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How sporty in this new Continuously Variable Transaxle II transmission?



  • gas mileage is a steady 24 town after tsb#18-031-07.
  • robsmom2robsmom2 Posts: 1
    Just looking at new cars, and I liked the Caliber.
    But I do not want a manual transmission. What is it like to drive this new type of transmission? I had an explanation about what it is, but need to know if it is like an automatic.
    At the age of 77, I am not about to get a manual trans.
  • bigtsrbigtsr Posts: 149
    I have being driving my Caliber SXT 2.0L/CVT(auto)
    for almost 4 yrs and I am 69 now,love the transmission.
    It takes a bit of driving to adjust to the ecentricities of the
    CVT i.e. torque converter lock/unlock at 20 mph,the car
    playing catchup to the RPM under heavy acceleration.
    By the time the car was 6000 miles I was in tune with it,
    Original plugs,regular oil changes and 1 software update
    it still gets 27 mpg city and 34 mpg US hiway.
  • micwebmicweb Posts: 1,617
    You said, in part:

    "By the time the car was 6000 miles I was in tune with it"

    I have to agree that different transmissions - manual, conventional automatic, CVT - all require some adjustments from their drivers. I have now driven 5 and 6 speed manual transmissions (and started years ago with "3 on the tree" and "4 on the floor"); a Nissan Cube CVT; 3 speed auto (Dodge Neon); 4 speed auto (many); 5 speed auto (Honda CRV and Odyssey); 6 speed auto (MINI).

    With manual transmissions, the clutch is usually the big difference. Some clutches start to engage low to the floor, some in the middle, some near the top; some engage gradually, some faster. Within a week or two of getting a new manual transmission car I was always "adapted" to the new feel. On those occasions when I had two daily drivers both with manuals, the switch between cars was a little disconcerting and it took two days of driving to get tuned back to really smooth shifting - meaning I try not to have two manual transmission cars as daily drivers anymore (one stick and one auto is better for me).

    With automatics, there are tricks as to how much throttle to give them. When coaxing gas mileage out of them, I learned how to give more throttle (for better pickup) without forcing a downshift. Of course that's when automatics were biased towards good pickup. Now that they are biased towards fuel economy, you have to give them a LOT of throttle even when you WANT a downshift - but not so much you get a double downshift. I also learned how to "urge" the throttle, depressing it a little more just before it would usually upshift, if I wanted to hold a lower gear longer. So when people think an automatic does all the work for you, that's wrong, there's a way to "play" the throttle to emphasize fuel economy (by not downshifting) or performance (by not upshifting).

    A CVT is a bird of a third feather - the throttle nuance is different. On the Cube (Nissan also makes the Caliber CVT, but Chrysler did their own shift programming), I learned just how to keep it in almost unbearably low-rpm mode to get incredible city mileage. Conversely, to avoid annoying engine roar, I had to learn how to give it more throttle for better acceleration when I wanted it, but not so much that it would jump from 4,000 rpm - which was the sweet spot on the Cube - to 5000-6000, which was the thrashy noisy zone.

    Finally, the MINI (one of my current daily drivers) has TOO many gears - 6 - and it takes a lot of artful throttle application to keep it where I want it - too much throttle and my gas mileage goes down, too little throttle and people get impatient behind me. Since there are more gears, it is more willing to shift, but often I don't want it too, either to preserve gas mileage or to preserve pickup. I also try to avoid upshift/downshift/upshift "hunting" in slow and go traffic - partly to preserve mileage, partly because the MINI throws MUCH harder (which means sportier) shifts than, say the 4 speed auto Subaru Impreza.

    So I guess my message is that you might think manual transmissions are the ones that require adaptation and adjustment, but bigtsr is absolutely right, automatics, and especially CVT's also require some adaptation and adjustment. So when you switch cars or transmission types, experiment with different throttle under different speeds and loads. You may be surprised how much difference an artful use of the throttle can make in terms of driving enjoyment, mileage, and performance. Simply flooring it or driving like a mouse aren't good solutions. The trick is to learn how to urge the throttle so you don't get a downshift (or it's equivalent with a CVT) when you want better performance, and how to load the engine without throwing a downshift, when you want better mileage.
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