By Patrick Rall
The 8-speed automatic transmission at work in the Dodge
Charger and the upcoming 2013 Ram 1500 when mated with the Pentastar V6 engine
have helped to make these vehicles (and a collection of other Chrysler Group
models) the most efficient models in their class but later this year, a
collection of Dodge models powered by the 5.7L Hemi will also benefit from this
8-speed automatic transmission. The
addition of the 8-speed automatic transmission to the Dodge Charger R/T and the
Ram 1500 with the Hemi will both improve the acceleration of these V8-powered
models while also improving the already impressive fuel economy measures.
The 8-speed automatic transmission is expected to be available
with a large collection of Chrysler Group vehicles powered by the 5.7L Hemi V8
including the Dodge Charger, the Dodge Durango, the Ram 1500, the Chrysler 300C
and the Jeep Grand Cherokee. The only
Hemi-powered model in the company lineup that will not receive the 8-speed
transmission in the immediate future is the Challenger, which will likely
receive this new gearbox when the next generation of the brawny Mopar muscle
car arrives in the next 18 to 24 months.
The new 8-speed transmission will be a welcome addition to
the likes of the Dodge Charger R/T along with the Hemi-powered Durango and Ram
1500 models for a variety of reasons.
First off, the fact that this transmission has a 7th and 8th
gear designed to keep engine RPMs low allows for more aggressive gearing in the
lower gears which leads to stronger acceleration. Also, having 8 gears allows the engineers to
have each gear be closer numerically to the previous and the next and this
reduces shift times while also improving the ride quality thanks to the
smoother, less noticeable shifts under gentle driving conditions. Finally, the efficient gearing of 8th
gear should allow all of these Hemi powered vehicles to be the most efficient
V8-powered models in their respective class in terms of highway mileage.
According to an insider at Allpar, the 8-speed automatic
transmission will become available for dealerships to order as soon as February
but those rumors also suggest that production will not begin until later in the
year – with the first deliveries of 8-speed Hemi models arriving in the early
summer of 2013. Considering the timing
of the launch of these 8-speed transmission models (and the fact that 2013
models are already on sale), I would expect these models with the new
transmission to be labeled as 2014 model year vehicles.
There has been no indication as to what kind of price
increase will accompany the new 8-speed transmission but considering that this
new gearbox will afford the vehicle in question better acceleration AND better
fuel economy – this is a feature that will be worth paying for when it arrives.
Image courtesy of CG Media