When Is A Nine-Speed Automatic Only A Seven-Speed? When It’s Installed In A Promaster Van. Some Owners Are Feeling Cheated

The 2022 Ram Promaster van got a transmission upgrade to the ZF nine speed automatic, as already used in many of the company’s FWD/AWD cars. The venerable six-speed 62TE, which was heavily based on the old A604 four speed, is apparently being retired, and having only six speeds does seem a bit out of date. Nine-speed sounds so much more…technically advanced and like a nice upgrade, but owners of 2022 Promasters are finding out that it’s really a seven-speed, as 8th and 9th gears are never used. As a result, some of them are feeling a bit cheated. Should they?


What happened to 8th and 9th gear?  The Promaster is simply too big and boxy to utilize both of these highly overdriven gears. 9th gear is extremely high, at 0.48:1, and 8th, at 0.58:1, is not much lower. The 6 speed’s top gear (6) was 0.65:1, which as Promaster drivers know all-too well, was a struggle to stay in as soon as a mild grade or headwind is encountered. The 9 speed’s 7th gear (0.70:1) is almost identical to the old 6th gear, considering that the 9-speed comes with a slightly lower (higher numerical) 4.08:1 final drive ratio compared a 3.86:1 with the 6 speed.

Here’s the 9-speed ratios.

And here’s the 6-speeds ratios.

The Promaster’s software simply does not identify any situation when it would be beneficial to utilize 8th or 9th gear. And the result is that some owners feel cheated. Some posters at the Promaster forum have suggested that a lower (higher numerical ) final drive would solve the problem. No, it wouldn’t, as it would make 1st and possibly 2nd too low to use properly, or at all.

The only real solution would be to narrow the spread of the gear in the 9-speed, but that would be a very expensive undertaking, as that’s much more complicated than changing the gears in a manual box.

The reality is that a 7 speed has one more gear than a 6-speed, so there’s no real point to complain. It’s not like they paid extra for it asn an upgrade; it’s the standard transmission.

Would you feel cheated?