3 Ways the New 10-Speed Automatic Improves the 2018 Ford Mustang
While many automakers have gone to 7-, 8- and 9-speed transmissions, the 2017 Ford Mustang is only offered with a 6-speed manual and a 6-speed automatic. That will change with the arrival of the 2018 Mustang, which will feature the new 10-speed gearbox as the only automatic transmission in the option list. This transmission was developed jointly with General Motors, and in addition to the 2018 Mustang, some variation of this gearbox is employed in the new Ford F150 Raptor and the new Chevrolet Camaro ZL1.
The decision to transition the 2018 Ford Mustang entirely to the 10-speed automatic (along with the continuation of the 6-speed manual) has raised some question from those folks who are unfamiliar with these newer transmissions with more than 6 gears. While I have not driven the 2018 Mustang with the new 10-speed automatic transmission, I have driven a wide variety of other vehicles with 8- and 9-speed automatic transmissions and based on those experiences – the move to the 10-speed in the 2018 Mustang should only be a good thing.
Don’t listen to the uninformed skeptics – the addition of the 10-speed automatic transmission to the 2018 Ford Mustang will improve America’s in every way, but for the sake of discussion, I have narrowed the upsides down to three specific areas – performance, fuel economy and drivability.
Why the 10-Speed Makes the Mustang Better
To understand how the new 10-speed automatic transmission will improve the 2018 Ford Mustang, you have to first understand how the 10-speed gearbox differs from the old 6-speed automatic, shy of the simple fact that it has more gears.
With every transmission, the engineers have to work to balance performance and efficiency. Steeper gearing (numerically higher) offer better acceleration, but those steeper gears lead to higher engine RPMs and higher engine RPMs lead to increased fuel use and lower fuel economy. This is why the numerically lower gears have numerically higher gear ratios while the numerically higher gears have numerically lower ratios. This allows the vehicle to accelerate more quickly in 1st through 3rd gears while gears like 5th and 6th offer less acceleration but improved fuel economy.
For example, the current Ford Mustang GT with the 6-speed automatic transmission has the following gear ratios:
Those ratios allow the Mustang GT to accelerate hardest in 1st gear and with each shift, the decrease in gearing leads to less acceleration forces, but also decreased engine RPM and decreased fuel consumption. The “trick” is that the engineers need to balance low end acceleration with decreased fuel use, but they also need to pay close attention to the change in ratio from gear to gear. Too aggressive of a change can lead to a big drop in engine RPM, which could take the engine out of its key powerband.