If four cogs are good, six must be better - which, perhaps, is why Ford announced today it'll be installing six-speed automatic transmissions on the 2009 Escape - along with its kissing cousins, the Mercury Mariner and Mazda Tribute.
Built in the automaker's Sterling Heights, Mich. plant, the 6F35 will become the top-end automatic in the CUV trio, surpassing the standard five-speed manual and optional four-speed automatic on front-wheel-drive models. Ford claims the extra two gears return a four- to six percent increase in fuel economy.
The six-speed is available on both I-4 and V-6 models - both of which are refreshed for 2009 and given a boost in power. The previous 2.3-liter I-4 is replaced with an all-new 2.5-liter mill rated at 170 horsepower, 17 ponies more than the previous motor. The 3.0-liter V-6 doesn't change in size, but likewise sees its power jump from 200 horsepower to 240. Ford claims both engines return an extra mile per gallon when coupled to the new six-speed.
Expect to see Escapes, Mariners, and Tributes fitted with the new 'box later this fall. Ford hints another two vehicles will make use of the 6F35 at a later date - we're betting they'll be the hybrid versions of the Ford and Mercury 'utes.