2013 Ford C-Max Energi - CVT vs. Geared Trans

We’re thinking about replacing our Ford C-Max Energi with a Toyota RAV-4 Hybrid. Our Ford has the CV Transmission and I noticed while looking at the different trim models for the RAV-4 that the Hybrid only has the CVT while the regular gasoline engine models have the traditional shifting automatic transmissions. Why is it you can’t get a CVT with the regular gasoline engine or the traditional shifting automatic transmission in a Hybrid?

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Because that is how the people who build the vehicles decide to build them. End of story.


If you get an answer from Toyota, please post their response.

Volvo is right, but there is a bit of history here too. Toyota is one of only a handful of automakers who meets and exceeds the Corporate Average Fuel Economy targets for its fleets without difficulty. It also does not need to buy ZEV credits from Tesla (like GM and others do) because it generates enough zero-emissions credit on its own with its top-selling Prius Prime EV. Toyota does use CVTs in some gas (non-hybrid) models. It also has a combination transmission with a gearset and also a variable drive. Toyota has the luxury of using geared transmissions on its vehicles where it thinks buyers may prefer the old-fashioned gear shift feeling. Hence, the RAV4 and Camry use geared sets, while the Hybrid trims use CVTs for maximum fuel efficiency. Eventually, all the mainstream vehicles with transmissions (EVs don’t need them) will have a variable transmission of one type or another. The MPG gains are too juicy to leave on the table. I test vehicles and I now prefer CVTs. My most recent personal vehicle (Forester) has a CVT and I love the way it performs. Here is a bit of background on CVTs if interested. Just for fun, look up what type of transmission the Prius uses. Not CVT. Not geared. It is something a bit out of the ordinary.

BTW, the RAV4 Hybrid is now the top-selling affordable green car in America. It was just released in its new generation. Dealers have struggled to keep inventory on the lots. You may want to plan for that if you are shopping. Toyota sold about 35K RAV4 Hybrids in just the past two months. Triple the Prius sales over that period. Higher than all three of the top-selling affordable EVs combined. Cars are just not as popular anymore, and with 40 MPG from a crossover, who needs a car for fuel savings? Who needs an EV when the cost per mile for energy is withing a penny or two from a vehicle like the RAV4 Hybrid?

Toyota hybrid CVTs are not anything like CVTs for gas engines. The hybrid uses a combination of gas and electric motors, along with a planetary gearbox. No cones involved.