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Continuously variable transmission vs automatic transmission

If you want to know the difference between continuously variable transmission vs automatic cars, then you might start by understanding how each system works in powering a vehicle. It might help to know the basic differences between the two concepts to make a good decision if you're in the market for a new car.

What it is all about

Are you in a dilemma whether you're going to opt for continuously variable transmission vs automatic? Let us start by defining what a CVT car means.

  • Automatic transmission

An automatic gearbox or automatic transmission does the shifting of gears for you. There is no clutch pedal leaving the driver free from shifting gears. Automatic cars have a “pre-defined set of gears”. The broad category of automatic transmission includes other types of transmission output such as the CVT and the semi-manual.

  • Differences

The basic principle with an automatic car is that it uses a pre-defined set of gears. This can be 4, 5 or 6 gears. In place of a clutch, a torque converter is used to connect the "transmission gearing” to the engine. On the other hand, a CVT has an "infinite number" of gear ratios using a belt or other torque transmission techniques. This means that the CVT constantly varies the ratio when accelerating, decelerating or cruising. You won't hear or feel the gears shifting. CVT steadily changes the speed of the engine in relation to the car's velocity.

  • Benefits

1. CVT is fuel-efficient.

Because of the infinite number of gears, there is no cranking of gears as you accelerate or decelerate resulting to better fuel efficiency.

2. CVT has a fewer number of parts.

There are a few parts involved in the CVT. You only have input and output pulley and belt. In general, lesser parts mean there are fewer pieces which are likely to break.

3. CVT results to a smooth ride.

When driving a CVT car, you’ll notice that speed is constant as you accelerate. The ride is smoother because the transition is easy when you increase or decrease speed. Jerky movements of the car are minimised.

Test drive one

If you are undecided between continuously variable transmission vs automatic, test drive one. A few of the brands which are CVT-enabled include Nissan, Dodge, Jeep, Honda, Audi, Lexus, and Ford. In fact, most car manufacturers nowadays fit CVT on new and hybrid vehicles because of the benefits. And, if you are always using a manual transmission car, maybe it’s time for a change and shift to a CVT.

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