Nissan tweaks CVTs to be less CVT-like

The 2015 Versa is among vehicles getting Nissan’s D-Step Shift logic.
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NASHVILLE -- A software change that makes a continuously variable transmission sound and feel less like a CVT will go into every CVT-equipped Nissan model.

Nissan will introduce its advanced D-Step Shift logic this year in the CVTs of the 2015 Versa, Versa Note, Sentra, Altima V-6, Pathfinder and Quest. The feature was already offered on the 2013 four-cylinder Altima and the redesigned 2014 Rogue and will be added to other models in 2016.

D-Step creates the sensation that a CVT is shifting gears like a traditional automatic transmission though it is not.

Nissan leads the industry in CVT use and is responding to critics of the technology, says John Curl, Nissan North America regional product manager for small sedans, sports and electric vehicles. The company also wants to ease owners' mistaken concerns that their transmissions are malfunctioning by failing to change gears.

A CVT offers improved fuel efficiency and a smoother ride by continuously increasing its gear ratio as the vehicle increases acceleration -- rather than by stepping from gear to gear.

The software change causes the transmission to jump ahead slightly in the gear ratios at around 4,000 rpms, depending on the vehicle's speed. The change creates a subtle momentary drop in driving force and the sense of a gear changing as on a traditional automatic transmission.

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com.


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