2012 Chrysler 300
2012 Chrysler 300. Click image to enlarge

Manufacturer’s web site
Chrysler Canada

Article and photos by Grant Yoxon

Chelsea, Michigan – Beginning this Fall with the 2012 model year, Chrysler 300s and Dodge Chargers equipped with the 3.6-litre Pentastar VVT V6 engine, will also come with a new eight-speed automatic transmission, the first eight-speed automatic available in a domestically-produced vehicle.

The Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger are built in Brampton, Ontario.

The new 845RE transmission is manufactured by German transmission specialist ZF and is similar to eight-speed transmissions developed by ZF for a variety of Audi, BMW, Bentley, Range Rover and Rolls Royce models. The transmission will be supplied initially by ZF, but in the future, Chrysler will build the transmission itself in its Kokomo, Indiana transmission plant.

Once domestic production of the transmission is underway, it is expected that the 845RE will replace the current five-speed transmission in most applications, including V8s. The current five-speed is an older Mercedes-Benz designed transmission.

2012 Chrysler 300
2012 Chrysler 300. Click image to enlarge

Why eight speeds? Fuel economy is the primary reason. With the 845RE, highway fuel consumption for both the Chrysler 300 and Dodge Charger with rear-wheel drive improves from 7.3 L/100 km to 6.4 L/100 km, a 16 per cent improvement.

Energuide rates the two for city driving at 10.9 litres per 100 km – an increase of eight per cent in fuel economy over the five-speed automatic. With eight speeds, driving at a lower rpm in both city and highway environments also effectively helps reduce emissions by nearly 11 per cent on both vehicles.

The 845RE is also available with all-wheel drive models. Energuide ratings for the AWD models are not yet available, but will certainly be better than the outgoing 2011 models.

The 845RE is a fully electronic transmission with software that provides optimal “adaptive” shifting characteristics. Adaptive shifting takes into account a number of variables including engine torque gradients, kick down, longitudinal and lateral acceleration, hill detection, friction detection and downshift detection in determining shift patterns. Additional parameters include vehicle speed control, electronic stability control activation and high temperatures that can affect transmission shifting.

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