By on August 6, 2014

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Longtime TTAC commentator Mikey writes:

Sajeev,

I bought a 2014 Impala LT with a 2.5 four cylinder, and a 6 speed auto. I’m a 60 year old guy, that’s driven more cars than I can count. I’m still in awe that the engineers have figured out a way to move a car with the weight and size of the Impala with a 155 cu. in. engine. I love the car, with its comfort, and size, it suits my needs perfectly. I’m getting great gas mileage, with mostly city driving. Were flirting with 5 dollars a gallon up here.  I’m willing to sacrifice power for economy.

I’m rarely on the highway these days.  However I do find that at highway speeds{ 75 mph or so} the slightest touch of the gas pedal, will cause a down shift. The tach will jump from 2200 up to the high 3000’s in an instant. Does the 6 speed down shift sequentially, 6 to 5? Or will it go back 6 to 4th?

A week or so ago, I think it was “Kenmore” that was talking about a 6 speed Honda?  The discussion revolved around the transmission ” clunking” as it downshifted at below 10 mph. I find the Impala does that under certain conditions.  Is this normal?

Thanks

Sajeev answers:

Occasional clunking is normal until some third-party disassembles a metric ton of these gearboxes, points to a poorly designed part and goes on the Internet saying, “ZOMG Y U ENGINEERS BE SO CHEEP HERE?”

And by that I mean that we shall never know. Regarding the frequent downshifting, I recently rented a four-cylinder Buick LaCrosse, same problem.  Hell, even a V6 Mustang rental constantly shifted when I breathed on the gas. On a mostly flat stretch of highway!

This frustration is why I referred to these units as auto-erratic in my review of the CVT powered Mitsubishi Mirage. People think CVTs suck, rightly so.  But many of today’s self-shifters suffer from computerized analysis paralysis.

It’s not entirely the autobox’s fault: with only 186 lb-ft of torque peaking at a somewhat high 4400rpm, don’t blame the Impala for a 6-5 or 6-4 downshift because you feathered the go-go pedal. That’s just the way it is…unless you get a 74hp/74lb-ft Mirage with a Nebraska-flat torque curve.

But is this a problem? Not really: any auto-erratic box attached to a low-end torque free motor shall do this.  It bothers me too, but I’m spoiled by vehicles with a fatter torque curve. I wager you are too, in your 60 years on this earth. That said…

Bonus!  A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

Let’s consider the epic struggle between horsepower and torque. There was a time when most everything made power like a modern turbo diesel. Back when the battle for peak performance numbers and increasing redlines in boring family sedans and pickup trucks with a 4000rpm torque peak were unheard of.  

The good old days?  Not entirely sure.  But it’d be fantastic to see today’s technology applied to a fatter torque curve instead of sky-high horsepower battles. There’d be a superior driving experience and better fuel economy (less throttle needed), with a modest penalty in full throttle acceleration. Or so says the Piston Slap Guy…

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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69 Comments on “Piston Slap: The Auto-Erratic Transmission?...”


  • avatar
    TopJimmy5150

    I don’t know if I can trust the same companies that couldn’t build reliable 4 speeds to build 6-9 speed automatics.

    • 0 avatar
      celebrity208

      I know right, I’d much prefer one of those more premium transmissions in a BMW 318i, 323i, 325i, 328i, 518i, 525i, 528i, or a Z3. Oh wait… those were GM transmissions? Um…

      There’s a lot of things that people can knock GM for but their automatics, especially their 4spd longitudional transmissions, are world class reliable. Manual transmissions are a different matter, conversly 4L80Es are dump truck tuff.

      But, maybe I’m wrong. Did you have a specific experience with a GM 4spd? Possibly a transverse unit (4T40 in a Cavalier)? One data is not a trend but your own experiences are your own and I can’t argue that.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        Eh, 4L60Es were hit and miss. They had some design issues that could take them out early with some frequency. Luckily since they were so popular, everyone knows how to rebuild them and there are updated parts that are reasonably priced.

        • 0 avatar
          Littlecarrot

          When the 4L60 eventually gets a rebuild, do you know if some of the design flaws are addressed during the rebuild? I’m somewhat interested in getting a Tahoe or Silverado, but I’m concerned about the transmission issues. I don’t want to continually replace these transmissions.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            The sun gear shells are made of stamped steel but aren’t harded from the factory at the pinch point where the splines are cut and they tend to crack and break at that point. The common upgrade is to install a hardened sun shell which every rebuilder pretty much does standard.

            With heat and wear, the planetary gear and annulus teeth can get pretty gnarly and fail. The upgrade there is the 5 planetary carrier instead of 4 for greater load capacity.

            Other than a few common failure points, they aren’t bad transmissions. Some last a long time.

          • 0 avatar
            celebrity208

            Just step up to a 2500 series Tahoe or Silvy and I think you’ll get the 80E instead of the 60E.
            GM transmission code decoder ring = [number of gears][T or L for transverse or longitudinal][semi-arbitrary number indicating strength/torque handling, higher # = tougher][E = electronic control]

            (right?)

      • 0 avatar
        NN

        Correct me if I’m wrong, but GM’s 4 cylinder transmissions were engineered by Daewoo (or, uh, GM Korea). At least the 6-speed in my 2010 Malibu was. And it needed a rebuild at 27k miles. You can’t paint a broad brush stroke across GM on anything…they make good transmissions…except the Daewoo ones, of which this Impala may have.

        • 0 avatar
          Brian P

          On investigation, I think you are right. The 4-bangers mostly get the 6T40E, the 6-cyls mostly get the 6T70E. I am not sure if they are all coming from Korea, although at least some of them are.

      • 0 avatar

        I vaguely remember some story about Bentley/Rolls-Royce licensing a transmission design from GM and trying to improve it, but failing to match the durability of the original design. And I believe Bentley/Rolls-Royce continued to use GM transmissions until BMW and Volkswagen intervened in the late nineties, right before the split-up.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      If there were any parts in GMs that were reliable, it was the transmissions.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      That would be Honda, Ford and Chrysler, correct?

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Working with GM on automatic transmissions has been a smart move for Ford. The current six speed automatic series is more than likely the best Ford automatic transmission ever.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      Automatic transmissions are the one thing GM has pretty much gotten right since…forever.

      Regarding this Impala, at first I thought, “eww, a 2.5 liter 4 banger in a full sized wafting car, and then it dawned on me that I’d much prefer the new Impala with the 2.5 liter than the ATS with the same motor…

      …since it can do things like ride very comfortably over less than ideal roads, is just as quiet, has at least as high a degree of fit/finish than the ATS, has approximately 800% more interior room than the ATS (especially the rear seat), and it costs about 10k to 15k less than the ATS.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      GM made the three 4L30E transmissions that our 325i needed in 60,000 miles. They were the worst thing about the car and the primary reason we retired it as it approached 90,000 miles.

  • avatar

    You are probably feeling the lockup ring on the torque converter “unlocking”. My 5 speed Acura trans does this. Cross the flats, 2000 rpm @ 65 mph or so. unlock ring, up to 2100.

    Its a good thing. A TQ always slips slightly, and the lockup ring removes that slip.

    I’m amazed that ANY automatic trans works, and my first was a three speed torqueflite in a Pontiac, behind a 400 cu/in engine.

  • avatar
    craiger

    “and my first was a three speed torqueflite in a Pontiac, behind a 400 cu/in engine.”

    Me too. ’73 Catalina. Posi rear if I remember correctly. I used to love to stomp the gas and then drop it from N to D and light ‘em up. After a few weeks of that, I went out on a Saturday night and the trans started shifting erratically and then caught on fire. That was the end of the Catalina and I walked for the rest of the summer. Lesson learned.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Ahh the neutral drop. A favorite of my high school parking lot. I made a good amount of money after school swapping motor mounts on Dodge Shadows and Omnis.

    • 0 avatar
      cargogh

      I did the ol’ neutral drop in mom’s new ’80 Cordoba, but it was still going at least 15 in reverse. Even the dashboard bowed up for a moment. As soon as it was going down the road, I had to stop and check the noise. My friend and I both opened the doors and hung out looking under the car at each other. I was hoping to see the exhaust system hanging because it sounded like it was dragging on the asphalt, but it was all good. Exploded transmissions can produce a bunch of noise.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Sounds like a pretty weak transmission. When I was a kid we were going to junk a 1974 AMC Matador with a 304 V8. Car had 140K on it. I drove it down a steep hill at about 30 or so and put it in neutral. I redlined the engine and then slammed it into reverse. The bias plies broke loose and spun and smoked backward. The car slowly can to a stop and began to go backwards up the hill. Did that multiple times and I was still able to drive it to the bone yard…

  • avatar
    punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

    2011 Crown Victoria. In the hills of Tennessee at highway speeds I hardly ever leave Overdrive. No 4-cylinder in this 5000 pound car.

    • 0 avatar
      kmoney

      This is one of the reasons I still like the old 4 speed AT. Our 1991 LS 400 does the same thing: always in 4th, converter unlock or small shift down to third at 1/4 throttle or more. Our LX570 with the 6 AT drops 2 gears to accelerate from 65-80km/h with the slightest touch of the gas, despite having probably twice the available torque at half the rpm. The shift logic programmed into the FWD GM 6ATs seems to take this to the extreme — at least in my experience with the rental cars I’ve driven that had them.

    • 0 avatar
      st1100boy

      My wife’s GMC Terrain (fwd, 2.4) downshifts if you even look at a hill. The only way to accelerate without triggering a downshift, is using the cruise control’s accel button, 1 mph at a time.

      My folks have a Terrain (awd, 3.0) and it’s pretty much the same. Drove my dad nuts.

      For a while I canceled the cruise when approaching a hill and soft pedaled it trying to prevent a downshift, even if I lost upwards of 10 mph. I thought that would save fuel. Eventually I got tired of that and just kept the cruise engaged and let the transmission work. Guess what: no real difference in fuel consumption. Go figure.

      • 0 avatar

        I wonder what the 3.6-liter is like…probably the same as well.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The I4 and V6 Terrain have different transmissions. The problem with the AWD 3.0L Terrain is that the 3.0L is terrible. I would expect the 3.6L to be better.

          The Ford 6F55 is similar to the 6T70 in the V6 Terrain. I don’t have the same issue with the downshifting with our MKT. Peak torque and HP come much sooner though. The 6F55 is also beefed up compared to other 6T and 6F transmissions.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Troy D…… Couldn’t agree with you more. If I could buy a new,BOF/RWD, V8 powered, full size GM, I’d have it in my driveway by the weekend.

    Unfortunately they just don’t make them anymore. Look after your Crown Vic. Its the last of the great ones.

  • avatar

    My plan worked: introduce the theoretical concept of Panther Love and the B&B shall return the favor.

    • 0 avatar
      FormerFF

      Someone is going to have to explain the appeal of those cars to me. hell, I’m in my 50’s and they seem like old guy cars to me, I can’t imagine what younger people think of them.

      • 0 avatar
        punkybrewstershubby aka Troy D.

        Yes, I’m 46 and my wife and two daughters tell me it’s an old man car. I figure old men carry a lifetimes’ worth of experience and knowledge with them, thats why the Panther cars make sense.

      • 0 avatar

        Get ready to have your mind blown: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Crown-Vic-Boys/129188907126162

        • 0 avatar
          FormerFF

          That doesn’t really surprise me, guys have been customized big ole American boats since the 40’s. In that case, the car is more like performance art and the Crown Vic is the starting point. The driving experience isn’t the focus, it’s the creativity and camaraderie that’s important

          What I’m not getting is why anyone wants to drive one of these as their daily driver, particularly in near stock condition.

    • 0 avatar
      Deaks2

      The funny thing is a few years ago my father in law bought a 2009 Town Car, and the old man jokes came in like a flash flood. We even got him a chauffeurs cap.

      Now, a few years later and 50000+ km down the road he can’t wait to get rid of it. The build quality is terrible, with rattles and wind noise, including a passenger side window that simply won’t stay closed. Also, getting anything repaired on it either in Canada or the USA has meant several days of waiting while parts are brought in from Ford. His AC failed this summer and he had to wait 3 days for a new condenser to arrive.

      Having driven it I can’t see how it is safe. The throttle response is poor, so poor in fact that the car always seems to get in the way when in the city. Also, the kickdown from the gearbox is quite abrupt, and everyone we have shown it to says it is normal.

      When he was shopping for this thing I told him to get a CPO MKS instead. Great styling and a nice modern platform with all the bells and whistles. He regrets ignoring that advice.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        >Also, getting anything repaired on it either in Canada or the USA has meant several days of waiting while parts are brought in from Ford. His AC failed this summer and he had to wait 3 days for a new condenser to arrive.

        That’s strange, one of the major benefits of Panther ownership is the high stock rate of just about any part, even on TCs.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          The older ones yes, but the last few years sold in very low numbers and the typical dealer doesn’t keep hard parts for uncommon models on hand.

          • 0 avatar
            Deaks2

            Exactly, plus the more recent years have been sold mostly to fleets which often have their own repair depots and parts inventories. Our experience has been that Ford dealerships have almost no parts on hand for the latest Panthers.

  • avatar
    Brian P

    Top gear is very tall in most modern auto trannies, in the interest of using less fuel, which is A Good Thing. The consequence is that the transmission has to downshift easily, otherwise you will get the feeling that the car is not accelerating as you commanded, because it won’t be.

    Your old 400 cubic inch monster didn’t have to do that, because not only was the engine big but it also didn’t have overdrive, and it likely spun faster than your 2.5 at highway speed even after the 6-speed with the 2.5 has already done that downshift. But … the price you paid was the 12 mpg that you got if you were lucky.

    Your 6T70 has an overdrive of 0.742, and 5th is direct drive. That correllates pretty well with the revs going from 2200 to 3000 in that downshift. It’s likely keeping the torque converter locked … most modern automatics keep it locked in the higher gears.

    I should also add that the 6T70 has a 1st gear of 4.484, which is a lot lower than the old 3-speed and 4-speed automatics had. It doesn’t rely on the torque converter anywhere near as much as the old transmissions did.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “It doesn’t rely on the torque converter anywhere near as much as the old transmissions did.”

      And thank goodness for that. Better fuel economy AND transmission life.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “Your old 400 cubic inch monster didn’t have to do that, because not only was the engine big but it also didn’t have overdrive, and it likely spun faster than your 2.5 at highway speed ”

      This is true. Either that, and/or the spacing between one or more gear ratios was absolutely monstrous. Older three- and four-speed domestics had ridiculously short “lay a patch at every intersection” first gears, followed by a slurry shift and a slow climb out of low-RPM hell.

      Modern automatics, though, are silly. Sajeev is right about CVTs: they eliminate this silliness. I’ve had rental Maximas and Sentras and, after enough time, I find going back to an automatic a challenge; the power drop, shift-thumps and converter lockups are really noticeable in 5+ATs, versus a CVTs seamless delivery*.

      Mind you, I had a Saab with a malfunctioning AT. Every shift was an adventure, so I’m kind of sensitive.

      Regarding your Impala: it’s learning to shift based on how you drive, and it’s designed out of the gate to do two things:
      * Ace the EPA cycle
      * Lay a patch upon any throttle application

      See if the dealer can reset the shift logic to factory, then drive like a grandmother; ensure you don’t trigger a downshift unless you have to. Sucks, but the transmission’s logic is up against those two (contraindicatory) objectives, and it will shift and/or lock up often to try to meet them.

      * which is why this tendency to make CVTs fake shift points drives me nuts.

  • avatar
    jmo

    How is a transmission supposed to work?

    Picture it, I’m my rental car cruising at 70 heading up the hill into Kentucky from Cinci to the airport in my 4-speed 200. Hit the hill and need some power, so I press the gas. Nada. More gas. nada. More? Nada. Then. Boom 4-3 downshift and waaaaaaaaah.

    Next week in an 8-speed 300. Hit the hill and press the gas for a imperceptible downshift to 7 and the perfect amount of power. I need to pass a car, a little more gas and downshift and again the perfect amount of power. 18 wheeler heading into my lane – give it the beans for 2 gear change and again the perfect amount of power.

    Isn’t always having the right gear available better?

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      That’s the easy part for these new transmissions, shifting down one cog for a highway hill.

      Now, take that same idea, in my case a brand new Chrysler 200 AWD V6 with the nine-speed. I live in a very hilly city – there are many half to one mile uphill two-lane city streets. Driving up these hills, in traffic, with many crossing side streets where the grade levels for 75 feet or so, means you’re on and off the gas constantly to maintain speed, or the car in front slows to make a turn.

      The new 9 speed hasn’t got a clue what to do with itself. The instant you lift off the gas, it upshifts. You get back on the gas and it tries to make the engine lug up the hill at 900 rpm. Then decides, no this isn’t right, has an onboard conference with its sensors, and finally after a second or two, downshifts to 3rd.

      You proceed up the hill in a series of fits and starts. Unacceptable. Too many gears.

      If you’re going to put that many gears in a vehicle, then you’d better adopt grade logic as well. It’s not helped in the 9 speed ZF design that shifting down from above 4th is complicated internally and hence slow, according to TTAC’s resident transmission expert.

      CVTs work better than this on our many grades, far better.

      • 0 avatar
        Russycle

        This. An 8-speed tranny might make sense on a Ferrari that’s going to be tracked at 100+ MPH occasionally. But on a normal car, you’re going to be playing Gear Hunter like crazy in urban driving. Just put in a well-sorted CVT and call it good.

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        The more gears a car has, the more it is going to do a step by step (or is that a shift by shift?) imitation of what a CVT does in complete seamlessness.
        .

  • avatar
    BerlinDave

    Was the torqueflite a factory option for Pontiac or a do it yourself mod???

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    That’s the way it is. I’ve already figured out with my Toyota 3.5 V6, 5-speed, AWD combo that if you keep the tach at or below 2500 rpm in top gear (right around 80 mph) it doesn’t have to downshift much even here in NM on all but the steepest hills.

    It doesn’t hesitate to grab 3rd if it needs it but it does so sequentially and you can watch the tach as it goes 5 – 4 (hangs for a sec) – 3 = and we’re off! But that’s with 270 hp and roughly 250 lb ft of torque.

    GMs 6 speed is truly wonderful behind the 3.6 V6. I drove a W-Impala so equipped and the engine stayed below 2000 rpm at 85 mph interstate driving. Very serene cruising and ate up the miles.

  • avatar
    panzerfaust

    Had a 2014 Impala as a rental about a month ago and had the same problem, the transmission just didn’t seem to know what to do with itself in 30-40mph traffic. It was either revving the engine because it was in too low a gear, or hesitating way too much because it was in to high a gear. It really got annoying after a while. Otherwise it was a very nice car, looked great and the interior was top notch.

  • avatar
    shaker

    I know that the 2.5/6AT in my 2013 Malibu will downshift on slight uphill grades when doing 65 MPH on the highway with the cruise control and A/C on. At 70 +, much less likely as the RPM’s are above 2500.
    I’d think that your 2014 Impala has the same motor as mine, but the AT gear ratios are probably different for the bigger car (not sure).

    I think that it’s amazing that a 2.5 AT can pull a car as big as the Imp around, and it’s probably as quick as my 1965 Buick LeSabre with a 300ci V8 – 3spd Turbine 400 AT (0-60 9 seconds).

    Edit – the tranny definitely hunts for the right gear from time to time; sometimes it stays in too low a gear if I’m going down a gentle hill with no throttle – sometimes I can get it to upshift by “blipping” it a bit.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    You’ve just made the case for turbocharging: flat torque curve from 2-4000 rpm like the good ol’ large displacement V-8s.

    I’ve always felt that “peaky” low-torque but high horsepower engines worked much better with a manual transmission and a skilled driver who could anticipate his power needs and select the appropriate gear/throttle combination. By definition, low displacement, normally-aspirated engines are “peaky.” The use of 6,7,8 speed or CVTs with a lot of computer processing power is an attempt to duplicate that.

    If you have a car — or better yet, a diesel truck — with a turbo boost gauge, it’s kinda fun to watch the boost vary with your application of the go-pedal to maintain road speed, while engine speed stays constant.

    My old Saab turbo worked perfectly fine with a 5-speed; and I never felt the need for more gears in the tranny. OTOH, my normally aspirated Honda Pilot probably could use more than 5 speeds given the rather peaky power delivery of the 3.5 liter engine and the weight of the vehicle.

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    That’s my number one gripe about auto transmission, you want to squeeze a little ahead in traffic; give it a little gas and it downshifts, snaps your head back, and/or makes a ton of noise when all you wanted to do was slightly close gap between you are car you are following. Wife’s Sonata has a econ button on dash. One of things it does is keeps trans from down shifting unless you really push the skinny pedal down. Makees driving a lot smoother but also more sluggish. My other gripe about automatic transmission is that they steal your soul.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    There is also the issue of the durability of these multi-speed transmissions. They go through many times more shifts over the lifetime of the vehicle than the old THM400 in your ’72 Grand Ville. They shift themselves to death and then you’re looking at a rebuild after 100k miles.

    The shift maps are programmed to help the vehicle post good numbers on the EPA fuel economy cycle. Driveability is barely a consideration in the design.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      But, the relative speed adjustment on each gear change is nowhere near as big, so it doesn’t need to slip the internal clutches anywhere near as much.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Just for comparison. I have a 2000 Lexus GS400 V8 (300hp 300lb-ft torque). At 75mph it’s turning 2,600rpm with a 5-spd auto. In today’s world, that’s ridiculously high rpm’s. But, Lexus had the idea to make this car accelerate harder than a BMW 5-series V8. Hence, it was marketed as the fastest automatic trans sedan in the world (149mph limited). I do love the effortless highway passing power the car has, but it reallllllly needs a 6th gear.

    • 0 avatar

      And that’s why it isn’t necessarily about the number of gears, it’s the spread of the ratios combined with the motor’s torque curve.

      Vehicles like your V8 Lex need the gear ratios of the double overdrived(?) 6-speed manual of C5 Vettes, the super tall 6th (0.50:1) with a somewhat tall axle ratio. And when you need to downshift, there are 5 decent gears for that.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      That effortless highway power is why I want the V8 in the first place. Sticking on overdrives too tall for anything except level ground cruise means it’s shifting instead of wafting which is exactly what I paid extra to avoid.

      2,600 is a bit on the high side but it beats missing low and there’s nothing wrong with hearing a V8 sing a bit.

  • avatar
    Bart 7001

    I also own a 2014 Impala, buts it’s a LTZ. I have yet to experience a clunk in the downshift and have found the 3.6 V6 to be responsive. The car is like Novocain, quiet, comfortable, 80 mph while sitting at a library. The shift option is rather pointless. It is not engaging. That said, it has surprising turn in, without the weave and bob of a typically soft strung sedan in terms of handling. You stay in your seats when taking a corner. The sound system is great and the NAV works well. I would say the free app makes planning trips very easy. You use your smart phone app to find an address and send it to the car before departing. The when you start it up the NAV opens up with your trip. For me this feature has worked out very nice to do that with the wife or friends before we depart. A comment about leg room or trunk space, it has never been an issue, exceeded in both cases for all that has been asked, which has included 4 people traveling for 12+ hours. I am 6 foot and amply shaped and have had a 6.4 ft person behind me. I really enjoy being able to attached 1 TB hard drive plugged into the many USB ports with 3000+ MP3 320 KPS songs strung into playlists that the My Link picks up. The Impala works well and is a very easy place to spend 12 hours, better than most domestic airline flights and cheaper too (especially if a rental car is called for). My other car is a 2006 Chevy Corvette with 63,000+ miles. It has made a clunk once and a while. I sold a 2001 Maxima for the Impala for a point of reference.

  • avatar
    Ratsnake

    I feel like the big problem with these multispeed automatics is overagressive upshifting. I drove a new Ford Focus in the city, and it seemed like the thing was 2 gears too high anytime I was not actively pushing the gas pedal farther down. Likewise, a lot of urban or suburban driving features high variation between 30-50 mph, and that results in a lot of pointless attempts to get to overdrive.

    Extremely high gearing is great for interstate cruising at 70+, but it is excruciating to have your car constantly bogged down by aggressive upshifting. And if it weren’t for the aggressive upshifting, downshifts would not be so unpleasant.

  • avatar
    Fred

    My Acura 2.4l 5 speed automatic is slow to downshift. Even at 70 and I want to get up to 80, you really have to be agresive about it. I should learn to use the paddles more.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    All of these complaints are why I prefer my cars to have a clutch pedal. Personally, I don’t find CVTs to suck any more to drive than any other automatic, and less annoying than most.

    Though I will admit, as automatics go, ye olde ZF 4spd behind big olde ex-Buick V8 in my Range Rover is about perfect for the application. Imperceptible shifts, and it is so low geared it basically never has to downshift the way I drive the beast. Of course the price paid is the 12/16 fuel economy. But it is smooooooth. The 8spd ZF BMW uses is just about perfect too, but I still prefer to DIY the shifting.

    The next step that will solve a ton of these complaints is for the GPS-enabled transmission as used by Rolls Royce, and now I think the new S-Class to trickle down to the masses. Once the transmission knows where it is, a lot of this will be avoided.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Thank you so much, Sajeev… And all the B&B. I’ve certainly had all my questions answered.

    As I said, the Impala is perfect for me. For now.

    After reading the comments, I do have some concerns with the long term prospects of the 6 speed? As a life long GM buyer I’ve dealt with a few issues. Front disc brakes, and rotors, steering racks, trim falling off, motor mounts,S15 ball joints, and “A” car rusting backing plates, soft cams, and “in the gas tank” fuel pump problems. Oh! did I mention head gaskets?

    Never, in 45 years of driving GM, have I ever replaced a transmission. I ran an 81 Monte Carlo with a metric 200 over 100,000 miles. For sure, it did some weird shifting. I do think it needed a tranny when I dumped it.

    That Monte was a great car, I watched it come down the line. I got my wife a plant pass, and she drove it off the Roll Test.

    Thanks again guys

  • avatar
    mikey

    Sajeev…..A little late here….Thanks.

    BTW….I still read TTAC every day. We survived after Farago moved on, and we will survive J.B’s departure.

    Keep up the good work!


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  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States