CVT vs Automatic: Which Transmission is Right for You?

CVT vs Automatic Transmission at Germain Honda of Beavercreek

When discussing transmissions, most drivers have a good understanding of the differences between a manual and an automatic. Manual transmissions depend on inputs from the driver via the clutch pedal and gearshift level in order to choose the right gear to reach the desired speed. On the other hand, automatic transmissions have made driving easier by automatically selecting gears based on feedback from the engine’s revolutions, throttle position, and the speed at which the vehicle is traveling. In prior years, automatics were often thought of a luxury feature due to the way they made driving in difficult situations such as stop-and-go traffic much more pleasant as compared to a manual.

Today’s drivers have a strong preference for automatic transmissions due to their simplicity and ease of operation. Across the Honda lineup, nearly every model is available with either a conventional automatic transmission or a CVT. CVTs, otherwise known as Continuously Variable Transmissions, operate in a similar fashion as a traditional automatic.

If you’re not familiar with the differences between a traditional automatic and a CVT, Germain Honda of Beavercreek has assembled this comparison to help you learn about how each type operates.

2019 Honda Civic Sedan Automatic Transmission

Differences Between CVT and Automatic Transmissions

Traditional Automatic Transmission – When driving with an automatic transmission, all you need to do is select Park, Reverse, Neutral, or Drive. The rest of the process is handled by the transmission based on your throttle inputs and current speed.

These transmissions are designed by manufacturers to include a variety of individual gears depending on the application and vehicle type. In years past, automatics would have as few as three or four gears. Thanks to breakthroughs in technology, modern automatic transmissions can have up to 10 or even 11 individual gears. These sophisticated transmissions offer improved fuel economy and more responsive performance.

Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) – Although a CVT operates in a similar fashion as a traditional automatic, there are a few differences between the two. A unique aspect of the CVT is that is doesn’t have any gears at all.

In order to transfer power to the engine, two cone-shaped pulleys direct power through the transmission to the drive wheels. Both pulleys are able to vary in width based on power inputs, hence the name Continuously Variable Transmission. Operating in tandem, these pulleys give a CVT its ability to accelerate smoothly and with strength.

2019 Honda Civic

Benefits of Driving a CVT or Automatic Transmission

Listed below are a few benefits of choosing each type of transmission. Depending on your driving style, you’ll discover which type of transmission is best suited to you.



  • Greater driver engagement and response through the use of individual gears
  • Greater serviceability and lower repair costs compared to CVTs
  • Genuine relationship between engine sound and speed traveled



  • Superior fuel economy compared to traditional automatics
  • Smaller size and lighter weight
  • Smooth acceleration with no “shift-shock”
  • Fewer components and lower cost to manufacture
2019 Honda Accord

Honda Models Available with CVT or eCVT

  • Civic Sedan

  • Civic Coupe

  • Civic Hatchback

  • Accord

  • Fit

  • HR-V

  • CR-V

  • Insight

  • Accord Hybrid

  • Clarity Plug-In Hybrid