Versa CVT transmission

I am going to buy a very small wagon or 4 door hatchback. Contenders are the Honda Fit, Pontiac Vibe, PT Cruiser, Nissan Sentra, and maybe some others. Gas mileage is always a hugely important factor to me when choosing a car. I have been reading that some Continuously Variable Transmission cars actually get slightly better mileage than their cars with standard shift. Any opinions or experiences with CVT would be appreciated.

The Pontiac Vibe is not a small wagon, and the gas mileage is less than the real small ones. Nissan Sentra does not make a wagon; you are probably referring to the Versa.

The Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, Honda Fit, and Suzuki SX? are a new generation of small wagons which have been popular overseas for some time. The Chevy Aveo (a Daewoo design) also fits in that category.

We just had a post on the Versa CVT and the reaction by the regulars was that Nissan had a lot of experience with his design, but transmission shops would not know how to repair them. They would change them out. The Versa is fun to drive from reports I have read and has a lot of room inside. It’s very versa(tile) in its layout. And the gas mileage is very good.

These small wagons appeal to three groups; young people, retirees, and as a second family car. My wife can’t wait to get a Honda Fit, in red, of course.

In theory, a CVT should be more efficient than a standard transmission, because it is potentially always in the optimum gear ratio for the circumstances. If you drive in an economical manner you could be the perfect customer for a CVT car.

Of all the vehicles you mentioned, I’d say, “Forget the PT Cruiser.” It will not get the mileage you want, and it will not be as reliable as some of the others

The Fit or the Versa are more likely to satisfy your criteria. The Sentra is only available as a 4-door sedan. It’s an OK car, but it’s not a hatchback (too bad, I agree).

The Vibe, and its twin, the Toyota Matrix, are excellent choices as far as reliability goes, since they are based on the Toyota Corolla, one of the most reliable cars on the planet. I fail to see why Docnick says the Vibe is not a small wagon. If not that, then what is it?

There are others you should consider. The Scion xD is one. There is a very interesting hatchback coming soon to your local Saturn dealer. I believe they call it the Astra. It will be available as a 3- or 5-door hatchback. The 5-door hatchback is a very attractive package.

Keep looking! There is a car out there that suits your needs, wants, and desires. Don’t rest (or spend any money) until you’ve found it.

I assumed OP was in the market for a very small wagon, one size below the Corolla, and the size of the Fit and Yaris. My brother has a Matrix and is totally satified with it. Gas mileage is not his concern.

Toyota Matrix/Pontiac Vibe…good choices. As far as CVTs are concerned. When Toyota starts putting them in their vehicles, they’re ready for prime time, not un til.

I used to get 29 MPG in a Saturn Vue and 22 local driving, not stop and go. Experience was good for mileage but it would really pick up speed downhill on that early one. It gives the engine a lot more power due to the high rpm’s you could get in a hurry. You will almost never get pinging from the engines with that type of transmission.

CVT is a great idea, but it has not yet been properly engineered. Once someone can get all the bugs out of it, I will be first in line for one.

Other than that, I would suggest test driving all your choices and comparing prices.

I believe that there are thousands of people who now own CVTs with hundreds of thousands of miles. Prius’, Murano’s, Altima’s, Five Hundred’s etc. I would not be as worried as others. I know of plenty of people who have had transmission issues with all types.


Whether or not you should get a CVT really depends on what you like. I would not choose one over a stick shift just for fuel savings. I would, however, get a CVT if I was already planning to get an automatic transmission. It is a smart option if it is available and you want an automatic tranny anyway.

As to whether you can trust them for reliability, Honda has been making and offering CVTs for at least a decade. The 1998 Honda Civic HX came with a CVT transmission.