Car Shoppers Guide to New Technology: Part I - Transmissions

If you're in the market for a new car in 2016 get ready to hear a plethora of new jargon. From infotainment to collision avoidance systems cars today are jam packed with technology.

With auto manufacturers under immense pressure to increase MPG across their fleets new technology can be found underneath the car as well.

While car shopping you might hear about two types of transmissions found in new cars: CVT's and DCT's.

Both are types of automatic transmissions that rely on computer data and offer improved fuel economy.

Dual-clutch transmissions (DCT) aren't new, but the technology has made significant leaps in the past few years. Simply put a DCT is a computer controlled manual gear box, or a manual transmission without a torque converter. In some cases drivers can choose to shift manually, or have the computer shift. DCT's shift much smoother but the real advantage is improved fuel economy. In a DCT there are actually two clutches, for even/odd gears, thus eliminating any disruption in power caused by torque distribution.

DCT's are more expensive than traditional automatic transmissions and require more specialized training to diagnose and repair. Chrysler Fiat is a big supporter of the DCT technology and currently use a 9 speed automatic in their new Jeep Cherokee and other models.

CVT's, or Continuously Variable Transmissions, use a pulley to adjust power from the engine to the

transmission and vice versa. Under acceleration the pulley adjust to RPM's creating a seamless power band.

CVT's aren't restricted by gear ratios, offering a smooth ride, free of gear changes. CVT's are also more cost effective for automotive manufacturers and increase fuel economy. On the down side, CVT's cannot handle significant torque, which restricts their use to smaller vehicles. Nissan and Subaru are currently using CVT's throughout their product line.

If you’re looking for a car that offers the control of a manual a DCT might have what you’re looking for. A CVT is great for smaller cars, especially when a smooth quiet ride is important.


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