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Chevrolet Unveils Fuel-Efficient 9-Speed Automatic Transmission First in 2017 Malibu

Chevrolet Unveils Fuel-Efficient 9-Speed Automatic Transmission First in 2017 Malibu

By Philly Murtha, December 07, 2016
This week, General Motors’ mainstream Chevrolet brand announced that the automaker’s first 9-speed automatic transmission will be available in three new models—first in the 2017 Malibu midsize sedan, followed by the 2017 Cruze Diesel compact car, and then the 2018 Equinox compact SUV. The new transmission improves fuel economy by about 2-3% from an 8-speed automatic, Chevy says, and it introduces smoother automatic gear shifting, according to the company. By the end of 2017, GM officials plan to offer the new Hydra-Matic 9T50 9-speed automatic as an option on 10 of its models.

In the Chevrolet Malibu, which is the bow-tie brand’s best-selling passenger-car model, GM’s new 9-speed automatic transmission is partnered with the turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that produces 250 horsepower, which helps the car average an EPA-estimated 33 mpg on the highway—up 3% from the 2016 model with an 8-speed automatic.

In addition to offering better fuel economy, the 9T50 also achieves refined performance at all driving speeds, according to a GM official. The steps between gear shifts are smaller, and the 9-speed’s higher top gear ratio lets the powertrain operate at lower rpm in highway cruising. The new transmission also supports start/stop technology that can help save fuel by allowing the engine to shut down at stoplights, for example, which also promotes fuel efficiency in the city and on the highway.

More advanced technology for the new 9T50 9-speed includes a selectable one-way clutch where all gears are in line with the crankshaft, which helps reduce the transmission’s size, and makes it roughly the same dimensions as a 6-speed transmission, GM says. New torque-converter technology is also a focus to help deliver smoother acceleration, and GM uses its electronically controlled capacity clutch technology to lessen engine vibration for even smoother operation, the automaker says.

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