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Consumer Reports

Legendary Charger to be revived | (KRT) DETROIT — DaimlerChrysler AG plans to build a rear-wheel drive sedan that will revive one of the most storied names in Dodge's history: the Charger.

Chrysler officials would not comment on product plans, but people close to the program said the four-door sedan will be built beginning in late 2005 or early 2006.

Dealers have been lobbying the Chrysler Group to get another sedan from the company's new LX family of full-size cars.

The Charger was one of the most powerful and best-known of the 1960s muscle cars, and racing icon Richard Petty drove a Dodge Charger to many wins in the NASCAR Winston Cup racing series.

The Charger sedan would almost certainly be offered with the company's powerful Hemi V8 engine in addition to two smaller V6s.

Dealers will start selling the LX-based Dodge Magnum station wagon next month, but many are convinced they also need sedans to draw customers.

The Magnum has a base price of $22,495, and it's reasonable to expect prices for the Charger sedan to start around the same place, making it a larger and more powerful competitor for cars ranging from the Chevrolet Malibu to the Toyota Camry.

The addition of a Charger sedan with visibly different bodywork and styling from the Chrysler 300 fits well with Chrysler Group Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche's plan for the company to offer more different cars and trucks at minimal additional cost.

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The Charger name is one of the most storied in Dodge's history, although previous models were two-door coupes rather than four-door sedans.

Dodge rode the Charger's high-performance coattails to some of the best sales years in the brand's history from the late `60s to mid-`70s, coining the term "the Dodge boys" to refer to both its dealers and its most passionate owners.

The Charger sedan should also help Chrysler compete for profitable sales to police departments and taxi companies. The LX cars' large interior, powerful engines and rear-wheel-drive layout should make them appealing to those customers.

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© 2004, Detroit Free Press Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Information Services