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People love them or they love to hate them. Obviously a CVT is not appropriate for everyone but it has its niche.

The CVT may be uncommon but it is not a new transmission, it was first invented in 1879. Recently it has become updated and being used in more cars, especially from the Asian market.

There are a lot of news articles about CVTs breaking down... Realize, most any mechanical device or machine can break down, especially if it is abused or improperly run.

Some people think the CVT is an inferior transmission or that manufacturers are to blame for producing defective products.

Personally I love the CVT and appreciate its many benefits. I accept its limitations and willing to trade off a few negatives for the many positives.

This is my theory: because the CVT is different and works differently compared to a manual or conventional geared transmission, you have to operate it differently. Generally, the CVT does not handle high horsepower / high torque applications very well...I think that many of the breakdowns are due to improper operation.

The CVT will not deliver wheel spinning take-offs or perform burnouts like a manual trans. So, if you have a “heavy foot” and try to operate it that way frequently, it will most likely break down, just like a manual or automatic trans will also breakdown eventually.

Recommendations: if you buy a new car with a CVT, break it in gently. Make sure the car is fully warmed up before any aggressive / spirited driving. Realize that it takes longer for the transmission to get fully warmed up, than your engine. Getting a car rolling from a standstill puts more stress on the drive train than while cruising, so start off easy and accelerate gradually. Once you get the car moving a bit, you can apply more gas and it will get up to speed very fast without undue stress.

Real world example: I have a new 2020 Forte LXS with 1647 miles on it now. On day two I got 50 mpg and on day four I got 58 mpg. Last Sunday I drove it 120 miles, mostly highway, around 80 mph and higher, I averaged 47 mpg for the whole trip. I am very pleased with the fuel economy, performance, smoothness and how quiet it is.

 

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Many CVTs, way too many, actually, make the car take-up speed like a tug-boat from stand-still. I can think of many traffic situations, where you need fast pick-up, and a transmission needs to be able to handle that. That is not to say, this should be the regular way to accelerate, but again,use when needed. Now, one of the main benefits, fuel economy aside, the Forte, with its 147 hp, is punching above his weight because of the CVT. So it is definitely a good thing for smaller cars and smaller engines. That infamous drone is almost not perceptible in the Forte, because of sound damping, which has other side benefits, it`s so nicely quiet overall because of that, and I'd dare say, that most people would not notice the difference between a torque converter transmission and a CVT.
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