What Is a Five-Speed Shiftable Automatic?

The five-speed shiftable automatic is an automatic transmission found in many cars that offers the driver the option to change gears manually without the use of a clutch. This option allows the driver to operate the vehicle with the ease of an automatic, but operate in a manner similar to a manual transmission in situations where greater control is necessary or desired.

With the five-speed shiftable automatic, the transmission locks into the selected gear. This gives the vehicle more power when needed, such as when accelerating quickly, and a sportier feel when driving. It allows the driver to select the appropriate gear to take advantage of engine braking when driving on a steep decline.

While manufacturers differ in the design of this option for their vehicles, one common style includes a second shift gate on the transmission selector. The second gate allows joystick-style operation of the shift lever to choose the appropriate gear.

In a sense, all automatic transmissions offer this option. The driver can shift the automatic transmission to L, 3, 2 or 1 to lock out the higher gear ranges. However, with an older style automatic transmission, the vehicle continues to shift into lower gears as the vehicle slows.