Ford’s 10-Speed Automatic is Extremely Versatile
When Ford announced the 2017 Ford Raptor, they said that the new truck would come with a 10-speed automatic transmission. That transmission, co-designed with General Motors, would eventually make its way into the entire lineup of 2017 Ford F-150s, and even in the new Camaro ZL1 from Chevrolet. There’s even rumors it might end up in the next Mustang. It turns out it’s a quite versatile transmission.
I had a brief chance to sample the transmission twice in recent weeks in 2017 F-150s mated with the 2nd-generation 3.5L EcoBoost engine. While six forward gears are more than enough for any modern vehicle, the truck was falling behind when the competition moved to eight. More gears makes it easier to optimize the power and torque delivery of the engine, plus it allows the trucks to be more fuel-efficient. So while the 6-speed was plenty, it was time for Ford to move forward.
In the F-150 with the 3.5L EcoBoost, the transmission is hardly noticeable. It’s obvious that the engineers worked hard to ensure that the shifts from the new transmission were as smooth as possible. Since it’ll be shifting a lot more than the previous transmission, feeling every shift would get tiresome pretty quickly. What truly impresses about the transmission is how you don’t really notice it doing its thing at all.
My experience with the Raptor’s calibration of the 10-speed seemed to produce similar results, though I admit that jumping and sliding around a giant field in Texas in the passenger seat isn’t the best test method for seeing how good a new transmission is. What I can say is that during the performance driving, where the truck was set into the infamous Baja Mode, the Ford Performance engineer didn’t operate the paddles at all, yet the transmission seemed to always be in the gear he needed it to be in at any given time. We’ll be able to report more on the programming and shift intelligence of the Raptor’s 10-speed when we get a chance to get behind the wheel.
Both of those applications are in pickup trucks. Recently, Chevrolet shared a video of the new Camaro ZL1 running and setting a record at the Nürburgring in Germany. I’ve included the video below, but what’s really impressive is that nearing the end of the run, where there’s a long straight, the transmission actually upshifts to a higher gear at nearly 170 miles-per-hour. Most cars, at that point, are in their top-speed gear. Also, shifting at that speed could upset the car and cause a crash, but the 10-speed seems to handle it well.
Additionally, like the Ford Performance engineer giving hot laps in the Raptor, the engineer driving the Camaro also wasn’t using the paddles and left the car in full automatic for the entire run. The transmission still knew when to properly shift for maximum performance.
It’s likely this transmission will end up in the Mustang. Heck, it’ll probably find its way into other rear-wheel drive offerings in the near future. From what we’ve seen so far, it’s not only a fuel-economy-minded transmission, but a full on performance shift. No, it’s not a manual, but it’s quite versatile and the performance seems to be rock solid.
Let us know what you think in the comments below or over in the forums!