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.