By on May 14, 2013

Corolla1-550x366

TTAC’s favorite beige appliance, the Toyota Corolla, is due for a redesign this year, and powertrain details are starting to leak out. For TTAC readers, there’s nothing but bad news.

It looks like buyers will have their choice of either a 4-speed automatic or a CVT. A 6-speed manual is technically available, but anyone who ever encounters a Corolla on the rental lot will most likely be stuck with one of these two transmissions.

The question for you, my darling readers, is which one would you prefer? The 4-speed seems like old hat in this day and age of 8,9 and even 10-speed transmissions, but it gets the job done with minimal fuss. Many of us also have a philosophical opposition to CVTs, but as Alex Dykes reports, some of them are actually quite good.

What would you rather take? Me? I’d demand an upgrade at the rental counter. But you don’t have that choice.

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98 Comments on “QOTD: Pick Your Poison – CVT Or 4-Speed Auto...”


  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Ledgenary 34 mpg Hwy is even passed up by the bigger Camry. You don’t think Toyota is fluffing up Camry sales by suppressing Corolla sales?

    • 0 avatar
      jimmyy

      Except that Consumer Reports shows Corolla having the best in class mileage. But, Detroit, do not worry. Obama only sics the EPA on foreign brands, so Detroit’s EPA ruse can continue.

      And, Toyota better not complain about the above, our Obama will launch another NHTSA recall attack on all Toyotas … you know “Stop Driving Your Toyota.”

      Hey, I better be quiet before Obama launches an IRS attack on me.

      • 0 avatar
        SomeGuy

        I’m all ears on how you think a 1.4 turbo Cruze is unable to hit its EPA targets with minimal political pandering.

        • 0 avatar
          thornmark

          Autoline Detroit had something on this. They were talking about trucks, pickups and all the panelists agreed that the truck EPA ratings were wildly inflated, not just the Ecoboosts.

          Pickups keep the Detroit 3 in business.

        • 0 avatar
          NormSV650

          Plenty of examples of 50+ Prius Family beating highway runs with Cruze 1.4T. You’ll see more as the cars are broken in over time.

          http://www.cruzetalk.com/forum/27-fuel-economy/

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        Must be that split transfer case.

        http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTfeF2PbXwjgPnB7HasfZvX3HpyimUFVez5tVYXo6Gnxh1PIPZTD-FYA77PMg

        • 0 avatar
          jimmyy

          Fortunate you posted a non-UAW product. A UAW product may have upset the government … especially if TTAC journalists did not strike it down fast enough. Possible that the DOJ would have tapped TTAC journalists phone lines.

          • 0 avatar
            dolorean

            jimmyy, still wearing the oversized tin-foil hat? gotta get some air in and breathe a bit. Its about a Corolla, not about your political bent and an axe to grind.

      • 0 avatar
        ponchoman49

        If you believe CR than your an even bigger sheep than we all thought.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      What car company doesn’t try to guide customers to the size class up?

      As your 100 mpg-even-in-a-headwind Saab can attest, the EPA ratings don’t always reflect real world performance. For all of its crappiness, the Corolla is pretty good at exceeding the EPA numbers, according to True Delta and CR. 38 mpg shouldn’t be hard. But then, 38 mpg is hardly a consolation when sitting in the cheapo interior and forcing the useless 132 horsepower to motivate the car through the 4 speed auto.

      • 0 avatar
        NormSV650

        @30,

        Wait until the now 900 miles per tank Cruze Diesel gets broken in.

        http://www.greencarreports.com/news/1084119_gm-engineer-drives-2013-chevy-cruze-diesel-900-miles-on-one-tank

        What you got Corolla? Sub-Prime competition for the Koreans is about all.

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          “What you got Corolla?”

          When you don’t use complete sentences it is difficult to understand what you are trying to say. I don’t have a Corolla. I’ve driven one. I’d rather have a Cruze, it’s a much better car. The diesel is a cool move that should give VW some much needed competition.

        • 0 avatar
          wumpus

          I’ll be impressed if GM can manage to sell a diesel in a car (a neighbor of mine had a 350…). Also it will cost a lot more than an eco and get roughly the same mileage.

          258lb-ft of torque (with that mileage) is something else. Personally, I’d take the eco and just shift a few gears for a few thousand less, but I understand why people would pay for the torque.

  • avatar
    Timothy

    I’d choose a Mazda 3. Or a Focus. Or, worse comes to worse, a Cruze.

    But… if none of those were available I’d choose a 4spd. I can’t stand the CVT in my sisters Rouge. Constantly buzzing and annoying the shit out of me which is sad considering Nissan makes some of the “best” CVT’s on the market.

    The only time I ever “got” a CVT when I had a Mini as a rental car and drove from SF to Tahoe. The steep grades were rendered a non-issue with the engine always in the sweet spot. So, for those few miles of up and down driving it made sense.

    • 0 avatar
      ezeolla

      Since when do Minis come with CVTs? Last time I checked, it was either a 6 speed stick or 6 speed auto.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        Between 2002 and 2008 various Mini models had a CVT.

      • 0 avatar
        bk_moto

        The 1st-gen MINI Cooper had a CVT available as an option at launch. Made by ZF as I recall.

        The CVT was never available on the Cooper S – that was manual-only initially and when it did eventually get an automatic option, it was a standard-type torque converter auto.

        • 0 avatar
          400 N

          I have a 2004 Cooper with CVT and Sportdrive. I’ve never driven a CVT before but I find it quite good. It’s slow in the bottom end, but unlike automatics, it has the braking effect that you get on a manual. Also you can switch to Sportdrive and downshift.

  • avatar
    bwright1991

    this is like sophie’s choice

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    What is this “it gets the job done” when it got the job done in a myriad of domestic products with so much rabble and consternation?

  • avatar
    motormouth

    Merging on to a rain-soaked highway in Alabama in front of a rig doing 70mph, I feared for my life in a rented four-speed Corolla, such was the total lack of acceleration (sound and fury signifying nothing). Could the CVT be worse? I doubt it, and that is why I’m going to cast my vote that way, despite every shred of my being screaming to not jump down that rabbit hole.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Why didn’t you look at the traffic and find a gap when you were further back on the on ramp?

      I learned to drive in 4 cylinder pickup truck in the Appalachians. I only need the power to weight ratio of a fully loaded 40 ton tractor trailer to drive safely in heavy traffic. The 120HP in our Prius is fine, and extra power is fun – but its only a safety issue if you can’t look around and think a few seconds into the future.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        “its only a safety issue if you can’t look around and think a few seconds into the future.”

        It may not be as simple as that. In many areas now, the on-ramps have stop&go lights that control merging. In many mountainous areas there are also stop&go lights to control traffic through the passes or the tunnels. Try some of the tunnels and passes of the Rocky Mountains sometimes.

        If you’re stuck behind a lumbering 18-wheeler and all lanes are packed, there is no good alternative, nor is there time to plan ahead. You just go with the flow.

        I would prefer a step-transmission over any CVT.

        • 0 avatar
          Luke42

          I’ve never had a problem with a 4 cylinder 120hp engine in a 3300lb vehicle in either the Rockies, or in places like DC or Boston with all kinds.of funny traffic control devices.

          They’ll make some noise when you go to WOT, sure, but that don’t bother me none. If someone wants to pay extra for quiet during highway merges, that’s reasonable – but let’s call it what it is.

          Booth of the V6s I’ve owned have been overpowered. Pleasantly overpowered, but overpowered nonetheless. Some of the V8s I’ve owned (F-150, rental Panthers) have been well matched, but that’s only because those vehicles were overweight.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Luke, I have a CDL (since 1985) and I’ve rented rigs for hauling. It used to p.ss me off beyond words when some slow poke would merge in front of me, going as fast as they can while I’m doing the legal limit and have to worry about the load behind me getting squirrelly on me.

            Underpowered, slow accelerating vehicles are a menace to fluid traffic flow. In California such vehicles can, and often do, cause pileups when they try to merge with the normal flow of traffic but can’t get up to speed fast enough.

          • 0 avatar
            Summicron

            “normal flow of traffic”…

            …is always closer to 85 than it is to 65. A nation of dangerous scofflaws will always make some cars “underpowered” that would be perfectly adequate among law-abiding divers.

          • 0 avatar
            highdesertcat

            Summicron, you’re right. The normal flow of traffic varies. In my area and nearby Texas I-10 the normal flow of traffic is indeed 85mph or better. On nearby US70 it is better, meaning a higher cruising speed because of less traffic.

            Where I live, adjacent to US54, we have a three mile long acceleration lane when merging onto US54 from our side road, and many cars take that much and longer to get up to speed of traffic.

            Most of us do a hard-throttle acceleration before merging onto the highway, meaning we get up to the legal speed limit and try not to cut in front of anyone barreling down the road at a higher rate of speed, especially 18-wheelers.

            OTOH, there’s the stop and go traffic on many grid-locked traffic arteries that requires a responsive car to keep up with the traffic surges or risk losing your place in the grid-lock line, putting you further and further behind.

            CVTs do not perform well in either of these circumstances. At least that has been my personal experience with the CVT rentals I got.

            CVTs give new meaning to the term “slush box”.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    I’ve only driven one car with a CVT – an Altima I rented a couple of years ago for business. I didn’t mind it, but I didn’t pay much attention to it, as after a couple of hours, my aching back took over my mind due to the awful seats. The starter button was cool, however…

    If Toyota’s CVT will be as good as the Honda’s review last week, I have no problem.

    Besides, as I get older, I care less about those things unless the CVT IS that bad. If so, give me the standard auto tranny if I’m going to live with a car every day.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      Add CR-V to the back-aching car list

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      I’ve had the bad luck to get several CVT rentals. I didn’t care for any of them. Slugs, one and all. Rubber-band acceleration when you stomp on the go-pedal. A lot of noise from the engine but only slow-go take-off. No better from a rolling acceleration.

      A friend had two CVTs go out on her Murano within five years. First time it was fixed free under warranty. Second time it happened it was not economically feasible to replace that CVT so she sold her Murano to someone who bought it to part it out.

      She bought a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited 5.7 with a step-transmission to console herself.

  • avatar
    ant

    I think toyo is foolish to use a CVT different than what is found in the prius c.

    The corolla won’t get a synergy drive drive train?

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The CVT used in hybrids is different than CVTs used with conventional engines. The transmission in the Prius is basically a power split device. Unless they are going to have a hybrid Corolla, it won’t have the Synergy Drive System.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Out of curiosity, I’d choose the CVT. I’ve seen the 4-spd auto movie for decades.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    I don’t like these rules….. if I HAVE to it would be a 4 speed, no question. If Toyota can’t figure out or how to make or have the energy to put in a 6 speed after all this time, then you just know the CVT will be annoying garbage. Call it “Caliber-esq”.

    Toyota really doesn’t want to reach its potential, does it?

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      Like many other new technologies, many early CVTs were bad, having a slow and rubbery feel and questionable reliability. Since there were bad ones once, all must still be bad (regardless what reviewers say). Thus, all CVTs are bad. Also, they are not manuals.

      But if you happen to believe that technology improves over time, then you might need to actually drive both and see if one is better (less worse?) than the other. If you find that one or both are passable, then you automatically lose your internet car poster card and will be labeled “not an enthusiast.”

  • avatar

    What is so wrong with a CVT Tranny? My Snowmobile uses that type and from what I have heard the Asian makers have had rather good luck with them whereas GM and others not so good, I know Tranny repair shops don’t like them, so what?

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      GM, Ford, and Chrysler tried to ruin the CVT for all.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        I’d say it was Nissan, or more specifically Jatco that ruined them for me. Not just in Nissan cars either, the Caliber and Compatriot suffer from their transmission design. It was so great, they ditched them for a 6 spd auto for 2014.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    CVT. A 4-speed auto should be considered obsolete.

    This does have the effect of turning the decision into, “A Corolla with CVT or some other car altogether?”

    Edit: I would take the Corolla with the CVT.

    • 0 avatar
      ezeolla

      I regularly drive 2 cars that have 4 speed autos (2012 Liberty and 1995 Quest). They both seem to have enough ratios when you are driving them. Need to pass? Just push the accelerator and it drops down a gear and you are picking up speed pretty quickly in either one.

      Then again, my DD is a 4.0 Wrangler, so I may not exactly know what real speed feels like

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    For a rental? I don’t care – the CVT in an Altima is hardly the worst aspect of that car, if you only have to drive it a week at a time. I’d never own one with any sort of automatic.

    Not that I would ever buy a Corolla anyway, if for no other reason I can’t stand useless small sedans. If I needed a cheap and cheerful car I would buy a FIAT 500 Pop.

  • avatar
    redav

    “For TTAC readers, there’s nothing but bad news.”

    ‘TTAC readers’ wouldn’t be caught dead in a Corolla, so anything they put in it is neither good nor bad news.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      I was going to write exactly this, but you beat me to it. They could put a rabid porcupine on the driver’s seat for all I care; the chances of me ever being behind the wheel of one of these things is just about nil. If you’re worried about being stuck with one at a rental counter, well, all the more reason to join National’s Emerald Club – in six years of renting through them, I’ve never been stuck with this kind of cr@p.

    • 0 avatar
      jmo

      “TTAC readers’ wouldn’t be caught dead in a Corolla”

      What do you mean – they loooove reliable penalty boxes.

    • 0 avatar
      wumpus

      How many pages has ttac put up about that Corolla-revival the FR-S/BRZ? It seems odd a car has changed so much.

  • avatar

    If you have never driven a CVT you shouldn’t vote.

  • avatar
    npaladin2000

    I’d take the CVT. I’d rather have a modern bad transmission than an outdated bad transmission.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    More automatically = better right?

    Infinity = most bestest?

    I’ve driven a handful of GMs new 6 speed automatics and I think they’re very well done, but I’ve also driven a slew of Subaru, Toyota and Ford 4 speed autotragics and they get the job done just fine.

    Toyota could conceivably go out and spend a few million developing a new 5 or 6 speed auto for the Corolla, but what’s the the return on their investment going to be if they’re going to offer a CVT in higher trims instead? They’d have 4 transmission offerings (4A, 5 or 6A, 6M, CVT) for a loss leader.

    As for CVTs, I think they are something that everybody, including car reviewers are going to have to become accustomed to. Not all CVTs are equal, but I think they’re getting better and in many cases are better than a standard automatic in terms of fuel economy and drive-ability for the average consumer.

    Long term maintenance costs are going to be higher for 5, 6 and up to 10 speed automatic transmissions, which for a B segment car like the Corolla doesn’t make a lot of sense, seeing how many of these cars are so often neglected. Luckily, there are no maintenance costs on a CVT as if something goes bad, you replace the whole unit. Ask Nissan about this.

    As for the rental car, I would be fine with either transmission.

    • 0 avatar
      schmitt trigger

      +1
      CVTs are becoming really better. I drove one for 8 years, and now my daughter is driving another one. They are somewhat disconcerting at first, but do deliver on improved fuel economy without the cost and complexity of 6 or 8 speed autos.

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    My choice is to not buy the Corolla…..

    Only car I drove with CVT was a Jeep Patriot nearly four years ago. I made it about a mile out of the dealership, made a U-Turn, and drove back. I about the same engine in a PT Cruiser at the time (which was what I was replacing) and found it’s 4spd to be far better.

    So off of that, I would pick the 4spd. Plus, I just don’t trust a CVT to last like a decent automatic, and if I did buy a Corolla, I’d buy it with intentions to drive the thing for the next 300,000 awful, miserable, but reliable miles.

    • 0 avatar
      Acd

      Or buy the Corolla as a cheap short term solution and save some money to buy something decent. Life is too short to drive boring cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Wouldn’t driving a tarted up Mitsubishi/Dodge/Jeep Caliber/Compass/Patriot would have been enough to scuttle the deal, regardless of the transmission?

      The Caliber was designed for people like me, but I just couldn’t stomach it… I bought a beater Escape instead, and replaced it with a beater Sienna… And I’m better for it!

  • avatar
    rpol35

    Neither; ever.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    CVT will have a better version of the 1.8L (valvematic.. improves low end torque considerably). 4AT soldiers on with the old engine.

  • avatar
    jco

    wow, really Toyota? when I saw the furia concept, I thought “hey, maybe Toyota will make the Corolla into a car that appeals to.. someone”. i mean the CVT will do better mileage.. but a 4spd auto? when the Civic offers a 5 speed? when their own Camry 4cyl offers a 6 speed?

    it’s almost like they just don’t care about their compact car model.

    oh, the question: CVT. a 4spd auto is as embarassing now as the 3spd auto was in my 1991 Corolla.

  • avatar
    E46M3_333

    This is like asking would you rather bang Oprah Winfrey in high heels or boots?

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    Two years ago Akio Toyoda was talking about making Toyotas more fun to drive, and the best his company is willing to do with the Corolla’s ancient powertrain is strap an optional CVT to the same weak-sauce engine. I guess they figured the FR-S was good enough. We’ll see how the entire car performs, but this bit of news makes it seem like Toyota is gunning for the bottom of the pile again.

    CVT or 4-speed? Our econobox has a 4 speed and I hate the wide ratio gaps. Bogging or screaming, bogging or screaming, 4 speed autos never have the right gear for a small engine. I’d have to grudgingly go CVT.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      Absolutely agree. I’ve got the suspicion that the board of directors on Toyota have gone ‘GM’ in their OODA loop. Back in the ’90s, when Toyota and Honda were kicking the crap out of the American makes with passenger cars, GM atlas-shrugged the Japanese effort and began to put all emphasis into the truck/SUV market. Results from that decision are still being felt as it took GM nearly twenty years to produce products that although aren’t uber-stellar, are increasingly competitve. Toyota seems to be running the same trick. Forgetting the passenger car market for the upscale truck/SUV market. And I believe in time, will prove similar results to GMs experience.

  • avatar
    mklrivpwner

    Given that choice in a Corolla, I’d rather spend the money for the rental on a moped. But if you were going to point a gun at me and tell me the red one is a 4spd, the blue one is the CVT, I’d have to say I’ll take the blue sepository.

    I drove my fiance’s Rouge with a CVT, and I have to say that (aside from some novelty and nuance) it was a pleasent experience. I kept expecting a shift. And at sudden gradient changes, there were unexpected gains or losses in power that caught me off guard (and no amount of adjusting your right foot can mitigate). But it took hills and mountains rather well, the engine always seem to have extra power on hand for a pass, and those odd shiftpoints in city traffic (@22mph and @35mph) were a non-issue.

  • avatar
    Truckducken

    How about a 2-speed Powerglide?

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Now THAT’S a REAL transmission!

      Low gear to get started, high gear to cruise all day long…

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Had one in a ’59 Chevy Bel Air with an I-6. When the tranny needed repair I took it to B&M Hydro in LA to have it rebuilt with a bang-shifter.

      Anything more fun than that should be illegal.

    • 0 avatar

      They already did that, my Grams’ 72 corolla had toyoglide a 2 speed auto, shifted at 15 mph and never again (I made it up to 70 on the highway once) not that bad lasted the entire time she had the car (close to 30 years)

  • avatar
    niky

    I’ve driven the Corolla with both the CVT and the 4-speed. We get the CVT attached to that low-revving lump of a 2.0 that Toyota lifted out of the Camry.

    It’s no contest. Toyota’s CVT allows torque-braked launches, scoots to 100 km/h a second quicker (with the 2.0, should be good for mid-8 seconds to 60 mph), cruises at lower rpm and does not totally suck.

    There’s even a “manumatic” mode for people who simply MUST have “gears”. Never understood the fascination. When you’re on the highway doing a constant speed, all economy cars “drone”.

  • avatar
    YellowDuck

    Not getting the CVT hatred.

    I just had a rental 2013 Patriot – first CVT I ever drove. Yes its weird at first having the car go faster and faster while the engine speed doesn’t change. I found I had to look at the speedo a lot to understand what was going on. But it worked great, especially on steep hills, and the CVT was also a great match to the 4WD on a slow, sketchy dirt road to the cottage that didn’t survive the winter so well. In that car I’d rather have the CVT than a stick, and I’m the type who *always* wants the manual.

  • avatar
    George B

    I’d prefer the CVT in the Corolla for better fuel economy and acceleration. I’ve driven several Nissans with CVTs and they were OK for generic transportation appliance use. The CVT seemed well suited to low-speed stop-and-go traffic.

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    CVT all the way. I cant stand how regular automatics shift. The CVT is smooth and efficient.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      Agreed. The CVT fixes what irks me about regular n-speed automatics.

      If you’re going to go automatic, go all the way and get a CVT. Otherwise, manual.

      OTOH, the Sienna in my driveway isn’t that bad. I love the practicality.and famoly-friendliness of being a minivan dad, but my other car is a Prius(CVT). And I want a LEAF (direct drive EV). So, every time the transmission “takes the initiative”, I’m reminded that I’m driving an obsolete piece of machinery…

      P.s. If I wanted to go old school, Jeep Wrangler Unlimited. Maybe I’ll pick up a 2010 manual shift model in early 2025 so I can teach my kid(s) how to Drive.

  • avatar
    Wraith

    I drive an ’08 Legacy with the 4EAT. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Subaru_transmissions#4EAT

    Subaru finally ditched the last of their 4-speed autos when the ’14 Forester launched.

    Forced to choose between 4-speed auto and CVT, I would go CVT, everything else being equal. If you find a particular car is slow with a CVT, I can’t imagine it would be any better with a 4-speed auto.

  • avatar
    afflo

    My Fiance has a Nissan versa hatch with a CVT. The car is completely uninspiring to drive, but the CVT isn’t actively annoying like an automatic.

    The only “automatic” I’ve found tolerable in recent years was a dual clutch jobbie in a Ford Focus, and it seems that joe-schmo consumer whines about those. The one in the Mazda3 made me want to just park it and walk.

  • avatar
    kmoney

    I would probably choose the CVT route. Toyota doesn’t tend to rush product to market and these don’t seem to be having any problems so far in the Rav 4.

    Kinda of an odd choice to offer two automatic transmission options in a car that people likely aren’t too picky about driving dynamics — perhaps clearing out an excess inventory of the old 4 speed for a few years?

  • avatar
    rolladan

    I think I’m the only one that doesn’t mind 4 spd autos. My previa and my old Camry drive great with 4 spds. My newer Camry on the othe hand is six speed and can never make up its fn mind what gear to be in. My mr2 turbo on the other hand needs a sixth gear. Cruising at 4k on the highway gets annoying

    • 0 avatar
      niky

      4AT is great if the gearing matches the power. Unfortunately, if the gearing matches the power too well, that leaves little room for highway legs.

      A lot of 4ATs attached to small engines have ridiculously short gearing. The Mazda2 comes to mind. Others require schizophrenic gearing. Ultra-short first and second gears, then a looooong reach to third, giving you two overdrives and two acceleration gears.

      The Corolla 4AT has typically been the other way… a bit long, all around, given the amount of power, which makes it a bit frustrating under acceleration, and even then, 4th isn’t long enough. With Toyota’s bigger motors, it’s not a big deal. With the 1.8, it is.

  • avatar
    azmtbkr81

    The CVT may well be a superior transmission but until a significant number have passed the 150k mile mark without trouble I’d stick with the traditional 4 speed.

    Reliability is the only reason to buy Corolla; add a question mark to that equation and the Corolla loses all of its appeal.

  • avatar
    Joss

    Litmas test for CVT.

    Like they’d know at a rental counter 4-speed or CVT… I’ll assume the rental agency will opt for the cheapest buy. Which gets interesting. Cause I believe the 4-speed will be kept around until the private buyer feels more confident with CVT. This gives Toyota leeway – pass excess inventory to fleet.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      CVTs SHOULD be a lot cheaper than regular step transmissions but I do not believe that the manufacturers will lower the price of their CVT-equipped cars.

      It just means more profit for them to stuff an el-cheapo CVT in a car instead of a more expensive step-transmission.

  • avatar
    racer193

    or buy an 91 Corolla and it should easily attain 35 mpg. I’ve owned said car and the seats where at least comfortable, which is more than I can say for the 08 corolla My mother used to own. The 91 had about the same seat of the pants torque with the 1.6 as the heavier 08 with the 1.8 and (I believe) the same or very similar four speed auto.

  • avatar
    bufguy

    I’ve driven 2 CVTs…A caliber and a Ford Frestyle and disliked them both, especially the Caliber. Don’t understand why they can’t give us at least a 5 speed auto and preferably a 6 speed.
    Personally I would prefer a 6 speed manual

  • avatar
    ninjacoco

    CVT! The fact that my foot movement actually correlates to SOMETHING is a huge advantage over a mind-of-its-own, when-will-it-shift?, jerky, crappy traditional automatic.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    CVT, fixed upper range and fixed lower range with infinity in-between? Sounds good. 4 speed auto is ok for a torque-y engine like a V8 but not for a sad little 4 cyl.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    CVT. After living with my 2.5 powered CVT Altima for 2 years, I’ve concluded my beef isn’t necessarily with the transmission.

    Yes, there’s that rubber band feeling, but it doesn’t happen that often. Less so as the car accumulates miles. It doesn’t pull away from a dead stop very quickly either, which means thinking twice about that gap in traffic when pulling out. But passing is easy, normal driving is usually fine, except on hills, where my right foot and powertrain can disagree about how much power or the “ratio” needed. The grade logic for going downhill is pretty good, though it can be a bit intrusive.

    Nope, my complaint is that this CVT is attached to an old, harsh, large displacement four. The 2.5 isn’t Nissan’s newest or smoothest engine, even though refinements continue to happen ( drove a 13 Altima rental that was much better than my ’10 except in the chassis)

    Most of the NVH comes from the engine. It’s downright obnoxious above 4500 rpm, lots of boominess, thrash and just harsh noises. Nor does it like to rev, so it takes a long time to reach the power peak. My last Accord, an 06 with the 2.4, ran really smoothly, with just a bit of boom at about 4000 and a bit of thrash at redline. Still, a paragon of refinement compared to the Nissan 2.5

    I think most of the negativity is because most of us have experienced the CVT in a 2.5 powered Nissan or 2.0 powered Nissan( or awful domestic product with one). I’ll take a CVT Corolla over a 4 spd auto any day. I’d take an Impala with a CVT over a 4 spd auto one if they made it. The 4 speed auto is a dinosaur like the three speed auto was in late 90′s.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Yep, the NVH from that Altima mill is a bit shocking the first time you rev it. The CVT simply emphasizes this by holding a continuous and harsh engine speed longer than a traditional auto.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    I’ll take a Chevy Cruze or Ford Focus. You know the compacts that actually have more than 4 speed automatic transmissions and can get up to 40 on the open road.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      In that class and size I found the Elantra to be the all-around winner.

      We helped buy a 2011 Elantra for one of our grand daughters and are considering buying something for our soon-to-be-16-year-old grand daughter who lives with her mom in El Paso, TX, and also with us when her mom is “on the road again” for her job.

      That grand daughter likes the Corolla S so this topic is relevant to my interests. I don’t like the CVT but being a teenager my grand daughter may think differently and like it, since it is the new wave of the future. MOST cars will get CVTs within the foreseeable future.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I’d choose the 4 speed (assuming I had to buy one or the other)

    I’m sure some CVTs are well made, but we certainly know there’s been many that are ticking time bombs. The 4 speed has a solid track record.

    At the end of the day, a Corolla is about economy, and I’d rather have the likely better resale and lower potential repair costs of the older transmission. The “fun” factor is going to be severely limited regardless with ANY automatic Corolla, and the fuel savings are probably minimal.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    After getting by with my 98′s 3 speed for 15 yrs now, the 4 speed will be a breath of fresh air, cannot stand the “slushiness” of the CVT, nor an auto that takes an eternity to downshift when you need it NOW!

  • avatar
    CamryStang

    4-speed all the way. I got pretty used to my 4spd Camry over the years. The only CVT I’ve driven was in an Altima I test drove at a Carmax. Honestly my 20 year-old 4spd seemed more responsive than that CVT

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    If Toyota can manage to achieve competitive MPG’s w/o having to do turbos, high compression or any other questionable and expensive tricks, they achieved what they wanted, basic sound engineering and maintain low weight also will help.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    There is nothing wrong with a 4-Speed if it is done right. Look at the mid-late 1990s Cadillac DeVille, that transmission was smooth as butter. The 4-Speed in my old 2002 Tahoe was perfectly smooth and capable too.

    I understand it can be a problem in smaller cars like the Corolla without very much power.

    Being the owner of a CVT equipped Outback, I can say this. While I wasn’t too keen on the CVT at first, it has earned my respect. It would be better than a comparable 4EAT in the car in terms of speed, millage, etc. I don’t find the transmission particularly rough or elastic, it is smooth. Wasn’t my first choice of a transmission, but it isn’t half bad.

  • avatar
    kokomokid

    Four speed automatics and CVT’s are both just fine. A CVT, properly programmed, will pick the gear ratio and throttle position to maximize efficiency, while giving the acceleration you ask for with your right foot. Four speed automatics also work just fine. If the top gear is tall enough to get good highway mileage, they give up little in efficiency, or acceleration to transmissions with more speeds. You will feel the shifts of a four speed more than with, say, a ten speed with much closer ratios, but so what?

  • avatar
    Cubista

    CVT. Not just because I drive with one now, but because with a rental you’re on the hook for gas and if you’ve got a CVT gearbox you’ve got far more say over how economically you drive. Watch the real-time MPG computer fluctuate by flexing the ankle of your right foot and you are able to exceed EPA ratings all day long. Fuelly.com don’t lie.

  • avatar
    Bored383

    CVT – put me firmly in the Alex Dykes camp. The more I drive them the more I like them, especially when coupled with a smaller engine. a 4spd auto is fine still, if it is bolted to something with displacement and torque. In a small car it just means lots of shifting and hunting for the right gear and will generally be in the wrong gear. the CVT is superior.


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