Nissan's D-Step Tweaks CVTs To Act More Like Traditional Automatics

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

CVTs aren’t the most popular of transmission options around despite its improvements to fuel efficiency and ride on a vehicle so equipped. Nissan hopes an upcoming software tweak will change a few minds, however.

Automotive News reports Nissan will introduce its D-Step Shift logic CVT software to more vehicles for the 2015 model year, including the Versa, Versa Note and Pathfinder. The software, already in the 2014 Rogue and 2013 Altima four-pot, helps the CVT act more like a traditional automatic when it comes to shifting, emphasis on “act.”

On board vehicles like the new Versa, the D-Step will prompt the CVT to jump ahead a gear around 4,000 rpm, creating a brief drop in driving power while lending a sense of gears changing, all to ease Nissan owners’ concerns that their vehicle’s transmission is somehow broken due to the lack of a notable gear change. More models will receive D-Step in 2016.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • Sgeffe Sgeffe on Jul 14, 2014

    Does the prior programming have the "classic" CVT behavior of the revs sitting at a certain rpm under acceleration? Honda's solution as implemented in the Accord varies rpm as speed increases, so aside from the lack of upshifts, is very natural, nicely done overall, and wouldn't take much adjustment time. These "forced shifts" aren't going to help these Nissan CVTs, which are not known for their reliability as it is!

  • Sector 5 Sector 5 on Jul 14, 2014

    I wish Nissan NA would step more effort into all wheel disc brakes across the passenger line. And the Micra's tiny motor sure would benefit from CVT on the highway instead of that el-cheapo Mexican 4-sp.

  • See 7 up See 7 up on Jul 14, 2014

    I'd like to see paddleshifters that act like rheostats - i.e. I hold the left one and the gear ratio slowly increases. Hold it back harder and it increases faster. The reverse for the right paddle (to decrease ratio - "higher gear") That may be ony tranny that would get me out of a manual trans.

    • 3rdeyemedia 3rdeyemedia on Sep 15, 2016

      The problem with this is you could never snap directly and immediately to a particular gear. No matter how fast a rheostas/potentiometers are notoriously slow and not very precise unless they have clicks like a rifle scope. The paddle shifs are definitive 1, 2 .. 7 so that if I am in 2nd and quickly tap left or right paddle I can go directly to a gear much faster than one could step on clutch (killing all power to the wheels), change stick to gear, release clutch (allowing power transfer to wheels again). Paddles the engine never disengages power to the wheels and there is no syncing of the engine rpms to the trans-axle. Which in my opinion is actually an upgrade of the old static gear method.

  • V6 V6 on Jul 15, 2014

    i rented a CVT Corolla a few weeks back (Auris, not US version), was my first decent experience with a CVT and I really enjoyed it. The only time I didn't like it too much was under heavy acceleration from a stop but otherwise it's general smoothness and hill climbing ability without chopping and changing between gears was a much better experience than the Powershift Focus or Cruze. It would be one of the few times I've driven a car on hills/open road and not ever needed to take manual control using tiptronic etc. Also liked how the speed doesn't increase down hill. I'd prefer the CVT to remain acting like a CVT and not mimic a traditional auto.