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The TorqShift is a dramatic improvement for Ford Super Duty truck buyers and the results are immediately noticeable while driving. The shifts from this transmission are firm, without being too firm, and nearly imperceptible. We drove 6 different Super Duties over a 10 hour period. The vehicles included 4 different pickups and as riders in two Excursions. In every case the TorqShift shifts were the same, firm while being nearly transparent. This shift feel was no accident and is the result of Direct Electronic Shift Control (DESC). DESC uses computer controlled solenoids to control the shifting of the TorqShift.

In designing this transmission the key was to make the shifts fast and firm without the bumps that are normally associated with automatic transmissions. Those bumps are caused by a delay in filling the transmission clutch pack. The TorqShift addresses this problem by leaving the clutch pack full and then applying pressure and, of course more, fluid to the clutch pack when a shift is required. This pre-filling of the clutch pack provides for nearly seamless shifts both on the way up and on the way down.

Speaking of the way down, like the Allison the TorqShift also offers drivers a tow/haul mode to assist with grade braking during trailering descents; but the TorqShift's transmission feels more intuitive. The Allison analyzes brake pressure, throttle position and road speed to determine when a downshift should occur. The TorqShift also analyzes brake pressure, throttle position and factors in road speed like the Allison, with the addition of a second detent in the brake pedal that tells the transmission to downshift faster.

We tested using both the Allison and TorqShift transmissions in tow/haul mode using 7,000 pound trailers on a descent that varied between 3% to 6%. The trucks compared were a Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD SRW 4x4 Crew Cab Duramax and a Ford F-350 Super Duty DRW 4x4 Power Stroke. The results: the TorqShift's tow/haul mode was a pleasure to drive, aptly helping us to control and hold the speed of our descent smoothly and with the minimum amount of extra braking. Press the brake moderately once and its shifts down a gear. Press again and it drops another. Press with more force and you can drop up to two gears as the tow/haul mode interprets your request for extra braking assistance. All of the downshifts were as smooth as the up shifts and seemed to come just as needed. Compared to the Allison transmission available for our tests, the TorqShift consistently performed better.

All and all if the Ford engineers benchmarked the Allison then they have at least for now built a better performing transmission. And diesel truck buyers should love this competition, it brings out the best from everyone involved. To sum up our impression of the TorqShift: Smooth, capable and intelligent performance.

Ford has invited us to come to the Livonia, MI to learn more about the TorqShift and do a comparison with the Allison. We will report on the visit later this year so stay tuned.

But downhill testing of these trucks wasn't all we did.

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