QOTD: The Ultimate Ultra?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Night Court was ranked No. 21 on the Nielsen ratings and Nike execs were contemplating what eventually became the “Bo Knows” campaign when Chrysler’s Ultradrive automatic entered production in Indiana.

Boasting four speeds and a protective limp-home feature soon to be the butt of jokes, Ultradrive was Chrysler’s go-to FWD tranny for many a year. As you read yesterday, the original four-speed version will end production in 2020. Yet memories linger… perhaps even yours.

Ultradrive variants soon sprung forth, including a unit destined for all-wheel drive minivans. There was a version intended for early LX-platform rear-drivers and body-on-frame SUVs, too, but that gearbox didn’t make it very far past the recession. In 2007, a six-speed unit debuted in the Chrysler Sebring and is still in use today beneath the Dodge Grand Caravan and Ram Promaster.

Today we’re considering only the original four-speed version that found a home in front-drive Chrysler, Daimler-Chrysler, and Fiat Chrysler products, continuing to the present day in the four-cylinder-only Dodge Journey. There’s decades of vehicles to choose from, and one of those offerings might hold a special place in your heart.

Which Ultradrive-equipped vehicle, in your opinion, was the best? Personal experience might guide your vote, and that’s okay. We like stories here.

While your author’s past contains just one Chrysler product, that vehicle would have contained an Ultradrive had he chose the V6-powered Duster model over the basic five-speed/four-cylinder Sundance. Elsewhere, luckier men enjoyed — at least to some degree — the LeBaron and Laser, Daytona and Spirit, New Yorker and Acclaim, Sebring and Avenger, Neon and PT Cruiser, Dynasty and Shadow, a slew of LH-platform sedans and a triple-shot of cloud cars. Don’t forget the bevy of vans that ferried a generation of Americans to school.

Time to select an Ultradrive winner. Is there one?

[Images: Chrysler, Murilee Martin/TTAC]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

More by Steph Willems

Join the conversation
2 of 32 comments
  • Whynotaztec Whynotaztec on Dec 10, 2019

    My sister has a 99-ish 300M with over 250,000 miles on it - hey wait how did Night Court slip to 21?

  • Mark_Miata Mark_Miata on Dec 11, 2019

    My only experience of this transmission was when one of my wife's friends bought a PT Cruiser back in the early 2000s and she let me take it for a spin. I really don't remember much about the driving experience, other than it was pretty meh. The transmission was part of that - it just sort of worked, and the car went forward, but it certainly was far less fun than the other convertibles I've driven, like Miatas or even Chrysler Sebrings.

  • Digital wwoww
  • Probert No, they're not the future. BEV sales are growing every year, and, along with sound energy policy, result in cleaner air, lower CO2, foreign policy not based on oil, and will continue to drive like a smooth powerful nearly silent turbine. Some 19% of new car sales in 2023 were BEVs - this will continue.
  • Mishab Agree with you. Thanks for sharing this insightful update about the upcoming Mini Cooper models! It's fascinating to see Mini's shift towards electrification and the unique design elements they're incorporating into the new John Cooper Works edition.Speaking of Minis, if you're a Mini Cooper owner in Sharjah looking for spare parts or considering common repairs, you might find this article on 7 common Mini Cooper repairs quite useful. ( for reading it). It covers some of the typical issues Mini owners might encounter and offers valuable insights into maintaining these iconic cars.Looking forward to more updates on Mini's electrified lineup and the exciting changes they're bringing to the automotive industry
  • Redapple2 Love/lust a 110 diesel defender. Should buy one since the INEOS is gas only (and double the price). Had a lightweight in Greece. Wonder how this rides.
  • Ajla There is inventory on the ground but as pointed out it is generally high dollar trims of high-dollar models and at least around here dealers still aren't budging off their mandatory nitrogen tires and Summer weather protection packages.You aren't paying '21-'22 prices anymore but it's still a long way to go.