chrysler-8speed-transmissio.jpgby Patrick Rall

    The 2011 Dodge Charger has made a name for itself with its new 3.6L V6 offering more power and better fuel economy than the previous entry-level 3.5L V6, but when the 2012 Dodge Charger hits the market, it will also be available with a new 8-speed automatic transmission to improve fuel economy even further. 

    This will start off as an optional transmission choice strictly for the
    3.6L Pentastar V6 that comes with a $1,000 upcharge, but in addition to
    the 8-speed automatic transmission, those who opt for this new gearbox
    will also get 31 miles per gallon – and an awesome set of paddle
    shifters that work in conjunction with Chrysler’s unique electronic
    console shifter.

    The new ZF-built 8-speed automatic transmission coming to the 2012 Dodge
    improves the fuel economy by 15% – up to 31 miles per gallon on
    the highway – without the loss of acceleration
    expected from such a fuel-friendly transmission.  The key lies in the
    gearing of the new transmission with the first 6 gears set up to offer
    great low-end acceleration, offering the V6-powered Charger to dash from
    0-60 in just 7.2 seconds.  However, once you get into the overdrive 7th
    and 8th gears, the engine RPMs plummet to send the fuel economy ratings
    over the 30mpg mark…in a 4200+ pound sedan. 

    Also, thanks to the
    increased number of gears, there are less dramatic changes from gear to
    gear, so unlike the standard 5-speed automatic transmission which has
    large drops in engine RPM between shifts, the close ratio of the new ZF
    8-speed allows for quicker, more positive shifts.

    2012-charger-rt.jpgThe other advantage of the new Chrysler 8-speed automatic transmission
    in the 2012 Dodge Charger is the innovative new shifter setup.  The
    Charger with the new 8-speed (and 2012 Chrysler 300 with the V6
    transmission and 8-speed) is controlled by a shift-by-wire shifting
    system that strongly resembles the Chrysler “slap stick” shifters of the
    1970s.  Rather than the shifter moving from gear to gear in the typical
    PRNDL pattern, the new 8-speed pops through gears as the driver moves
    the shifter up or down – but the shifter always returns to the middle
    rather than staying next to the selected gear.  At the same time, the
    chosen gear (P, R, N, D/S) appears on the shift indicator in the gauge
    cluster.  P, R and N are typical in style to traditional transmissions
    but the D/S is where the steering wheel mounted shift paddles come into
    play.  D/S allow you to select between Drive mode, which provides
    smooth, almost unnoticeable shifts under normal driving circumstances
    and Sport mode, which allows the driver to control the shifts via the
    paddle shifters while the transmission adjust to provide harder,
    sportier shifts.

    I have had the pleasure of driving the 2012 Dodge Charger Blacktop which
    was powered by the 292hp Pentastar V6 fitted to the new 8-speed
    automatic transmission and it is a great system.  In “D”, the shifts are
    so smooth that you don’t realize that it is shifting through 8 gears,
    and in Sport mode, the paddle shifters are among the best I have
    experienced – which is why these same shifters appear in all of the
    automatic equipped 2012 SRT8 models.

    What do you think? We’ve heard about all the advantages of the new 8-speed transmission, are there any disadvantages? Voice your opinion here!