Dear Car Talk:

We have a 2019 Jeep Cherokee with a 10-speed automatic transmission. The car never goes into 10th gear, even at 100 mph.

The dealer we bought it from now acts like he no longer knows us when we try to complain about this or the fact that the Cherokee never gets close to the gas mileage that’s posted for it.

Got any ideas? — Denny

Yes. I can tell you, with 100% certainty, why it never goes into 10th gear, Denny.

Because you have a 9-speed automatic transmission. Mystery solved! All 2019 Jeep Cherokees came with 9-speed transmissions.  

So if your Jeep ever did shift into 10th gear, it would be big news at Fiat/Chrysler headquarters. Oh, wait. This just in: They’re calling the company “Stellantis” now that they’ve merged with Peugeot and Renault. My advice is if you have Stellantis, talk to your doctor.

What I can’t explain is why your dealer wouldn’t just tell you that you have a 9-speed transmission rather than hide in the men’s room every time you come in. Wouldn’t that be simpler?

In terms of fuel economy, you’re not alone in failing to achieve the Environmental Protection Agency’s fuel economy rating for your car. The EPA even says that their standardized mileage tests are primarily for comparison purposes, allowing you to see how similar cars stack up against each other. Those tests are performed under what we call “ideal conditions,” that most of us will rarely duplicate.

Oddly, some cars we test DO manage to get their EPA rated mileage or very close. But most fall short. Some by a wide margin.

What can you do to improve your mileage, Denny? First, make sure your tires are properly inflated and make sure your car is in good working condition — which we’ll assume it is since you just bought it. And then, drive the car gently and at reasonable speeds.  

Don’t drive 100 mph. Even if you’re in high-speed pursuit of the elusive Jeep 10th gear.


Got a question about cars? Write to Ray in care of King Features, 628 Virginia Drive, Orlando, FL 32803, or email by visiting the Car Talk website at

© 2021 by Ray Magliozzi and Doug Berman


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