Why do muscle cars like dodge chargers so difficult to control at low speed?

So I test drove a variant on the dodge charger. Technically this was a trim with 400 or so horsepower, SRT 392 or something with various upgrades. Think these were around 50k loaded

Anyways, I noticed that the throttle response was…not very controllable. Either you creep forward at idle speed or you move the gas a millimeter and the thing surges forward. There seems to be some kind of huge lag between your pedal movements and the car surging forwards.

Similarly it felt difficult to control in traffic, either producing absurd power or none. I found at high speeds it started to smooth out.

Not only did this feel kind of dangerous, but I wondered what’s happening inside. This enormous engine - is it the way they did the throttle mapping? Is there just a half second or so of mechanical lag between the engine beginning to speed up to the new throttle setting and delivering power to the wheels through the automatic transmission?

Did Dodge map the throttle where the first millimeter jumps from idle power to 40% power to make the car feel even more powerful than it actually is?

Have these things always been impractical and dangerous to drive? I know over the last few decades, horsepower values have been greatly increased. The equivalent muscle car from 1995 or 1985 wasn’t 400+ horsepower, was it?

what are you accustomed to driving? if you’re used to a much slower car, then it’s most likely that you’re stepping on the accelerator pedal a lot more than you think you are. no car has a throttle mapping as twitchy as you describe. I’ve driven the SRT Chargers and 300s and they’re perfectly docile at low speeds.

edit: it’s the same with motorcycles; when I got a new bike with a fast revving 100+ horsepower engine (FZ-09) it took me a while to adjust to that bike. I was used to needing a lot more twist on a 250 and a Harley to get moving.

Its a heavy torquey car, what are you comparing this car’s poor handling against? It could be the drive by wire vs drive by cable (digital vs analogue) throttle response. With big bored out motors the stroke is going to put out a lot of power regardless. Thats why most sports cars dont make good daily drivers, either the engine or the tune. Lastly there should have been a bunch of different driving modes, are you certain it wasnt on sport mode?

In the 80s with govt restrictions most cars put out anemic HP values, lucky to reach 200HP. For reference a 2018 top trim Camry puts out 301HP.

Pretty much this. If you look at some muscle-y domestic cars from the mid 1980s:

Ford Mustang SVO (1984-1986): 175 to 205 HP, depending on the year.

Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z(1985): 215 HP

Chevrolet Corvette (C4, premiered in 1984): 250 HP

Note that none of those are four-door sedans, like the Charger; there probably wasn’t really an analogue to the “big muscle car” in the 1980s.

Also note that today’s cars are considerably heavier than their 30-year-old analogues, due at least in part to the weight of safety equipment like airbag systems. Curb weight on that 1985 Mustang SVO was 3000 pounds; curb weight on a 2018 Mustang GT is 3705 pounds. So, yes, more HP, but also more weight to move.

I assume that car has a turbo charger. Could it be that you aren’t used to that. I just got a new 2018 Civic (Si). The entire line up of Civics have turbo chargers. I’ve never driven a car with one before. I’ve only got 3 or 400 miles on this car and I’m still not quite used to it accelerating like normal for the first 75 feet or so and then taking off as the turbo kicks in. It’s something I really have to pay attention to.

No, that car is not turbocharged. Just a big torquey motor. As other alluded to:

  1. Throttle tip-in is aggressive compared to current car.
  2. Current car is much less responsive compared the muscle car.
  3. Sport mode activated which livens throttle response, hold lower gears longer, stiffens suspension giving impression of “twitchyness.”
  4. Some of those “bugs/problems” are features to other real/potential owners.

It wouldnt be a turbo since he is talking about idle and breaking interia speeds. Turbos and low rpm’s dont get along they are a high rpm tool. Since the turbine needs a pretty good flow of exhaust to make its affect known. Like you aluded to it takes you 75’ to feel the turbo surge. Its a shame thats what Vtec has been reduced to, a subaru-esque finicky turbo engine.

I used to drive a 392 srt challenger. I went from driving a pickup when i bought it. It took about a week to get used to how to make it drive normal. In the end the answer is you’re just giving it more throttle than you think just a little bit of motion between doing 60 and doing 90 and even less between 10 and 40. I don’t think I ever floored that car in the 5 years i owned it.

We’ve owned 2 Chargers and 3 Challengers, all with the 375 HP/5.7 Liter engines except for my current Challenger SRT with the 485 HP/6.4 Liter engine. We’ve never experienced any of the above.

Similarly, and with all five of our Chargers and Challengers, never had my foot to the floor. Especially with the SRT, there’s very few places to safely get into,it. ������ Horsepower and guns…you’ll always have more than you need, but less than you want.