CVT Transmission vs Automatic Transmission: Which Is Better?


CVT transmissions are gradually becoming the more popular option in modern engines around the Shreveport area for a host of reasons. For the consumer, that might not mean much if you aren’t aware of the difference between a continuously variable transmission and an automatic transmission. If you need a quick overview of what a CVT engine means for you and the benefits of having one in your car, you’re in the right spot.

CVT Transmission vs Automatic Transmission

Automatic transmissions differ from CVT transmissions in the sense that an automatic transmission has gears that it switches between to regulate rotations per minute, or RPMs, and vehicle speed. In an automatic transmission, the vehicle automatically shifts gears—as opposed to a manual transmission or “stick shift” where the driver controls the gear the car is in. Manual transmission cars will have a clutch pedal and gear stick that the driver uses to manage the engine themselves as they drive.

CVTs instead take things one step further by continuously managing gear ratios seamlessly. Using a pulley system with two conical gears, a belt (usually made of steel or a tough composite) moves along the CVT to incrementally change the torque, or rotational power, the engine is delivering to the wheels. This means that instead of having overlapping ranges of gears, CVT transmissions can gradually shift the power the engine is delivering to make sure that everything is operating at peak efficiency.

Ways a CVT is Better Than Automatic Transmission

In terms of practical advantages, the CVT transmission offers better fuel efficiency, less engine jerk (due to a lack of up- and downshifting), and, that’s right—reliability. Because of the CVT’s ability to gradually change the gear ratio in tiny increments, fuel consumption is more consistent and acceleration/deceleration is much smoother. That comes with the added benefit of a smoother ride and more consistent performance when it comes to changing speed or direction on the road.

Because of their benefits and ease of use for the buyer, these transmissions are slowly becoming more common as a standard choice for modern sedans and compact cars — even over traditional automatics. For example, Nissan is one of a handful of other automakers that have transitioned most of their new lineup to CVT transmissions as the default option with automatic or standard transmission as available options.

Does a CVT Feel Different While Driving?

Generally, the only real difference in driving comes down to how it feels to drive. Most drivers are used to the feeling of gears shifting under the hood as they speed up or slow down, so it can be a little bit disconcerting at first to ramp up to 60 miles an hour without that familiar drop in RPMs and brief feeling of slowing down. Instead, CVT transmissions will simply find the optimum rotations per minute to meet the acceleration you’re attempting and gradually adjust the gear ratio until the vehicle is at a stable speed and the engine is humming along. 

For anyone interested in trying one out, whether it’s for the boost in fuel efficiency, dependability, or the silky-smooth ride, there are plenty of options to choose from. Orr Nissan in Shreveport has dozens of new cars and SUVs in stock with CVT transmissions installed. Come by today and take one for a test drive!


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CVT Transmission vs Automatic Transmission: Which Is Better?