By on February 28, 2013

ZF’s 9-speed transmission seems to be gaining popularity with storied off-road name plates that are now marketing unibody vehicles better meant for the urban jungle. The Range Rover Evoque is the next recipient of the ZF 9-speed, which should help squeeze some more efficiency out of the Evoque’s boosted four-cylinder engine.

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18 Comments on “Jeep Cherokee Won’t Be The Only 9-Speed Soft Roader...”

  • avatar

    Can’t wait for the Jeep vs Land Rover comparison test. Maybe the Maccan will be out by then.

  • avatar

    Is there a limit on how many gears you can put in a case? Isn’t it eventually a CVT?

    • 0 avatar

      You can put lots of gears in a transmission case, but at some point they have to be so thin and shift components have to be so small that the transmissions only perform well for a few thousand miles. In ZF’s case, 8 speeds is at least one too many.

  • avatar

    So it’ll be as busy as any other 6 speed automatic on 0-50 in normal driving?

    That’s the big thing that bugs me about my sisters 3 series. that silly autobox feels like either its slipping or the engine is missing under load, which both aren’t really possible on a one year old car with 12,000 miles on it.

    I’ll take my properly geared 3-5 speed automatic over a 9 speed autobox. At least the 3 speed while having large gaps in the gearing is at least mated to an engine that makes enough torque to make it feel seamless and the 4 speed in my DD feels sensible enough to be unobtrusive.

    • 0 avatar

      I urge you to test drive a 2013 BMW 335. I was expecting horrible things with the 8spd trans on that car (being a staunch manual man), but I was very very impressed.

      The thing shifted quick, handled it’s business when left alone. Because of the 8 speeds, you can always drop down to a “perfect gear” where the car just pulls effortlessly without feeling strained or over revved. Quite unlike the 4-3 highway drop on older boxes that really made you feel like you were punishing the car.

  • avatar

    I agree. I used to have a Mercedes ML 500 with the 7-speed transmission and it seemed like it was shifting all the time. And another thing is that it didn’t get any better fuel economy than my 2002 Chevy Silverado with a 5.3 V8 and it’s “ancient” 4-speed.

  • avatar

    The 8 speed in the Charger shifts imperceptibly and the 8 speed in the Grand Cherokee and Ram truck have been getting good reviews.

    • 0 avatar

      I am glad you brought this up because alot of folks dont seem to have ever driven one. The one is the Charger is really nice. Its not about the number of gears though, its more about execution. Toyotas 4 speed in the Corolla gets great real world mileage. However the six speed that they are working on for it wont have to work so hard to get those MPG’s.

      • 0 avatar

        “I am glad you brought this up because alot of folks dont seem to have ever driven one. ”


        That’s a huge issue with TTAC commenters.

        I’ve had a 300 as a rental on my last few business trips and I love it. The car goes like stink, gets great mileage and the shifting is absolutely imperceptible.

        • 0 avatar

          Those Chrysler 8-speeds are indeed fantastic boxes. Imperceptible shifts, yes, but when you want to have some fun, they’ll drop several gears if you give them the beans.

  • avatar
    johnny ringo

    Seven speed, eight speed, nine speed transmissions? This seems to be getting rather ridiculous, why not convert over to CVT’s and be done with it.

  • avatar

    9 gears? and folks complain about CVTs? please.

  • avatar

    There are still some real-world durability issues with CVTs. Nissan seems to have gotten things mostly right with their chain-drive CVTs, but that’s a lot of flexible, moving stuff that might go bad over time. Honda on the other hand, have great firsthand experience with how sh*tty CVTs can get over time. With proper care, a traditional automatic may likely be less trouble than a CVT or a dual clutch transmission, with most of the fuel economy benefits of the other two.

    • 0 avatar

      The power-split CVT in my Prius is doing just fine, thank you.

      After 8 years and 150k miles, the rest of the car is picking up some wear and tear. But the HSD (including its CVT) is doing just fine.

      The biggest problem with the Prius CVT is that my wife’s first thought is that cars with regular 4-speed automatics are malfunctioning when she hears the abrupt RPM changes.

      I was a manual guy, and I still don’t love the 4-speed automatic. But my wife and I can agree on CVTs – her, because she doesn’t like change and me because I think it’s smooth and getting the power to the wheels with minimal wasted RPMs.

  • avatar

    After watching James May’s review of the Evoque on Top Gear….. if this is considered a “soft roader” you can sign me up. I can’t imagine I’ll ever want any more off-road capability than it offers.

  • avatar

    I doubt a lot of the commenters here who are saying 7, 8, and 9 speeds are stupid/useless have even driven one. Even the 6-speed I’ve occasionally driven is loads better than that 4-speed autos of yore.

    It is far more often in the right gear, and I suspect the 7s, 8s, and 9s would even be more likely in the right gear. It might be “busy” because it shifts more often, but it also shifts much smoother than the autos of yore too.

    I still prefer my 6-speed manual, but the new autos aren’t that bad.

    Is 9-speed the max with 4 planetary gear sets?

  • avatar

    Everytime this topic comes up – you always get people going on about ‘why not just CVT’..

    Because CVTs are not some super miracle transmission. People seem to imagine that CVTs..

    A) Can pick ANY gear.
    B) Can switch to ANY gear instantly.

    Neither of these ideas capture what a CVT can do AT ALL.

    The problem is while the transmission is continuously variable it can choose a gear IN BETWEEN a certain (somewhat narrow) range. The second problem is it can SLOWLY change between those ranges. Yes it might be changing continously but its not INSTANT change.

    In fact Nissans newest CVT incorporates BOTH torque converters and planetary gears! These conventional automatic transmissions help give the CVT better drivability.

    Nissan refers to the ‘sub transmission’ to give the transmission more gear spread. That’s the planetary gears. CVTs are all about cost saving..

    If you think about how a convential automatic works – you will understand that it can switch between a very WIDE range in gear ratios fairly quickly. This makes for better drivability. However if the gear ratios are too spread out – its not as smooth a performance. Hence more ratios can add both to the gear range and the smoothness.

    A convential auto can have you cruising in 9th and in 200 millisecond have you down into 2nd gear. The CVT doesn’t have that kind of ability..

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