Continuous Variable Transmissions

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shawcroft
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Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by shawcroft » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:38 am

Good morning!
Our cars are getting "long in the tooth" and we are beginning our efforts to decide what type of vehicle would be best for our needs.
As we looked at a few of them, I noticed some now come with "continuous variable transmissions" (CVT). I grew up in the era of "slip and slide with Powerglide" so this is some thing new to me. The last car we bought (2008 Subaru Outback) didn't have this but I have been informed that the automatic transmissions in the newer Outbacks- since the 2010 model year- now have continuous variable transmissions.
Is this feature good or bad? Subaru brags about having all wheel drive on all the time so it must work OK with the newer models- I haven't seen a lot of dead Subarus on the roadside.
But, seriously, has anyone thoughts or experiences with cars having Continuous Variable Transmissions?
Thanks,
Shawcroft

hicabob
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by hicabob » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:44 am

My kid has a Nissan with one - Nissan has been making them for years now instead of autos in almost all their cars. They do get better mileage and better performance from a given engine. The thing that people find strange is when you stomp on the gas the engine goes to perhaps 4000 rpm and just stays there as the car accelerates - this gets the most power from the engine but some people miss the "surge of power" that you feel when a regular auto shifts thru the gears. I think they will predominate over the next few years.

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daytona084
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by daytona084 » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:59 am

As hicabob stated, many people find the driving experience with CVT's very distasteful. Most of the current development is in geared automatic transmissions, with increased number of gear ratios. Whereas in the past 2-speed and 3-speed automatics were the norm, 6-speed transmissions are now quite commonplace, and 4-speed transmissions are considered outdated. Current development is mostly dual clutch automatic transmissions (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dual-clutch_transmission) in the 7-speed and 8-speed range.

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segfault
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by segfault » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:05 am

I have one in my four cylinder 2009 Altima. At lower speeds, it keeps the engine RPMs low and there isn't much engine noise. If you stomp on the gas pedal, it will bring the engine to its power peak and stay there. Some people say this feels like the transmission is slipping, when in fact it isn't. My biggest gripe is that, in an attempt to increase gas mileage, at low speeds, the transmission will keep the engine RPMs too low and there is a slight shudder, as if it's lugging the engine--I've noticed this behavior in several newer automatic transmission vehicles I've driven, so it's not unique to the CVT. Overall, I don't have many problems with it, and the Nissan has been a great car. Drive a newer Outback and see if you like it.

etarini
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by etarini » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:26 am

I just finished reading the Consumer Reports auto issue, and over the last couple of months I've been looking at car reviews and the Subarus in particular, and noting that other cars also have the CVT. Some complaints are that it can increase engine noise and that some models have excessive engine braking going downhill. But CR picked the Subaru Impreza as their best compact car, but said this about the Outback: "Despite a modest bump in horsepower from the redesigned engine, acceleration often feels lethargic, and the coarse engine noise accentuated by the unrefined CVT becomes obtrusive at times." Yet it doesn't prevent them from recommending it.

I agree with others that it's likely that it will take people awhile to get used to how the new CVT and modern 6-speed transmissions feel, sound, and perform.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by Khanmots » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:46 am

I'm a manual person that can't stand most automatics I've driven as they leave me feeling like I'm not in control of the car. They hesitate to down-shift, they don't let me actually engine brake, they constantly second-guess me. Driving in the mountains with a rental with an auto always leaves me feeling like I'm fighting the car.

With that said, my sister-in-law has a Nissan Rogue with a CVT that I find pretty dang solid. It's responsive. It doesn't fight me. The CVTness takes a little getting used to it feeling different, but I find it delivers a far better experience than a typical slushbox. If I were to ever move away from a manual, a CVT or DCT (dual clutch) would likely be what I'd move to. As for noise or whatnot, only time I find it noisy at all is when I've got the pedal down and it's actually giving me the power I asked for (unlike the auto's I'm used to where you have to be at 90%+ throttle to convince it to downshift...) Perhaps a lot of the noise complaints are from people that are used to only using 25% of what the engine is capable of despite using 75% of the travel space of the gas pedal...

That said see if your local dealer will let you do an extended test drive, may help you get over the initial feeling of strangeness. When I was car shopping I had a Mazda dealership spontaneously offer to let me take their car for the day while I was driving all over hitting various dealerships test driving everything under the sun... so some at least are willing. And test CVTs between different manufactures, I'd imagine that there's differences in the control systems that'll make their response feel different.

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HardKnocker
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by HardKnocker » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:54 am

I have a Subaru Outback with CVT and 4 cyl.

Works fine and don't see any real difference vs. regular automatic. It goes.

The 4 cyl has adequate performance for me.
Last edited by HardKnocker on Tue Mar 12, 2013 4:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Clark & Addison
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by Clark & Addison » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:19 am

We have a 2005 Mercury Montego AWD with a CVT. The CVT gives a smoother ride when accelerating. We have had no problem witht the CVT. If I were searching for a new vehicle, I wouldn't let the CVT sway my decision one way or the other. We use our vehicles to get from A to B and the CVT has done as good a job as any other transmission we've ever owened.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by livesoft » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:21 am

My spouse has a 2006 Ford with CVT. I am not sure if Ford still does this or not. I remember the salesman on the test drive telling me "Feel how smooth that accelerates and shifts. You don't feel a thing." I was unimpressed and so was he once he found out our other car was a Lexus which was even smoother with no noticeable gear changing.

Although the reviews complained about the Ford CVT and it seems that the Ford mechanics didn't understand it, we have add no transmission problems with this car ever in the 7 years we have owned it. The car is "sluggish" though. If you stomp on the gas pedal, the car goes "Vrooommm!", but I think that Ford connected the gas pedal to the radio or something to make it do that. The sound is definitely not coming from the engine.
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MnD
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by MnD » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:49 am

It works great - we have the Nissan Altima hybrid with CVT, tons of power and acceleration.
I thought both the Subaru Outback and Nissan Altima regular 4-cylinders were doggy, but due to the elevation here and borderline horsepower for those vehicles given their weight.
The fact that both have an optional 6 cylinder gives you a hint on that fact.
The perfect Subaru compromise was the 4-cylinder turbo option - I heard they discontinued that, what a bummer.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by Landsman » Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:08 am

I own a 2010 Subaru Legacy with the CVT and love it. I never feel the car shift and the fuel economy is better than expected for a mid-size AWD car. I am currently averaging 28MPG in mixed driving and routinely get 31+ on the highway. I would recommend driving the car to see if you like it or have any concerns. Good luck in your search.

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fizxman
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by fizxman » Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:25 am

I went from a used 1988 Subaru GL Station Wagon (manual) to a new 2005 Ford Focus (manual) to a new 2013 Subaru Outback (CVT). After driving stick for the first 16 years of my driving life, going to anything else was going to be different and a concern for me. I wanted something 4WD or AWD to deal with the weather here in PA. I wanted something larger so I can drive 4 adults in comfort and throw large things in the back when needed. I also wanted an automatic so my girlfriend could drive it if necessary. With all that, the Subaru Outback fit the bill nicely.

Now getting back to the question at hand, I'm pleasantly surprised by the CVT. I'm happy with the gas mileage which averages about 24-26 mpg for my driving. This only 3-4 mpg less than my Focus which isn't bad if you ask me. I was also concerned about the acceleration of the Outback because I get on the highway a lot. My Focus had 151 hp and weighed about 2700 lbs and the Outback has 173 hp and weighs about 3400 lbs so I wasn't sure the extra 22 hp would be enough for the extra 700 lbs. But after having the car since November, I've had no issues with the acceleration of the Outback. When you step on the gas hard, the rpms shoot up quite high, 5000-6000 or higher, and the engine gets loud but the car accelerates when I tell it to and that was my concern. Not hearing or feeling the car shift gears is a little weird but you get used to it.

I do recommend this car but you should ultimately drive one yourself to make sure it fits your needs.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by Jack » Tue Mar 12, 2013 11:52 am

The continuously variable transmission is probably one of the most important fuel saving innovations for cars in recent years. It has become mainstream for most small and medium sized cars. It saves up to 10% in fuel over standard automatics by allowing the engine computer and CVT to always select the optimum RPM for conditions.

The difference is most notable when using cruise control in hills and mountains. For a standard fixed gear automatic, if the cruise setting is 60 MPH, then the RPM must also be fixed, say at 2500 RPM and never varies. That means that going up or down hills the engine must maintain a fixed 2500 RPM and can only do that by varying the throttle. The RPM and throttle position are not optimal for going up and down hills. The CVT on cruise control, on the other hand, varies the RPM, that is, changes the gear ratio, when going up or down hills more than just varying the throttle position. When going a steady 60 MPH you will notice that the RPMs on the tachometer continuously go up and down as you go up and down hills. This eliminates the change in engine noise from the throttle opening and closing on a standard automatic.

The engine braking effect that some people mention is another fuel saving feature. When the car is coasting or going down hill, the CVT shifts to its highest gear ratio and the engine computer completely shuts off gas to the fuel injectors. The motion of the car is the only thing that keeps the engine turning. In other cars you have to feed a small amount of fuel to the engine at all times in order to keep the engine turning over. You may notice this when you coast to a stop. While the car is rolling, there is no fuel to the engine because the motion of the car through the transmission keeps the engine turning. But when you get down to about 5 MPH, the car is moving too slowly, near a stall, so the transmission disconnects and idle fuel is fed to the engine to keep it from stalling. You may notice this slight change from engine braking to freewheeling at about 5 MPH. This ability to completely shut off fuel when not needed increases fuel mileage.

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Colin
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Re: CVT -- I have 4 different transmisssions.

Post by Colin » Tue Mar 12, 2013 2:29 pm

I guess I have one of each: a 2011 Corvette Grand Sport with a 6-speed manual on the floor; another 2011 Corvette with a 6-speed automatic with optional paddle shifters on the steering wheel; a GMC Sierra Extended Cab pickup truck with a 4-speed automatic; and a 2013 Nissan Sentra with a CVT.

The two Corvettes are our weekend, good weather fun cars. The truck is my daily driver and the Nissan is my wife's daily driver. The Corvettes aside, I much prefer her Nissan with CVT to the chugging gear changes in my GMC.

I suggest you test drive the new Subaru and the new Nissan. I will bet you will like the CVT.
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by likegarden » Tue Mar 12, 2013 3:09 pm

We have a 2002 and a 2004 Buicks with automatic transmissions and never noticed much shifting gears. The 2002 one we now want to replace with a new car of similar size. I noticed the 4 cylinder Honda Accords have CVT the first year and good reviews of it. But I also read about the transmission problems 6 cylinder Accords had a few years ago. We retirees want to get a car with no new designs which possibly will show problems, so we now think about a Toyota Camry of Chevy Malibu, both with standard automatic transmissions. Buick have been shrunk too much for us to buy.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by Browser » Tue Mar 12, 2013 5:56 pm

Thought I read that Honda is going to the CVT in some of it's vehicles next year, such as the Pilot SUV. They are already known for good highway mileage in the V-6 engine due to their system that shuts down some of the cylinders when cruising. If Honda adopts the CVT that could mean even better mileage based on the other posters who have said it improves mileage. And if Honda goes to it that's a pretty good endorsement of the technology, as I'm sure they don't want to compromise their reputation for reliability.
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by madbrain » Tue Mar 12, 2013 6:16 pm

wjwhitney wrote:As hicabob stated, many people find the driving experience with CVT's very distasteful.
I will make the opposite point. My first car was a Prius 2001 with a CVT. The only "regular" automatics I have driven are rentals. I hate the terrible noise and uneven acceleration when gears change. CVT are far better, IMO.

My current Nissan Leaf does not have a transmission.

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Epsilon Delta
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by Epsilon Delta » Tue Mar 12, 2013 7:13 pm

madbrain wrote:
wjwhitney wrote:As hicabob stated, many people find the driving experience with CVT's very distasteful.
I will make the opposite point. My first car was a Prius 2001 with a CVT. The only "regular" automatics I have driven are rentals. I hate the terrible noise and uneven acceleration when gears change. CVT are far better, IMO.

My current Nissan Leaf does not have a transmission.
When I was working on industrial electric vehicles some customers complained about poor acceleration. I put in a mode that added some jerk, they liked that better even though it was measurably slower. For some reason marketing wouldn't call it the jerk mode.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by tractorguy » Tue Mar 12, 2013 8:54 pm

I drove an underpowered Nissan with a CVT in Japan for 5 years and liked it. It got good gas mileage and had at least as much pep as similar cars with a standard automatic transmission. Driving conditions were almost everything from flat highway to mountain roads to dense traffic. Never had any problems with the powertrain.

It is different than a geared automatic and the difference will take a little getting used to. I also think that you're going to see more of them, particularly on lower cost cars. A CVT is currently less expensive to make than a 6 or 7 speed transmission.

IMOP, the design details will have more affect on feel, reliability, and durability than the fact that it is a CVT instead of a more traditional transmission. I noticed when shopping for cars last year that Nissan has a special warranty on their CVT that is about twice the mileage and years as on the rest of the powertrain or car. This tells me that they felt they had to make it attractive to buyers and their engineers are very confident in it. Its been around long enough that Consumer reports or others should be able to tell you if that confidence has been justified.
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by tim1999 » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:03 pm

I recently had a 2012 Altima with the CVT as a rental car and hated the way it drove with that transmission. I don't think I'd buy one unless there were no alternative and I needed a new car.

I also had a friend with a 2009 Nissan Murano with the CVT that went through 3 of them in 100k miles. Two of the failures left him stranded on the side of the highway in NYC-area traffic. Fortunately Nissan extended the warranty for these transmissions to 120,000 mi/10 yr. I believe. Basically Nissan indirectly admitted they were/are junky transmissions.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by BrandonBogle » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:07 pm

tractorguy wrote:I noticed when shopping for cars last year that Nissan has a special warranty on their CVT that is about twice the mileage and years as on the rest of the powertrain or car. This tells me that they felt they had to make it attractive to buyers and their engineers are very confident in it. Its been around long enough that Consumer reports or others should be able to tell you if that confidence has been justified.
Cherokee8215 wrote:I also had a friend with a 2009 Nissan Murano with the CVT that went through 3 of them in 100k miles. Two of the failures left him stranded on the side of the highway in NYC-area traffic. Fortunately Nissan extended the warranty for these transmissions to 120,000 mi/10 yr. I believe. Basically Nissan indirectly admitted they were/are junky transmissions.
I love how both lines of reasoning to me seem sound. How is a Boglehead to decide?!?

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by LadyGeek » Tue Mar 12, 2013 9:11 pm

This thread is now in the Personal Consumer Issues forum (cars).

My husband has owned a 2003 Murano, which was the 2nd year after Nissan introduced the CVT, then traded it in for a (newer) 07 Murano. I can't tell if it's the CVT or something else, but it gets great gas mileage (24+ mpg - very good for a V6 SUV) and has impressive highway acceleration.

I believe the CVT problems have been resolved.
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by bpp » Tue Mar 12, 2013 10:21 pm

Browser wrote:Thought I read that Honda is going to the CVT in some of it's vehicles next year, such as the Pilot SUV. They are already known for good highway mileage in the V-6 engine due to their system that shuts down some of the cylinders when cruising. If Honda adopts the CVT that could mean even better mileage based on the other posters who have said it improves mileage. And if Honda goes to it that's a pretty good endorsement of the technology, as I'm sure they don't want to compromise their reputation for reliability.
Honda has had CVT cars out for many years now, so it is a well-established technology for them.
Someone I knew who had one seemed to like it quite a bit.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by Browser » Sat Mar 16, 2013 6:00 pm

i just test-drove a 2013 Nissan Murano for the second time, with the CVT. The thing I noticed both times, and don't like, is that when I'm taking off slowly from being stopped the acceleration was jerky instead of smooth. I wasn't lead-footing it at all. It wanted to surge a little and then abruptly drop back when I reacted by backing off the accelerator. Couldn't get a nice smooth takeoff. Don't know if this is a characteristic of the CVT transmission, but can't think of any other explanation for it. This action is probably a deal-killer for me, as I don't think a $40K vehicle should do this.
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by madbrain » Sun Mar 17, 2013 2:10 am

Browser wrote:i just test-drove a 2013 Nissan Murano for the second time, with the CVT. The thing I noticed both times, and don't like, is that when I'm taking off slowly from being stopped the acceleration was jerky instead of smooth. I wasn't lead-footing it at all. It wanted to surge a little and then abruptly drop back when I reacted by backing off the accelerator. Couldn't get a nice smooth takeoff. Don't know if this is a characteristic of the CVT transmission, but can't think of any other explanation for it. This action is probably a deal-killer for me, as I don't think a $40K vehicle should do this.
I don't think it's a characteristic of the CVT . If you have ever test driven any model year of Prius, you will see that it has perfectly smooth acceleration and deceleration. And it has had a CVT since the beginning. It may not be as fast as you like, but that is a different issue, the Prius is not a sports car of course. And it isn't a $40k vehicle either.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by chipperd » Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:57 am

I have a 2008 maxima with 3.5l v6 and cvt transmission. The cvt does take some getting used to but I was drawn to it's smooth acceleration and better milage. I routinely get 25mpg overall with the large v6. On this model, you can also slide the shifter over to "manual" and shift/brake with the transmission (listed as 6 speed).

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by ResNullius » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:10 am

I drive a 2005 Nissan Murano, with CVT. It's the best thing since sliced bread, really. Not a single problem as of today. It took a few days to get use to not changing gears, but it's really nice.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by BigFoot48 » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:42 am

We just went all-in on a modern technology car by buying a Ford C-Max Energi, which is a plug-in hybrid. It has a CVT, along with an electric motor and a gasoline engine and a computer running everything, with a bonus of keyless remote starting and windshield wipers that start automatically. The learning curve has been a little steep for us 60-somthings.

Anyway, the smooth action of the CVT has enhanced the pleasurable driving experience, and knowing that it's used to maximize the performance of the engines is another huge bonus.

I'm just glad we didn't wait until we were 70-somethings to jump all-in to make the learning curve a little less steep!
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by Browser » Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:46 am

I'll have to drive the Murano one more time and see if I can figure out the acceleration issue. Otherwise, I really like the car. Mileage could be a bit better though. The 2013 Pathfinder has the same engine and transmission but is bigger and heavier and is rated 2 mpg better than the Murano. (20/26 vs. 18/24). Go figure.
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by stlutz » Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:13 pm

i just test-drove a 2013 Nissan Murano for the second time, with the CVT. The thing I noticed both times, and don't like, is that when I'm taking off slowly from being stopped the acceleration was jerky instead of smooth. I wasn't lead-footing it at all. It wanted to surge a little and then abruptly drop back when I reacted by backing off the accelerator. Couldn't get a nice smooth takeoff. Don't know if this is a characteristic of the CVT transmission, but can't think of any other explanation for it. This action is probably a deal-killer for me, as I don't think a $40K vehicle should do this.
Try changing your acceleration approach a bit. I would agree with the previous poster that the execution of the CVT on the Prius (which I drive) is excellent, but I've found that it's better if you punch the accelerator more from a dead stop than with other cars. I really notice this when I drive rental cars that they feel all jerky when I accelerate because I'm mashing the accelerator too hard.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by Browser » Sun Mar 17, 2013 12:31 pm

stlutz wrote:
i just test-drove a 2013 Nissan Murano for the second time, with the CVT. The thing I noticed both times, and don't like, is that when I'm taking off slowly from being stopped the acceleration was jerky instead of smooth. I wasn't lead-footing it at all. It wanted to surge a little and then abruptly drop back when I reacted by backing off the accelerator. Couldn't get a nice smooth takeoff. Don't know if this is a characteristic of the CVT transmission, but can't think of any other explanation for it. This action is probably a deal-killer for me, as I don't think a $40K vehicle should do this.
Try changing your acceleration approach a bit. I would agree with the previous poster that the execution of the CVT on the Prius (which I drive) is excellent, but I've found that it's better if you punch the accelerator more from a dead stop than with other cars. I really notice this when I drive rental cars that they feel all jerky when I accelerate because I'm mashing the accelerator too hard.
Thanks. I will try that. I was very lightly pressing the accelerator to get a slow, smooth start and maybe I need to hit it just a bit harder with the CVT. Will see if that helps.

P.S. it may actually be a hesitation problem that I sensed. When starting up from a stop there is a slight lag after the accelerator is pressed before power kicks in. This gives the sensation of a slight "lurch" or "surge" when starting up. Could be the computer, CVT, or something else. In any event, the car will be off my list if I do another test drive and it does this again.
Last edited by Browser on Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by Browser » Sun Mar 17, 2013 5:18 pm

Apparently there have been problems with the CVT on Nissans. They extended the warranty on several vehicles 2003-2010 to 10 years or 120,000 miles. Don't know how the more recent vintages have been faring.

http://www.nissanassist.com/web/CVT/index.php?menu=8
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by deanbrew » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:04 pm

Landsman wrote:I own a 2010 Subaru Legacy with the CVT and love it. I never feel the car shift and the fuel economy is better than expected for a mid-size AWD car. I am currently averaging 28MPG in mixed driving and routinely get 31+ on the highway. I would recommend driving the car to see if you like it or have any concerns. Good luck in your search.
I have a 2011 Subaru Legacy with CVT, and echo the preceding positive comments. I don't find it slow or noisy or sluggish, but rather efficient. It chooses the appropriate RPM for the situation, within reason. I like that the engine is turning over pretty darn slow while cruising down the highway, saving fuel and reducing engine noise. If I want to accelerate, the RPMs quickly rise to provide power. I like the CVT, and am pretty sure it is responsible for boosting highway fuel mileage.

It's different, and I've heard people complain, which is likely due to the different sounds. But it really doesn't drive much different from a modern 6- or 7-speed slushbox. The manufacturers are now designing 8- and 9-speed trannies. As one writer asked, at how many gears does an automatic replicate a CVT? FWIW, I have 25k miles on my car with no transmission problems or complaints whatsoever.
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by etarini » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:59 pm

deanbrew wrote:I have a 2011 Subaru Legacy with CVT, and echo the preceding positive comments.
Which engine is that? I've been looking at Subarus and I'm uncertain whether the 4-cylinders will do the job on a Forester or Outback. I'm a pretty relaxed driver and generally keep to speed limits and don't make jackrabbit moves, but I don't think I'd feel comfortable in an underpowered car. I've heard that a 6-cyl that isn't pushed hard will last longer than a 4-cyl that's straining a lot of the time.

Eric

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by deanbrew » Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:40 pm

etarini wrote:
deanbrew wrote:I have a 2011 Subaru Legacy with CVT, and echo the preceding positive comments.
Which engine is that? I've been looking at Subarus and I'm uncertain whether the 4-cylinders will do the job on a Forester or Outback. I'm a pretty relaxed driver and generally keep to speed limits and don't make jackrabbit moves, but I don't think I'd feel comfortable in an underpowered car. I've heard that a 6-cyl that isn't pushed hard will last longer than a 4-cyl that's straining a lot of the time.

Eric
Mine has the 2.5 liter 4. I test drove Legacies with both the 4- and 6-cylinder engines, and liked the combination of the 4-cylinder with the CVT better than the 6, which has a "traditional" 5-speed auto tranny. Going down the highway at 60 or 70, the 4 with CVT is actually turning at lower revs than the 6 cylinder version is. That's really the beauty of the CVT. The 6 has more power, no doubt about it, but the 4 is far from underpowered. It has 173 HP, which isn't too far from the 180-200 HP that 6-cylinders produced 15 years ago. My 4 will easily cruise at highway speeds, and has plenty of power for passing.

You should drive both for a reasonable amount of time to compare, on regular streets as well as on the highway. That's what I did, and I chose the 4 with CVT. I really wouldn't worry about a 4 being stressed or wearing out with regular driving.

FWIW, I had a Honda Accord V6 and a Nissan Maxima V6 before this Subaru. The Nissan V6 is one of the nicest engines around, with a great mix of power, smoothness and efficiency, but a 6 is not going to get anywhere near the fuel mileage a 4 will. I decided to go for fuel mileage this time around, and I haven't regretted it at all. There is a big difference in fuel mileage between the 4- and 6-cylinder Subarus. The current Legacy, for example, gets 24/32 with the 4, but only 18/25 with the 6. I get between the 24 and 32 city/highway figures, depending on the type of driving I am doing and the season (my mileage drops by about 2 or 3 MPG in the winter due to cold weather and winter fuel blends).
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etarini
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by etarini » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:58 pm

deanbrew wrote:Mine has the 2.5 liter 4.
Thanks for the feedback - I was hoping that would be the case, and your experience is encouraging. I had noticed the significant differences in MPG between the 4 and the 6 (not to mention the significant additional cost of the V6), and am hoping to get a somewhat more efficient car. My brother searched all over Michigan to get the specific features he wanted in a Subaru Forester - which included the manual transmission, because he wants to feel he's "in control" at all speeds. I'm happy to outsource that job to a well-designed transmission, and to accept its decision as to which gear should be used at every possible combination of speed and acceleration.

Since I got my first car in 1972, I've never owned a car that wasn't a V6 or V8, but I don't have strong feelings about them; perhaps I just haven't been paying attention to what a 2.5L can do these days, even a non-turbo, with a good transmission. (I've also never bought a new car, so I've also been following the "new vs. 2 years old" thread.)

Eric

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Peter Foley
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by Peter Foley » Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:30 pm

We have a 2000 Subaru Forester with a 4 cy and a manual tranmission. It has plenty of power, enough even to pull a 1000 lb boat and trailer.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by Scott S » Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:42 pm

Khanmots wrote:I'm a manual person that can't stand most automatics I've driven as they leave me feeling like I'm not in control of the car. They hesitate to down-shift, they don't let me actually engine brake, they constantly second-guess me. Driving in the mountains with a rental with an auto always leaves me feeling like I'm fighting the car.

With that said, my sister-in-law has a Nissan Rogue with a CVT that I find pretty dang solid. It's responsive. It doesn't fight me. The CVTness takes a little getting used to it feeling different, but I find it delivers a far better experience than a typical slushbox. If I were to ever move away from a manual, a CVT or DCT (dual clutch) would likely be what I'd move to. As for noise or whatnot, only time I find it noisy at all is when I've got the pedal down and it's actually giving me the power I asked for (unlike the auto's I'm used to where you have to be at 90%+ throttle to convince it to downshift...) Perhaps a lot of the noise complaints are from people that are used to only using 25% of what the engine is capable of despite using 75% of the travel space of the gas pedal...
Similarly, I hope to drive a manual as long as I can, but it seems like CVTs are a better solution than automatics. They'll no doubt be perfected by the time I need to use them. ;)
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by Epsilon Delta » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:41 pm

With computer control for the engine and transmission the feel of driving an automatic is largely a matter of software. Whether you prefer a CVT or an automatic depends more on how well you agree with the engineers that programmed it than the particular technology.

Automatics have come a long way since the two speed powerglide that could do 0-60 in either gear, so it did not matter (much) if it ever shifted.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by scouter » Tue Mar 19, 2013 5:38 pm

I had always preferred manual transmissions, but now that I've gotten used to the CVT in our Prius, I agree that it is the future. I still enjoy driving a manual once in awhile just for the fun of it, but I'll take the CVT over a regular automatic any day. Much smoother and more fuel efficient.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by dratkinson » Tue Mar 19, 2013 7:23 pm

deanbrew wrote:
etarini wrote:...I'm a pretty relaxed driver and generally keep to speed limits and don't make jackrabbit moves, but I don't think I'd feel comfortable in an underpowered car. I've heard that a 6-cyl that isn't pushed hard will last longer than a 4-cyl that's straining a lot of the time.

Eric
Mine has the 2.5 liter 4. ... It has 173 HP...
Just a data point.

My primary driver is a '90 Montero, 5-speed manual, 140 HP V6-cyl. I've driven it across country more than once, loaded, towing a trailer, combination grossing 8,000+ pounds, and maintained the speed limit. Only had to slow down for mountains and an oncoming Kansas wind.

I would not worry too much about a Subaru 173 HP 4-cyl satisfying a relaxed driver.

However, my neighbor traded in her 4-cyl '90 AWD Camry (nice car) because she is not a relaxed driver---car didn't accelerate fast enough for her. Bought an '03 6-cyl Subaru Outback (nice car). She is much happier, but it is harder to keep up with her when I must bring her back from dropping her car off for servicing.

Bottom line. If your candidate 4-cyl accelerates fast enough for you, you should be happy with it; and the engine should be more than capable of carrying whatever you can safely load in or tow with the car.



(Added) All this talk has gotten me interested in the 2014 Forrester with *driver-selectable CVT and was wondering how to compare the long-term driving experience of my 6-cyl Montero 5-speed to the 4-cyl Forester.
  • *Reading says it's close to a manual transmission in operation and required for hill-descent control and better operation in slick conditions (boat ramp, snow,...).
Was by a dealership yesterday, but all their salesmen were busy and I couldn't wait. (Neighbor's Outback was in for service. Not impressed by this dealership as they tried to up-sale my 70-yo neighbor a $900 BG service package during her $30 oil change. She had a mailed coupon.)

Looked and found this.

2014 Forester: http://www.cars101.com/subaru/forester/ ... r2014.html
  • engine standard models: 2.5-liter 4-cylinder,170 hp @ 5,800 rpm 174 lb.-ft. peak torque @ 4,100 rpm. Chain drive (CVT). Compression: 10.0:1. Bore/stroke 94mm/90mm. Curb weight: 3300-3650 lbs. Gross vehicle weight: unknown.
1990 Montero 6G72 engine (from owner's manual): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitsubishi_6G7_engine
  • ... since 1987 this V6 was a SOHC 12-valve developing 141 hp (105 kW) at 5000 rpm and 172 lb·ft (233 N·m) of torque at 3600 rpm. 5-speed manual. Compression: 8:1. Bore/stoke: 91.1mm/76.0mm. Curb weight: 3924 lbs. Gross vehicle weight: 5000 lbs.
Would appreciate a trained opinion.

Would the Subaru appear to me to quicker/slower with a heavy/light load? Don't expect sales staff would let me do that much on a test drive, but fully-loaded cross country trips are a (tiring) possibility.

Would I be correct to guess that since the torque figures are about the same, that a fully-loaded trip would feel about the same? Meaning that if I'm happy with my current vehicle, then I'll probably be happy with the Forester as a long-term vehicle?

Yes, when I get the chance, I'll go test drive one.



Edit: Added questions.
Last edited by dratkinson on Wed Mar 20, 2013 6:08 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by communipaw » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:36 pm

In the papers today:

http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03 ... s_20130319

A federal judge has given preliminary approval to settling a class-action suit over transmission problems on about 64,000 of Audi’s most popular models. The settlement covers anyone in the United States who leased or bought from Audi a 2002-6 A4 or A6 model with a continuously variable automatic transmission.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by NHRATA01 » Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:10 pm

CVT's are great for efficiency. The challenge is making a pully and belt mechanism that can handle the torque of larger engines - I suspect this is why Nissan is having issues with the CVT behind their V6's like the Murano and Maxima. Off the top of my head I don't believe any other manufacturers put a CVT behind their V6. I believe the new Accord only offers the CVT with the 4 cylinder. I personally would probably avoid them on more powerful cars.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by hicabob » Wed Mar 20, 2013 12:18 pm

Here's the original cvt (I think) - from 1958!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Variomatic

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by Groundhog » Wed Mar 20, 2013 2:32 pm

I too am looking at the 2014 Subaru Forester 2.5L CVT to replace my 1998 Honda CRV. I never driven a CVT so I look forward to that once my dealer gets some in. Just got done reading all 285 pages on the 2014 Forester thread at subaruforester.org http://www.subaruforester.org/vbulletin ... ead-96449/.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by btenny » Wed Mar 20, 2013 3:12 pm

I just bought a new 2013 Subaru Outback with the 6 cyl and the 5 speed. The extra HP of the 6 may be why it only comes with a 5 speed. I am not a aggressive driver but decided on the 6 because I live in the Sierra mountains and going over the passes and curves for errands is just easier with extra power. I also do lots of highway driving with a full car of luggage and stuff and wanted the extra passing power. The 6 is 250 HP and is quite responsive versus the 4 for the large Outback with the CVT.

I also drove the new 2014 Forrester and liked it a lot. It is very nice car and a lot nicer than the 2013. But right now the 2014 only comes with a regular 4 cyl and the cvt. It is OK as far as acceleration, not enough IMO for the mountains. According to various reports it will be available with a 4 cyl turbo with a cvt later this year. It will be interesting if the cvt on the higher power turbo model is as reliable as it is with the regular 4 cyl.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by ryuns » Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:14 pm

NHRATA01 wrote:CVT's are great for efficiency. The challenge is making a pully and belt mechanism that can handle the torque of larger engines - I suspect this is why Nissan is having issues with the CVT behind their V6's like the Murano and Maxima. Off the top of my head I don't believe any other manufacturers put a CVT behind their V6. I believe the new Accord only offers the CVT with the 4 cylinder. I personally would probably avoid them on more powerful cars.
The Highlander hybrid paired a V6 with a CVT and hybrid drive. My mom drives a 2008-ish model and I noticed that consumer reports had the Highlander hybrid pegged at one of the most reliable used vehicles available. I imagine some Lexus hybrid have a similar setup? I imagine that the torque from the electric motor probably takes a lot of the pressure off of the tranny?
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by Epsilon Delta » Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:33 pm

ryuns wrote:The Highlander hybrid paired a V6 with a CVT and hybrid drive. My mom drives a 2008-ish model and I noticed that consumer reports had the Highlander hybrid pegged at one of the most reliable used vehicles available. I imagine some Lexus hybrid have a similar setup? I imagine that the torque from the electric motor probably takes a lot of the pressure off of the tranny?
You may not understand how Toyota's synergy drive works. There is no separate CVT. The electric motors and controllers are the CVT. In particular there are no belts or cones and all of the gears are permanently meshed. Changing the ratio between the crank shaft and the drive wheels is done by manipulating electric currents in the motors rather than moving mechanical components.

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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by Browser » Wed Mar 20, 2013 11:33 pm

Since various Nissan models seem to use the CVT, I was curious about whether they are putting into their luxury division Infinity brand vehicles. Apparently the JX35 is the first to receive the CVT in the 2013 model. Everything else uses a 7-speed auto. Since they've been using the CVT for many years in Nissans, one might wonder why it took this long to put it into the Infinity brand. On the other hand, they are willing to use it in upscale vehicles which is an endorsement of sorts.
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Re: Continuous Variable Transmissions

Post by henry » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:00 am

I have owned a 2003 Murano since new. After almost 10 years and 86,000 miles, no transmission issues.

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