sedan that still remembers it is a RWD sedan"
All-Wheel Drive for
By Police Fleet
For mid-year 2014, the Dodge Charger Pursuit will be
available with All-Wheel Drive.
The Charger Pursuit will have the AWD option only with the 5.7L V8 engine.
There are no plans for an AWD option for the 3.6L V6 version
of the Charger Pursuit. Both retail and police versions of the Charger 5.7L AWD
use the 5-speed transmission. This trans has a long and successful track record
in law enforcement use. The retail version of the Charger AWD with the 3.6L V6
uses an 8-speed, a transmission relatively unproven in police use. Perhaps there
will be an AWD with the V6 / 8-speed drivetrain in a few years.
To get some initial driving impressions, we spent a lot of time
in a Charger R/T AWD. This is the same Charger R/T AWD that has been making the
rounds among some Midwestern police departments like the Michigan State Police
and the Detroit Police. Unlike some car reviews, our driving impressions are
not based on an afternoon media drive: we put 1,200 miles on the Charger R/T
AWD over a period of two weeks.
Front Axle Disconnect
The Charger AWD driveline uses an active transfer case and a
front axle disconnect system. The original retail Charger AWD (2007-2008) used
an AWD system based on the Mercedes Benz 4MATIC system. This AWD system was
fully engaged all the time. It was fixed to deliver 60 percent of the power to
the rear wheels and 40 percent to the front wheels. Remember, at that time,
Chrysler and Mercedes were the same company, DaimlerChrysler. Remember that the
Dodge Charger and the Chrysler 300 are essentially an American version of the
In 2009, the Charger AWD adopted a torque-on-demand system
made by Borg Warner. In this system, the front wheels are disconnected from the
engine-transmission until extra traction is required. This is essentially the
same AWD system used on the Cadillac CTS4. Disconnecting the front wheels until
more traction is needed or until conditions call for AWD results in a slight
increase in fuel economy and slight decrease in driveline wear since the
forward driveshaft and front half shafts are not engaged until needed.
Rear Wheel Dominant
When the AWD system is engaged, the power is split 38
percent to the front and 62 percent to the rear. That way, the Charger AWD
always has the handling and the feel of a true RWD sedan, even when the AWD is
This driving experience is further reinforced by the Charger
AWD defaulting to RWD and staying in RWD for just a second or two under tire
slip during aggressive driving or adverse road conditions. A stab to the
throttle affects the rear wheels for just an instant before all of the wheels
divide up the torque.
The Charger AWD automatically and seamlessly transitions
between RWD and AWD. You simply cannot feel the front half shafts engage or
disengage even if you are closely watching the display in the driver
information center. The driver does not have to “do” anything. On the other
hand, the driver can intentionally engage the AWD system a number of ways.
Six Systems Monitored
To determine when to engage the AWD, the Charger constantly
monitors six systems or conditions: 1) stability control activation, 2)
stability control switch, 3) windshield wipers, 4) AutoStick, 5) transmission
shifter position, and 6) ambient temperature. The AWD automatically engages at
temperatures below 37 deg F.
Turning the Traction Control – Stability Control OFF and
turning the windshield wipers ON are two manual but awkward ways to activate
AWD. A more sensible way is to simply engage AutoStick.
When AWD is automatically engaged by a loss of traction, it
goes from RWD to AWD in about one second. However, when demand is activated, it
stays in AWD mode for about five minutes even if no other traction problems
occur. The logic is that if you have had one traction problem calling for AWD,
you may have another one soon. So AWD stays engaged until it thinks the
non-demanding driving is over. During a bit of traffic enforcement-oriented
grassy median crossing, the AWD remained engaged for about an hour—until we
stopped jumping the medians.
A display in the driver information center clearly shows
when the Charger AWD is in RWD mode or AWD mode. You can see exactly when the
AWD activates and how long it remains activated. For example, AWD engages about
two seconds after Traction Control – Stability Control is manually turned off.
The Charger remains in AWD mode for about five seconds after Traction Control –
Stability Control is turned back on. With the windshield wipers, AWD engages
about five seconds after the wipers are turned on and remains engaged for about
five minutes after the wipers are turned off.
Only When Needed
Unlike some AWD systems, the Charger’s AWD system does not
engage and disengage multiple times per minute as conditions change. The
Charger AWD remains a RWD as much of the time as permitted by traction. It
doesn’t try to read your mind. It engages when needed, stays engaged only as
long as needed, and then disengages. It doesn’t anticipate the need for traction
during acceleration; instead, it waits for the amount of slip to demand the AWD
Also unlike other AWD systems, the Charger’s AWD system
doesn’t send all of the power to just one axle and it certainly doesn’t send it
to just one wheel. The front wheels assist the rear wheels—they never take over
from the rear wheels.
The Charger AWD always remembers it is a RWD sedan. By
sending most of the power to the rear wheels, under the most adverse
conditions, the front wheels don’t get overloaded by the twin tasks of steering
and propelling. That is the advantage of a RWD-based AWD system.
From Snow to Grass
Just how good is the AWD system on the Charger AWD? The
Charger 5.7L V8 hits 60 mph in 6.0 seconds. With the same 5.7L V8, the Charger
AWD hits 60 mph in 7.7 seconds…on GRASS…and using retail-oriented, all-season
tires. Some of us have made a career of median crossing traffic enforcement.
Some of us have the tow truck bills to prove it. The Charger AWD is a dream
AWD is not just for snow-covered roads, and not just for
rain-soaked roads, and sand, gravel and grass. AWD also has solid, proven
advantages on dry pavement. In preliminary developmental testing, the Charger
Pursuit AWD was two seconds faster than the Charger Pursuit RWD around the
Grattan Raceway road course. AWD allows more of the horsepower and torque of
the 5.7L HEMI V8 to be put to use…you get to use more throttle and you get to
use it sooner.
The 38.7-foot turning diameter, curb to curb, for the
Charger AWD is virtually identical to the Taurus-based Ford Police Interceptor
Sedan and Chevrolet Impala 9C1. And all these police sedans turn a full 2 feet
tighter than the outgoing Ford CVPI. Comments or concerns about the turning
diameter of the Charger with AWD are simply unfounded, based on misinformation
or lack of driving experience.
From tight U-turns in an urban setting to rapid U-turns in a
rural setting, it is impossible to tell any difference between the Charger RWD
and Charger AWD, or among any of the NextGen sedans, while the better
maneuverability than the old CVPI is obvious to all.
The exact ride height of the police package Charger Pursuit
AWD is still under development. However, the ride height (ground clearance) of
the retail Charger R/T AWD and Charger R/T RWD are virtually identical. Since
increasing the ride height affects high-speed handling, don’t expect the ride
height on the Charger Pursuit AWD to be much, if any, different from the
standard Charger Pursuit. Like the Ford Police Interceptor Sedan, the police
version of the AWD sedan only gives you better traction, not more ground
NVH in Mobile Office
In the mobile office for 8–12 hours a day, Noise, Vibration
& Harshness really matter. The Charger AWD does not have any of the driveline
vibration coming through the steering wheel as felt in some FWD and AWD
vehicles. Why? The Charger AWD operates in RWD mode unless conditions
specifically call for AWD to engage the front wheels.
What that happens, there is obviously so much more going on
in the driving experience that any driveline feedback through the steering
wheel is simply not noticed. The Charger AWD drives and feels like a RWD sedan
until road conditions deteriorate or driving becomes very aggressive.
The Charger AWD has the performance handling and driving
dynamics of a true RWD sedan, and then only when needed, it has the all-weather
traction of an AWD sedan.