Not all vehicles are created equal. You can see it in the way a Porsche jumps off the line when the light turns green. Clearly, those vehicles are tuned for speed and performance! If you’ve ridden in a Cadillac, you know that they tune their suspension for comfort, and you can feel it. Subarus are known for their AWD and handling, and you can feel it when you are in any difficult driving conditions. One element of performance many people choose to focus on is fuel economy. It’s becoming more and more competitive to be the model with the highest MPG.
One recent innovation that made great strides for fuel economy is Continuously Variable Transmission. In short, this changes the way your vehicle shifts gears, eliminating wasteful revving and loss of energy. Instead of gears in your engine, CVT uses pulleys. A metal chain connects two pulleys with variable diameters. This means a CVT engine accelerates more smoothly, without the jerkiness associated with shifting gears. Making many small shifts makes for less loss of energy.
In a traditional manual or automatic engine, it adjusts the transmission ratio in stages, hence the numbered gears. When you reach the top RPMs in one gear, revving so high, then shift to the next, there is a transition moment in which there is a significant loss of engine power. If it isn’t a smooth shift, it could even slow you down. Instead, a CVT makes minor adjustments as you accelerate, so you’re never wasting your RPMs.
The only drawback to the CVT so far has been the consumer experience because we are so used to hearing our vehicles rev and shift gears. A common discussion is how it can feel off-putting that there aren’t the same solid sounds of the engine working, but people also needed to adjust to the quiet sound of electric vehicles. If the only issue is that we don’t feel the revs, but we’re not wasting engine power, we’d say that’s a fair trade!
As with any vehicle, learning what sounds are normal and what sounds should be alarming is essential. With Continuously Variable Transmission, you’ll be learning new sounds because the engine has a new way of working. But once you are familiar with your vehicle, you will start to recognize the benefits of this innovative technology!