Chrysler Technological Gadgetry, 2009-2017

Upcoming technologiesAlternative fuels • Chrysler firsts • UConnect • Stop/Start • EVIC • Digital gauges

2016 Technologies

FCA announced it would expand “sensor fusion” technology to all its US-sale vehicles. This setup, which uses both radar and cameras to increase the accuracy of collision detection-and-avoidance (including automatic braking), was already used on the 2015 Durango, Cherokee, Grand Cherokee, 500X, 200, 300, and Charger, and was announced for the 2017 Pacifica.

braking

When a potential impact is sensed, the system pre-fills the brakes and alerts the driver; if there is no response, it taps the brake as another, more tactile alert. If that fails, the car hits the brakes, and can stop the car if it’s going below 25 mph — or reduce the severity of the collision if it’s going faster.

Camera-based and radar-based automatic braking systems were been demonstrated over ten years ago by General Motors, but only recently became generally available, starting in luxury cars and working down; sensor-fusion systems remain rare (in 2016).

2014 Technologies

LaneSense™ Lane Departure Warning Plus uses a camera to detect and measure a car’s position, watching for a drifts to the edge of the lane without the turn signal on. The system alerts the driver with a visual warning and feedback through the steering wheel. System sensitivity is driver-adjustable, and it can be shut off entirely, for those who think turn signals are too complicated.

terrain select

Adaptive Cruise Control (aCC) With Stop and Go uses radar and video sensors to maintain one of four preset distances between vehicles; it operates the throttle and can apply up to 25% of the car’s braking power to maintain the distance. The “Stop and Go” system can even bring the vehicle to a complete stop in low-speed conditions, such as heavy traffic; the driver can then restart driving by tapping the accelerator or by pressing the “resume” button.

active parkingPark-Sense Active and Front/Rear Park Assist uses ultrasonic sensors to scan parallel parking spaces once the turn signal is turned on. When an appropriate space has been found, the driver is alerted. Once parking starts, the driver controls speed and shifting, and the system controls the steering. If a collision is imminent, the system will hit and release the brakes as a signal.

This system uses the same sensors to help drivers back into a standard parking space. Once parking commences, the driver needs only modulate the brake, accelerator and transmission shifter. The Cherokee will control the steering angle automatically and guide the vehicle into the space. Using its ultrasonic sensors, if it is determined that a collision is imminent, the system will inform the driver by providing a momentary application and release of the brakes.

2011-2013

climate and stereo

New features for Chrysler cars in 2011-2012 included SD card slots in the dashboard on several models; these allowed customers to load up inexpensive memory cards with music, and have it recognized by the system, organized by artist and album, and, in essence, provide an experience similar to connecting an iPod. The system recognized iTunes Store songs (AAC) and MP3s, but not Apple’s own lossless compression.

Forward Collision Warning Plus uses radar and video sensors to see when the car is approaching an obstacle too rapidly, and warns the driver with audible and visual alerts; it prepares the brakes for emergency braking. If action isn’t taken, the system further alerts the driver with a quick burst of braking power. If action is still not taken, additional braking power can be applied to help the driver avoid or mitigate the incident.

navigation system

The Garmin navigation system, rated highest in satisfaction among factory systems by J.D. Power in 2011, started up with choices of Where To? and View Map. Lane Assist shows the proper exit lane in complex interchanges; Junction View shows realistic 3D road signs and junctions while marking the correct lane; screens are 6.5 or 8.4 inches. The system is dramatically faster than past systems. Also see UConnect Access via Mobile.

Configurable gauges debuted in Dodge Dart and are spreading throughout Chrysler’s lineup.

Adaptive cruise control, which used front sensors to figure out how far the next car in front was, were added to some cars; adding that sensor also enabled the forward collision warning feature. All these features are part of our 2011 Chrysler 300C review.

Also see the Fiat Dual-Clutch Automatic at dart-mouth.com.

Electric steering: According to “CDJR Tech,” the steering system is just a 12 volt electric motor that moves in the direction that the steering sensor on the rack says it’s going. It communicates on the bus to other modules, such as the antilock brakes, for stability control and such. The steering sensor is hard wired to the motor; the motor has two connectors, one for power and ground, and one for bus communication. It has to be serviced as a single unit.

Invisible fuel shutoff

Chrysler’s Interactive Decel Fuel Shut-Off (iDFSO) system cuts fuel to the engine while decelerating, increasing the amount of fuel shutoff with certain engine speeds. This system increases city and highway gas mileage, and lights a Fuel Saver indicator light when active. The system was phased in, with 2009 model-year launches on:

  • Caliber, Compass, and Patriot Limited;
  • Wrangler (with manual transmission only)
  • Charger and 300 (5-speed automatic)
  • Challenger (manual and 5-speed automatic)
  • Nitro 4x4 (4.0 automatic)

For 2010, the system was added to:

  • 4.0 liter minivans
  • Grand Cherokee V6
  • Nitro, Wrangler, Liberty, Dakota, and Ram 1500 with automatic

The fuel saver indicator light was added to the minivans, LX cars, Journey, Nitro 4x4, all Jeep 4x4s (except Patriot/Compass), and Ram 1500, with select engines, for the 2010 model year. It advised people when they have reached the economy target zone and fuel-saver mode target range.

Blind spot monitoring and Rear Cross Path

rear cross path detectionRear cross path detection and blind-spot detection, both of which can be shut off, alert the driver to potential hazards with yellow lights in the mirrors and audible alerts.

While you can twist and turn to see around the blind spots, notably the big rear pillar, these systems can be very convenient ways to stop a collision. We tested these out in a busy parking lot, and they are surprisingly sensitive, able to spot cars before the driver does. The blind-spot detection works all the time, activating a yellow light in the mirror when a car is there, but it only sounds when you put on your turn signal (or not at all, if you set it that way). Rear cross path detection is activated when you shift into reverse.

Rear Cross Path (RCP) was a Chrysler exclusive when launched, developed in-house. Activated in Reverse, it warns drivers who are backing out of parking spaces of traffic moving toward their vehicle, and seems to work in our limited experience with bicyclists as well. Alerts include an icon on the side view mirror and a chime.

Hemi Hybrid and other engine updates

A minor but pleasant update was the cap-free fuel door.

fuel door

For the 2009 model year, Chrysler debuted the more fuel efficient, powerful version of its 5.7-liter V-8 engine. The new HEMI® Hybrid delivered an overall fuel economy improvement of more than 25% (40% on city cycle). The two-mode setup was a full hybrid system with regenerative braking and electric-drive capability. Using two electric motors and four fixed gears, the system works with Chrysler’s Multi-displacement System (MDS) technology by enabling the 5.7-liter HEMI® V-8 to operate in four-cylinder mode more often through electric-assist. The system was a joint venture driven primarily by General Motors, with involvement from BMW and Chrysler, and used a combined transmission/motor.

two mode hybrid transmission

The 4.7 V8 got new heads with many Hemi characteristics. The 6.7-liter Cummins turbodiesel engine got a a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF), so that Dodge was the only manufacturer to meet stringent 2010 emissions standards in 2009. The engine was more powerful, cleaner, and 50% quieter than the 5.9-liter version it replaced.

A wide-range automatic six-speed gear train available on Ram heavy duty trucks provided up to 40% greater launch capability in first gear and 10% lower engine speed in sixth gear than the four-speed transmission. This reduces highway fuel consumption and reduced overall noise levels (available only with the new 6.7-liter diesel).

Active transfer case and Front Axle Disconnect (300 and Charger)

These independent technologies are not offered together by any other manufacturer. The system seamlessly transitions between RWD and AWD with no driver intervention by disconnecting the front wheels from the drivetrain to reduce friction and rotational inertia. The system provides optimal traction, performance, safety and a fuel economy improvement of one mpg (combined city/highway).

Quick review: AutoNet mobile Internet

Chrysler’s cellular Internet system costs more up front than portable systems, but the fees are much lower than, say, those of Verizon. The Chrysler AutoNet system is also designed for quick handoffs between access points, while portable access points are designed for staying in one place.

car reviews

The details of the AutoNet system are rather interesting, and irrelevant to most users. The system uses three radios to try to get a signal no matter where it is; it includes Ethernet and USB ports, so you can plug directly into the system, and a wireless router. It is easy to connect to the twin-antenna wireless network, which provided a strong signal within the van and (we’re told) for around 100 yards outside the van, as well. Performance was a little slow for EVDO, in our experience, but not intolerably so.

Security when we tested was, by default, the easily-cracked WEP protocol, but if you mainly use it while driving, that’s probably no problem unless there’s a cracker in the car next to yours. The system shuts off when your car does, so you don’t have to worry about people taking advantage of your car hot-spot while it sits in your driveway. A spokesman wrote:

Our main network is backed by Verizon [but customers don’t have to deal with Verizon personnel]. We are the service providers and deliver a turnkey and hands off solution for Mopar. We have a few other network partners and we work constantly on ways to make our service more efficient. The key selling point to our service is the Tru Manager. It allows us to provide you a seamless connection while you are in motion. We eliminated the "dropped call syndrome."

Other

The heated steering wheel is is activated either by a switch on the lower switch bank or by the remote start function.

Hill descent control allows a smooth and controlled hill descent on rough or slippery terrain without the driver needing to touch the brake pedal. This system applies the brakes to each wheel individually when needed to reduce forward motion while negotiating down steep grades.

Hill start assist is used when starting a vehicle from a stop on a hill by maintaining the same level of brake pressure the driver applied for a short period of time after the foot has been removed from the brake pedal. The system will release the brake pedal in proportion to the amount of throttle applied. If the throttle is not applied within a short period of time after the foot has been removed from the brake pedal, Hill Start Assist will release brake pressure.

ParkView provides a wide-angle view of the area immediately behind the vehicle, for backing up. On Rams, it aids in lining up a trailer with the vehicle’s towing hitch, when so equipped. The image is automatically displayed on the navigation screen when the transmission is shifted into Reverse.

Trailer sway control monitors the movement relative to the driver’s intended path and the vehicle yaw sensor, and applies brake pressure to one front wheel to counteract the yaw induced by the trailer, or applies brake pressure to all four wheels to slow the vehicle. As the trailer sways to the other side of the vehicle, Trailer Sway Control will increase pressure to the opposite side of the vehicle. The system will continue to apply alternating brake pressure and reduce engine torque until the trailer is under control.

Upcoming technologiesAlternative fuels and such • Chrysler firsts • UConnect 2 • Stop/Start • EVIC

We make no guarantees regarding validity, accuracy, or applicability of information, predictions, or advice. Please read the terms of use and privacy policy. Copyright © 1994-2000, David Zatz; copyright © 2001-2016, Allpar LLC (except as noted, and press/publicity materials); all rights reserved. Dodge, Jeep, Chrysler, Ram, and Mopar are trademarks of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

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