Put The Power To The Pavement
You can’t buy a truck with a three-speed automatic transmission anymore, from any manufacturer. That’s a good thing. Nowadays, automakers offer four-, five-, and six-speed automatics. And that’s even better. Here’s why.
Remember that big, high-torque V-8 we talked you into in the last section? Well, it takes more gasoline to produce all that torque, so you’ll want to find a truck with overdrive, which conserves fuel when you’re not towing. In a four-speed automatic, fourth gear will typically be overdriven a bit. In the five- and six-speed automatics, the top two gears might be overdriven, but not always.
In Toyota’s new Tundra, for example, the five-speed offers a 1:1 fourth gear and a .716:1 fifth gear. The six-speed offers a .728:1 fifth gear and a .558:1 sixth gear, which is significantly overdriven. That means lofty highway speeds do not equate to lofty rpm, which saves fuel and reduces engine wear.
A lot of manufacturers offer what has become known as the tow/haul mode for the transmission. The function allows the transmission to hold gears longer before upshifting and even keeping it out of top gear if that is what load and driving conditions dictate. The feature even remaps the ignition curve in some cases. It’s standard on most trucks, but not all. Be sure you get tow/haul mode or at least something like it, whether it’s standard, available as a singular option or part of a package.