The CVT (Continuously Variable Transmission) in becoming increasingly popular with both Domestic and Import cars. Historically, these transmissions were limited due to their lower torque capacity; only being used in sub-compact cars with small-displacement engines. Better designs make these transmissions an option for wide range of car models with more substantial engines. The advantages of the CVT is they are compact, have fewer moving parts and have an infinite range of ratios; resulting in better fuel economy. Be careful though when it comes time to service your CVT. Using the wrong ATF (Automatic Transmission Fluid) can cost you dearly.
CVTs use two steel pulleys and a steel belt made of multiple segments. The pulleys move in a fashion that causes the belt to ride on different locations of the pulleys, resulting in a ratio change. This metal-to-metal contact between the pulleys and belt require a specially-formulated fluid to reduce wear. Using an ATF not designed for use in a CVT will result in premature wear and drivability problems. Although the CVT is simple in design they are very expensive to repair; commonly in the $3,000 range or higher.
If you service your CVT transmission make you use fluid that states “CVT” on the container.