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Charger squads: still 5-speeds?

by David Zatz on


2015-Charger-squadAllpar’s sources tell us that, despite the clear acceleration and fuel-economy benefits of the eight-speed automatic, the police are demanding that Dodge stick with the old Mercedes five-speed on Charger squad cars.

In 2014, both police and civilian Chargers had the five-speed, though civilians got the eight-speed with the V6 — and in 2015, the eight-speed will be the only transmission in any civilian Dodge Charger, including the SRT. Yet squads will still have a column-shifted five-speed.

While the eight-speed is well-tested and up to the task, the determining factor in how the Charger Pursuit is equipped most likely has less to do with the cost or technological aspects of the two transmissions and more to do with the column-mounted shifter.

From the beginning, the Charger Pursuit and the Magnum Special Service Vehicle (SSV) were equipped with the column-mounted shifter though civilian versions of both were equipped with console-mounted shifters. Chrysler engineers made the change because a column-mounted shifter was preferred/required by police for two reason: First and foremost, it opened space on the console for communications and warning equipment controls. Second, but also important, was the fact it was more familiar for the driving techniques used by police officers.

Cops are hard on transmissions because they use them. From holding a low gear during rapid pursuit acceleration to a number of “professional driver: do-not-attempt” maneuvers, police car transmissions get a workout and officers can’t be hunting for the shift lever down among the radios.

It’s not just Chrysler: the Ford Police Interceptor Sedan and Utility have column-mounted shifters as do the Chevrolet Impala and Tahoe Police Pursuit Vehicles (PPV). The civilian counterparts to all of these vehicles, except the Tahoe, have console-mounted shifters.

Though it was originally equipped with a console-mounter shifter, the Australian-built Chevrolet Caprice PPV was switched to a column-mounted shifter in the 2014 model year to encourage more sales. The SS, the civilian version of the Caprice, retains the console-mounted shifter.

This isn’t to say police fleet buyers wouldn’t accept an eight-speed, just that Chrysler is going to have to provide a column-mounted shifter for it.

David Zatz founded Allpar in 1998 (based on a site he had begun in 1993-94), after years of writing reviews for retail trades. He has been quoted by the New York Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Detroit News, and USA Today. Before making Allpar a full-time career, he was a consultant in organizational psychology. You can reach him by using our contact form (much preferred) or by calling (313) 766-2304

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