A lot has been said about Toyota continuously variable transmissions (CVT) in the last few years — and not all of it positive. We’ll try and break down what you’re getting with CVTs and what to expect when you own one.
Advantages to owning a CVT
Despite what some have said in the past, there are some definite benefits to owning a vehicle with a CVT. A CVT provides better fuel economy and overall driving experience than a traditional automatic. Unlike an automatic transmission that shifts through a set of gears, a continuously variable transmission replaces the gears with two variable-diameter pulleys. When driving a CVT Toyota vehicle, you won’t feel the gears shift like an automatic; it provides a smoother ride.
CVTs provide quicker acceleration than an automatic or manual transmission because it doesn’t rely on gears to shift. In addition, the CVT also has superior fuel economy!
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Critics of the continuously variable engine complain about engine noise. Because the CVT lets the engine rev at all speeds, our ears are not accustomed to the sound it makes. While there’s no denying this truth, we think that most cars today (Toyota included) have already taken large steps to reduce cabin noise.
Hybrid cars — like the Prius family — utilize a power split with a continuously variable transmission.
Believe it or not, the first continuously variable transmission was conceived of in 1490 by Leonardo DaVinci. The earliest CVTs were made in the first half of the 20th century and didn’t include much horsepower. Today, CVT transmissions can be found in a variety of different automakers and have been improved greatly!