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If it’s been a while since you bought a new half-ton truck, you may be surprised to hear that 10-speed automatic transmissions are quickly becoming the industry standard. In fact, Ram is the only pickup truck manufacturer still paring its V8 engines with an outdated eight-speed automatic. Here’s the scoop on which trucks offer what transmission and the truth about whether more gears are always better.

Most half-ton pickup trucks offer a 10-speed transmission

Advertising photo showing the isolated drivetrain--with V8 and eight-speed automatic transmission--of a Ram 1500.
2023 Ram 1500 drivetrain | Stellantis

Most half-ton pickup trucks available in 2023 come with a 10-speed automatic transmission. Ford and General Motors jointly designed an all-new 10-speed automatic for use in full-size SUVs and trucks. The automakers are unclear about how many mechanical components the 10-speeds in Chevy/GMC and Ford trucks share, but make it clear they wrote separate software to compliment their unique engines.

You’ll get an older eight-speed automatic transmission if you order a GMC Sierra/Chevy Silverado pickup truck with the turbocharged I4 engine option. But every other 2023 half-ton from GMC, Chevrolet, or Ford uses this new 10-speed. General Motors calls it the “Hydra-Matic” 10L80 MF6. Ford brands it as the SlectShift 10R80.

In 2020, Nissan redesigned its second-generation Titan pickup truck. Nissan discontinued the diesel Cummins V8 option. So even though the Titan is available with regular “half-ton” suspension and heavier “medium duty” suspension, it only comes with one drivetrain. The Titan has a 5.6-liter V8 and a nine-speed automatic transmission sourced from Jatco.

For 2022, Toyota redesigned its Tundra for the truck’s third generation. It opted for a twin-turbocharged V6 instead of its old naturally-aspirated V8. While you can get this engine in three separate tunes (including the i-FORCE MAX hybrid, which makes 583 lb-ft of torque), every Tundra comes with a 10-speed automatic sourced from Aisin.

Ram offers the only V8/eight-speed half-ton truck

Detail shot of a decorated shift knob for the eight-speed automatic in the Ram 1500 Limited truck.
2023 Ram 1500 Limited shift knob | Stellantis

If you choose the four-cylinder engine, you can still get an eight-speed automatic transmission in GM pickup trucks. But when you upgrade engines, you get a 10-speed. So Ram is the only truck manufacturer still pairing an eight-speed automatic with a V8 engine in its half-ton truck (the Ram 1500).

Ram Trucks brands the Ram 1500’s eight-speed automatic as the “TorqueFlite” pickup transmission. It has a light-duty version (850RE) for its V6 trucks and a heavier version (8HP75) for its V8 trucks. Though both transmissions are built at Ram’s Kokomo, Indiana plant, they were engineered by ZF in Germany.

Heavy-duty pickup trucks are a completely different beast. But if you select a Ram 2500 or 3500 with the 6.7-liter Cummins I6, Ram pairs the turbodiesel with a 6-speed automatic transmission. The high-output Cummins gets a heavy-duty 6-speed automatic built by Aisin.

You can see all the current half-ton transmission options in the table below:

Ram 1500 (V6)Torqueflite 8-speed (ZF 850RE)
Ram 1500 (V8)Torqueflite 8-speed (ZF 8HP75)
Nissan TitanJatco 9-speed (JR913E)
Chevrolet/GMC 1500 (I4)8-speed (8L90)
Chevrolet/GMC 1500Hyrda-Matic 10-speed (10L80 MF6)
Toyota TundraAisin Direct Shift 10-speed (AWR10L65)
Ford F-150SelectShift 10-speed (10R80)

Ten-speed transmissions rarely use all their gears

The Ram 1500 half-ton pickup truck showing off its trailering capabilities by towing a boat through the desert, for a promo photo.
2023 Ram 1500 towing | Stellantis

More gears is always better, right? The truth may not be so simple. Even the eight-speed ZF automatic in the Ram has more gears than the pickup truck would run through while accelerating. The little-known truth is that one of those eight gears is only for acceleration, and one is only for deceleration.

So why would a similar half-ton pickup truck need a 10-speed automatic? Well, an F-150 or Silverado with a 10-speed only uses certain gears in particular situations. For example, the 10R80/10L80 has three separate overdrive gears. One is a “low” overdrive engineered for more efficient towing.

So is a 10-speed automatic truck transmission superfluous? Probably not. When Ford released its 10-speed, it compared the engine with a ZF eight-speed. It concluded that during an average shift with the eight-speed, the engine rpm dropped 25%. When the 10-speed shifted, the RPM only dropped 20%, thus saving fuel.

Next, learn which is the final full-size ‘American’ pickup built in the U.S.A. or learn how to use Ford’s new 10-speed in the video below: