Losing Hope in the 9 Speed, Even Honda Can't Get it Right - 2014+ Jeep Cherokee Forums
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post #1 of 37 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 01:41 AM Thread Starter
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Losing Hope in the 9 Speed, Even Honda Can't Get it Right

From Car & Driver review of Honda Pilot:

"Its standard V-6 engine is a strong performer, although the optional nine-speed transmission shifts jerkily."

"All Pilots come standard with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, but we’d avoid the nine-speed automatic transmission included in the top trims. The LX, EX, and EX-L trims team the engine with a smoother six-speed automatic;"

"Unfortunately, the nine-speed automatic on the more expensive Touring and Elite trims shifts abruptly and has very unrefined start-stop functionality..."

http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/...h-model-review

http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/...-driver-page-2

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post #2 of 37 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by jdd View Post
From Car & Driver review of Honda Pilot:

"Its standard V-6 engine is a strong performer, although the optional nine-speed transmission shifts jerkily."

"All Pilots come standard with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine, but we’d avoid the nine-speed automatic transmission included in the top trims. The LX, EX, and EX-L trims team the engine with a smoother six-speed automatic;"

"Unfortunately, the nine-speed automatic on the more expensive Touring and Elite trims shifts abruptly and has very unrefined start-stop functionality..."

http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/...h-model-review

http://www.caranddriver.com/reviews/...-driver-page-2

I did a little research and the Honda Pilot's transmissions are made by ZF corporation and the Jeep ones are made by FCA in Kokomo, Indiana. My 2017 transmission is much improved from my first 2014 KL. ZF is the designer and FCA pays some type of royalty for using their design, but can make changes without giving them to ZF. The Pilot will probably improve with time as our KLs did, but what I read was as bad or worse reviews than on our experiences. One person said they were trading it with 265 miles on their new Pilot--darn, that even beats my trade-in time

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post #3 of 37 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by ptram View Post
I did a little research and the Honda Pilot's transmissions are made by ZF corporation and the Jeep ones are made by FCA in Kokomo, Indiana. My 2017 transmission is much improved from my first 2014 KL. ZF is the designer and FCA pays some type of royalty for using their design, but can make changes without giving them to ZF. The Pilot will probably improve with time as our KLs did, but what I read was as bad or worse reviews than on our experiences. One person said they were trading it with 265 miles on their new Pilot--darn, that even beats my trade-in time
Main ZF9 plant in North America is in Gray Court SC, while the FCA ZF9s are built in Indianapolis (a retooled abandoned Chrysler plant I believe). FCA are building them under a ZF licence, and while they can program it the way they want, I'm not sure they can modify any of the hardware at will...

The 8-speeds found in GCs and RAMs are also ZFs, but a different beast altogether (made for longitudinal applications, they are bigger and more *conventional* in design).

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post #4 of 37 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 10:38 AM
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I think the 9 speed is here to stay. It improves gas mileage in these bigger sized engines and that is what the government is after. I think with time and experience, FCA and ZF will continue to improve them. While I will not be surprised if my 2015 tranny comes down with the flu some day, so far even after 42,000 miles on it, its been very healthy.
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post #5 of 37 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 01:29 PM
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Main ZF9 plant in North America is in Gray Court SC, while the FCA ZF9s are built in Indianapolis (a retooled abandoned Chrysler plant I believe). FCA are building them under a ZF licence, and while they can program it the way they want, I'm not sure they can modify any of the hardware at will...

The 8-speeds found in GCs and RAMs are also ZFs, but a different beast altogether (made for longitudinal applications, they are bigger and more *conventional* in design).
Close but, no cigar, as stated before, the FCA 9 speed is built in Kokomo, IN, about an hour northeast of Indy, seen the plant myself, not too far where the tornado took out a Starbucks last year. Even funnier was the review stating the 6 spd was much smoother. Had a 6 spd auto in my previous GMC Terrain, that thing couldn't shift to save your life and had almost stalled out twice. This 9 spd had me worried but, so far it has performed better that that 6 spd. Even C&D's thorough review of the KL just last month barely mentioned the 9 spd, so sounds like Honda is dropping the ball on the programming end.

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post #6 of 37 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 01:45 PM
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I have one of the flawed transmissions but I still like it. There's the 3-2 thing, and lately when in the mid-80's outside it sometimes unceremoniously bangs into 5 from 4.

I put up with the flaws because the KL V6 otherwise performs very well and gets great gas mileage for a 4K lb vehicle (generally 23 - 29 mpg in warm weather depending on type of driving). The ZF9 also lets the V6 get to it's power band pronto.

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post #7 of 37 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 02:30 PM
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C&D as well as any mainstream auto rag sem to be fairly biased against many American made products. Honda surely doesn't get everything right. We have owned quite a few of them.

The ZF9 is not a plate based transmission and takes a bit of getting used to. I think they perform nicely. Sure 9 gears is probably 2 too many for the V6 engines but it doesn't really hurt the overall performance and the ZF9 is quite capable for towing.

New concepts always have quirks that take time for most gearhead media to get used to. You have to remember that their drivers use a massive fleet and moving from a standard old school tranny to a ZF would be strange to say the least.

I do think it's here to stay. Automakers need to drop their cafe mileage. I would like to see the ESS go, but like engines in the past that deactivated cylinders, which so many hated is now pretty common.

Those are my thoughts on this subject.


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post #8 of 37 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 04:31 PM
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Originally Posted by Champagne InHand View Post
C&D as well as any mainstream auto rag sem to be fairly biased against many American made products. Honda surely doesn't get everything right. We have owned quite a few of them.

The ZF9 is not a plate based transmission and takes a bit of getting used to. I think they perform nicely. Sure 9 gears is probably 2 too many for the V6 engines but it doesn't really hurt the overall performance and the ZF9 is quite capable for towing.

New concepts always have quirks that take time for most gearhead media to get used to. You have to remember that their drivers use a massive fleet and moving from a standard old school tranny to a ZF would be strange to say the least.

I do think it's here to stay. Automakers need to drop their cafe mileage. I would like to see the ESS go, but like engines in the past that deactivated cylinders, which so many hated is now pretty common.

Those are my thoughts on this subject.


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I was a C&D subscriber for years. I think I quit when I could no longer get cheap renewals... haha. Most of their journalists are former racers, or just plain car geeks. They like their shifting to be smooth, quick and precise, no matter the type of tranny.
I have a *good* latter 2015 ZF9 and I find it... quirky. I kinda like it overall, but I realize the quirkiness when I sit behind the wheel of another vehicule with a classic auto. I've gotten into certain habits to prevent mine from doing 2-3 bangs when cold, or from downshifting abruptly... It is far from *mature* in its development and I find it is taking them too much time to get there, after almost 4 years of mass production. If they can't fine tune it in 4 years, maybe there's a fundamental design flaw... or limitation, if you will.

Hoping they get it straightened out for good some day soon, because a lot of money is riding on that tranny for FCA.

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post #9 of 37 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 07:38 PM
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I was a C&D subscriber for years. I think I quit when I could no longer get cheap renewals... haha. Most of their journalists are former racers, or just plain car geeks. They like their shifting to be smooth, quick and precise, no matter the type of tranny.
I have a *good* latter 2015 ZF9 and I find it... quirky. I kinda like it overall, but I realize the quirkiness when I sit behind the wheel of another vehicule with a classic auto. I've gotten into certain habits to prevent mine from doing 2-3 bangs when cold, or from downshifting abruptly... It is far from *mature* in its development and I find it is taking them too much time to get there, after almost 4 years of mass production. If they can't fine tune it in 4 years, maybe there's a fundamental design flaw... or limitation, if you will.

Hoping they get it straightened out for good some day soon, because a lot of money is riding on that tranny for FCA.
Not as much as the 10spd auto that Ford and GM jointly developed. That thing started to grenade in the trucks by the Blue Oval, plus they are going to put it in the 'Stang and GM is putting it in the Camaro ZL1 and Vette eventually. Unless they get that transmission straight then American icons, will be trashed for decades. Ala the '70's Vette and Camaros and dare I say the Mustang II.

http://www.autonews.com/article/2016...aptor-10-speed

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post #10 of 37 (permalink) Old 04-27-2017, 11:10 PM
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The ZF9 is quirky, weird, it doesn't downshift from 3rd to 2nd, it hesitates when on a rolling stop of it, and you hardly ever see 9th gear (at least mine anyway).

But you know what? I don't care really. It shifts fine, and with the Pentastar engine, the little 2-ton vehicle can certainly move with ease. Getting to triple digit speeds-if you should ever get to that point, is incredibly smooth and brisk. I also don't mind doing 80mph on the interstate, and only having the engine turning over at 2k rams, or perhaps lower if I'm in top gear.

And for good measure, Sport mode is fun, and it locks out 7th, 8th, and 9th, so you're always in that power band.

If the transmission fails between now, and when I reach 100k miles, I'll have no issue getting it replaced with a newer build one anyway.
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Last edited by Shoulder; 04-27-2017 at 11:12 PM.
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