The term CVT has brought a sour look on the faces of those who are true driving enthusiasts, but a CVT could be perfect for you.
CVT stands for continuously variable transmission and it’s a change from a typical automatic transmission and certainly a departure from the manual that you might find in some models. A CVT works well in a lot of ways and it gives you a lot of what you want that makes more sense for you on the road.
What is a CVT
When you think of a CVT, you can picture a bicycle gear system with a set of pulleys and cones at each pulley. These pulleys are connected by a chain belt and the move closer together and farther apart to increase or decrease the diameter for the belt operation. The ratio needed is automatically selected based on the desired acceleration and the driving conditions. The ratios for the CVT are always changing to find the right combination for the best speed and fuel efficiency during the drive to make it possible for the car to work the best while you’re driving.
A Different Feeling
Drive a car with a CVT and you’re going to have a different feeling. The car is always searching for the right gear ratio, which makes it an ever-changing collection of gears that are meshed together. The main reason these transmissions are being used more today is the efficiency rating offered. The Nissan Altima is one of the most affordable and fuel-efficient sedans on the market, and it has used a CVT for many years, as have many of the Nissan models you’ll find that you want to drive.
Hills Aren’t a Challenge
Because a CVT has an infinite number of gears to choose from and can constantly change and alter the ride due to the driving conditions and acceleration, hills aren’t a problem. In fact, one of the most impressive cars that handled the hills in San Francisco like a champ was the Scion iQ. This little car was built with a tiny 1.3-liter engine that only had 94 horsepower, but it certainly had what it needed to go up and down the hills better and smoother than any model that has a traditional automatic or manual transmission.
The Down Side
There has to be something that a CVT does wrong. Otherwise, every car would be built with a CVT unless it’s meant to be a performance model. When you have a vehicle that used a CVT transmission, you’re going have an engine area that’s louder than with a typical transmission. This is because the engine revs in order to find the right gear ratio to make sure you can drive right. A CVT is also not the right transmission to handle towing, which is why we don’t see these transmissions used for models that are pickup trucks or meant for towing often at all.