New Vehicle Help

Sorry for the non-repair question but it has to do some with maintenance. I need a new vehicle. I’m a camry fan 2005 (had two 1004’s and now the 2005) and my wife’s is an accord (2004). Thinking of RAV4 vs. CR-V. I like the better mileage with the Honda but the ride in the rav 4 seemed smoother. I don’t like the CVT in the Honda (got to admit I don’t know a lot about them). What pisses me off a lot is many new vehicles don’t even have trans dipsticks again to fill the trans. I do all my own oil/trans/fluids so I like convenience. The CVT requires special trans fluid. We don’t like our Honda due to the tight suspension but Honda went to the McPherson struts like Toyota so that’s fixed. I drive all city/highway and none off road. Not sure what to do. Any help would be appreciated. I’d get the LE or lower version and not the limited higher cost vehicles.

Is there a question here? Smoother ride is hard to judge unless both cars are driven over the same roads - was that the case? Perhaps you can rent each of the cars so you can spend a weekend in each then decide?

There are other options - Ford Escape for one, there are lots of small SUV’s now. Kia, VW, GM, etc. Perhaps you can find one with a conventional automatic and even with a filler tube and dipstick for the tranny.

At $3/gal for gas, you will spend $120 more per year in fuel for the RAV4. Is that a deal breaker for you? It wouldn’t be for me. If you like the Toyota better, buy it. Just to complicate things, have you considered a Mazda CX-5? My daughter likes hers a lot.

Difference in fuel economy between the two is a non-issue. You’re talking saving the price of a cup of coffee every couple of weeks. Comfort, looks, and reliability should be more of a factor.

All transmissions have fluid in them and have a procedure to drain and fill them. Even if you are quite proactive and change transmission fluid every 30,000 miles it’s something that you’ll do maybe 5 times in the life of the car? Is that really that much of an inconvenience?

The CVTs in the Hondas are still too new for me to have an opinion on their long-term reliability.

Have you driven a Forester or Outback?

I’m not a big fan of CVT’s myself but I may be coming around. The reason: My wife’s Nissan Sentra has a CVT and she got around in both of our recent snow storms with no problem. The last left about 10 inches of snow on the ground and she had no problem going right through the stuff. I suppose it’s the way the transmission is geared because I can see no other reason why it goes through snow and ice so well. She does have a new set of all-season tires though and I guess that helps a little.

I’ll need a decade of good empirical data before I have confidence in CVTs. But that’s not relevant to the OP’s question, just a description of my personal risk-aversion tendencies.

The OP is simply struggling with the same dissonance we all feel when choosing a car. The only real answer is to do a lot of research, do a lot of test driving, make a choice, and than understand that you’ll probably question your decision for a while. Psych profs call this “post decision dissonance”.

These “what should I buy” questions are the hardest to answer.

thanks for your comments. you have helped and gave me some advice. I agree that the mileage difference is small considering I waste 100 bucks a month on the lottery!!! The cvt is an unknown but I’ve heard they are in cars in Europe for over 10 years now. As for the trans, I like to drop the fluid and fill in a diptube vs that side opening like a differential gear box in the old camry’s. It’s harder with a gun vs. funnel. I agree that more research and test driving is in order. Thanks again for your time and input to help out.

Neither of these would be bad choices. List every thing that is mportant to you in a car, ie. economy, seats, rear leg room etc. then systematically compare and rate the two. Use empirical and not subjective evidence as to why one might be better. Then, include the Forester as well. If you just prefer these two, that’s fine. CR rates the Forrester best so at the very least, I recomend you include it in your ratings. Even if you don’t choose it, use it as a bench mark… Don’t worry about the CVT. Honda makes quality cars. Nothing to worry about unless you personally don’t like how it operates.

I’m a Honda fan, but unfortunately some owners of the new CRV are reporting problems with the CVT.

the same mountainbike
I’ll need a decade of good empirical data before I have confidence in CVTs.

Me too, but speaking anecdotally, my neighbor just turned over 300K on his 2002 Prius with no CVT trouble yet.

The trans on a Prius is a giant planetary gearset, while most other CVT transmissions use a chain and variable cones.

First let me admit that I’m still learning about the Prius powertrain.

From what I understand, Toyota calls the transmission an ECVT, for Electronically Controlled Variable Transmission. The tranny is actually one single gear ratio and ties the gas engine to the electric motor using a unique planetary gear system that supplements the gas engine with the electric motor in high demand situations rather than change the gear ratio the way a conventional automatic would. Since the engine doesn’t change gears, rev up, then drop its revs to go back through the torque curve, it has the “continuous” feel of a CVT, but in truth its gear ratios never vary. It isn’t a true CVT.

Said differently, rather than vary the gear ratios to allow the engine to make the best use of its torque curve, it adds torque from the electric motor to the total output equation, never shifting but staying always in the same gear. It varies torque through a technique other than varying engine speed.

This arrangement isn’t a true CVT, and while it’s a new technology of its own, the fact that it uses actual gear teeth rather than the cone setup, combined with Toyota’s track record with the Prius, would give me more confidence in its reliability and longevity that I would have in a CVT.

That’s my understanding, anyways. I’m open to correction. That’s how I learn. That combined with decades of stupid mistakes.

CVT’s buy you 2-3MPG more then a conventional automatic which is why car makers are moving towards them. This explains the better MPG of CRV vs RAV4.

Buy what you both prefer to drive, ride in and look at. No losers here just slight nuances that appeal to one side or the other. These are two great choices and I believe the third(great choice) is the Subaru Forester.