If you’re shopping for a new car, the odds are good that you’ll be checking out at least a few cars with automatic transmissions. And if you’ve comparison-shopped cars with automatic transmissions recently, the odds are good you’ve noticed that different companies, different models, and even different trim packages come with a different number of gears.
Sifting through the differences between, say, the 9-speed transmission of the TLX, the 8-speed transmission of the Lexus IS, and the 6-speed transmission of the Scion FR-S can seem daunting. Even driving all three around the block won’t be enough to really spell out the difference between the transmissions driving the cars you’re looking at. So what do you need to know about automatic transmissions to make an informed decision?
Like so many things in life, when it comes to the number of gears a transmission features, more is better, up to a point. You don’t need a 30-speed automatic, which is good, because they don’t exist. But gears exist to allow your car to perform at optimal power and efficiency, so a nine-speed transmission offers a more versatile, higher-performing driving experience that will also save you some money at the pump.
There’s a lot to consider when shopping for a new car, but if you’re hung up on how many gears a car’s transmission has, be sure to take the cars you’re comparing up to highway speeds. You’re never going to really appreciate the engineering that has gone into what you’re paying for unless you put a car through its paces!