The fuel economy race is on in earnest and family car buyers considering products offering increased mileage have two more reasons to look at domestic automaker Chrysler: the 2012 Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger.
Why? They’re the two models Chrysler is fitting first with its new ZF eight-speed transmission. And Chrysler is the first domestic automaker to introduce an eight-speed transmission in its products. That’s usually been the purview of luxury models from Audi BMW and Lexus.
2012 Dodge Charger SRT8Enlarge Photo
The key reason behind the switch is fuel economy, and the numbers are quite dramatic. Fitted with the new eight-speed, the 2012 Chrysler 300 base rear-wheel-drive model, mated with the Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6 engine, gets 31 mpg on the highway cycle, and 19 mpg city. That’s up from the 27 mpg highway and 18 mpg city in 2011 models.
The ZF-designed transmission will be built right here in the U.S., in Indiana, beginning next year. It will be offered on rear-wheel and all-wheel-drive 2012 Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger models and initially only with the Pentastar 3.6-liter V-6.
2012 Chrysler 300 SRT8Enlarge Photo
But while the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger are the first to receive the eight-speed transmissions, they won’t be the last. Chrysler says it plans to spread the new eight-speeds to other models. The Jeep Grand Cherokee and Dodge Durango could be among the next beneficiaries, as our sister publication GreenCarReports muses.
Looking a little farther out, Chrysler will be debut a new nine-speed automatic transmission on its next generation of mid-size cars. That marks a world’s first on a production car.
According to reports, General Motors and Ford are also hard at work developing their own eight-speed automatic transmissions.