I bought one for my kid. It is not a rocket ship on the freeway by any means. It is pretty peppy around town though. I don't have any issues with the transmission I've driven a few older Jeep's with the 9 speed and it has definitely been improved. The older ones really seemed to hunt for gears. They have resolved this it seems. The engine could use another 20hp but it's not bad. You are right though the only way to know is to go and test drive it..