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If you’re counting gears, Ram’s trailing behind the rest of the half-ton trucks segment. The Ram 1500 has been rocking a ZF-engineered eight-speed automatic for over a decade. Hell, even the Nissan Titan’s up to nine cogs. But while high gear-count modern transmissions may make for meaty marketing, they have a little-known secret: you never use nine or 10 gears during normal acceleration or deceleration. In fact, you never use all eight of the Ram’s gears. This is why the Ram 1500 with a 5.7-liter Hemi V8 is exactly as fuel efficient–in every metric, city, and highway–as the Tundra with Toyota’s new 10-speed and twin-turbo V6.

What 8-speed transmission is in the Ram 1500?

Ram sourced the 8-speed transmission for its half-ton 1500 truck from ZF Friedrichshafen of Germany. But the transmissions in Ram trucks are built under license at a Chrysler factory in Kokomo, Indiana. It is branded as the Torqueflite8. If you order the V6 Ram, you get the “850RE” transmission; if you order the 5.7-liter Hemi V8, you get the “8HP75.”

This is the jeweled shift knob of the 8-speed automatic transmission in  a Ram 1500 Limited
2023 Ram 1500 Limited shift knob | Stellantis

This engine has seven gears for acceleration and seven gears for deceleration. Obviously, two gears are each only used for only one of those functions. The truth is that even 10-speed transmissions can’t shift fast enough to use every gear during normal acceleration or deceleration. So Ram’s choice to stand by its eight-speed automatic transmission has some validity.

Many Ram owners testify that their eight-speed ZF transmissions are sturdy and reliable. One owner has already put 200,000 miles on his fifth-gen 1500, towed well over its maximum capacity, never changed the transmission fluid, and his transmission has given him no issues. But note that while Ram says the fluid that comes in your 1500’s transmission should last the truck’s lifetime, ZF recommends you change it every 60,000-80,000 miles.

What is the gas mileage for a Ram 1500 with a 5.7-liter Hemi V8?

If you compare the V8 Ram 1500 to itself, its gas mileage is excellent. Through a multi-cylinder deactivation system, mild hybrid alternator/starter unit, and active aero, Ram has nearly doubled the mpg rating of its 5.7-liter Hemi V8 since it introduced the engine in 2003.

A special edition Ram 1500 Limited pickup truck with and 8 speed automatic pickup truck.
2023 Ram 1500 (RED Edition) | Stellantis

The current V8-powered Ram 1500 is not known for fantastic fuel mileage. But no gas-powered half-ton truck with a 10,000-pound tow rating gets amazing mpg. (Certain entry-level trucks with smaller engines are a different story). Instead of optimizing its V8, Ford developed a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, which can tow and sustain acceptable fuel mileage. But when you dig into the Ford’s accelerator, that efficiency falls away.

What’s interesting is that when Toyota emulated the EcoBoost with the latest Tundra’s turbocharged 3.4-liter V6 with a 10-speed (from Aisin), it fell short of Ford’s mpg. In fact, the resulting Tundra got the exact same mpg as a Ram with a 5.7-liter V8. Here’s how the trucks stack up on

4WD Ram 1500 V817 mpg22 mpg19 mpg
4WD Toyota Tundra17 mpg22 mpg19 mpg
4WD Ford F-150 EcoBoost17 mpg23 mpg19 mpg
2WD Ram 1500 V818 mpg23 mpg20 mpg
2WD Toyota Tundra18 mpg23 mpg20 mpg
2WD Ford F-150 EcoBoost18 city24 mpg21 mpg

Is a 10-speed truck transmission better?

Ford and General Motors co-developed one of the first 10-speed automatic transmissions in the half-ton pickup truck segment. This transmission boasts three overdrive gears, one designed especially for towing. This is a smart move…as long as the added complexity does not affect the transmission’s long-term durability.

Next, find out how the fifth-gen Ram 1500 runs after 200k miles or learn more about the service it does and doesn’t need in the video below: