What do you all think of them? I recently drove a Mercury Montego equipped with one and hated it.

I’m not too sure it’s something I’d get used to. Although the car had decent power, it seemed like driving a golf cart. I’d rather take a small hit in mileage with a conventional transmission.


A friend of mine rented one in San Francisco while on holidays. He also hated it because it keeps preferring the economy mode over the power mode and works differently from what we are used to.

Ford’s 500 had it and it lost them sales. When the 500 was rechristened as the new Taurus, the CVT was dropped. So far people like the Taurus.


These are glorified snowmobile transmissions…While they may work OK, they seem to have a short life and are difficult and expensive to repair. I think they are not repairable. They are simply replaced with a new unit for big bucks…


Yes, even on the Nisssan Versa “economy car”, the CVT will be replaced by the dealer if ANYTHING goes wrong. If it’s out of warranty, you are out of luck to the tune of $3500 or so. I have also not found any shops that will rebuild a CVT.

So much for economy. I had looked at the Versa for my wife’s next car, since she really liked it. I think we’ll go for a Honda Fit instead with the “oldfashioned” automatic.


I rented a Dodge Caliber when I went skiing in Utah a couple years ago. It was an appalling car. It had a CVT transmission. Since it lacked power, you really had to give it the beans to get it up to speed. This meant that the engine was spinning around 5k RPM whilst accelerating. It was very noisy; normally I wouldn’t have had a problem with it. As my cars are pretty loud. But it wasn’t a pleasant noise, it sort of the sound of 1000 flatulent mosquitoes in unison sort of noise.

I was unimpressed with the CVT and I will go out of my way to avoid driving a car with one.


As long as we have ICE engines and they begin to engineer more durability into them, you will see them more and more. I would get used to it. Potentially, if the belt wear problem is mitigated, they could be more durable than present day autos with the advantages that far surpass them. It will take a while though. Get use to it as they begin to pop up everywhere. When a Ford F150 has one…it has officially arrived.


At their current stage of evolution I’d prefer to avoid them. The benefits if there are any don’t seem to outweigh the risks (always inherant in newly evolving technologiies).

By the way, I can see benefits in theory but I can’t see any benefits in application. Not with five, six, seven, and even eight speed automatics becoming common and reliable.


06 Ford Escape hybrid
Love the cvt in there. As a hybrid, the gas engine has a mind of it’s own anyway.

“Pay no attention to the tachometer behind the curtain. The great Oz has spoken.”


" if the belt wear problem is mitigated"

Thr new Subaru CVT uses a wide steel chain instead of a belt. In appearance, it is reminiscent of the drive chain on the original Olds Toronado back in the '70s.


Ken, what is it about the CVT that you find better than a regular automatic?
Enquiring minds want to know.


Smooth operation, no shift points. ( heaven forbid I spill my martini )
With automated AWD it’s a trouble free drive for my wife who, back in the days of her 4x4 explorer, could never quite grasp the mild acceleration to avoid slipping nor just when to, and not to select 4x4.

The Escape hybrid has better acceleration the it’s v6 brother.

In the Escape hybrid there is a “low” selection. It’s not the same as an automatic transmission. All acceleration and driving is the the same. Untill you let off the gas, then you get excellent engine braking AND battery regeneration at the same time.

I recently bought an 08 Expedition EL and am very dissapionted in the all electronic 6 speed automatic. Maybe I’m just not used to it yet.


A steel belt if you will, that appears simpler to regular autos. That they still only offer it with the four and not 6 cyl may indicate it’s not ready for prime time. Hydrostatics operate similarly though with different mechanics and once you get use to the higher rpm that goes with the improved efficiency, it’s a good trade off.


A manual over ride for CVT, which a hydrostatic offers, is one cool way of shifting. If this were incorporated, they’d have a lot more converts. But they’d have to use a foot shifter like my home tractor which is hydro. Boss has one with an automatic throttle and with the foot pedal that changes gear ratio continuously. The opposite approach to car autos but extremely efficient and effective. These are the all attempts to make a vehicle with narrow power band ICE perform like an electric motor and CVTs are as close as we get for now and worth it IMO.


Interesting. Thanks for the feedback. It’ll still take probably a decade of thier being common and proven for me to feel comfortable buying one, but that’s just because I like the “tried and true”. I’m not a leading edge buyer.


Just found this in a review of Maxima CVT
"Nissan has more than a million CVTs in service around the world and uses them in powerful cars such as the 290 horsepower Maxima, and says their long-term reliability is comparable to conventional transmissions."
But then Toyota has no problem with acceleration ?


CVTs vary quite a bit in implementation (just like autos and manuals). Some suck, some are okay. Does the Montego CVT have “shift points?” That is, does it shift in increments like an automatic? Some do (because there are people who find the lack of such increments disconcerting, because they’re not used to it), and it’s the dumbest thing you could possibly do with a CVT.

What I’d like to see is a CVT with a dial or lever that lets you select any ratio within a safe range. I mean it seems like such an obvious idea, but no one’s done it, AFAIK.


It’s a Dodge Caliber. It would have sucked no matter what transmission it had.


CVTs by their nature are best suited to low-power, low-load applications. The Taurus is a large, relatively powerful car. It was a bad idea to begin with (as is FWD).


The test I’ve read said that with this manual control on some models, the operator couldn’t do as well acceleration and mileage wise as the computer controlled unit. Just gave someone, something to play with.


I actually heard from a Ford service guy who is a friend of my brother’s (discussing the Freestar) that they had very few problems with the CVTs. He actually implied that he thought that’s why Ford stopped putting them in - too reliable.

That’s just speculative hearsay, of course. And I never have driven with one.