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The 7th Generation “LD” series of Dodge Chargers, introduced for 2011, have become a popular starting point for project cars. Packed full of Gen III Hemi in a body with plenty of swoop and swagger from the classic 1968-’70 Charger, these four-door fun machines are tailor-made for good old-fashioned V8-type tomfoolery. At the same time, late-model Chargers can be solid enough to use as daily drivers, making them a great way to have a lot of fun without having to justify a third car that spends most of its time parked.
There are loads of used Chargers of this generation still on the road. They’re common enough and old enough to now be priced relatively affordably, too. Of course, we’re not talking about wickedly exclusive Chargers like Hellcat, Demon, and Scat Pack — those will probably always command hefty money on the used market. Instead, we’re looking at the more basic iterations.
The 5.7L Hemi V8 in Charger R/Ts from this era put out 370hp. While that doesn't rival the brutal fury of Hellcats and other top-line Chargers, it's enough for plenty of fun, especially when fortified with a few simple aftermarket pieces that boost power and enhance the driving experience.
Your best bet is to find a solid, Hemi powered Charger – the R/T version – and buy it relatively cheap, leaving enough money left over to improve its looks and performance with some tasty aftermarket goodies. If you buy wisely, you can get a strong-running, reliable driver and still have enough extra cash on hand to personalize your new ride and make it perform better.
We’ve got a terrific set of upgrades in mind for these cars. We selected them carefully to give you the maximum bang for your buck. They’re simple to install with basic hand tools, and they’ll change the look, feel, and performance of your car without breaking the bank or requiring massive time commitment.
They’re perfect for a fun weekend makeover on your Charger. Gather some buddies, stock the fridge with cold ones and knock these upgrades out in a power-packed weekend session. You’ll pull your Charger into the garage on Saturday morning and hit the streets Sunday afternoon with a badder, bolder kind of beast.
But even if you can’t spare the time or money to do all these upgrades at once, you can just as easily pick and choose the ones you like best and add them when you can. So, without further delay, let’s dig into Weekend Update: Dodge Charger.
NOTE: Some components listed here don't fit all model years of Charger. Check carefully to make sure the parts you order will work on your specific car.
The Charger's basic platform is shared with the Dodge Challenger, making it an appealing market for aftermarket development – there are a lot of parts available for Chargers, no matter how mild or wild you want to go with yours.
The stock Charger R/T’s 5.7L Hemi isn’t the fire-breathing monster of Hellcats and other blazing-hot flavors of Charger. But, the R/T’s 370-hp output isn’t weak either. And there are some easy ways to add punch to this mill quickly and affordably.
To begin with, it’s hard to beat the easy power increase you can get from an aftermarket air intake. This proven mod can give you up to 20 hp more from your Hemi. Flowmaster's Delta Force air intake system is a great setup that can make a real difference in seat-of-the-pants power. It’s built from high-quality components, installs quickly, and it looks cooler than the stock intake system.
An aftermarket intake system like the Flowmaster Delta Force, shown here, installs easily and can add noticeable power. It also looks a lot cooler than the stock unit's bulky plastic ducting and clunky airbox.
And, of course, getting more air into the engine doesn’t do much good if you don’t keep things flowing out the other side too. For that, a performance exhaust system is a great addition that brings significant power without a lot of hassle. At the same time, exhaust improvements like these also add a whole lot of audio mojo to your Charger – the boost in sound quality alone is worth the investment.
Flowmaster has mufflers and cat-back exhaust systems for your Charger, ranging from subtle and mellow to wild and wicked. These exhaust systems are just the right accessory to liven up the personality of your Charger and let the world know this isn’t an ordinary machine. You can choose from a variety of different sounds and power levels, to suit your taste.
Flowmaster's line of mufflers and exhaust systems allow you to choose the exact tone and volume you want your Charger to emit, with corresponding power gains. The company extensively dyno tests all of its components to achieve maximum output in their intended applications.
Once you’ve got these components in place, you can bring it all together with a high-performance electronic tuning device. One of the best is the DiabloSport Trinity 2 EX Platinum for 2003-2014 Chargers. This multi-purpose unit gives you a choice of different tunes for more power, better throttle response, and all-around improved drivability. And to complement your unique particular combination of aftermarket parts, the Trinity 2 EX Platinum allows you to build tunes for your specific ride by using the built-in data logging features. You can also load custom tunes from authorized service providers.
The DiabloSport Trinity 2 EX Platinum is a multi-purpose tuning device that allows you to choose between pre-configured tunes, customize your own tunes, or load them from authorized service providers. It's an easy way to add significant power to your Charger.
Now that you’ve got the engine taken care of, how about taking care of yourself? And by that we mean adding some cool factor to the interior. This is an aspect of vehicle projects that too many car owners overlook. And that’s a shame – it’s the part of the car that you experience the most, day in and day out. Any improvements you make here bring outsized gains in the enjoyment you get from driving.
Chargers never came with swanky, high-end interiors. They’re built to be affordable, and that’s okay. But even so, putting your hands on the chintzy, plasticky stock steering wheel doesn’t exactly conjure the fiery-eyed racer that lurks deep in your soul.
Fortunately, great aftermarket steering wheels are available in a wide range of styles and materials to suit almost any taste. We especially love the wheels offered by Drake Muscle Cars, for 2015-2022 Chargers. Wrapped in grippy suede and leather, these pieces feel like high-end supercar controls and they’re shaped to conform to your hands like a precision tool. They give you the comfort, control, and satisfying tactile experience you and your Charger deserve.
An aftermarket steering wheel can dramatically improve the driving experience – it is, after all, the part of the car your hands are always touching. Drake Muscle Cars offers several different steering wheels for Chargers, featuring ergonomic designs and high-quality tactile materials.
Next, let’s turn our attention to the shifter. Every inch of the Charger screams classic Mopar. So give yours the ultimate Mopar detail – the iconic pistol-grip shift handle. It’s one of the all-time legendary muscle car design details, and now you can add it to your Charger with the Hurst pistol-grip shifter for 2015-2023 Chargers. It’s easy to install, it feels great, and it has the perfect vintage-muscle vibe you’re after. And while you’re at it, get the optional rosewood grips to really complete the classic vibe.
All Mopars need the iconic pistol-grip shifter. This unit from Hurst is an easy replacement for the stock handle, and it brings classic muscle car style to your Charger. It's even cooler with the optional Rosewood handles.
Okay, now that your Charger is quicker, sounds better, and is much more pleasing from inside the cabin, it’s time to get the exterior into shape. You don’t need to do much – the Charger sheet metal looks best left clean, simple, and classic. For a quick and easy makeover like this, wheels and tires are the best place to put your money.
There is, of course, an almost unlimited range of options for wheels. And, depending on what version of the Charger you have, it may already be riding on some decent ones. But for the most part, Dodge reserved the really cool rolling stock for pricey top-line Chargers like Hellcat, Scat Pack, and others. Your basic R/T Charger we’re focusing on here often ended up with chunky, somewhat bland five-spoke wheels.
We really like Halibrand’s split-spoke wheels for Chargers. They have the look of factory Hellcat wheels, but they’re available in four finishes to complement your car and your particular taste – gloss silver, or semi-gloss black, bronze, or carbon gray.
Halibrand's split-spoke wheels for Dodge Charger are available in four finishes and they're a simple way to give your car the visual punch you want. Best of all, they're a practically foolproof upgrade – the company has engineered them to fit without rubbing when used with recommended tire sizes.
These wheels are engineered to fit modern Mopars, and Halibrand has eliminated the possibility of tire rubbing if you stick with the tire sizes they recommend. In addition, the hub-centric mounting of these wheels ensures that they’re optimally centered on the hub instead of relying only on the wheel studs and lug nuts for support.
Combined with the rest of these terrific upgrades, your Charger can get the power and visual impact you want, while giving you the satisfaction of knowing you built it your own way, in your own garage. Best of all, none of these mods compromise the car’s ability to serve as your daily driver, meaning you can get in on the action without having to take on another vehicle if you don’t want to.
And you can do it all in a weekend. So what are you waiting for?