I recently purchased my second Ford Fusion. Only this time, I bought a car with a manual transmission. (Real Men drive stick).

I am concerned that the RPMs rest between 2,500 and 3,000 when I travel 60 to 65. That seems too high.

I asked the dealer and he said “That’s the way it was set at the factory and it cannot be changed.”

I tried to contact Ford Motor Company and they said “Ask your dealer.” (Is there really any question about why American car dealers are losing market share?)

My Ford Fusion with an automatic transmission rests around 2,000 rpms at 60 and 65 and both transmission are five-speeds. My knowledge of cars stops at filling the gas tank and adding windshield washer fluid, but this doesn’t seem right.

Anyone care to explain?

FredFusion of Chesapeake, VA

Unfortunately, cars are geared this way because if they put real overdrives in the car, too many people complain the fifth gear is “useless” or the car is totally gutless in fifth. I’ve been complaining about this for years, particularly with motorcycles which often spin 4000 rpm at 60, even with one liter engines.

It seems that “real men” want sticks but still don’t want to have to downshift for passing or hill climbing so the car makers give them a car that’s permanently in a passing gear.

That sounds about right to me. Both of my 4-cylinder cars (one with 5-speed manual and one with 4-speed automatic) are in this range at the speeds you mention.

2,000 rpm at 60-65 sounds a bit low for a 4-cylinder engine. You didn’t say what size engine your cars have.

I suspect one or both of the tachometers is not reading correctly…A 4-banger can’t pull a car 65 mph at 2000 rpm…Try GENTLY accelerating from 60 to 65 with the automatic, do not force a downshift…What does the tach read then? You may be coasting when you are observing the tachometer and don’t realize it.

Also, somewhere in “specifications”, will be “Final drive ratio”. Check that number for both cars. This is what determines top gear RPM, along with transmission ratio in top gear.

The final gear ratio for the 5-spd manual is 0.77:1. The final ratio in the automatic is 0.69:1. If you cruise at 2500 in a manual car, you would be at 2240 in a Fusion with an automatic. Both ate for 2008 models. The 2008 Fusion has a 6-spd auto.

Nowadays, with as far as automatics have progressed reliablilty and fuel milage-wise, the only people carmakers figure are buying manual transmissions cars are people who want a zippy car with good accelleration. Consequently, the manual versions are usually geared much lower, which is part of why on some models the automatics get better mileage.

Also, just a little car 101, when you’re talking about a manual transmission the RPM’s are a direct function of how fast you are travelling and what gear you’re in because the engine is directly coupled to the engine. So if you’re travelling at, to give your example, 60 mph in 5th gear your engine will always be turning at 2500 (barring a weak clutch). An automatic has a viscous coupling called a torque convertor between the engine and transmission, so depending on if you’re accellerating, coasting or decellerating your RPM’s will be different at the same speed. Something malfunctioning in an automatic may well cause the RPM’s to be too high, but on a manual transmission what you get is what you get and so long as your car is staying in all gears your transmission is working perfectly and there is nothing your dealer can do about it.

I will also concur with MCparadise, though, that the speeds you list don’t sound unreasonable. The Fusion is a pretty big car for a four-cylinder engine to pull around. I think my old 5-speed Taurus cruised at about that, which is probably pretty close in size and had a probably fairly comparable sized engine. It got junked with a perfectly running engine and got well over 30MPG on practically every tank.

I can’t speak to the Fusion, but I am pretty sure that most cars manufactured in the last 20 years have had lock-up torque converters, so the engine is just as solidly connected to the rear wheels at highway speed with an automatic as it is with a manual.

Yes, that’s true but it’s not always engaged. If you’re accellerating hard, it won’t engage until you get to cruising speed and it’ll disengage when you step on the brakes, so it’s yet another reason why automatics will turn different RPM’s at the same speed.

Manual transmission cars have a lower gear ratio (higher numbered). This is usually done to help you avoid lugging the engine. Despite the higher RPM’s, you may get better gas mileage. Those RPM’s won’t kill your engine.

Both cars are 4-cylinders.