By on August 29, 2018

Image: General Motors

General Motors, inventor of the modern automatic transmission, is only just recently warming up to the idea of shiftless driving. There’s a continuously variable transmission on offer with the 2019 Chevrolet Malibu, which our own Chris Tonn spent some time flogging last week (in mildly sporty RS guise).

Despite the availability of eight- and nine-speed automatics for transverse GM front-driers, a VIN decoder document and even EPA fuel economy ratings pointed to the existence of a CVT-equipped Cruze for 2019, despite a lack of flouting on the part of GM. Turns out, you’ll have trouble getting your hands on one.

According to CarsDirect, the 2019 Cruze, which undergoes a facelift just like its bigger Malibu sibling, won’t appear in any showroom with a CVT. That particular model will, however, appear in fleet lots.

“There were a small number of Cruzes built with a CVT for fleet use only which is why the option is disclosed on the EPA website,” said Chevrolet spokesperson Katie Minter. GM order guides do not show a CVT option.

Instead, retail buyers will face fewer transmissions than last year, not more. The six-speed manual transmission disappears in the U.S. for the 2019 model year, though it just barely hangs on in Canada. All Cruzes sold to individual customers with a 1.4-liter turbo four-cylinder under the hood will boast a six-speed automatic. Diesel buyers see a nine-speed unit.

It’s too bad about the CVT, as dropping the stick shift already means non-diesel customers can’t hit (or pass) that vaunted 40 mpg figure on the highway. The six-speed auto returns an EPA-rated 28 mpg city/38 highway/32 combined, whereas the CVT model sees a 1 mpg gain on the combined cycle. A 2018 Cruze manual returned 27/40/32.

[Image: General Motors]

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12 Comments on “Don’t Expect to See Many 2019 Chevy Cruzes With a CVT...”

  • avatar

    I would have been happy to find one without major BCM issues (mine), much less finding one with a manual. I don’t think anybody else will miss not having a CVT.

  • avatar

    I have no desire to ever own a CVT vehicle.

  • avatar

    I will never understand the hatered for CVT’s. I owned a cvt in my 2012 Legacy sedan. My thoughts about it were always that I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but only for the exact same reasons i dont enjoy all automatics- lack if engagement, sluggish response, ect. However, the cvt came with 2 benefits at least over a conventional automatic, namely better efficiency and extremely smooth (technically zero) shifting. If i cant have a stick, I would much prefer to have a CVT than an automatic.

    • 0 avatar

      We drive a Caliber with the Jatco CVT. My wife has killed two Torqueflites so she’s doing well with 10 years on this one. And it’s smooth.

      Hmmm, I’m probably related to Jeff Murray if that’s his real name.

    • 0 avatar

      Go watch TFL’s review of an Outback a few years ago.

      They discovered that if all four wheels slip, the car basically shuts down all power to the wheels to protect the CVT.

      It was so bad that Subaru went and did a repo job on their other test vehicles, in one case even entering into one of their garages while nobody was home.

      Subaru then banned them from receiving cars.

      They actually just went out and bought one with their own money to review.

      Guess what?

      CVT still causes issues if you get slippage at all four wheels.

      So just imagine you’re going up a slippery driveway, and you can’t even make it up despite the lauded Subaru AWD system.

      Subaru’s gotten too self important and thinks they can do no wrong. It’ll be interesting to see the inevitable crash and burn.

      • 0 avatar

        “Subaru then banned them from receiving cars. ”

        Subaru and Porsche have always been such divas when it comes to control of their press fleets. It really sours me on both those brands and makes me question any review about them.

      • 0 avatar

        Didn’t something similar happen with cars equipped with Mercedes-Benz’ 4Matic all-wheel drive system. A computer detected wheel slippage and shut everything down and the car couldn’t be moved.

      • 0 avatar

        Meanwhile in the real world…. i highly doubt very many if anyone has had this issue in the real world. I had a legacy with a cvt (it was a sedan but the power train is identical to the outback) and never had a bit of issue that way. In the real world it is very difficult, especially with good tires, to have all four wheels legitimately slipping at the same time, especially not at the same time, especially if you are leaving the traction control on, which almost everyone is foing to be doing.

    • 0 avatar

      “…namely better efficiency and extremely smooth (technically zero) shifting….”

      I have not owned one of these, but I rented a 2014 Legacy sedan with the CVT. It is still my only experience in a CVT and it was a pure joy to drive. Maybe they can be a nightmare to own, but I was impressed!

      I was on a business trip to Great Falls, Montana. I wanted to see friends in Canada (Crowsnest Pass in Alberta), but I couldn’t take the company rental car across the border, so I rented my own. I drove it from Great Falls up to Lethbridge and over to Pincher Creek in Crowsnest Pass. I had to come back to Montana 2 days later, so I drove west to Fernie, BC, and then down into Montana (Whitefish to Kalispell to Flathead Lake). I jetted down to Missoula and Helena and then back up to Great Falls. That was a long day of driving. Google Maps says it is 9 hours 14 minutes and 835km (around 518 miles).

      The CVT was amazing in the Canadian Rockies. Most of that exposure happened in BC. I loved the way the tranny never had to “shift” – I just kept it at a certain RPM and I could easily maintain or increase speed. I could also easily pass on the flatter 2-lane roads. Even though the car was a four cylinder, it felt like it had plenty of power, even while rocketing up some pretty steep roads. I averaged 28 MPG on that trip (I did the return part in one day).

      The next weekend I went to Yellowstone with some co-workers. I drove another rental and it was a Nissan Altima with a CVT. The drive from Great Falls to Yellowstone is around 300 miles. It was a day trip, so we left at 4:00 AM and got back around 11:00 PM. Round-trip was about 600 miles, plus whatever we drove inside the park. The Nissan’s CVT did just fine and I thought the lack of “shifting” was nice while creeping along at Yellowstone-speeds.

      As I said, I’ve never “owned” one and maybe I would feel differently if I had to live with it every day, but I think I have enough miles in them to make a judgement call. I’d consider one in my next sedan with the right service history!

  • avatar

    So in 30 years you’ll stumble on a “one of 250” Cruze fleet special survivor with the coveted CVT at a classic car show?!? Fridge white with gray cloth, no doubt.

    Good grief, why would GM bother?

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