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Nowadays, more and more automakers are beginning to use a continuously variable transmission over a regular automatic in SUVs. Though still not the norm, it’s also becoming a fairly common choice for buyers. Of course, only some SUVs with a CVT are great, but there are options where the advantages really show. Here are three of the best 2023 SUVs with a continuously variable transmission. 

What is a continuously variable transmission?

Honda CR-V rear
2023 Honda CR-V | Honda

The automotive world is all about slow progress, and the CVT is one of the latest examples of that. Everyone is familiar with how automatic transmissions came after manual gearboxes. A continuously variable transmission is simply the next evolution of the automatic transmission. The main difference is that a vehicle with a CVT doesn’t have gears.

Instead of gears, the continuously variable transmission uses a set of pulleys to transfer the power from the engine. The pair of pulleys can vary their width based on the need for power. Though a CVT has no gears, it’s essentially shifting through gear ratios as a person drives. It should be noted that continuously variable transmissions are usually more fuel efficient.

2023 Kia Soul includes a CVT

2023 Kia Soul overhead view
2023 Kia Soul | Kia

The Kia Soul has featured a continuously variable transmission for the last few model years. Though it hasn’t always been perfect, the 2023 Kia Soul with its CVT is generally well-liked. While some say it’s not as fun to drive as it once was, the new Kia Soul is efficient. According to Car and Driver, the Kia SUV gets an average of 35 miles to the gallon on the highway and 28 in the city. 

Regarding performance, the latest Kia Soul has a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. This stylish little car has a maximum output of 147 horsepower and is front-wheel drive. The CVT in the Kia Soul is especially impressive in traffic as it selects lower gears when the need comes to pass other vehicles. In addition to this, it’s simply a comfortable ride. 

2023 Subaru Forester has a continuously variable transmission

Subaru Forester is an SUV with a Continuously variable transmission
2023 Subaru Forester | Sjoerd van der Wal via Getty Images

The 2023 Subaru Forester is another SUV that uses a continuously variable transmission. In addition, it comes equipped with a 2.5-liter flat-four engine with a horsepower of 182. It’s all-wheel drive and can accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 8.5 seconds for the base trim. Like other SUVs with a CVT, the 2023 Forester is fuel efficient as it gets 26 miles per gallon in the city and 33 on the highway. 

It should be noted that certain older models of the Subaru Forester equipped with a CVT have experienced problems. As is usually the case with continuously variable transmission problems, impacted Subaru Foresters tend to shake and shudder. However, the 2023 Forester seems to have much fewer complaints. 

2023 Honda CR-V uses a CVT

Honda emblem Continuously variable transmission
2023 Honda CR-V | Honda

The Honda CR-V 2023 is one of the most popular SUVs on the market, and it uses a CVT to deliver its power. The CR-V 2023 has a maximum output of 190 horsepower and has a 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine under its hood. This Honda SUV can be either front or all-wheel drive and accelerates from 0 to 60 miles per hour in about 8.7 seconds. 

Regarding the use of CVTs in SUVs, Honda is regarded as having some of the best. Of course, with this being relatively new technology, there are bound to be issues. However, the CR-V 2023 and other Honda SUVs have far fewer complaints than other automakers. As expected, the 2023 Honda CR-V is fuel efficient, getting 28 mpg in the city and 34 on the highway. 

Of course, other SUVs include a continuously variable transmission. However, these are three of the best regarded with the least amount of problems. The CVT is mutually beneficial for buyers and automakers alike. It is cheaper to build and provides a more efficient ride than normal automatic transmissions. It’s not perfect technology, but it’s well on its way to becoming the norm. 

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