If you have been looking at Nissan’s newer cars in the past few years, you have probably seen the acronym CVT (which stands for Continuously Variable Transmission) and just assume it was some sort of mechanical wizardry that you would never grasp. Well at first I thought the same thing. However, after some quick research and a little reading I now understand how Nissan can create a transmission that has no “shift points” and delivers optimal power to the wheels at any speed.
Most traditional transmissions have anywhere between four and eight distinct gear ratios that limit how much of the cars effective power band can be utilized. A CVT, on the other hand, is able to hover at the ideal RPM while seamlessly choosing between infinitely many gear ratios. This allows the transmission to optimize fuel efficiency or power depending on driving style. Should the driver have the pedal mashed to the floor, the engine could hover at the optimal RPM for horsepower and torque while the transmission chooses which ratio to be in based on speed. But if you are just cruising along at 70 mph and want to maximize fuel efficiency, the engine can sit right above idling speed; allowing the transmission to deal with what ratio to be in.
I’m no mechanical genius, so it might be more beneficial to watch this excellent video put out by Nissan about the CVT. It seems much easier to grasp when there are visual representations. If you are really interested in the workings of this transmission you could test drive a new Nissan at Nissan of Clinton to experience this technology for yourself.