Automatic gearbox

CVT vs Automatic Transmission: Which is better?

When looking to buy a car, one of the decisions buyers must make is the transmission the car has. Previously, manual and automatic were the only two choices of transmission available, but there’s a new player in the game: CVT. So, what is CVT, and why might it make a better choice than conventional automatic transmission? Read on to find out...

Manual and automatic transmission

In a car with a manual transmission, drivers simultaneously use the gear stick and clutch pedal to transition between gears whilst accelerating or decelerating. Manual cars usually have between five to seven different gears, plus one reverse gear. In automatic cars, this process is much simpler - drivers can select between Drive, Neutral, Reverse or Park and the transmission changes automatically, with no need to use a clutch. Both types of transmission have their merits; many drivers prefer the sense of control and engagement you get driving a manual car, whilst others covet the simplicity and ease of an automatic transmission.

What is CVT transmission?

CVT, or Continuously Variable Transmission, was patented in 1886, but many motorists today remain unfamiliar with the concept. The standout feature of CVT is that it doesn’t have gears. Instead the design is based on a V-shaped drive belt that connects two pulleys, one of which is connected to the wheels, the other to the engine. These two pulleys change widths depending on how much power the wheels require from the engine.

As it relies on a continually moving belt, rather than physical gears engaging and disengaging, CVT is a smoother mechanism and therefore delivers a smoother driving experience, with no need to downshift or hunt for gears at short notice.

Currie Motors have a range of new and used Toyota models with CVT, so why not book an appointment to visit a showroom and take a look at the range available? All vehicles come with a warranty, full provenance and quality checks and other attractive benefits, as well as free MOT for life if you continue to service your vehicle with Currie Motors.

The benefits of CVT

There are several reasons why you might wish to choose CVT for your next vehicle:

  • Acceleration

The clever mechanism CVT uses means a super-smooth acceleration that tends to be quicker than automatic transmissions

  • Efficiency

A CVT system changes its gear ratio continuously to match engine speed, meaning that the engine always operates at peak efficiency

  • Fuel economy

CVT transmission offers greater control of the engine speed range, making it lighter and more economical than other types of transmission, and it produces fewer fuel emissions as a result.

  • Long-lasting

With fewer moving parts than other transmission types, CVT is more dependable and should stand the test of time, if kept well-lubricated with the right fluids and given routine maintenance checks

What to look out for

The benefits of a CVT vehicle are numerous, but there are a few things you should be aware of before purchasing one.

Although CVT is typically more dependable than other transmission types, the drive belt is vulnerable to wear and tear. If not properly looked after and maintained, the drive belt may start to slip when the engine revs, impairing the car’s acceleration capacity.

Secondly, some CVT cars can make a whining or droning noise when accelerating. However, recent technological developments have meant a shift towards sound-proofed CVTs, so if you’re after a quieter vehicle, this could still be the transmission type for you.

Finally, for some drivers the absence of gears can be difficult to adjust to when driving a CVT. For this reason, some CVT vehicles such as Toyota have added a ‘launch gear’ or artificial shift points to make drivers feel more comfortable.