I have occasionally grumbled about the four-speed automatic that sits behind Gwendolyn’s engine: the big(gish) V6 is happy to rev, but getting the slushbox to do a downshift when called upon occasionally tries my patience. This is done, I am told, to preserve fuel economy. I, of course, find this argument specious: we may or may not run out of oil some day, but I will definitely run out of time.

Still, however lethargic this Jatco unit seems to be, it’s way speedier than Dale Franks’ description of the Hydra-Matic 6T40 (I think) the General bolts into the Buick Encore:

As near as I can figure it, the engine writes out a 5-page shift request form in longhand, then walks down to the mailbox to send it off. When the transmission receives it, it properly logs the request — in longhand, of course — then proceeds to shift. You can speed the process up, as the transmission has a manual option, with a shift switch on the shifter handle. Don’t do that. You won’t like it.

And that’s a six-speed.

In the long run, it might be easier just to get the damn knee replacement and a car with an actual stick shift, while such contraptions still exist.


  1. McGehee »

    4 September 2014 · 3:10 pm

    My mother-in-law’s Chrysler minivan, the Stealth Bomber, dislikes to downshift too. When I’m driving it this disinclination makes me like my Ford Sluefoot all the more.

  2. CGHill »

    4 September 2014 · 3:39 pm

    Sandy, my second Mazda 626, had a Ford box that did right-now downshifts, perhaps to compensate for the car’s alleged lack of Zoom Zoom. Mazda claimed a 0-60 time of 12.5 seconds, which these days puts you several lengths behind the Prius of your choice; I usually got mid-elevens, which still isn’t quick, but that powertrain, modest as it was, was at least properly calibrated. (And I beat the EPA numbers — originally 22/28 — anyway.)

  3. Captioned »

    4 September 2014 · 9:38 pm

    I miss the spritely Sunbird with a five-speed, but I don’t miss the near carpel tunnel syndrome caused by constantly jerking a stick around in frustration because the rest of the drivers careen around city streets like they have the right-of-way because of an emergency, like dropping their cell phone into their latte..

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