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Old 10-16-2020, 10:12 PM   #1
DieselDorf
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Default Why CVTs are underrated

My opinion on why CVTs are underrated I think most will agree?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xekUAh_rrrU
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Old 10-17-2020, 06:03 AM   #2
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Link isn't working for me
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Old 10-17-2020, 09:40 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DieselDorf View Post
My opinion on why CVTs are underrated I think most will agree?
Any chance you could provide a short summary in text in a follow-on post?

I'm interested to see if what you've concluded lines up with what I have. Your link actually does work for me, but I find trying to learn much from a video at the videographer's pace to be far more difficult than reading the same material at my own pace. That it's been over half a century since I last sat in a lecture hall, and that my hearing isn't what it was back then, probably has something to do with it.

I do understand that - at least in theory - a CVT can keep the engine working at an optimum rpm, or at least within a much tighter rpm spread around that rpm. Ideally, holding rpms at the power peak should translate to best acceleration, at least on average. More on that later.

My guesses for why a CVT doesn't do much as far as enthusiast appeal is concerned are that (1) a CVT is even less involving than a conventional multispeed automatic, (2) it's inherent for a CVT to put the engine rpms out of step with the car's acceleration, and (3) as a function of (2) that it's likely to sound like something is slipping even when it isn't. With a manual transmission, slippage is a bad thing beyond the minimal amount necessary to get underway without stalling or burning rubber. In a conventional automatic, it's apt to be shift flare (which is not a desirable condition either).

One catch about stronger average acceleration is that it's apt to not hold true when you dip into the throttle from a standing start. Under this condition, the drive pulley is at its smallest diameter where it's at its lowest torque capacity, so you end up with some (or a lot) of your low end torque managed away. Given that a majority of enthusiasts first see 0 - 60 and quarter mile ETs as indications of a car's basic "goodness", it's not hard to see where appreciation for the CVT takes a big hit.

One thing I don't have any real 'feel' for is how a CVT's overall efficiency compares to that of a conventional automatic. I suspect it could be higher, though a CVT still has a fluid pump that has to be running continuously at enough load to eliminate drive slippage.

Am I wrong?


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Old 10-17-2020, 03:36 PM   #4
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You are pretty close in line with my findings.

Basically I say that itís better than most traditional autos becuase it can be both economical and better at keeping revs in the powerband.

Due to the no gears nature of it it can be programmed to hold the most efficient gearing regardless of speed and the same reason it can sit at peak hp making the most power regardless of speed.

Traditional autos have to shift and change revs out of the powerband or out of the most fuel efficient range.

Also it is far smoother than any auto or manual. No clunky downshifts at all just smoothly accelerates.

Downsides are current iterations halve reliability concerns though they are much better than previous generations.Ē And most of it is due to customer uneasy ness due to previous bad CVTs (Nissan and extended warranty for Subaru)

Though the main culprit with Subaruís is the valve body which isnít much more expensive than a clutch job on a manual.

Manual canít really be compared to autos. Much more fun but worse in terms of performance.
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Old 10-17-2020, 07:39 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by DieselDorf View Post
Manual canít really be compared to autos. Much more fun but worse in terms of performance.
I think this line exhibits a lot of ignorance.
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Old 10-17-2020, 07:50 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by deanstevenson View Post
I think this line exhibits a lot of ignorance.
In what regard? Iím just curious what you are saying Iím ignorant about.

As of the past 10 or so years automatics our perform manual transmissions. This is a fact. Older cars were faster in manual form typically but auto trans (not cvt specific) are far quicker now.
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Old 10-18-2020, 09:21 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DieselDorf View Post
Manual canít really be compared to autos. Much more fun but worse in terms of performance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by deanstevenson View Post
I think this line exhibits a lot of ignorance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DieselDorf View Post
In what regard? Iím just curious what you are saying Iím ignorant about.

As of the past 10 or so years automatics our perform manual transmissions. This is a fact. Older cars were faster in manual form typically but auto trans (not cvt specific) are far quicker now.

You took a reasonable and defendable premise, "CVTs are underrated", and then expanded it to two additional claims that are hard if not impossible to defend.

Manual canít really be compared to autos.
Of course they can. Some cars offer automatic and manual transmissions making it trivial to compare them. They both perform the same duties.

<manuals are> Much more fun but worse in terms of performance.
That's certainly true in some cases, and absolutely not true in others. When you state absolutes instead of generalizations, it's really hard to defend them.


This is too bad because for your specific example, the Crosstrek, I came to a similar conclusion. When test driving Crosstreks in 2015, the manual implementation was so poor that I preferred the CVT.

However, that doesn't translate to "all automatics are better than all manuals because they perform better." Whereas if you would have said, "in recent years, automatics have improved a great deal and in many cases perform much better than their manual counterparts", I would have completely agreed.

Instead of educating me with your video and this thread, you've come across as wanting an argument that you're ready to expand beyond the original premise to ensure you get one.
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Old 10-18-2020, 10:35 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by deanstevenson View Post
You took a reasonable and defendable premise, "CVTs are underrated", and then expanded it to two additional claims that are hard if not impossible to defend.
Manual canít really be compared to autos.
Of course they can. Some cars offer automatic and manual transmissions making it trivial to compare them. They both perform the same duties.
It's not about them performing the same duties (of course they do). It's about the differences in how those same duties are performed. That's what you're going to notice while you're driving, not that they both transfer engine torque to the drive shafts at various ratios of input to output rpms.


Quote:
When test driving Crosstreks in 2015, the manual implementation was so poor that I preferred the CVT.
Sounds like you had a truly horrible MT experience. It happens, though. Getrag-equipped Mustangs come in for a lot of bashing as well, though I'm not sure how much of that is inherent with the transmission and how much is due to the way some people are shifting them.

I've lived with a couple of MTs that were a bit cranky in their operation, but at least for me that was still preferable to the utter lack of involvement given the "just slap it in 'D' and go" nature of an automatic.


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Old 10-18-2020, 12:50 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by deanstevenson View Post
You took a reasonable and defendable premise, "CVTs are underrated", and then expanded it to two additional claims that are hard if not impossible to defend.

Manual canít really be compared to autos.
Of course they can. Some cars offer automatic and manual transmissions making it trivial to compare them. They both perform the same duties.

<manuals are> Much more fun but worse in terms of performance.
That's certainly true in some cases, and absolutely not true in others. When you state absolutes instead of generalizations, it's really hard to defend them.


This is too bad because for your specific example, the Crosstrek, I came to a similar conclusion. When test driving Crosstreks in 2015, the manual implementation was so poor that I preferred the CVT.

However, that doesn't translate to "all automatics are better than all manuals because they perform better." Whereas if you would have said, "in recent years, automatics have improved a great deal and in many cases perform much better than their manual counterparts", I would have completely agreed.

Instead of educating me with your video and this thread, you've come across as wanting an argument that you're ready to expand beyond the original premise to ensure you get one.

Not trying to argue just trying to defend my points sorry if I came off as aggressive.

I was generalizing yes, and I agree with you that it depends too much on the individual application.

What I meant in terms of not being comparable is I think people donít cross shop them for the same reasons.

I think people know newer manuals are generally more fun but less economical or slower (again not always the case)

I think we are saying the same things.
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Old 10-18-2020, 09:15 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by DieselDorf View Post
Manual canít really be compared to autos. Much more fun but worse in terms of performance.
Quote:
Originally Posted by deanstevenson View Post
I think this line exhibits a lot of ignorance.
I'm probably as hardcore of a stick-shift fan as anybody you're likely to ever meet, and even I have to give the Diesel his due on this point.

It wasn't always like that, although if you were paying attention the writing was already up on the wall by the end of the 1960's. It just took a few decades to happen.


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Old 10-17-2020, 08:48 PM   #11
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I disagree completely. CVT's are the transmission of the devil. They are horribly inefficient, wear out too quickly, and their ability to handle decent amounts of torque is laughable. Take the Nissan Murano CVT, when challenged with a steep hill it just can't transmit enough torque to (a) spin the wheels or (b) accelerate up the hill. Then there is Toyota's new CVT with a "Launch Gear", which to me is just an admission that a straight CVT isn't reliable and strong enough to handle 1st gear launches.

Much better is the automated dual clutch transmission. More efficient, lasts longer, can handle all the torque you can throw at it, and is better than typical automatic or manual transmissions in every way. Faster shifts, better efficiency, lower component wear.
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Old 10-17-2020, 09:27 PM   #12
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That is a type of automatic which is exactly what I was saying, they are faster than manuals I agree.

In terms of reliability that just means they are not implemented correctly but doesnít necessarily mean they are a worse transmission type, just that they were not built well for their application which I also address in the video.

In terms of efficiency they are better at staying in the optimal rpm band for efficiency but there are also more variables than just transmission type that determine efficiency.
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Old 10-19-2020, 03:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DieselDorf View Post
That is a type of automatic...
Let's be clear on one thing: VW's DSG/Porsche's PDK are NOT automatic transmissions, nor are they a "type" of AT. They are AUTOMATED manual transmissions (AMTs).

I love the CVT in my wife's Outback. Jump in and drive, getting 28 mpg. Our '99 Forester could never manage over 23 MPG, but was noticeably quicker off the line, despite having less horsepower and 215k more miles on the engine.

That said, I would never buy a CVT-equipped Subaru as my own car. They are sluggish and boring compared to my 2002 WRX MT.
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Old 10-19-2020, 06:41 PM   #14
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Let's be clear on one thing: VW's DSG/Porsche's PDK are NOT automatic transmissions, nor are they a "type" of AT. They are AUTOMATED manual transmissions (AMTs).
Sorry, but as soon as you add any kind of automated shifting mode to a transmission, that transmission is by definition an "automatic" transmission by the mere fact that it can do its own shifting independently of the driver.

IOW, just because a DSG is neither a conventional torque converter/planetary gear automatic nor a CVT does not exclude it from the 'automatic' category. The operative characteristic is that a DSG/PDK/whatever includes shift logic all its own (whether you choose to use it or not). On this logic concept . . . older automatic transmissions employed hydraulic logic rather than electronic logic.

This isn't intended as flame toward DSGs, it's just a matter of characterizing them by the one feature that distinguishes as automated transmission from a manually-controlled-only transmission. It's probably best if we avoid associating any of today's automatics with terms like 'slushbox', even though that was perhaps an accurate description for some of yesteryear's automatics.


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Old 10-21-2020, 11:31 AM   #15
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Sorry, but as soon as you add any kind of automated shifting mode to a transmission, that transmission is by definition an "automatic" transmission by the mere fact that it can do its own shifting independently of the driver.
I'll disagree and say that, yes, the shifting has been automated, but an AMT still uses a friction plate(s), a pressure plate(s) and gears with synchronizers, hallmarks of a traditional MT.

Call it what it is; an AMT, not an AT.

In my industry, we have to make this distinction between traditional MTs, traditional ATs, and MTs that shift on their own.
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Old 10-21-2020, 12:07 PM   #16
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I'll disagree and say that, yes, the shifting has been automated, but an AMT still uses a friction plate(s), a pressure plate(s) and gears with synchronizers, hallmarks of a traditional MT.

Call it what it is; an AMT, not an AT.

In my industry, we have to make this distinction between traditional MTs, traditional ATs, and MTs that shift on their own.
Seems to me that as soon as you add the word 'automated' to 'manual transmission', what you now have is by definition closer to an automatic transmission than to a manual transmission. It's automated by direct statement, which = automatic.

I get that there may still be a little stigma as far as the term 'automatic transmission' is concerned. But the mere fact that these AMTs can fully operate as ATs still makes them automatics in actual automated usage, where the name officially given to it is completely irrelevant. The use of semantics to argue that an AMT isn't at its logical heart an AT here means no more than whether or not your WRX / STi displays all of its OE badging. The way it works is what matters.


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Old 10-18-2020, 01:07 AM   #17
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CVT is for granny. Or the 45 year old guy who finally buys himself a WRX 20 years later.

Gangstas drive stick. Period.

Do you think Colin Mcrae would drive a CVT?
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Old 10-18-2020, 09:35 AM   #18
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CVT is for granny.
Careful . . . my wife might want to throw the first thing she can get her hands on at you for that And the grandkids would find it funny.


Quote:
Or the 45 year old guy who finally buys himself a WRX 20 years later.
When I last owned any vehicle with an automatic, the world wide web wouldn't exist for nearly another 20 years.


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Old 10-18-2020, 11:30 AM   #19
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Old 10-18-2020, 01:37 PM   #20
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The CVT in my Forester works perfectly fine and it has simulated gears so it feels more like a planetary gear tranny, but super smooth. On a normal car like this where I only drive normally, I don't mind CVT at all..

I prefer it more than DSG on normal cars.
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Old 10-18-2020, 06:30 PM   #21
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My opinion on why CVTs are underrated I think most will agree?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xekUAh_rrrU
I don't think CVT's are underrated. Most people who own CVT's don't really care and aren't out there on the interwebz shouting... I actually have 3 friends with CVTs (Forester, CRV and WRX) and they really like it.

There's been a few examples which turned out to be very unreliable, so that's not "underrating". That's simple/basic feedback for a $10k part that tends to fail under basic driving.

Other than that... why bother developing transmissions when cars are going electric anyways? I'd say slap on the cheapest already developed automatic that's reliable and focus on electric/hybrid technologies. Keep manuals for people who like them; because they are proven reliable and take up little to no research funding.
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Old 10-18-2020, 07:45 PM   #22
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I don't think CVT's are underrated. Most people who own CVT's don't really care and aren't out there on the interwebz shouting... I actually have 3 friends with CVTs (Forester, CRV and WRX) and they really like it.
People like your friends really like it because it fits the way they want their cars to drive better than any of the alternatives. All the reasons people choose a conventional multispeed automatic, plus smoother behavior while still being responsive enough once underway (let's not forget that zero-to-whatever-speed stats are meaningless to most of these people when it comes down to their actual driving) . . . so for them, what's not to like?


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Old 10-19-2020, 03:22 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Norm Peterson View Post
People like your friends really like it because it fits the way they want their cars to drive better than any of the alternatives. All the reasons people choose a conventional multispeed automatic, plus smoother behavior while still being responsive enough once underway (let's not forget that zero-to-whatever-speed stats are meaningless to most of these people when it comes down to their actual driving) . . . so for them, what's not to like?


Norm
Kind of, not exactly; but yes.

One has a slightly modified WRX, cares about performance and definitely does not want a manual. Likes the CVT but hates that it's a ticking bomb. One also has a Honda Pilot with a standard auto, which he hated after having been used to the CVT in the CRV; he almost returned the Pilot.

Guy on the Forester doesn't care. But likes it.

So yeah, it fits the purpose, but they also like it, and prefer it (especially compared to a manual). Which is what I mean: It is not really under rated, it is actually rated pretty well. It is disliked by some group (seems like a minority as Subarus with CVT have sold plenty), and quite ok to another group (maybe the majority and/or the market target?). A lot of people don't care at all so for Subaru to dump $ to please some weird minority, is kind of crazy.

But yes... other than reliability, what's not to like?
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Old 10-19-2020, 07:26 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by F1EA View Post
So yeah, it fits the purpose, but they also like it, and prefer it (especially compared to a manual). Which is what I mean: It is not really under rated, it is actually rated pretty well. It is disliked by some group (seems like a minority as Subarus with CVT have sold plenty), and quite ok to another group (maybe the majority and/or the market target?). A lot of people don't care at all so for Subaru to dump $ to please some weird minority, is kind of crazy.
I think the group that best defines those who are most likely to dislike CVTs is performance drivers in general. There will be a few outliers, of course.


FWIW, the WRX/STi is, according to a recent survey on MT take rates, the model with the highest MT percentage in the industry (~88%). It's the other Subaru models with CVT that brings the CVT numbers up. Even the Legacy eventually flipped over to CVT-only, after being a MT holdout at least through 2010, and I think conventional automatic only for a short while after that.


Quote:
But yes... other than reliability, what's not to like?
I think before you can get to any "what's not to like" point, you have to be fully accepting of a transmission that can leave you out of the loop while it goes on about taking care of its own forward gear selection.

Going from MT to conventional AT may be the big step here; it's a smaller step from there to the amorphous ratio choosing of a CVT. So if you start your driving life predisposed toward automatics rather than conventional MTs, you're already over the big hurdle.


Norm

Last edited by Norm Peterson; 10-19-2020 at 07:32 PM.
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Old 10-19-2020, 08:02 AM   #25
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I guarantee 95% of drivers with CVT's don't even know it is different than a traditional auto
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