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Old 09-03-2011, 09:29 AM   #1
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Default Chrysler’s Eight-Speed Transmission to be Standard on Most V-6 300 and Charger Models

Later this month, six-cylinder Dodge Chargers and Chrysler 300s will begin arriving at dealers with eight-speed automatic transmissions. Until now, the Charger and 300 used an older Mercedes-Benz-designed five-speed autobox—and it performed well enough in our evaluations—but like all automakers, Chrysler has to pursue better fuel economy, as well as better acceleration and more bragging rights.
Equipped with the new transmission, the six-cylinder, 292-hp Charger and 300 are now rated at 31 mpg highway—up from 27 for the five-speed cars last year. City fuel economy is up one mpg to 19. The gearboxes are sourced from transmission-specialist ZF, and are essentially the same units used in a multitude of Audi and BMW models. While the first batches will be manufactured by ZF, Chrysler will soon begin building the transmissions under license in its own factory in Indiana.
Since Chrysler is still buying off-the-shelf units from ZF, though, that means they’re expensive. As such, entry-level Chargers and 300Cs will still come with the older five-cog transmission; on those cars, upgrading to the eight-speed is a $1000 option. The cheapest eight-speed Charger will run $27,320, and the price of entry for a 300 with the octobox is $28,995. For V-6 models in higher trim levels, including the all-wheel-drive cars, the eight-speed auto is standard.
Once Chrysler is building the eight-speed transmission in its own factory, the five-speed will probably be killed off. We figure that around the same time, the V-8 versions of the Charger and 300 will also get the new transmission. Lest you think eight forward ratios is just excessive, Chrysler is prepared to outdo itself (and all the other eight-speed-transmission-toting automakers); the company is currently working with ZF on a nine-speed automatic for use in its front-wheel-drive models.
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