears to be the better value.