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Why a 10-Speed Transmission Actually Makes Sense

Road & Track logo Road & Track 2018-07-09 Chris Perkins
Ten gears seem like too many, but there's logic behind a 10-speed transmission.: Why a 10-Speed Transmission Actually Makes Sense© Ford Why a 10-Speed Transmission Actually Makes Sense

On its face, a 10-speed transmission seems like a silly idea. It's just too many gears. Six, seven, or eight gears seem like more than enough to get the job done, so why would you complicate things by adding more. There's actually sound logic behind a 10-speed, however, as Jason Fenske of Engineering Explained details in his newest video.

Research

To talk about 10-speed gearboxes, we must first talk about continuously variable transmissions, or CVTs, the car enthusiast's least favorite transmission. CVTs don't have fixed gear ratios-instead, they can constantly change their ratio to keep an engine at its ideal operating speed at all times. That means cars with CVTs tend to drone at a constant RPM when accelerating, which enthusiasts don't like, but that's great for efficiency and performance.

A CVT will always be more efficient than any other type of gearbox, but they wouldn't feel quite right in a performance or luxury car. So, to try to combine the best of both worlds, some automakers have added more gears to their automatics. In cars like the Lexus LC 500-which Fenske uses as an example-Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, and Ford F-150 Raptor, ten-speed gearboxes get pretty close to matching the performance and efficiency of a CVT, while preserving a traditional feel. It's not quite a have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too solution, but it's as close as we'll ever get.

Read more about the Lexus LC 500 on MSN Autos

And if you're still skeptical, consider this-Fenske averaged 29 MPG on a 400-mile highway trip in the LC 500, which is damn impressive for a car with a 471-hp 5.0-liter V8.

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