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Suzuki Explains How A CVT Works

Posted in Animation, Educational, Mechanics, Suzuki by Kurt Ernst | August 11th, 2011 | 7 Responses |

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll say this up front: I hate Continuously Variable Transmissions, and can easily equate them to the decline of Western civilization. They require no skill to operate, produce more noise than forward motion, have a higher failure rate than automatics or manuals and actually promote distracted driving. Ever try to text and drive a six-speed manual? It’s damn hard to do, but texting while driving a CVT is a piece of cake, and the same goes for any other distracted-driving chore.

On paper, the principles are sound. CVTs should accelerate both faster and smoother than manual or automatic transmission cars, but I’ve never driven a CVT that feels fast. I’ve never even driven a CVT that feels as fast as its manual equivalent, and I’m at a loss to explain why. I’m not a huge fan of automatic transmissions, either, but I’d gladly take a modern 8-speed automatic over a CVT any day of the week.

If you’re curious as to how a CVT operates, the video below, courtesy of Suzuki, gives a great explanation in under a minute and thirty seconds. The science is sound, but I still can’t accept that CVTs are the transmissions of the future. They’re not going away any time soon, so we may as well get used to driving cars equipped with them. That doesn’t mean we have to like it.

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7 Responses

  1. James says:

    Kurt, I couldn’t agree with you more. All cars should be manual, period. Yes, minivans too. You become more in tune with your vehicle and above all it gives you something to do while your driving. Yes I know paddle shifting is all the rage and blah blah no one can shift as fast as a computer, but where is the skill? From this day forward anyone caught driving anything but a standard transmission will be shot on the spot.

  2. Set says:

    James, that sounds great, until you’re stuck in LA’s infamous 3 hour stop-go traffic. Your left leg will be screaming in pain as you continuously have to engage and disengage the clutch to stop and go, barely feather the clutch to ease forward, and upshift and downshift endlessly.

    I say this from experience, as both my cars are manuals. In those situations, I’d absolutely love an automatic, or even (shudder) a cvt.

    More to the article, the problem with CVTs isn’t the idea, it’s the implementation of it. They tend to be on eco-minded vehicles, first off, and it’s still a very new technology. I think they’ll get better with time.

  3. Shifty Sal- says:

    …Not a huge fan of CVT’s, and I had the same opinion up until I drove a Maxima with a CVT (0-60 in 5.6). There is a decent amount of horsepower (approx 290-300) that definitely assisted in a constant pulling power. Don’t get me wrong, a 4cyl with CVT is still quite disappointing.

  4. Westsider says:

    Where is the part where Suzuki details how it sucks the fun out of driving while giving you the feeling of motoring around in a golf cart?