What Cars Have a CVT Transmission

What Cars Have a CVT Transmission? [Detailed Guide]

Continuously variable transmissions (CVT) are a form of transmission that substitutes the fixed-ratio gearboxes of traditional automatics with a mechanism made up of two pulleys and an additional chain or belt that allows for real-time, endlessly changeable gear ratios. So what cars have a CVT transmission?Let’s find out.

Daimler-Benz received the very first CVT copyright in 1886. An innovator, Milton Reeves, had used the CVT technology to sawmill equipment seven years before.

Over the years, CVTs have been used in a variety of vehicles, including cars, motorbikes, and, more lately, snowmobiles and Quads. As you might expect, all of those uses were for equipment with little performance, and the tendency has been maintained for automotive uses.

What Exactly is a CVT Transmission?

A CVT is a gearbox that delivers continuously changing gear ratios, as the title indicates. Like a standard automatic gearbox, it automatically switches gear ratios as you ride, considering speed and force needs.

Modern autos employ one of three basic types.

  • The earliest and oldest use a series of pulleys with varying diameters linked together by a steel mesh chain to change the total gear ratio.
  • Nissan introduced the next gearbox, known as the toroidal drive technique, in 1999. It utilized revolving cylinders operating between two plates. Nissan stopped using this concept for a number of causes.
  • The third is the Electronic Continuously Variable Transmission(ECVT) which is a little more complicated than the previous two systems. It was created by Toyota first for its hybridized Prius. This system combines the power of two electric motors and a petrol engine to flawlessly move the vehicle forward and maintain a completely charged battery using a planetary transmission with electronic features to give changeable gear ratios.

What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of CVT?

A few benefits and drawbacks covered here could be individual choices. Others are the actual realities associated with the CVTs of nowadays.

Advantages of a CVT

  • Vehicles equipped with CVTs often get greater fuel efficiency than identical vehicles equipped with a traditional transmission.
  • Vehicles with CVTs “change gears” quite seamlessly than typical automatic counterparts.
  • With a CVT, ratios change are typically fluid, doing away with the sometimes harsh shifts of specific automatic gearboxes.
  • In areas with hills, CVTs can locate the ideal ratio for effortless uphill travel, while traditional automatic transmissions may tend to “search” for the perfect gear.
  • Compared to similar automatic gearboxes, CVTs are lighter. Since lighter automobiles use less energy than heavier stuff, the weight reduction achieved here might contribute to a more cost-effective operation.

Disadvantages of a CVT

  • The duration of problem-free maintenance that we have come to anticipate from automatic transmissions may not be available from CVTs at this phase of development.
  • Although there are fewer components in a CVT compared to an automatic gearbox, the flexible metal belt, a vital element of the CVT, frequently breaks initially. If this happens, you’ll need to have a tow, and fixes might be very pricey.
  • The well-known shifting spots of an automatic gearbox are eliminated by CVTs, which seamlessly transform gear ratios when the automobile accelerates. That’s great; however certain motorists find this a little unsettling.

For instance, with a normal automatic, the ignition speed is increased according to the vehicle’s increasing pace. This offers a physiological feedback loop that lets you know the automobile is running as it should.

A CVT keeps the engine performance essentially constant as the vehicle gains speed. Some people may find it difficult to comprehend this logical gap. It serves as a psychological signal that something is fundamentally wrong with the driving system. One can eventually get used to this technical quirk. But at first, it could be unsettling.

Toyota has solved this oddity in certain of its vehicles by employing an initial “set” gear ratio that enables the engine power to start out slowly and grow according to vehicle speed. Many motorists will like these electrical simulations of automatic gearbox behavior.

Some companies include sharp shift points at specified vehicle speeds to simulate a traditional automatic gearbox for the driver. However, this technique will cancel out some of the advantages of a CVT’s endlessly changing gear ratios in terms of fuel economy.

What Cars Have a CVT Transmission?

Including the list of hybrids and PHEVs, what cars have a CVT transmission? Listed below are vehicles that have it as an option or stock for the 2020 – 21 models year. A CVT could only be provided with certain engines.


  •  Accord, Accord Hybrid, Clarity Plug-in Hybrid, Civic, CR-V, HR-V, Insight, CR-V Hybrid


  • Escape Plug-in Hybrid, Escape Hybrid


  •  Avalon Hybrid, Camry Hybrid, C-HR, Corolla Hybrid, Corolla, Highlander Hybrid, Prius Prime (PHEV), Prius, RAV4 Prime (PHEV), RAV4 Hybrid, Venza, Sienna


  • Ascent, Crosstrek Hybrid (PHEV), Crosstrek, Impreza, Forester, Outback, Legacy


  •  Maxima, Kicks, Altima, Murano, Rogue, NV200, Rogue Sport, Versa, Sentra


  •  Mirage, Outlander PHEV, Mirage G4, Outlander Sport


  •  NX 300h, ES 300h, RX 450h, UX 250h, RX 450hL


  •  Rio, Forte, Soul, Seltos


  •  Malibu, Spark, Trailblazer

How Reliable are CVTs?

They have a problematic past in reliability. In the 90s, initial CVT systems were infamously unstable. A pre-owned automobile with a CVT from that era could be a dangerous investment.

Additionally, there have been several recalls for vehicles using CVT systems throughout the years. Throughout that period, a majority of the preliminary teething issues were mostly overcome.

Positively, the CVT technologies from Toyota and Honda have shown to be rather durable. Just at the top of the list is Honda. Subaru also has made automobiles with CVTs that are largely trustworthy. However, compared to comparable concepts by other manufacturers, Nissan vehicles have stayed longer in the dealership’s service bay.

What is the Average Lifespan of CVT Transmission?

New vehicles with CVTs should currently operate dependably for a maximum of 160k kilometers on the market. Overall dependability for most automobiles will be lower than anticipated with a typical manual or automatic transmission.

However, exemplary owner maintenance might extend this prediction. Some drivers who adhere to the factory-recommended maintenance schedules, use the prescribed lubricant(s), and prevent harsh riding practices could get as much as 350k kilometers out of their CVT.


In this article, we have answered the following questions: What is a CVT? How does it work? Pros and Cons of the CVT? what cars have a CVT transmission? are those reliable? So keep these in mind if upgrading to a CVT transmission vehicle.

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