CVT transmissions

I’m considering a new/newer ('11 - '13) mid-size sedan like an Accord, Altima, Camry, or Sonata, and am noticing that many now offer a CVT transmission as either an option or as the main offering. I’ve read a lot of negative comments regarding the long term reliability of CVT’s, with replacement being more likely than repair. What is your opinion of CVT’s? Is any one manufacturer more likely to have a more durable/reliable CVT vs another?


I don’t think CVTs have been on the market long enough in great enough numbers for me to have confidence in their long term reliability and longevity. And I’m not certain parts are readily available to repair them. Certainly not aftermarket parts. They do use belts, and that makes me wary. If you plan to buy new and trade every 3-4 years they should be fine, but if you do like me and keep your vehicles forever, I’d avoid them.

Its not something I would buy and certainly not without a warranty. One of the criticisms was you step on the gas and takes forever to gain speed. They work fine on MoPeds and snowmobiles but not sure about cars. Just my opinion. - See more at:

I just recently helped a family friend shop for a new car. This woman is in her late 60s and after reading Consumer Reports issues, she was convinced she wanted a Honda. She thought her first choice was an Accord. The model she wanted and we test drove was the 4 cylinder with the CVT. I was relieved when she then tested the Civic and decided that it fit her needs better. The Civic has a regular automatic transmission.

“They do use belts”

Many do use belts, but not all of them.
The one example of which I am sure is the CVT that Subaru introduced in 2009, on their 2010 Outback models. This particular CVT utilizes a steel roller chain that is more than 2 inches wide, and–clearly–will be more durable in the long run than belts would be.

That being said, I made sure that I avoided the CVT-equipped models when I bought a 2011 Outback.
Why did I want to avoid a CVT?
Two reasons:
The aforementioned unknowns regarding durability
The higher cabin noise level that results from a CVT

The design of a CVT causes the engine to run at fairly high RPMs whenever you are accelerating, thus making for lots of engine noise. Yes, a CVT allows an engine to run at particularly low RPMs once you are up to cruising speed, thus enabling improved fuel economy, but until you get up to cruising speed, there is a lot of engine noise. Since I like a really quiet passenger cabin, I don’t want a CVT.

By opting for the 3.6 liter 6-cylinder engine, I was able to get a “conventional” 5-speed automatic, and I am very glad that I did. In addition to having MUCH better acceleration and a much lower cabin noise level, the gas mileage is actually fairly decent for an engine of this size, and I average only about 2 mpg less than similar models with the smaller 4-cylinder engine and CVT.

I have no idea on their reliability. The Accord 4-cyl is pretty peppy, 7.6 seconds 0-60. The one in the new Forester has gotten pretty negative reviews as far as drivability. Mine (Fusion/MKZ hybrid, like those in the various Toyota hybrids) uses 2 electric motors + gas engine + planetary transmission to give the CVT function, no belt. Works fine for me.

Absolutely drive the one you’re considering, see how you like it.

@VDCdriver I didn’t notice the noise on the Honda Accord 4 cylinder with the CVT. However, the Accord does have a noise cancellation system. On the other hand, I found this true of a Nissan Sentra that I drove 600 miles round trip to a convention several years ago.

For me it’s a matter of personal preference. I like the feel of a transmission shifting from one gear to the next. I don’t like the rubber band feeling felt from a CVT. I also would be concerned about their durability.

No one at the moment repairs or rebuilts CVTs. If you buy a car with such a transmission, better trade when the warranty is up. A new one will be at least $4000.

Some day there will be a CVT rebuiling industry.

There fore I do not recommend any car with a CVT.

CVTs help manufacturers get good gas mileage on the EPA tests but don’t do as well on the road. Because they feel like they are not accelerating fast enough people step harder on the gas and there goes the fuel economy.
It is sort of like the Ford Echoboost engines, they get great EPA ratings but because they can develop more power, you actually get less fuel mileage if you use that power.

Be it a belt or a chain, both are grabbed by two pairs of cones and transmit power by friction. And they will wear out eventually, just like other wear items inside a transmission. The problem is relatively few people know how to replace those belts or chains besides the manufactures

I had experienced cvts in 2 occasions, one was a natural gas civic, the other was hybrid. They both droned endlessly.but neither appeared unresponsive as long as you understand what it is doing.