By on July 19, 2012

For 2013, America’s cheapest car will get another bit of unloved technology to go along with its continuously variable transmission.

The 2013 Nissan Versa sedan, currently available with a CVT or a 5-speed manual, will also get a 4-speed automatic option for the base model S trim. With the CVT adding $2,130 over the 5-speed manual, the 4-speed unit should command a lower premium than the CVT, albeit with an arguably cruder, less pleasant driving experience.

The hate for the CVT and 4-speed auto here at TTAC is about evenly matched, but if I had to pick, I’d come down on the side of the 4AT being more popular. Prove me wrong.

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91 Comments on “QOTD: Pick Your Poison- A CVT Or A 4-Speed Automatic...”


  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    I really only have the Subaru Legacy/Outback for comparison but I would take the new CVT in that over the horrendous 4-speed in my Legacy any day of the week.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      They’re both pretty craptastic in my book. The big point in favor of the CVT is the better noise insulation in the 5th gen. Quietly gutless doesn’t seem to be failing as hard.

      The real knock on both four speeds and CVTs is that they usually come attached to weak, noisy economy cars.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a sales manager at a Subaru dealer here call me about a Outback SUS 3.0 VDC that came in over the weekend, I hated the 4 speed auto so much when I tested it I couldn’t bring myself to buy it. The 5 speed in the newer cars is so much better.

    • 0 avatar
      segxr7

      My mom has an ’06 Forester. I have no complaints about the 4-speed, but only because it doesn’t matter which gear it’s in since none of them really do anything. I’d expect 170hp to do a decent job of moving a tall Impreza, but it’s one of the slowest modern vehicles I’ve driven. Uphill merging is scary, and you can forget about passing anyone on a 2-lane road.

  • avatar
    3800FAN

    It’s 1953. Dynaflow or Hydramatic?

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    The CVT must cost Nissan a bunch to produce or source. That they’re going to all this trouble to try and have a low priced automatic Versa in their line shows that they’re not soaking customers with the high CVT option price. I hope for the people that paid the price that the CVT is finally perfected and lasts as long as the rest of the car. I’d probably go with the 4-speed automatic though. 4 speeds can be plenty, provided they’re the right 4 speeds and first gear doesn’t redline at 60 mph.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Agreed, 4 speeds can be adequate if the gear ratios are right, the engine has some torque, and the transmission programming is decent. The current RAV4 4-cyl has a 4 speed AT and it performs surprisingly well. But a tiny-torque 1.6L Versa will definitely tax even a good 4 speed.

      • 0 avatar
        FuzzyPlushroom

        Agreed. The four-speed automatic in a friend’s Altima 2.5 (’03 or so) is perfectly adequate for the car; the 2.5 is sufficiently torquey and fourth gear allows it to lope along at 2500 RPM at 70. The three-speed-plus-overdrive AW7*s in my RWD Volvos always seemed fine, too – but then the old redblock is a torque monster in factory trim, running out of steam higher up. The Outback I sometimes drive does well enough, too.

        The real test, to me, is whether the transmission shifts when you want and expect it to. The AW70/71 does a better job than many more modern gearboxes, in my opinion, while the Altima does just fine as well. The Outback is okay, too, aside from refusing sometimes to let go of third. An example of Things That Piss Me Off would be the CD4E in our old Mystique or (sorry, Ford) the AX4N in my grandfather’s Sable – either would let you get halfway up a hill, gutlessly, before dropping a gear or two and booting the engine in the arse.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Interesting comment about “appropriate” number of gears in transmissions….

        Mike Miller, who is the technical editor for two BMW magazines, feels the same way as you. His practical limit is 5 speeds. Forget all the stuff about 7 and 8-speed transmissions (ZF is even working on a 10-speed, I hear). That is all just on-upsmanship marketing and a need to meet EPA fuel consumption requirements.

        Look what happened when Porsche came out with its 7-speed manual for the new 911: not more than 2 months went by and Corvette announced they were coming out with a 7-speed manual! Gee, what a surprise.

        Egad, can you imagine the missed shifts that will occur if done hastily?

        ————

  • avatar
    HankScorpio

    The four speed auto in full size GM trucks (4L60E or 4L80E) are perfectly serviceable 4-speeds. In fact, having driven a new body style Suburban with the 6L80E, you can’t really tell the difference between the 4 and 6 speed except that the 6 speed shifts more.

    On the other hand, the four speed autos that Subaru use suck. The only CVT I have driven was a Dodge Caliber and it sucked even worse.

    I think it all comes down to execution and application. The four speed auto with a big torque monster engine, works great. A CVT properly engineered, no issues.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I’ve tried towing a modest trailer with a current generation Silverado 1500 4spd V8 and absolutely hated it. Can’t pull at highway speeds in 4th, so it constantly shifts into 3rd, running the revs too high and killing mileage. Unloaded, that powertrain is fine. Weighted down, it needs at least another gear.

      • 0 avatar
        Pinzgauer

        You probably shouldnt be towing in D4. Check the owners manual.

      • 0 avatar
        HankScorpio

        With the 4L60E, you tow in D4 in Tow/Haul mode (there is a switch on the column shifter). The thing with the trucks is that there is a wide variety of engines and rear-end gear ratios available. The wrong combination can make towing with any transmission difficult.

        Talking to people that have the 6L80E, it does tow better than the 4 speed, but not enough better to buy a new truck if the old one works fine.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      The current Corolla with its archaic 4 speed auto and same engine since ’03 manages to get similar mpg’s than some of the fancy new 6 speed with direct injection or with cvt’s Good idea for Nisaan to offer the auto, it will draw more customers.

  • avatar
    dasko

    CVT for the fuel economy.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Fuel economy is negligible, your talking what 10-15% over traditional automatics, unless I was misinformed. Not worth it.

      • 0 avatar
        dbcoop

        The Versa with a CVT and 1.6L engine is rated at 38mpg highway which is the same rating the new Altima gets with the 4cyl/CVT combo. I guess there’s only so much you can “lug” a small 1.6L engine on the highway before it affects the drivability. Either that or Nissan is prioritizing cost cutting on the Versa and not fuel economy.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    I am happy my juke has a CVT and not a “traditional” automatic trans. I just hate the way a traditional auto shifts, and I find the CVT better mimics how I would I drive it if I did have a manual trans in the car. Overall the CVT is just really smooth. I havent driven a CVT in a less powerful car though so I cant speak to if I would like it in a Versa.

    I would be even happier if my Juke had the 6 speed manual, but oh well.

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      “the CVT better mimics how I would I drive it if I did have a manual trans in the car.”

      You mean leaving it in 6th gear and dragging the clutch?

      Sorry, can’t help it. It’s just that I’ve driven several Nissans with CVTs, and especially in the 4-cylinder applications I just can’t shake that droning motorboat sensation.

      • 0 avatar
        Pinzgauer

        I find the Juke “upshifts” precisely when it needs to and only locks into a higher ratio when it makes sense.

        Also who doesnt like motorboating? :)

    • 0 avatar

      As a person who hounds everyone to drive their car, even shitty rentals, I’m surprised that I will haven’t driven a CVT.

      I’m so excited for the prospects of a continuous gear ratio and no wasted time shifting. Even if it feels like slipping, I will know that toque is reaching my wheels! Unlike the rental Focus DCT, that was acutally slipping its clutches all the time…

      But anyway, CVTs will probably be a big part of ICE future.

  • avatar
    Nate

    I’m of the opinion a 4 speed can be perfectly fine depending on the vehicle. It suits the old Jeep 4.0 I6 just fine. A pokey little compact? Maybe not so much.

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Smart move. They know the folks buying a Versa Automatic really don’t give a hoot about the driving experience. The 4 speed is cheaper than the CVT and 99 percent of the folks who test drive it won’t know the difference they just know they don’t want a stick.

      Personally, if we are going to go old school like this then how about a 3 or 4 speed manual!!!

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      A 3 on the tree suits a jeep inline 6 equally well!

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Without knowing more about it, I would be inclined to choose the automatic, as I would assume that it would be more reliable. (Whether my assumption about reliability is correct, I don’t know.)

    That, and I’ve never driven a CVT that I liked. The theory is fine, but the execution always seems lacking. Not that I’d have high expectations for the 4-speed auto, but there aren’t a lot of choices in this two-choice universe.

  • avatar
    ezeolla

    4AT for sure. The Liberty seems to run fine with it.

    Half the time I am driving the Wrangler (with 6M), I go 1-3-5-6 or 2-4-6 (depending on whether it is a rolling start or not). Granted, if I hit any hills, I use the proper gear.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    5 spd all the way! Quit being so lazy.

  • avatar
    jco

    hey you haven’t had fun until you’ve owned a Corolla beater, with maybe 92hp and a 3 speed automatic..

  • avatar
    nickoo

    New Nissan CVT all the way, not even close to being as deadly a sin as a 4 speed auto in this day and age.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    A bottom feeder car needs a bottom feeder transmission. Why spend extra for a CVT when it also stinks to drive? Go 4AT to remind yourself of the compromises that must be made to get a brand new car at this price level.

    • 0 avatar
      skotastic

      Yes – because everyone needs to blow a wad to show off their car to a bunch of dudes they don’t know.

      There is ZERO shame in owning the lowest priced new car if its reasonably decent. The Versa starts, runs, drives, carries people and stuff, and stops. For a lot of people, that’s all they want in a car, and that’s ok.

      In fact, I have alot more respect for someone in a Versa sedan who uses the rest of his/her cash to pay down their debt/mortgage, than some dude with some high end lease who continues America’s debt cycle.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        Well you took that comment WAAAYYY farther than it was intended, but you probably feel better now that you have blown your own wad.

        I was thinking more along the lines of what kind of better used car you could get for brand-new Versa scratch.

  • avatar
    mkirk

    Smart move. They know the folks buying a Versa Automatic really don’t give a hoot about the driving experience. The 4 speed is cheaper than the CVT and 99 percent of the folks who test drive it won’t know the difference they just know they don’t want a stick.

    Personally, if we are going to go old school like this then how about a 3 or 4 speed manual!!!

  • avatar
    carguy

    The latest generation Nissan CVT is much better than most old 4 speed automatics but I doubt its worth the price difference. The Versa is an low end automotive penalty box and spending $2K on a transmission upgrade won’t make it any better. You’re not buying this car to have fun on the road so save the money and go with the 4 speed automatic.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    New is not always better, automatic transmissions are already a source of mystery to most drivers and mechanics, so don’t further complicate it. So in short, CVT = Bad.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      Do we know that a CVT is more mechanically complicated that a regular automatic.

      The Prius is full of new technology and is one of the most reliable and durable cars you can buy.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Honestly I don’t know much about the exact technical makeup of a 4spd or a CVT, but I’ve read quite a bit about the newer technology bombing in Nissans and I believe the first year Ford Five Hundred tried to use one which ended in disaster. Maybe the technology’s not to blame but poor/design manufacturing, I can’t be sure. Personally whether I’m buying new or used, I can deal with other bits failing, but I demand a solid drivetrain. Sounds like these gas powered CVTs are hit or miss.

        If Toyota’s HSD is solid then that’s something which would meet my prereqs, CVT or not.

      • 0 avatar
        nikita

        A CVT is mechanically simpler than a conventional automatic. The problem is that the conventional automatic has many decades of development and refinement (1950 Powerglide), CVT not so much. We had a CVT in the first Honda Civc GX and traded it in only because of that transmission. The Hondacare extended warranty was expiring and the car had eaten three expensive, dealer exchange only, CVTs.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    I have a 2010 Altima 2.5 with the CVT. For my driving, in topographically challenged Western PA and 95% city, I would have preferred to take the 4 spd slushbox. Well, a manual if I REALLY had my choice, but the wife can’t drive manuals and won’t learn.

    If I did all highway in the flatlands, the CVT is great for low revs cruising(even at 80 with a large 4) and quick passing. Way too much going on with the CVT vs. the hills. I’d be interested in how the V6 car does with my normal driving routine but…

    Unless Subie or Honda build a better mousetrap, I don’t see buying or leasing another car with a CVT.

  • avatar
    carve

    My guess is resale dfference will be negligable, and it would take a LOOOOTTTTT of miles before the mpg difference pays for the CVT transmission. This is a car built to a price, so the 4 speed just makes sense.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      With a CVT vs. a 4-speed their might also be a significant performance boost. As it is the CVT goes 0-60 in 10.7 seconds. If the 4-speed did it in 12…? That might be enough for someone to decide it’s gone from tolerably slow to totally intolerable.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    I drive a cube and I am happily flipping a bird to those who have used such terms as craptastic or bottom feeder. I drive a six speed manual cube that would be an automatic if the four speed auto had been available.

    At 53k with no repairs and 30-35 mpg I am happily cruising all over the state.

    Btw, I am not subscribed to this thread so you fanbois can fume all you want.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I find the “gear wars” almost as tiresome as the horsepower wars. More is not better.

    Why, in my day, automatics had TWO gears and manuals had THREE. And we were happy!

    The 4AT is cheaper, more reliable, and far less complex than a CVT.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      The 4AT is cheaper, more reliable, and far less complex than a CVT.

      Far less complex? Serious question – do you know that for a fact or are you just assuming?

    • 0 avatar
      don1967

      As a Nissan salesman in late 1990 I remember when the first 4AT Sentra showed up. It was a veritable rocket compared to the 3AT which preceded it, in much the same way as Rosie O’Donnell is a supermodel compared to Roseanne Barr.

  • avatar
    Waterview

    We rented a Nissan Altima (with the CVT) in San Francisco earlier this year and I was very impressed with the driving experience. Smooth and quiet. Not sure I’d be willing to buy into the long-term reliability yet, but I came away favorably impressed.

  • avatar
    99_XC600

    The fact that someone actually went out and purchased a Versa pretty much shows that he/she has already given up on life and any semblance of any driving enjoyment.

    Presenting the choice of a CVT or a 4 Spd to the buyer is essentially the same as asking the suicidal jumper if he’s going to jump from the bridge or the building. Either way it’s going to be messy.

  • avatar
    Speed3

    Is it too much to ask for a 6 speed automatic? Hell even the Chevy Sonic has one.

    • 0 avatar
      MusicMachine

      It will depend on the price difference between a 4AT Versa and a 6AT Sonic. Once that is known, the buyer will have to decide “Is that to much to ask for a 6 speed auto”. The Versa’s price tag is considerably lower than most compacts–including the Sonic.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    As someone who’s been stuck with 3-speed automatics I wouldn’t mind a 4, its simpler to fix and more natural than a CVT.

    Really, 4-speeds are all that you need on regular 4 cylinder cars, anything more and the computer will constantly search for whichever gear that it needs to switch to.

    • 0 avatar
      Volt 230

      I am stuck with a 3 speed auto and the only time I miss those extra gears is when I.m on the highway, around town I don’t miss the 4 speed I used to have before I “downgraded” to the 3 speed

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        Volt, how can you stand a 3 spd?? Please tell me its not a Neon whose trash compactor/engine drones so loudly at 4000 rpm/65 mph that my skin crawls with the desire to shift it to a higher gear. The only time 3 spds made sense was the TunaBoat era of giant, floaty-boat American iron trundling down the road on .15 cent gas.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        no, it’s a 98 Corolla which I simply do not use on long trips, only around town, I rent one for any trip longer than 200 miles. Even then I get about 28 mpg in mixed driving, but it is unbearable at highway speeds.

  • avatar
    nvdw

    CVT, any day of the week. Both of my cars are CVT (albeit in the old rubber band fashion) and I wouldn’t want anything else. It’s brilliant.

    A CVT is actually less complex than a 4-speed automatic. In relatively low-powered vehicles, it can make quite a difference if you can accelerate steadily at 3,000 rpm rather than reaching 3k then losing power because of an upshift.

    One of its main problems is garages replacing the CVT oil with standard ATF. If you want your CVT bricked, it’s the fastest way to do so.

    I don’t think I could live with the Versa, however, CVT or not.

  • avatar
    Colinpolyps

    After logging 60,000km on a 2010 Toyota Corolla 4AT, a CVT could not be possibly worse. This tranny sucks large on long hills and eastern mountains. Would hate to try to cross the Rockies with it. What is the experience of CVT drivers under those conditions?

    • 0 avatar
      nvdw

      CVT’s are very useful on hills; you’re never in between gears but always in the right gear, and you don’t have to choose it yourself for a bonus. And you never lose any drive while it shifts.

  • avatar
    phargophil

    My wife drives a 2005 Ford Freestyle with the CVT and AWD. The transmission has been flawless throughout this time. Granted, the 3.0L duratec isn’t a horsepower monster but the drivetrain is well matched and very responsive, as well as being fairly economical for such a large vehicle. This car weighs over 4000 lbs and with this transmission my wife routinely gets 20MPG in town and 24MPG highway.

    I’d definitely consider the CVT in the Versa’s case if the price difference weren’t too great.

    • 0 avatar
      Hoser

      Same here on my 05 Five Hundred. I had a little RPM “flutter” when cold that was addressed with a PCM reflash under warranty. I’ve done the factory recommended 60k mile fluid change and had no other problems. The CVT is one of my favorite features. No worrying about hunting for the right gear, it always finds the right ratio.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    +1 on that; I also rented a Nissan with CVT at Long Island for a week, and was very happy with the low fuel consumption and decent driveability.

    Not an exciting car, but a good commuter car.

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Okay I’ll say it. This is a car for people who don’t like cars and don’t care what people think about them and don’t like to shop. They walk into the dealership, grunt at the cheapest thing they can find, sign some papers after paying cash, and drive it til it dies.

  • avatar
    George B

    Nissan does a fairly good job with their CVTs. I’d prefer a CVT in my next rental Versa. OTOH, car rental companies don’t buy the gasoline so they would probably buy the cheaper and probably more rugged 4 speed automatic.

    Not sure why but the CVT in 2013 Nissan Altima I drove last week seemed much better than CVTs I remember. The Audi A4 CVT was horrible.

    • 0 avatar
      Styles79

      Not sure what engine is in the A4 CVT (guessing 4-cyl) but I know the Maximas we get here with CVT are excellent. They’re tuned for strong low-end torque, which really helps overcome the one deficiency of CVT’s which is that they are limited in how low they can be geared.

  • avatar
    tanooki2003

    To me CVT’s are and always will be garbage as well as a high cost maintentence trap for non leasers (people who plan to keep their cars 10+ years or longer).

    I prefer to just to stick with manual transmission, regardless if other options return a few extra MPG points or not, that way I am in total control of the car, not some dumb computer telling me what gear the car should be in especially when going on hills, merging/passing on highways, and handling curvy roads at reasonably high speeds when i am feeling in the “sporty” mood.

    Lastly a well geared manual transmission can make practically any boring car feel a lot more fun to drive and toss around instead of just being a point of transportation that gets you from point a to b.

    Maybe it’s just me being an enthusiastic driver instead of the typical no frills Camry/Accord driver.

  • avatar
    el scotto

    This, those, or that. My 96 Saturn is seeking someone else to cherish it. Car pulls up and parent and child get out and gaze longingly at the Saturn. They circle the car and point and talk, the conversation ends with “it’s a stick, I can’t drive it”. Parent/child combination drive away. I’m glad I got a stick but I didn’t think it’d be a PITA to sell. Not sell, find someone else to find it endearing.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      The irony is that my mother had an automatic BMW. When she got sick of most of its trips being to the mechanic, she advertised it for sale only to have potential buyers say what great condition it was in and how they’d take it in an instant if it had a manual transmission.

  • avatar
    Styles79

    I’m so over the CVT bashing that I see and hear every day. We’ve had CVT over here in the Primera (Infiniti G20) since ’98. And while, YES some do get replaced under warranty it’s no worse than comparable autos.

    The real killer of CVT’s is lack of maintenance, which is chronic here in New Zealand where people buy a used japanese import with 100,000kms and expect it to do that much again on no maintenance. I’ve seen plenty of CVT’s well into 300,000km territory with correct maintenance, that is just fluid changes.

    As to driving, yes the earlier examples were a little lackluster, and even later models (in 4-cyl applications) lack punch off the line, but guess what, they’re not installed in dragsters. In real-life everyday performance they are far and away better than a conventional auto or even manual. They just don’t seem as quick as there isn’t that shift shock. On twisty country roads etc, without a manual mode, no thanks, but if that’s the driving you want to do go get a manual sportscar.

    For everyday commuting etc they are ideal.

    • 0 avatar
      MusicMachine

      All my cars have been manual transmissions but the theory of the CVT is sensible the application of that theory is proving the same.

      If the 4AT is a cheaper, cost-cutting measure that works…and if it starts buyers thinking that new car ownership is within reach (and they don’t have to row gears!!), then…why should I or anyone be against that?

      • 0 avatar
        Styles79

        I definitely prefer manual too, I’m willing to compromise on the negatives of a manual to get the benefits (e.g. lower purchase price, lower maintenance costs).

        And you’re right, if a 4AT is a compromise inbetween MT and CVT then I guess it does make sense.

        Really my post was just a semi-OT rant, it’s just comments like these “So in short, CVT = Bad”, “I’ve read quite a bit about the newer technology bombing in Nissans ” and “To me CVT’s are and always will be garbage as well as a high cost maintentence trap for non leasers (people who plan to keep their cars 10+ years or longer).” that really get my goat.

        /rant

  • avatar
    haroldingpatrick

    No biggie for a car like this, especially if it’s not geared too tall.

    I love the CVT in my 2011Maxima however. You can get around town at no more than a fast idle or have 6500 RPM right damn now any time you want it. Way better than the 6speed auto in my previous Camry V6. Instead of having to constantly downshift a full gear ratio for every hill, the CVT changes ratios just enough and no more. Nothing’s flat in upstate SC / Western NC, so this is wonderful. It also helps that the Maxima is not geared too tall to game the EPA numbers.

  • avatar
    pdog

    I test drove the Versa sedan with CVT a few months back. Wanted to see a 5-speed, but they didn’t have any on the lot. And yes, it’s a boring car, but it’s also endearing, in the same way that my old VW Fox was. Just an honest, basic car, and that ideally offers efficient, reliable service with a decent amount of room in the backseat. I decided to just soldier on with my aging car for now, and shoot for 300K miles.

    A good friend had the previous Versa with CVT, and I never liked the way the transmission slipped all over. Same with the Caliber I rented for a week at some point. But the new Versa’s CVT was surprisingly decent, with shifting that felt much more conventional than motorboaty. Also, it can drop the RPMs pretty low when cruising on a flat highway, which makes the cabin a much more pleasant place to be. I can’t imagine that they’ll be able to get the same gear ratio spread with a conventional 4-speed, unless they have unthinkably large gaps in the gear ratios, at which point the car will lose whatever tiny little bit of pep it has.

    I would still be worried about the lifespan of the CVT? Even if it’s clearly not overtaxed in this application, I worry about the CVT-grenade horror stories that you read about on the Versa forums. And how are people okay with a transmission that doesn’t last 100K miles, anyway? This is not a mid-80s VW automatic we’re talking about.

    I think Nissan is crazy to even offer the 4-speed. Is it really that much cheaper to produce (or offer warranty coverage for), or do they think that they will be able to convince people to “upgrade” to the CVT? I’m pretty sure most people in this market are shopping based on price, and price alone.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    Just try and find one of these $11,500 “Cheapest Car in America” base models with a 5-speed. Within 5-counties all the Versas in dealer stock were loaded for around $16k. Why do manufacturers advertise base price models if they aren’t stocked at the dealerships (I’m talking to you too, Hyundai)? The Versa with CVT sticker shock obviously forced Nissan to offer the cheaper 4-speed automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      tanooki2003

      yes thank you. That is my major issue with the Hyundai and Kia dealerships because they only cater to the popular “oh just X package” crowd when I really just want to get a base model and customize the options to MY liking. After all I’m the one who has to be stuck with my car, not other car buyers.

  • avatar
    udman

    The reason why the Versa has this option is for the daily rental fleets. The previous Versa Sedan was a darling of the rental counters, and this provides a low cost option for the Avis, Hertz, and Enterprises of North America. They are relatively roomy, have a large trunk (in the sedan), and are rented in the subcompact segment. This is a better option than the leftover Aveo, or the Yaris, or the Fiesta.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Can’t tow with CVT.

    4-speed will need flushes when CVT won’t.

    Do both have same warranty from Nissan?

    I’d pick CVT for lower hwy rpm’s, less wear on the brakes downhill & coasting to red lights. Gotta know how to drive it. If you competitive driver CVT not your shifter

  • avatar
    otaku

    I’ve driven four speed automatics over the years in everything from my dad’s ’84 Mercury Grand Marquis, my ’91 Escort GT, ’94 Ford Probe, ’96 Pontiac Grand Am GT, and 2000 Escort ZX2. Never had any problems with them right up to and including my current car, an ’08 Focus SE Coupe.

    I must admit, however, that the first car I ever owned, a 1986 Ford T-Bird Turbo Coupe only had a three-speed auto. Stil,l that was a FUN car to drive. I miss the hell out of that thing. Anyways…

    My friend drives an ’09 Honda Civic LX coupe with a five-speed auto. The fuel economy payoff is about the same as my 4-speed Focus, but it seems to hunt through its ratios a lot more than my car, especially on the highway. Kind of a weird feeling when you’re already going about 65mph and the tranny needs to downshift a gear or two in order to tackle a slight incline. I think five and six speed automatics represent worthwhile technological improvements, but I question their use in some economy cars with small, high-strung engines where torque is meager at best.

    Personally, while I suspect I would probably enjoy the novelty of driving a vehicle with a CVT, I’ll probably wait a few more years to see how they hold up durability-wise before investing any of my own cash. Also, a few years back, a co-worker bought a Nissan Sentra with a CVT and he always complained about how jumpy the throttle felt. He claimed it was so sensitive that it was reaaly tough to maintain a steady speed on the highway. When he brought it back to the dealer, they just told him to use cruise control. I wonder whether or not CVT’s have gotten any better in that respect.

  • avatar
    bkmurph

    With an engine as small as the Versa’s 1.6L, I’d take the CVT over the 4-speed automatic. I recently rented a Sentra through Zipcar, and in a couple hours of urban/suburban errand-running, I barely heard the engine over the A/C and road noise. Maybe the CVT gets worse at speed, but it felt fine for in-town driving with the Sentra.

    Incidentally, I’ve also driven some recent Subarus (2011 Impreza 2.5i and 2007 Forester) with 4-speed automatics, and I thought they performed reasonably well. I didn’t expect blistering performance, nor did the drivetrains deliver that, but both vehicles felt perfectly fine to me. With smaller engines, CVTs are probably fine, but I tend to prefer ‘geared’ automatics with larger engines.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    The CVT is the academic choice and the auto is… Well, will suite some people, maybe the majority?
    I would go for the CVT because I truly detest auto’s and because I find CVT’s interesting to drive, not pleasant, just interesting.
    I agree with some here that the perception that the CVT is gutless it just a perception. They are quicker than they feel.
    Another perception is that CVT is “new” technology. It’s not. It’s been around for decades in scooters. I believe it was Audi that pioneered a new type of material for the belt that can handle car levels of torque.

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      Beerboy12,

      You said: “I believe it was Audi that pioneered a new type of material for the belt that can handle car levels of torque.”

      Yes, that’s right. I remember the article about Audi. Apparently quite a breakthrough.

      ———-

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    I believe that it was the DAF , an odd Dutch subcompact , that introduced the CVT in the late fifties or early sixties , back when imported subcompacts didn’t offer automatics . In that era we knew these people who had worked for Shell who brought one back with them when they transferred back to Houston from the Netherlands . The only CVT I’ve driven was a few hundred miles in a c0-worker ‘s Caliber . I thought it was awful -felt like an old Dynaflow . I would take a stick- always , but these days most people cannot drive stick , the morons . The excuse is always that they don’t like driving a stick in stop and go traffic but personally I think that’s when a stick really excels .

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      The DAF was the second CVT in a car. First being the Clyno car (British, 1920′s)
      CVT was first dreamed up by Leonardo Da Vinci in 1490 and patented by Daimler Benze in 1886. Older than even I thought and, thank you Wikipedia :-)

      • 0 avatar
        iNeon

        I wouldn’t use a Daimler-Benz Wiki as a source for any research I didn’t want to be lying about.

      • 0 avatar
        nvdw

        Re the stick or auto discussion: I don’t drive stick because I can’t, but because I can’t be bothered. It’s just as archaic as adjusting the spark advance yourself or starting your engine by cranking.

        I drive these ‘odd Dutch subcompacts’ myself (see avatar). Even though my Daf 66 is already 40 years old, its technology is still relevant today. It really is instrumental in getting the best out of a lowly 45 hp, which makes the car quick enough for use in daily traffic (that includes the freeway).

        Founder Hub van Doorne got the idea for a belt-driven CVT from a self-propelled military gun. I can only assume he saw a Clyno pulley system. I’ve never heard of Daimler having patented a CVT design.

        The pushbelt CVT as we know now was thought out by Van Doorne in the 1960s as the Transmatic. It was only in the 1980s that it came to true fruition when it was sold in the Fiat Uno and Ford Fiesta subcompacts. Nowadays, Van Doorne Transmissions is a part of the Bosch concern. I believe JATCO (Nissan’s transmission supplier) uses Van Doorne patents, at least for the steel belt, as does Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru) for its E-CVT, now Lineartronic. The LuK-built Audi multitronic is different in setup as it uses a chain rather than a belt.

  • avatar
    dwight

    I’ve been looking for an affordable replacement to my civic coupe so that I can get more cargo capacity. The Caliber fits the bill but it comes with the CVT. After driving it for about an hour, I’m still not sure if I should go with the purchase. Rudimentary suspension aside, the CVT seems to allow you to access whatever rpm you want to get out of the way, but it winds up like a snowmobile. That is my only complaint. It is a rather cool transmission. No thunk to the next gear, of which I think most people are used to and why they have a hard time switching to CVT. I think I just talked myself into the Caliber.

  • avatar
    jimmyy

    The Japanese have moved beyond the 6 speed that Detroit is still trying to master. CVT is a more advanced product that Detroit engineering is unable to match. So, Detroit does what it does best. A negative campaign against CVT.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I didn`t know Honda and Toyota were widely using CVT’s. I thought they were using 4 and 5 speed autos, with 6 being more advanced than 5 (and 5 more advanced than 4). My bad!

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Well let’s see. My Outback has a CVT, and my old 2002 Tahoe had a 4-speed. The Tahoe always shifted smoothly with no/minimal hunting. That 4L60E was a fine transmission indeed. My Outback’s CVT works just fine, I have no problems.

    I would say though, I would probably prefer the 4 Speed. I test drove a Forester with it and it was just fine.

  • avatar
    rpn453

    I’d take a good three-speed auto over some laggy, slushy six-speeds that are out there.

    I don’t have any experience with CVTs but I imagine they’re like any other transmission: some are excellent, some are horrible.

  • avatar
    zzack

    I would go with the 4 speed automatic. Service wise they are much more reliable and a simpler design than the CVT. I had a Mini Cooper S with the CVT and that transmission was a real clunker, no way to really fix it without spending $6,000+ for a new CVT transmission. All the people who say that CVT’s are so great, just wait until service is needed and then see how great they are.


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