What is continuously variable transmission (CVT), and why is it being embraced by many car manufacturers? Here’s a quick Q&A on this emerging technology.
Q. What is CVT?
A. Continuously variable transmission (CVT) is a technology that provides a vehicle with the precise amount of power it needs to travel efficiently at any speed.
Q. How is CVT different from conventional transmissions?
A. A conventional transmission has a series of set gears it moves through as a car changes speed. Today’s cars usually have from five to eight gears. A CVT does not use gears, but belts and pulleys to change torque on a continuous basis.
Q. What are the advantages of CVT?
A. The biggest advantage is better gas mileage. A vehicle equipped with CVT usually gets 6 to 10 percent better mpg than the same vehicle with a conventional transmission. The second advantage is better acceleration. A CVT-equipped vehicle can usually go from 0 to 60 mph 20 percent faster than it would with a gear-driven transmission.
Q, How does driving a car with CVT differ from driving one with a conventional transmission?
A. When you drive a conventional car, you tend to feel small jolts and jerks as the transmission moves through its various gears. There are no such “kicks” with a CVT. Also, engine noises can vary. Some people report that engines in CVT-equipped cars often sound like vacuum cleaners when traveling at certain speeds. Both sensations can be a bit unnerving at first. But you’ll get used to it!
Q. Is CVT available in manual?
A. No. CTV is, by definition, a form of automatic transmission.
Q. Which carmakers currently offer CVT?
A. Nissan currently offers the most CVT-equipped models, ranging from its subcompact Versa to its full-size Maxima. Subaru and Audi have also gotten into the CVT business. General Motors and MINI have so far resisted moving into the CTV arena.
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