The concept of the continuously variable transmission isn’t new. How not new? Well, its history traces back to a guy named Leonardo da Vinci and a drawing done right around 1490. While I am normally a huge fan of da Vinci’s work, they all can’t be winners. In fairness, he did invent the thing roughly 400 years before the car, so he can’t be held responsible for something so vexing 500 years in the future.
With Nissan’s CVTs, we have a history ranging from dislike to mere tolerance. In our most recent CUV Big Test, some of the excerpts regarding the Pathfinder’s CVT included “The Pathfinder groaned along” to “irritating as always” to the closest to praise: “it’s fine” and “good enough.” In a recent midsize sedan comparo, Scott Evans said of the Altima's responses, “The essence of rubber-band response: Apply throttle, wait for engine to spin up, surge forward.” Zach Gale was more accepting, calling it “absolutely tolerable.” Lastly I cite Rory Jurnecka’s First Drive of the 2014 Rogue, in which he wrote, “the CVT keeps the engine droning away at high revs to make any sort of power. While the redesigned Xtronic transmission does attempt to simulate shifts at higher engine speeds, the end result is still a lot of noise and annoyance relative to perceived acceleration.”
Getting out of the Rogue and into cars with either traditional autos or even DSGs made me aware of how much Nissan is giving up with the CVT. I say giving up, because, as we mentioned in the Rogue arrival story, according to our fuel economy testing, it isn’t gaining in the one department the CVT should excel. Aside from the transmission woes, I have also experienced problems with the infotainment system locking up. The Rogue must be shut off and sit for a bit for the system to start working again. Luckily it didn’t happen at a time when I was relying on the navigation to get me somewhere. I’ll see if there is a software update from the dealer.