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10 Great Vehicles with 8-Speed Transmissions

Charles Krome
by Charles Krome
June 10, 2015
6 min. Reading Time

The latest engine technologies have helped the auto industry unlock massive gains in responsible performance in recent years, and when deployed in vehicles with 8 speed transmissions, the results have been even more impressive. After all, the added gear sets give automatic transmissions an even wider span of ratios with which to work, allowing the powertrains to deliver optimum operation in different driving scenarios. In fact, at this stage, these advanced automatics can be faster and more efficient than manual transmissions, while also providing a more satisfying driving experience than a continuously variable transmission (CVT),

Eight-speed transmissions are also available in a surprising range of cars, trucks, SUVs and crossovers, so Autobytel has tried to find at least one of each, while further looking to satisfy both mainstream customers and those who prefer a more premium approach to motoring.

2015 Dodge Charger

Consider it a sign of the times: the world’s fastest, quickest, most powerful sedan—the 2015 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat—has ditched a manual transmission entirely and is sold solely with an 8-speed automatic transmission. Of course, that unit has been specifically tuned up for the top Charger model, both to handle the Hellcat’s 707 hp and 650 lb.-ft. of torque as well as to enable blisteringly quick shifts in as few as 160 milliseconds. As a result, when working together with the Hellcat’s supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8, that transmission is a key cog in the car’s ability to run the quarter-mile in 11 seconds flat.

But it’s additionally worth noting that the TorqueFlite 8 transmission is standard on all Charger models and can also help owners achieve 31 mpg in highway driving when it’s mated to the car’s standard 300-hp 3.6-liter V6 engine.

 Photo by Dodge

Photo by Dodge

2015 Cadillac CTS

To manage all 640 hp and 650 lb.-ft. of torque from its 6.2-liter supercharged V8, the 2016 CTS-V sedan will rely on an advanced eight-speed automatic transmission with both paddle shifters for full manual control and Performance Algorithm Shifting for quicker cog swapping. But drivers don’t actually have to wait until the new CTS-V comes out—or pay its range-topping MSRP—to enjoy one of the brand’s performance sedans with an 8-speed transmission. 

For that, it just takes the 2015 Cadillac CTS Vsport, which combines an octo-box with a 3.6-liter twin-turbo V6 engine capable of making a healthy 420 hp and 430 lb.-ft. of torque. True, that leaves the Vsport slightly off the pace of the full-on V-Series, yet drivers of the former still see 0-60 in just 4.4 seconds and a top speed of 172 mph.

 Photo by Cadillac

Photo by Cadillac

2015 GMC Yukon Denali

Although advanced automatic transmissions are beginning to migrate their way into the mainstream, they generally remain premium features found primarily on upscale choices like the 2015 GMC Yukon Denali. Indeed, as the ultimate expression of a professional-grade full-size SUV, the Yukon Denali is well-stocked with luxury cues that range from a hands-free rear liftgate to wireless phone charging to 4G LTE connectivity with a mobile wi-fi hotspot. 

However, it’s also one of the most capable SUVs with an 8-speed transmission, since that gearbox is mated to a 6.2-liter V8 engine that can tow up to 8,400 lbs., and the vehicle itself can swallow a massive 94.7 cubic feet of cargo. Meanwhile, the Yukon XL Denali stretches the point even further, with an extended length that creates 121.1 cubic feet of total cargo space.

 Photo by Benjamin Hunting

Photo by Benjamin Hunting

2015 Ram 1500

Yes, there are even some full-size pickups with 8-speed transmissions nowadays, thanks to 2015 RAM 1500. It helped pioneer the use of 8-speed automatic gearboxes in today’s trucks, and when paired to Ram’s 3.0-liter V6 diesel engine, the transmission helps the Ram reach EPA grades as high as 21 mpg city/29 mpg highway/24 mpg combined. 

Moreover, Ram also offers that advanced transmission with its gas-powered V6 and HEMI powerplants, including in the brand-new Ram Rebel off-road high performer that also boasts an exclusive air suspension, standard 33-inch tires wrapped around exclusive 17-inch wheel, unique interior and exterior design elements, and trail-ready treats like a factory-installed lift kit, skid plates and tow hooks.

Due later this year and scheduled for 2016 production as well, the Ram Rebel will be priced from $42,790 and offered exclusively as a crew-cab model with a 67-inch bed length.

 Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

Photo by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles

2015 Hyundai Genesis

Hyundai has put significant effort into attracting premium customers to its brand, and it’s worth noting that the company has done much of the work on its own. For example, the Genesis sedan’s standard 8-speed automatic was designed in-house by Hyundai engineers specifically to serve up “enhanced shift logic and speed, better acceleration, sport-mode mapping, shifting smoothness and transmission efficiency.”

Like most luxury cars with an 8-speed transmission, the Genesis supplies robust power, too, with two homegrown engines: an upgraded 3.8-liter V6 that’s worth 311 hp and 293 lb.-ft. of torque, and a 5.0-liter V8 that can produce 420 hp and 383 lb.-ft. of torque earning its distinction as the most powerful Hyundai production engine ever.

Similarly, the 2015 Genesis sedan marks the debut of Hyundai’s all-wheel-drive technology for the brand’s car lineup, with that system also showcasing an electronic variable-torque-split clutch with active torque control.


2015 Lexus RC

The 500 units of the Lexus LFA are long gone at this stage in the game, but the supercar’s sporting spirit carries on in the brand-new 2015 Lexus RC—and so does the LFA’s interior design, which was a major inspiration for Lexus’ new “luxury-sport” coupe. Thus, the latter car’s cabin furnishes a sharply driver-focused environment, complete with premium front seats that rely on a special “integrated foam” construction process to ensure occupant comfort and sophisticated good looks.

Another important performance enhancer comes from the brand’s hi-po IS F sport sedan, in the form of an eight-speed Sports Program Direct Shift transmission that gets matched to a 3.5-liter, 306-hp V6 engine in rear-wheel-drive RC models.

On the other hand, the RC isn’t just a parts-bin car, and engineers and designers alike have imbued the sophisticated coupe with its own distinct flavor, putting it front and center on the menu of best sports coupes with an 8 speed transmission.


2016 BMW X1

The 2016 BMW X1 has been extensively redesigned for the new model year, with the upcoming next-gen edition due to arrive this fall and set a number of segment benchmarks in the process. Per the Bavarians, the brand-new X1 will be distinguished by the roomiest cabin in the class, offer more versatility than any other compact premium crossover, and pack the most powerful standard engine. That unit, a 2.0-liter TwinPower Turbo, will force out 228 hp and 258 lb.-ft. of torque and furnish a 0-60 time of 6.3 seconds, yet also realize notable lower emissions levels. 

Needless to say, the X1 additionally serves up plenty of fresh entertainment and connectivity features, like the latest BMW ConnectedDrive system. But while it does carry over its Steptronic gearbox, folks also can expect the X1 to carry on as one of the best premium crossovers with an 8-speed transmission.


2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Jeep brand’s flagship is, unsurprisingly, one of the best SUVs with an 8-speed transmission to be sold in the United States, backed by a trophy case full of top industry prizes. Naturally, that includes quite a few that are focused on off-roading and luxury design, but the 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee also owns one of the industry’s most publicized efficiency titles. When configured with its 3.0-liter V6 EcoDiesel engine, the Grand Cherokee is the 2015 Green SUV of the Year, as chosen by the experts at “Green Car Journal.”

But beyond its ability to serve up EPA ratings of 30 mpg in highway travel, that powerplant also pours out 240 hp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque, enough for a best-in-class tow rating of 7,400 lbs.

As for Jeep’s 8-speed automatic, it’s standard with not just that diesel, but all engine choices in the Grand Cherokee.

 Photo by Jeep

Photo by Jeep

2016 Chevrolet Malibu

All-new for the 2016 selling season, the latest Chevrolet Malibu will be one of the best family sedans with an 8-speed transmission, but it may be better known as the car that brings Apple CarPlay—and Android Auto—to the mid-size sedan segment. Designed to integrated users’ smartphones with the new Malibu’s MyLink infotainment system, the two technologies build on the brand’s rollout of 4G LTE connectivity for the 2015 model year, which also brought mobile wi-fi capability.

The high-tech strategy also informs the Malibu’s powertrains, though, allowing drivers to benefit from that sophisticated transmission, standard and premium turbocharged engines, and a high-efficiency hybrid model that is expected to return an EPA grade of above 45 mpg in combined driving. At that level, the next Malibu Hybrid will have at least a 3 mpg lead over its rivals from Ford, Toyota and Hyundai.


2016 Acura ILX

Honda’s luxury brand has made a number of moves to reinvigorate its entry vehicle for the new selling season, so that the 2016 Acura ILX has been upgraded to become one of the best vehicles available with an 8-speed transmission. But what’s even better is that that new dual-clutch gearbox gets mated to a more powerful standard engine, with drivers able to unleash 201 hp and 180 lb.-ft. of torque—reflecting gains of 51 hp and 40 lb.-ft. of torque as compared to the starter engine for the 2015 ILX.

Also in the mix are Acura’s signature Jewel Eye LED headlights, as part of a refreshed exterior design for the front and back, along two additional content packages: the AcuraWatch Plus bundle, combining the brand’s portfolio of leading-edge safety measures, and the A-Spec package, providing a more athletic look with side-sill garnishes, a rear spoiler and yet bigger wheels.



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