Thirteen Gears Is Clearly Too Many Gears

Illustration for article titled Thirteen Gears Is Clearly Too Many Gears

It would appear that while the Ford Motor Company gave the new diesel Raptor Ranger a 10-speed automatic gearbox, it also examined some more extreme options. Like 13 gears! Can you imagine? Let me be clear here that I believe 13 gears is too many gears.


Come on!

I bring this hot take to you from Car Advice, which recently revealed how a 13-speed gearbox was examined for this baby wondertruck:

The transmission, according to John Fallu, transmission and driveline engineering manager for Ford Asia Pacific, was chosen because it meets “both our refinement and performance benchmarks” for the Raptor.

[...] “We actually did simulations during the exhaustive testing process for the optimum number of gear ratios for a rear-wheel drive truck of this size and power… we looked at seven speeds, nine speeds all the way up to 12 and 13 speeds, to see if – from a performance perspective and an efficiency perspective – what truly is optimal for the design.


How many gears is the right number of gears? is a frequent topic of debate around the Jalopnik offices. Our staffers will routinely scream and howl at one another about four-speeds, five-speeds and six-speeds, often wasting much of their mornings on vigorous debate until I tell them to get back to work.

For manual transmissions, I’m Fine With Five, but think Six Is Swell. Five gives you plenty for all your daily needs—a four-speed is miserable on the highway—and six gives a sporty feeling with a nice dash of extra highway fuel economy. In theory at least.

On automatics, most of them these days seem to be eight-speed gearboxes. I’m not basing that on any hard data, just that it seems typical for new cars I drive in 2018. I can deal with these, but I often find myself repeatedly clicking a paddle down on the highway to find the right passing gear. Half the time it’s easier to just mash your foot on the gas and let the gearbox do the work.

But 10 gears? That’s too much, almost bothersome to drive. I’m skeptical of any truly significant fuel economy gains in real world driving with those, but I also don’t have the patience to meticulously monitor my fuel economy to find out. I have things to do.


Now, 13 gears! That’s an outrage. It sounds utterly miserable to experience. What circumstance would ever result in you saying, “This is definitely a job for 11th gear, but 13 is way too much.” It’s absurd! Eventually, you reach a point of diminishing returns. You should be able to pretty much optimize fuel economy in any real-world driving condition with only 10 gears.

It’s like in Spinal Tap where he suggests they simply make 10 the loudest setting on the amp, instead of going to 11. Do that.


Thirteen gears is too many damned gears. The Ford Motor Company should be applauded here for seeing as much on the new Raptor Ranger.

Editor-in-Chief at Jalopnik. 2002 Toyota 4Runner.

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I like cars: Jackstands Eternal

13? How about we just go ahead and