A four-speed transmission was once considered something of a luxury, but times have certainly changed. The 2017 Ford F-150 pickup truck will go on sale later this year with a 10-speed automatic, marking the first time a transmission with a double-digit number of gears will be sold in a mass-market vehicle.
The new transmission will be paired with a second-generation version of the 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 that is already a popular option on the current F-150. Ford will give the F-150 the same amount of gears as a Schwinn bicycle and continue to emphasize smaller engines in order to improve fuel economy.
The 10-speed was co-developed with General Motors and was first announced in 2013. It was actually shown over a year ago at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show on the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor, which is scheduled to go on sale alongside the regular F-150 this fall. GM’s first application of the 10-speed will be the 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 muscle car. The limited-production 2017 Lexus LC 500 will have a 10-speed designed in-house by the Japanese firm.
Ford expects improved fuel economy over the current six-speed automatic thanks to the 10-speed’s three overdrive gears and wider ratio span. This allows for lower numerical gear ratios at the rear axle, which should increase fuel efficiency on the highway, according to the carmaker. EPA fuel economy figures aren’t available yet, however. The 10-speed features a real-time adaptive shift algorithm that alters shift logic for different situations.
Those 10 gears will manage a thoroughly updated 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6. It’s expected to produce approximately the same 365 horsepower as the current version, but torque will increase by 30 pound-feet to 450 lb-ft. The new version has both direct and port fuel injection, new turbochargers, an electronic wastegate, and a start-stop system that shuts it off at traffic lights to save fuel.
Gas guzzling V8 engines are stereotypical fare in pickup trucks, but Ford is aggressively pushing its smaller turbocharged EcoBoost V6s. There is only one V8 engine currently offered in the F-150, and the 2.7-liter and first-generation, 3.5-liter EcoBoost engines make up about 60 percent of sales. Ford may also introduce hybrid and diesel powertrains as it continues its quest to make the F-150 the most fuel efficient truck around.