In cars there are two types of transmissions. First one is “Continuously Variable Transmission” or CVT, second is “Conventional Automatic Transmission”. Both have a few differences because of which people fight over these systems as both have different functionalities. Some drivers believe CVT provides a smoother experience compared to a traditional automatic transmission. But on paper the biggest advantage is they’re more fuel efficient than a conventional automatic. But still there are pros and cons of both CVT and automatic type of transmission. So, let us have a look at these differences to understand which one would be a better choice for your needs.

How Manual vs Automatic Transmission Work

You can find both these engines in any type of car, no matter if the car is a sports car or vintage car. It all depends on the manufacturer which system will be suitable and perfect in the vehicle. So, when you drive a car with a manual transmission, you have to use the stick shift on the car’s console or steering column to maneuver between transmission gears, while simultaneously using your left foot to depress the clutch pedal. Usually, the number of gears from one to as many as seven, with a reverse gear. With the increase and decrease in RPM you have to control the gears accordingly.
However, while driving a car with automatic transmission, the gears shift on its own, you just have to select neutral, reverse, drive or park & the transmission does the rest. It matches the engines and road speeds automatically. The makers of automatic gearboxes have a wide range of gears. This is much better because it allows the engine to operate at the most appropriate speed as it relates to the vehicle speed, ensuring the best fuel economy.

How a CVT Works

Unlike conventional automatic transmissions, continuously variable transmissions don’t have any gears. It uses two cone shaped pulleys. One of the pulley is connected to the engine and the other is connected to the rest of the transmissions. A steel belt connects both the pulleys to each other. These pulleys change their widths depending on how much power the wheels need from the engine. If an engine demands more power to wheels one of the pulleys gets larger, the other gets smaller. This is how a CVT powered car is accelerated without any complications along with strength & smoothness.

Variations on CVTs

There are few different types of CVTs. One variation is a different, less common CVT style using rollers and discs. As CVTs don’t have any gears, they don’t shift at the common times that an automatic will when the vehicle is accelerating. This lack of shift points can be unnerving for drivers & passengers used to the behaviour of a common automatic. To combat this, many brands that rely on CVTs have programmed into their behavior artificial shift points that give drivers the feel of transmission shifting.

Pros of CVT vs Automatic Transmission

The best benefit of the CVT is the superb ability to change its gear ratio continuously as the engine speed changes. This means the engine always works at its highest efficiency. A CVT engine powers from a small engine, which gives a faster acceleration than standard automatic transmissions. Because of which CVTs produce fewer emissions, and are also lighter weight than traditional automatic transmission. You get a better fuel economy than in city driving. As per the people those who have experienced CVT says that it is extremely smooth compared to normal automatic transmission.

Cons of CVTs vs Automatics

The drivers using CVTs miss the engine shifts & acceleration of the traditional automatic transmission experience. It’s true there’s no sound or sense of running through the gears as with conventional automatic transmission. As the engine maintains its high speed, you hear only a humming or droning sound, it is because a CVT may keep an engine running at higher RPM when an automatic would have shifted to a higher gear. CVT in car engines can make it seem like the engine is droning loudly under hard acceleration.

Another common problem that CVT vehicles face is a sudden loss of acceleration along with overheating. Drivers usually complain of slipping, shuddering and jerking while driving a CVT. Some of the owners have also experienced transmission failure because of which makers have to face many lawsuits.

So, choosing between a CVT vs automatic depends on your personal needs. You might prefer the road feel of the conventional automatic transmission. But fuel economy is a matter for you, then you might prefer the CVT.