CVT vs Automatic: Which Transmission is Right for You?

CVT vs Automatic Transmission at Germain Honda of Dublin

When talking about transmissions, the majority of drivers understand the differences between a manual and an automatic. A manual transmission requires inputs from the driver via the gearshift and clutch pedal in order to choose the right gear to reach a desired speed. Conversely, automatic transmissions have expanded convenience by automatically selecting gears based on feedback from the throttle position, the engine’s revolutions, and the speed at which the vehicle is moving. In previous decades, automatics were considered a luxury feature due to the way they made driving in tricky situations such as stop-and-go traffic much less stressful compared to a manual.

These days, automatic transmissions are the preferred choice of the vast majority of drivers due to their ease of operation and simplicity. Throughout the Honda lineup, nearly every model can be equipped with either a traditional automatic transmission or a CVT. A CVT, or continuously variable transmission, functions in a similar fashion as a conventional automatic.

To help provide you with a better understanding of the differences between a traditional automatic transmission and a CVT, Germain Honda of Dublin has created this informative comparison to help eliminate any confusion between the two.

2019 Honda Civic Sedan Automatic Transmission

Differences Between CVT and Automatic Transmissions

Traditional Automatic Transmission – Operating an automatic transmission is as simple as selecting Park, Reverse, Neutral, or Drive. The transmission does the rest of the work for you. Based on your throttle inputs, the transmission is able to match engine and road speeds for you.

Manufacturers assemble these types of transmissions with an array of individual gears. In decades past, they would have as little as three or four. Advancements in technology have allowed today’s automatic transmissions to contain up to 10 or even 11 individual gears. This increase in gearing has improved fuel efficiency figures while delivering more responsive performance.

Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) – While it’s true that a CVT functions in a similar manner as a traditional automatic transmission, they have some significant differences in their construction. In fact, a CVT doesn’t have any gears at all.

CVTs use two cone-shaped pulleys in order to transfer power from the engine, through the transmission, and to the drive wheels. Each of these pulleys can vary their width based on power inputs, hence the name Continuously Variable Transmission. Working as a pair, these pulleys give a CVT the ability to accelerate both 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