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Explaining The Toyota Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)

Explaining The Toyota Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT)


Some Toyota vehicles are equipped with the Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) that offers the advantages of increased fuel efficiency and smooth acceleration. Learn how it works and what it means for your Toyota.



How Does a CVT Work?


Like a conventional automatic transmission, the CVT is connected to the engine by a torque converter which enables smooth engagement and drive-away, but it differs in that it has no fixed gears or gear ratios. Rather the system comprises a set of pulleys that can continuously change under hydraulic pressure and a steel belt that connects the two pulleys.



As the radius of each changes and the belt moves up or down in its grooves, the speed ratio between the input and output pulleys also changes, just as the ratio between input and output shafts in a conventional shaft changes when gears shift. With a CVT however, there is no shift shock as the transmission is continuous rather than in steps. 


A control system integrated with the engine precisely controls the pulley ratio and speed in accordance with the drivers’ accelerator pedal application and other factors to optimize both fuel efficiency and performance. The result is smooth and powerful performance combined with excellent fuel efficiency. 


Decelerating With The CVT


When decelerating, the CVT system enables direct engine braking and corresponding deceleration further enhances fuel efficiency. An uphill/downhill shift control function ensures adequate driving force on uphill grades and engine braking going downhill.



How To Operate The CVT


‘D’ Range - on the shifter enables the broadest range of automatic control and is suitable for most normal driving.


‘S’ Range - operates within a lower range of pulley ratios, enhancing acceleration responses.


‘B’ Range - which generates greater engine braking force is useful for descending steep hills.


Engaging ‘Sport Mode’ on models that are equipped causes the CVT to operate within a lower range of pulley ratios so that engine speed rises faster and is maintained in a higher speed range for more powerful response. 


During cornering, the CVT maintains engine speed by restricting unnecessary ratio changes to ensure suitable drive force when exiting the corner. When all is said and done, the CVT transmission provides the driver with enhanced fuel efficiency, smooth driving feel and optimized performance.


The features and functions described in this blog might not be applicable to your Toyota model. See your owner's manual for details. If you found this post helpful, subscribe to our YouTube channel for more Know Your Toyota videos.

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