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Would putting my car in Sport and leaving the transmission in 8th gear at highway speeds (using cruise) be more fuel efficient than leaving it in drive with full auto? I just noticed that while in drive with full auto the car downshifts going up hill. If I put it in Sport and leave it in 8th the RPMs sits at 1600 no matter if it's uphill, downhill or flat.

Car: 2014 Chrysler 300S, 8 speed semi-auto transmission/Manumatic (which ever you prefer)

  • seems to be similar content as this: mechanics.stackexchange.com/questions/37628/… – Josh Oct 19 '16 at 17:25
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    Not fuel efficiency related but food for thought, being in low rpm in 8th gear might make your reaction time slow if you need to accelerate suddenly on that hill. If you were in mid-range RPM, presumably closer to the power band, you would get the quicker acceleration if/when you need it, sorta depends on how your individual car reacts to sudden full throttle situations. – GER Oct 19 '16 at 18:36
  • Thanks @GER I usually drive at 3am so I don't usually have any reason to suddenly accelerate. I will keep this in mind. Thanks everyone for your supportive answers, it helps a lot. – Kaiden Rogers Oct 20 '16 at 3:08
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The power output of an engine is determined by how fast it can capture the energy released from fuel. There is an optimal range for that fuel-to-torque conversion, before and after which efficiency falls off. Whichever gear allows your engine to stay in its "zone" is the most efficient gear. If your car wants to shift, trust the engineers that built it.

Incidentally, this is why it's more efficient to "get to the point" when accelerating, getting to that zone of optimal torque more quickly (unless there's a red light in your immediate future). Smarter folks than I discuss the physics of it in this related post, from which I borrowed this image: Combustion engine efficiency chart in which efficiency follows, a rough bell-curve

  • This should be the accepted answer as it is the only one which attempts to provide any evidence. The other answers seem to offer only anecdotal evidence or gut feelings at best, which I'm sure the OP could have achieved by himself so I don't really see what they bring to the table – Darren H Oct 20 '16 at 6:47
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The primary reason to down shift is more power.

The 2 things effecting your gas mileage here are throttle position and RPM. As long as you can stay in 8th at less than half throttle, I would stay in 8th. If you need more than half throttle, I would downshift.

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    Which is likely what the automatic mode is doing on its own, but more accurately. – MichaelS Oct 19 '16 at 21:50
  • Since mileage is a huge selling point, automakers have an incentive to make the numbers better. – Nelson Oct 20 '16 at 5:57
  • Assuming there are no other factors is a fallacy. What you think of as "throttle position" is in fact only a requested position, the ECU will adjust that request based on many sensor readings and calculations. There are also other factors affecting economy such as spark advance, injector pulse / duty cycle etc. which are all decided by the ECU and these factors can change quickly and are difficult to predict by a human. Rules of thumb like this are naiive at best. The ECU (your gearbox will likely have it's own!) knows better, let it do it's job – Darren H Oct 20 '16 at 6:57
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On flat ground, you can go by the general rule: the higher the gear the less fuel you burn. You also get less power, but it is more efficient, and it isn't bad for the engine provided it isn't lugging and you are above the idle speed.

When you're going uphill, however, it can instead be the most efficient to shift toward the point where you get the highest torque, particularly if your engine is running above 50% power output.

Engines generally deliver the best fuel economy between 1500 – 3000 RPM, depending on your engine. When you are running under load, the most efficient place to be running is at the peak efficiency point for your engine, which is usually somewhere in that range.

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