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CVT transmissions are controversial, splitting shoppers into two camps. Some think they’re the peak of efficiency and engineering. Others can’t move past the transmission’s reliability and performance issues. Finding new cars without CVT technology is a real challenge. Moreover, These few models still have a traditional automatic transmission with fixed gear ratios. That doesn’t mean sacrificing fuel efficiency. Each of these choices delivers competitive milage.


Consumer Reports rates highly and recommends the 2021 Mazda6. This midsize sedan offers a quiet and comfortable ride. The Mazda3 impressed reviewers with its expensive feel. The responsive six-speed automatic transmission under its hood is responsive and shifts right on time.

Its standard 187-hp engine goes from zero to 60 mph in 9.2 seconds. This isn’t a track-ready racer by any means, but its responsive handling makes it an easy daily driver. Its gas mileage is in line with its competitors at 28 miles per gallon combined.

Honda Odyssey

A silver 2021 Honda Odyssey parked in front of a movie theater
2021 Honda Odyssey

The 2021 Honda Odyssey is built with a 10-speed automatic transmission. This wider ratio range means the Odyssey delivers a smooth and quiet ride, even at highway speeds. Honda describes the Odyeesy’a acceleration as “exhilarating.” The paddle shifters in this model give drivers better brake responses while towing. These shifters also improve response in higher gears by executing double-gear downshifts.

30-inch tires wrap its 16-inch steel wheels. Two front and one rear tow hook give the Bronco extra functionality. The 8-inch touchscreen with Sync 4 lends a little brain to the Bronco’s brawn. Push-button start and LED headlamps add to its high-end feel. Best-in-class water fording and ground clearance mean the 2021 Bronco is ready for rugged adventure.

Ford Bronco

a yellow 2021 Ford Bronco SUV
2021 Ford Bronco | Ford

The Ford Bronco offers a 10-speed automatic transmission with Trail Control on its base model and several other trim levels. The Bronco features and easily removed roof doors for an exhilarating ride. This SUV’s transmission was built to be put through its paces and tested on some of the most grueling endurance race tracks on earth.

Ford Edge

The 2021 Ford Edge features a fascinating automatic transmission. While it’s mechanically identical to the 2019 and 2020 versions, it’s been updated uniquely. Ford North America SUV Communications Manager Kelly Wysocki told Ford Authority, “We’ve kept Edge ST’s performance while improving shift action based on customer feedback by deleting the shift from 2nd to 3rd gear,”

In short, Ford eliminated the second gear by using software to change the shift parameters of the transmission. This may be the first time in automotive history that an automaker has used software to eliminate a gear. Avoiding costly hardware changes helps keep costs low.

The Mazda3 is one of few new cars without CVT that feel sporty

A grey 2021 Mazda3 crossover on display
2021 Mazda3 | Mazda

The biggest criticism of the 2021 Mazda3 is its basic infotainment system. However, a bare-bones touch screen isn’t a deal-breaker for a sporty and inexpensive drive. The Mazda3 is one of the sportiest compact cars on the market. It makes up for its shortcomings with responsive handling and a fun drive. Higher Mazda3 trim packages can be pricey and should be carefully weighed.


Leonardo di Vincci Invented the CVT Over 500 Years Ago