Although the Dodge Charger was redesigned in 2011, Dodge says its full-size sedan will receive some significant updates for the 2012 model year, including a new transmission, paddle shifters and a new high-performance edition.

The Charger's new transmission will be an 8-speed automatic, developed by European transmission manufacturer ZF to improve acceleration and increase fuel economy. While not yet available for the sedan's 5.7-liter Hemi V8, the 8-speed should improve the fuel efficiency of the 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 by around 10 percent. That should make the 2012 Charger capable of around 20 miles per gallon in the city and up to 30 mpg on the highway, up from 18/27 with the current 5-speed automatic.=

Dodge also says the 2012 Charger will be available with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters, giving drivers the ability to shift gears using with a quick click. While Dodge has confirmed that the paddles will be optional, it hasn't yet provided pricing.

Dodge is also launching a new version of the high-performance Charger SRT8, coming to dealerships this fall. Announced at the Chicago Auto Show in February, the new Charger SRT8 will feature driver-selectable suspension settings, paddle shifters and a 6.4-liter Hemi V8 producing an impressive 465 horsepower. The SRT8 gets sporty styling updates, including new wheels, more aggressive front and rear fascias, and a spoiler.

Released for 2005, the Charger remains popular with large sedan buyers, racking up nearly 8,000 sales in May ? far ahead of competitors like the Buick Lucerne and Toyota Avalon. The Charger's new transmission and paddle shifters will likely help it gain even more momentum as 2012 models begin arriving on dealer lots later this year.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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