The car market is changing quickly out there. New technologies and vehicle lines bring a whole new world almost daily to the buyers of today. While we all agree that this change can be good, we have to admit that it can be pretty daunting for us lowly civilians with limited automotive knowledge. One big term that’s been thrown around lately is the CVT engine. So, what is it, and how does it work. But most importantly, what does it mean for you?

What is a CVT?

CVT stands for Continuously Variable Transmission. Alright, sounds pretty self-explanatory at first, right? But what exactly happens inside the transmission that makes it vary? The typical automatic or manual transmission contains gears that shift upward and downward as you gain or decrease speed. With the variable transmission, these “gears” are figurative, and do not actually exist in the literal sense. The technology actually adapts to the speed being requested and remains constant at acceleration. The RPM’s fluctuate up and down accordingly. Basically speaking, the CVT chooses the optimal speed of acceleration and consistency for the most efficient outcome. Mind…blown.

What the CVT Means for You.

Now that we’ve established what happens inside of the CV transmission, what’re the pros and cons? With this engineering, the car is able to give a more optimal fuel efficiency output. Better gas mileage means savings at the pump. Furthermore, the absence of gears means no shifting. The ride is smooth, quiet, and steady.

The biggest complaints with the CVT are from the sounds and lack of punch. Since the RPM ramps up with heavy footed acceleration, the cars with these transmissions can produce revving noises. This is normal, but not desired by many. The other problem: they just don’t have that burst of power that the manuals and some automatics have. While this isn’t always super noticeable, it’s all based on the driving style.

CVT engines contain fewer parts, which makes them less expensive to manufacture. That, in turn, means lower MSRP and dealership pricing. Combine that with fuel savings, and it seems like a pretty good bet.

Alright, there ya go. We’ve given you the “average American” explanation of what a CVT means. Hopefully your questions have been answered. We encourage a test drive for shoppers interested in a CVT. Because of the difference in output, the only question we can’t answer for you: is a CVT right for you?

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