During the recent Lexus UX drive, we were impressed with how the CVT operates and feel. Combined with the new 2.0-litre Dynamic Force four-cylinder engine, the Lexus UX felt peppy and engaging to drive around town.
However, not many are aware of Toyota’s CVT being one of the most technologically advanced CVT out there, so we decided to share this with you readers for further understanding.
First, we need to understand the concept of CVT. CVTs, or continuously variable transmission is known for being easy on the fuel compared to conventional automatics. However, as CVT uses belts and pulleys rather than conventional mechanical gear, it can feel vague and disconnected, much to the dismay of driving enthusiasts.
Generally, CVT are sluggish when accelerating from a standstill, and overtaking requires more effort. The absence of gear shifting feel as well as the delay during throttle input (in the case of poorly-tuned CVTs) is also one of the common traits of a CVT.
In late February 2018, Toyota listened to customers' feedback, and introduced an improved CVT -the Direct-Shift CVT. The biggest change is the addition of a so-called launch gear to give the feel of a conventional automatic during initial acceleration in first gear, thus giving a more direct feeling that CVT belts just can't.
As the vehicle speed increases, the launch gear disengages and the transmission switches back and work normally as a CVT. Even when the speed goes down again, the launch gear will not re-engage, until the car comes to a complete stop.
Since the launch gear handles the highest loads while the car up to speed, the CVT's belts and pulleys are under much less stress. Plus, Toyota was able to shrink the belt, use a narrower belt angle (reduced from 11 degrees to 9 degrees) and run smaller pulleys.
The result? Fuel efficiency is even greater, acceleration is faster, reduced acceleration lag and shifting speed is faster by a substantial 20 percent.
The inclusion of the launch gear has tremendously improve the Lexus UX's CVTs, contributing its superior overall driving experience. with drivers noting it to be more fun. This aligns with Lexus goals to make their vehicles more efficient and fun to drive. With that being said, why don’t you go out there and try it yourself, and be amazed with the experience.
In the mean time, check out our quick review on our Youtube below!