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Back Vehicle News Ford All-New Ford Ranger Hits A Six
11 Feb 2011

All-New Ford Ranger Hits A Six

* Ranger is one of the first one-tonne pickups in Australia to boast a new six-speed automatic transmission in a segment where six-speed gearboxes are still rare
* The six-speed automatic transmission comes with intelligent software functions such as the Driver Recognition feature that tailors its response to individual driving styles
* Delivering smooth and quick shifts along with outstanding fuel economy, the new six-speed gearboxes will be available on selected diesel models

Melbourne, Australia, Feb 15, 2011

The all-new Ford Ranger has scored a clear winner in its fuel-efficient adaptive six-speed automatic transmission.

Not only does it shift quickly and smoothly but the gearbox studies how you accelerate, brake and corner, and tailors its gear shifts to match your expectations.

If you're a sporty driver, it will hold on to the gears longer and use more of the engine revs. Or if you drive in a fuel-efficient manner, the transmission will upshift earlier to deliver the desired fuel economy.

This Driver Recognition aspect is one of the clever software features built into the six-speed automatic transmission. Ranger is one of the first one-tonne pickups to sport a six-speed automatic transmission, taking the lead in a segment where six-speed gearboxes are still uncommon.

The six-speed transmissions, both manual and automatic, will be available on selected models with the 2.2-litre or 3.2-litre Duratorq TDCi diesel engines.

With a larger spread of ratios, the six-speed transmission offers real-world benefits by allowing the customer more flexibility to be in the right gear for fuel efficiency, power and performance.

Imagine driving along at 100 km/h while laden, you can shift from 6th to 5th gear and it is only a 10 per cent to 15 per cent change in engine revs. But with a four-speed gearbox, that might be a 25 per cent change in engine revs so it will feel like it is revving too high in third yet not delivering enough grunt in fourth.

"The low first gear greatly improves launch feel while the smaller steps between 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th also ensure less 'busyness' within the transmission as it determines the right gear,” Ford's transmission calibration supervisor, Tim Postgate, said.

"The end result of the transmission being in the right gear at the right time leads to an improvement in vehicle performance and a reduction in fuel consumption."

'Learning' your driving style
The Ranger's automatic gearbox provides drivers various modes as well as total manual control through sequential manual shifting.

In Normal mode, the calibration focuses on comfort and fuel economy. For sportier driving, a quick flick of the shifter changes the transmission into Performance mode with later shift points, particularly suited to twisty, hilly terrain. The driver can also manually select gears through a forward (downshift) or rearward (upshift) movement.

The Driver Recognition software "learns" the driver's style using a points system.

The feature recognises various performance-based actions, such as rapid acceleration, enthusiastic cornering and flooring the accelerator pedal. This sporty driving "earns" points, and the more points earned, the more responsive the transmission becomes.

For example when accelerating at half-pedal in Drive mode, the upshift may occur at 2000 rpm, but in Performance mode or after some enthusiastic driving, the shift may occur at 3000 rpm instead. Downshifts become more easily accessed and more engine braking is available.

"The aim of the software is to match the customer’s expectation of the gearing with his or her driving style," Postgate said.

"A relaxed driving style will deliver significant benefits in terms of refinement and fuel economy, while enthusiastic drivers will be rewarded with sharper responses and a more defined sporty feel."

Recognising gradients
Ranger's six-speed automatic transmission can also deduce whether the pickup is going uphill or downhill – and how steep it is – by assessing the engine torque.

Engineers calibrated the baseline by determining the amount of torque required in each gear to maintain steady speeds on a level road. So if the vehicle requires less torque from the baseline, it means it's going downhill and vice versa.

The gradient counter runs in the background and constantly gauges the grade, with a flat road being zero percent.

The transmission uses this information to adjust the shift points to suit the level of gradient. For example when going uphill, this will prevent the transmission from changing up a gear too early as there won't be enough torque in the next gear, hence minimising gear hunting.

When going downhill, the transmission will automatically downshift to provide additional engine braking when it senses the driver is applying the brakes. This helps the driver to be in better control.

"With the six-speed automatic gearbox, driving uphill or downhill will be as simple as driving on flat roads," Postgate said.

Other than recognising gradients, the transmission is also programmed to hold on to the gear when going around a corner at high speed as any gear shift at that point may unsettle the vehicle.

And when driving in low-range 4WD, Ranger has a different pedal map and a different shift schedule so that the driver can control the vehicle better when negotiating challenging terrain such as steep, muddy or sandy off-road tracks.

"The sheer capacity of the transmission to allow for real-time calculation of a variety of parameters has enabled us to further refine the shift strategy to cover a whole range of driving scenarios," Postgate said.

"All the intelligent built-in features result in a transmission that is not only involved and intuitive but can also adapt its functionality to suit every situation as demanded by the driver."

The Ranger made its successful world premiere in Sydney last September ahead of its Q3 release this year. It will be sold in 180 countries.

For more details on the Ranger's new six-speed automatic, go to:

Ford online


Media site: http://media.ford.com/article_display.cfm?article_id=34049

YouTube (Ranger): http://www.youtube.com/fordranger#p/u/0/MdRfgMCOjaU

YouTube (FordAPA): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-9JmosXv6wY



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