Originally Posted by Commander Keen
The CVT has one thing going for it:
-A taller overall gear ratio.
Everything else suggests the 5MT would do better with a skilled driver:
-5MT is lighter
-5MT doesn't dissipate significant amounts of energy as heat (AT TEMP light)
-5MT doesn't need to move through several gallons of cold, viscous fluid on startup
-5MT doesn't steal heat from the engine
-5MT's 0-60 time is better despite fixed gear ratios and interrupted acceleration, suggesting lower drivetrain loss
I don't know whether the CVT's EPA rating should be lower, but that it's higher than the 5MT's is suspicious.
I agree, higher top gearing and continuing adjusting gear ratios make the difference, the CVT is heavier than the manual.
I think some CVT drivers think that the manual is somehow outperforming the CVT in MPG's or in meeting the EPA numbers. It isn't -- some people with 5 speeds are getting crappy mileage and some are getting better mileage, just like with the CVT.
I think fewer drivers of the 5speed expect the car to outperform the EPA numbers, and recognize that how the car is driven has a huge effect on the MPG's. A few drivers (who know they have a lead foot) also know that they are not wringing the best fuel economy from the car based upon their driving style. On the highway with a warm engine the CVT will outperform the 5 speed just because of the higher gear ratios -- but both will get terrible mileage if driven faster than 70mph (this is consistent with physics).
PS whoever pointed out that the CVT has a lot of cold fluid to heat up may be on to something, at least as it pertains to City numbers. In the winter time both the 5speed and CVT take a hit, but I would guess the very low CITY numbers some people are seeing are due to the short drives with a cold transmission. This car has to heat up to reach the EPA numbers, which is consistent with how they derived those numbers, from a single 30 minute dyno run. They didn't start and stop a cold engine and cold transmission repeatedly to get the 27mpg number. The testing criteria is on fuel economy.gov if you car to read it.