Slow Transitions - 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Long-Term Road Test Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited October 2014 in Jeep
imageSlow Transitions - 2014 Jeep Cherokee Limited Long-Term Road Test

Our new long-term 2014 Jeep Cherokee has a nine-speed automatic transmission.

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  • ebeaudoinebeaudoin Member Posts: 509
    I read from another tester (different publication) that they couldn't even engage 9th gear. They tried using manual mode while on the highway and it still stayed in 8th. I think 9-speed is a bit ridiculous. I've never driven anything more than a 6-speed (auto or manual) and haven't really seen a need for more.

    Chrysler has a bit of a reputation when it comes to transmissions. I hope this isn't an indication of things to come for the Cherokee.
  • kirkhilles1kirkhilles1 Member Posts: 863
    Agreed, I think an 8 speed is totally appropriate for a Z06 and even the regular Stingray, but couldn't imagine a 9 speed on an SUV. The disadvantages would outweigh the benefits.
  • elgacelgac Member Posts: 17
    The transmission is one of the biggest reasons I would never consider the Cherokee.
    If it came with a manual I'd probably have a Trailhawk in my garage right now.
  • juddholl10juddholl10 Member Posts: 84
    I rented a Trailhawk with about 9000 miles from Hertz a few weeks ago. Most of my driving was done on New York State freeways and highways with some driving around town. The car was very smooth, though sometimes upshifts were met with a little shift shock. I can't recall if I ever entered 9th gear, but I do know the car performed very, very well otherwise.
  • nomercy346nomercy346 Member Posts: 69
    My mom took a Limited with the Pentastar V6 for a test drive a couple weeks ago and I managed to get some time behind the wheel as well. The trans is alright although some shifts were a little clunky IMO, particularly when you lift off right before it shifts. Otherwise its totally smooth and shifts quickly. The ZF 8 Spd is definitely better and probably the benchmark at the moment. (at least from my experience with them in Bimmers, I'd like to drive a Grand Cherokee with the 8 spd)
    Not sure if it ever went into 9th gear, I heard you have to get to 80mph to reach 9th(?) so it probably did.... It is also really quiet at hwy speeds and has a comfy ride, I actually liked it more than I thought I would. Only thing I didn't like was the surprisingly aggressive throttle tip in. Really have to feather the gas for an easy take-off.
  • rshollandrsholland Member Posts: 19,788
    The Cherokee Trailhawk is a vehicle I'm seriously looking at. I've driven a half dozen or so, and all but one shifted fine; the one in question shifted a bit abruptly once, and it was one of the early 2014 models. The last two I've driven were 2015 models and they were fine.

    The transmission is assembled by Jeep, but it was designed and engineered by ZF, with Jeep tweaking it for Cherokee duty. Acura also uses a 9-speed ZF transmission on some of their vehicles, most likely a variation of this unit.
  • legacygtlegacygt Member Posts: 599
    These days where cars are being engineered for CAFE performance we see things like extra gears, CVTs and turbos added in the name of the CAFE mpg numbers. Too often these features have less of an impact in real world efficiency. I can't see how a 9 speed makes this car any more efficient.
  • allthingshondaallthingshonda Member Posts: 878
    I'm not a fan of Chrysler products by a long shot but their bad reputation for transmissions started in the early nineties but it was due to improper maintenance. Chrysler's new UltraDrive transmission was one of the first fully electronic transmissions, the first to feature adaptive learning capability and a limp home mode in case of a malfunction. It was very advanced for it's time. It was also one of the first to require a specific transmission fluid that you could only get from Chrysler. This was the time when people did their own maintenance or had "that guy" who did their work and they usually put in the standard Dexron/Mercron fluid from the auto parts store. Combine this with the fact that Chrysler did not make it clear that you had to use their fluid only and this would be the beginning of the end for the transmission.
  • allthingshondaallthingshonda Member Posts: 878
    Acura does use the 9-speed ZF unit for the new V6 TLX. The 4 cylinder uses a new Honda designed and built 8 speed DCT. It is not clear why they chose ZF other than it is designed for AWD systems. Honda spent considerable time fitting it to the 3.5 V6 and it took longer than anticipated to get the shift strategy programming correct. From most reviews the 8-speed DCT 4 cylinder combination is superior to the 9-speed V6 because of the fast shifts and since it also has a torque converter it doesn't have the jerkiness at low speeds inherent of DCTs.
  • rshollandrsholland Member Posts: 19,788
    If the Ridgeline Owners Club is to be believed, expect the ZF-9 speed to show on the next-gen Ridgeline in a couple of years.
  • allthingshondaallthingshonda Member Posts: 878
    Honda is supposed to be transitioning to small displacement turbo 4 engines throughout the line up. For example the next generation Civic is supposed to have a 1.5 Turbo to replace the current 1.8 engine, the Fit will get a 1.0 turbo 3, and top level Accords will get a 2.0 turbo 4 to replace the V6. The V6 engines will be reserved for large vehicles like the Pilot, Odyssey, and Acura. If this is the case then the 8-speed DCT could possibly be reserved for use with higher performance cars like high level Accords and Civic Si and the CVT for all others. The ZF unit was probably chosen because all those ratios get good fuel economy and is designed for AWD. Honda's budget for transmissions was probably spent after developing the CVT and the 8-speed DCT. It was cheaper to outsource to ZF for lower volume vehicles like the Odyssey and Pilot than design another transmission.
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