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The Dodge eight-speed transmission and the Ford 10-speed transmission have been around for years now. So, do the two extra gears in the Ford mean better performance? Or does Dodge’s ZF 8HP automatic represent the best you can get? 

More gears do not necessarily mean better performance

Once upon a time, your automatic Ford or Dodge offered a three-speed transmission. Today, however, you can get a Mustang or F-150 with 10 speeds. However, an increasing number of gears isn’t a guarantee of seamless operation or steadfast performance.

When it comes to Dodge, you can find a ZF 8HP automatic transmission in everything from the Charger to the savagely powerful SRT Demon (well, derivations thereof). And Ford has been installing its 10R80 10-speed automatic in many of its vehicles for the better part of a decade. 

However, don’t think for a second that a higher number of gears means a better transmission. The ZF eight-speed, despite having two fewer gears than Ford’s 10-speed, has become something of a gold standard in the auto industry. Moreover, my experiences with the post-facelift, 10-speed S550 Ford Mustang revealed a tendency to “hunt” for gears. Of course, that’s remedied by playing the Mustang’s steering wheel-mounted paddles like a musical instrument. And musical it is. 

A ZF 8HP eight-speed transmission in a cutaway.
A ZF eight-speed transmission | ZF Friedrichshafen AG

Further, my time behind the wheel of various Dodge Challengers and their eight-speed autos was drama-free. Moreover, while the SRT Hellcat didn’t offer any dual-clutch witchcraft, the “big automatic,” as Matt LeBlanc describes it, shifts compliantly and doesn’t relinquish any speed.

Still, both transmissions are present in some serious performance nameplates. For instance, the 2018 Ford Mustang GT broke the 4.0-second barrier to 60 mph with the 10R80 10-speed automatic transmission backing up its 460 horsepower Coyote V8. What’s more, the Dodge Challenger SRT Demon, one of the fastest-accelerating production cars ever, packs a derivation of ZF Friedrichshafen’s beloved eight-speed automatic transmission.