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Dodge has done a masterful job with their propaganda on their new Hemi-engined cars and trucks – “Yeah, it’s got a Hemi," will go down in the annals of Auto Marketing 101. Is there a more powerful, mystical, and iconic word in the automotive vocabulary than “Hemi”? I doubt it – even non-car people know that Hemi means power, and the modern Charger Hemi V-8 delivers 340HP/390-lb-ft of right-foot entertainment. It’s incredible that we even have such iron still on the road. Right behind Hemi in recognition value for a car model is the venerable Dodge Charger. Chrysler can thank Richard Petty for that.

Selling new Dodge Hemi Chargers should be about as simple as just telling salivating customers where to sign and how much the payment is. But what about all the bread and butter Dodge Chargers most of the rest of us will buy? How good is the regular-Joe Charger with its rear-wheel drive (yes!), 3.5L SOHC V-6 engine, electronic suspension controls, and 250HP/250 lb-ft of power and torque? I had a chance to find out when I made a banzai round trip Interstate run from Kannapolis, NC (just N of Charlotte) to St. Louis, MO to attend the NHRA national event there earlier this year for our sister magazine, Drag Racing Online.

My local Enterprise rental car outlet rented me a refrigerator-white, black interior Charger SE, and various fast-food joints and truck stops supplied the caffeine-laced beverages for this no-rest-for-those-on-deadline trip. I drove straight through going and coming – about 1,000 miles each way.