Which Continuously-Variable Transmissions Are the Best?

Which Continuously-Variable Transmissions Are the Best?

Exploring the world of CVTs

Transmissions play a big part in how your car drives, especially when it comes to fuel efficiency. Fuel efficient vehicles tend to use continuously variable transmissions, but they still aren’t universally praised.

Instead, CVTs are often criticized for causing a droning sound by holding the engine at a constant RPM or remind drivers of a slipping (broken) clutch. But not all CVTs are bad. Some act like modern automatics, while others are simply fantastic at sipping fuel. But why waste time testing them all when AutoGuide.com can narrow the list to five? Here’s our take on the cars with the best CVTs available in the market today.

SEE ALSO: Should You Buy a Car With a CVT?

These were chosen because they improve the cars fuel economy significantly, enhance the feeling of the car or offer unique traits that other cars and transmissions don’t have.

  • Disqus11111

    They all stink

  • Shiratori90

    Keep living in the past, luddite……..

  • Shiratori90

    Not surprised at all by this list. Honda and Subaru clearly have the best CVTs within the industry. Glad to see that they are quickly eliminating the stigma and uncertainty associated with the transmissions.

  • Tim

    Well some people like to have fun, ie., drive a manual. In those people’s opinions, any automatic is boring. But if i HAD to buy an automatic, i would probably opt for a honda with a cvt depending on what i needed. But as of right now, i will only buy manuals.

  • Jeff T

    Driven one from Nissan and Mitsubishi. HATED them both! I wish they had a “sport” button that maybe let it rev a little higher. Trying to climb a hill with 1300 rpm is painful and it won’t rev! They just always seem so desperate for fuel economy. Now I would like to try it on a more powerful v6 motor to see and I probably tolerate them then. Also I wonder what towing a boat would be like with them.

  • Shiratori90

    Good luck with your ever-shrinking list of car choices then…….

  • jenny

    My Prius has great CVT. I had a Nissan Versa, I used to think that was great, but my prius outshines it.

  • Jonny_Vancouver

    Great article! ty for writing it :) I’ve been keeping my eye on CVT’s since they became available and I think they have a lot of potential. It’s true the different manufactures make different versions, and that’s very interesting. I’ve driven stick for years, dual clutch, 5 and 6 speed autos, but I prefer the CVT for around town. I’m all for greater fuel efficiency with gas prices being what they are, and these cool little transmissions just keep getting better! Soon I hope there will be one for everyone’s need/want.

  • Richard Joash Tan

    that means that I move on a bit

  • Richard Joash Tan

    I will buy a Subaru soon

  • Moto

    I’ve got a 2014 forester xt. Before that all of my car had been manual (including a 2005 WRX). I’ve been fairly impressed with the CVT most of the time. The article doesn’t lie about keeping the power in the right spot. From a role my gray mom car is able to out pull stock WRXs 2007 and older. After about 70 that the WRX has a better sized turbo and they walk away, but not loosing any time shifting/changing the power band really helps. I don’t use sport sharp mode too often, but sport sharp+ manual mode will let you abuse the engine nearly as bad as driving a true manual. I do wish the paddle shifters were in a fixed position. Downshifting into a corner can be a little tricky if it is long corner that tightens. If subaru had used a slightly larger turbo the forester would be near perfect for my tastes. Anyway… if you live in a rural area or deal with ice covered hill very often it’s hard to go wrong with a subaru.

  • greg

    2009 Nissan Altima Coupe V6. 270 Horses. CVT is very smooth.

  • Jim Beam

    Subaru FTW!!!

  • Corolla Sedan

    Cvt is cheap manufacturing.Personally I do not bite for cvt fuel efficiency,you may save $100 in fuel a year,thats $500 in five years,would you get new cvt gearbox for that money,and are new one available or they throw away gearboxes??? Had 40 years old Holden with same automatic gear box.I did not need another car,but when I find out that 2013 is last year with with automatic gearboxes I jump and bought Corolla,it is a dream to drive it and good on fuel.Leonardo Da Vinci designed cvt gearbox from wood and pulleys,Ducth car maker Daft try to manufacture cvt with no success as durable material technology was not around that time.My gut feeling is after warranty expires there would be lot off sorry customers,but nothing to worry as private car ownership is about to expire with driverless cars in near future as NWO creeps in.