How many gears is too many? It’s a question worth asking as we’re getting into the double digits
Ah, how far trucks have come in the past twenty to thirty years. There was a time not that long ago when you could count the forward speeds your transmission had on one hand. Take Big Green, for example. It packs a four-speed manual transmission, and even then, only three are really usable on the road. The “granny low” first gear is really only suitable for rock crawling or dealing with heavy loads where you need a lot of low-down grunt. Even the Toyota Tacoma just barely entered the six-speed club with its latest generation. The new Ford Ranger Raptor, however? That’s a different story.
Now, we live in an age where trucks have nearly as many gears as a mountain bike. You may think I’m exaggerating, but consider this: the Ford F-150 Raptor packs a 10-speed automatic transmission. It’s the same transmission that Ford Asia Pacific chose for the global market Ranger Raptor, as well.
According to CarAdvice, however, Ford was thinking about going even further. Throughout their testing process, they considered everything from a seven-speed automatic all the way up to a 13-speed transmission. Thirteen. Yep, John Fallu – Ford Asia Pacific’s transmission and driveline engineering manager – went through a wide range of gear ratios, eventually settling on the 10-speed automatic as the best option.
According to Fallu, the 10-speed met the refinement and performance requirements they were looking for. As for the mountain bike effect:
“The ratios are very evenly steeped, so the total span is a 7.4 gear ratio span in the transmission for a less perceptible shift characteristic. What we were looking for is that uniform shift feel as you’re going up through the gears.”
Room for more power – possibly more gears?
With the Ranger Raptor’s chosen powerplant in the global market, a 2.0-liter twin-turbo diesel engine, a 10-speed makes reasonable sense. However, given the transmission’s presence in the F-150 Raptor, is ten forward gears really the limit? Could Raptor models keep a smooth power delivery and deliver better fuel economy with a 12 or 13-speed automatic? We’ll have to see what engineers come up with in future models.
With that all laid out, there are two other questions that eventually need sorting. Is the Ranger Raptor coming to the United States, and what engine will it have? We know the transmission can handle the power, so it’ll be interesting to see if Ford’s mulling a more powerful engine than the 2.3-liter EcoBoost we’ll see in the normal Ranger. There’s certainly a market for the performance Raptor as well, given the success of the F-150 Raptor and the Ranger’s midsize competition, with the likes of the Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro and Chevy Colorado ZR2.
Ford hasn’t confirmed whether it’s coming to our shores just yet. If it does come to our shores, though, it likely won’t bring the 2.0-liter diesel the rest of the world is going to see. The rumor mill suggests we’ll likely get a 2.7-liter, twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 akin to the 2019 Edge ST. Making 335 horsepower and 380 lb-ft of torque, that would surely capture the essence of the F-150 Raptor’s performance in a smaller package.
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