Nissan’s New CVT Does Not Sound Like One

Some automotive enthusiasts dislike CVT transmissions for their lack of gear-change sound, and others less well initiated may even think the CVT’s sound indicates it is malfunctioning.

To overcome these issues, Nissan said from its Tennessee headquarters that it is increasing applications for its D-Step CVT (continuosly variable transmission) which simulates the sound of gear changes such as a traditional automatic would make.

This year the company will introduce its advanced D-Step Shift logic in the 2015 Versa, Versa Note, Sentra, Altima V6, Pathfinder and Quest.

Efficient CVTs are most-commonly used by automakers for hybrids to save fuel but are finding ther way increasingly onto non-hybrids such as this crop of cars mentioned.

Nissan already offered D-Step CVT on the 2013 four-cylinder Altima and redesigned 2014 Rogue. More models will get it in 2016.

The software-induced change makes their CVTs – depending on vehicle speed – jump ahead slightly in the gear ratios at around 4,000 rpm.

This creates a momentary subtle decrease in driving force and the sense of a gear changing as on a traditional automatic transmission.

This is different than a regular CVT which relies on infinitely changing ratios, rather than stepped gear changes such as a multi-speed auto would have.

The resulting engine note with traditional CVT has been criticized as a droning or “blender” sound by aficionados with a traditionally trained ear.

Essentially if you hit the gas on a CVT-equipped car, you might hear the engine spool up to higher or highest rpms as the road speed increases. You hear no gear shifts, just a rise in revs and the transmsion seamlessly adjusts the drive ratio.

Nissan’s Regional Product Manager in North America, John Curl, said the simulated stepped gear sounds are to address objections by critics. And, he said some customers have mistakenly raised concerns that their car is not shifting at all, suspecting it’s malfunctioning.

Automotive News