Ten Facts About Cadillac Escalade's New 10-Speed Transmission

Carprices Team / Posted On - December 28th 2022
Cadillac engineers have developed a new transmission for the 2018 Cadillac Escalade and it checks all the right boxes when it comes to efficiency, performance, and packaging. 
Based on the critically acclaimed Hydra-Matic multispeed transmissions that Cadillac put to use in its full-size luxury SUV, the Escalade, the new 10-speed automatic gearbox is a revelation in the way it is designed. Here are ten facts about the new transmission, dubbed 10L80 that makes it stand apart from its peers.

1. Improved Engine Efficiency


Due to a wider overall gear ratio spread, the new 10-speed 'box enables a numerically lower top gear ratio. This redesign makes for lowered engine speed on the highway.

2. Redesigned Hydraulic Pumps


The new gearbox relies on two special pumps to actuate the hydraulic power necessary to control its clutches. The pumps reduce the effort needed to couple and decouple the clutches, leading the way to the third feature of this 'box.

3. Quicker Shifts


Due to the use of the special pumps, shifting through the cogs of the new transmission has become a breeze. The Escalade driver can now tap into the SUV's SAE-rated 420 horsepower and be assured of staying in just the right gear for every situation.

4. Increased Fuel Efficiency


The 10L80 boasts of lower friction than the eight-speed transmission it replaces thus aiding fuel efficiency. Additionally, the previously mentioned lower numerical top gear ratio allows the Escalade to hold low engine speeds in relation to ground speed. The 6.2-liter V8 motor of the full-size SUV sips lesser fuel due to the reduced engine speed, thanks to the new 10-speed gearbox.

5. Precise, Smooth Shifts


The 10-speed tranny has shorter throws between gears and uses proprietary controls to enable fast and seamless gear shifts. The redesigned controls have made the gearbox more efficient in each of its gears than the six- and eight-speed units it replaces.

6. Unchanged Gearbox Size


One would think that adding two extra cogs to an existing transmission definitely has to make it bigger. But the boffins at Cadillac have managed to package the 10L80 in the same size as the outgoing eight-speed tranny. This means that the Escalade's architecture need not be re-adjusted to accommodate the new gearbox.

7. Reduced Spin Losses


Much thought has been put into the internals of the automatic transmission. There is a new ultra-low viscosity fluid inside in addition to internal thermal bypass and minimal number of non-applied clutches. Mechanical spin losses have also been ironed out, allowing the gearbox to transfer engine power to the wheels with minimal transmission losses.

8. Transmission Fluidity


The transmission fluid of the 10L80 can reach a maximum viscosity of 4.5 centistokes. This greatly reduces internal friction and lightens the load on the hydraulic pumps.

9. Wider Gear Ratio Spread


The simple act of adding two extra gears has made the 10L80 gearbox much more flexible in terms of power delivery. The gear size has been increased to 7.3 allowing for smoother operation through all the ten cogs, making the 2018 Cadillac Escalade's gearbox a real slick shifter.

10. Advanced GM Software


The base hardware of the 10L80 might be robust and modern, but aligning it with GM's specially developed software takes it into a different league. A central electronic control module relays millions of instructions to connected systems based on GM's exclusively developed algorithms, calibrations, and software. Information Technology actually does bring hardware closer to its full efficiency, it seems.
One transmission, so many benefits. So much thought and efforts have been poured into the 10L80 automatic that it redefines the capabilities of Cadillac when it comes to drivetrain engineering. And it makes the 2018 Cadillac Escalade a compelling alternative among full-size SUVs.

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