2014 Honda Civic to have continuously variable transmissions (CVT)

Article by Anita Panait, on November 25, 2013

Honda’s refreshed 2014 Civic lineup will be fitted with continuously variable transmissions or CVT. Any automatic Civic model will now be equipped with a CVT. It is estimated that around 90 percent of the total Civic model mix in the United States are fitted with automatic transmissions, which means that Honda dealers will have to convince around 300,000 Civic buyers annually that a CVT is a good buy.

Jay Guzowski, Honda product planning manager, remarked that the CVT “will not interrupt the usual experience of a car.” Since CVT does not have fixed gear ratios, it does not suffer “shift shock” during acceleration.  Guzowski said that a CVT allows for a wider “ratio range” and more linear acceleration feel than a transmission with fixed gears.

Likewise, a 2014 Civic with CVT will have 30/39 mpg fuel ratings compared to 28/39 mpg for a 2013 Civic with five-speed automatic gearbox. However, drivers may find the “rubber band” sensation of a CVT’s pulleys and cones disturbing like a slipping clutch.

Honda, however, is not alone in offering CVTs. Nissan is also offering CVTs on the Sentra, Altima, Murano and Cube while Toyota is featuring CVTs in nearly every trim level of the redesigned 2014 Toyota Corolla. While CVTs may offer some benefits, there is an issue on the longer-term durability and reliability of some units, particularly those paired to higher-horsepower engines.

Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn said recently that CVTs from Japanese supplier Jatco Corp. are prone to recalls. Volkswagen Group of America recently settled a class action lawsuit over failures of CVTs in 2002-2006 Audi A4 and A6 vehicles. Other issues involve limits on the amount of horsepower a CVT can handle as well as bigger parasitic losses.

Under the 2013 version, Honda disclosed that the changes undergone by the Civic is more than what is usually done on standard mid-model redesigns. The front of the 2013 Civic Sedan, as well as that of the rear, has been totally changed allowing for a premium feel and youthful look. Sheet metal changes were also done for the trunk lid and the hood. On the rear section, the bumper shows a new design.

This bumper has reflector treatments integrated to it with the lower diffuser panel having that honeycomb mesh vent finish. The trunk meanwhile is capped with the horizontal, trim chrome trim piece. This section’s jewel-like taillights also have a new design and by being carried to the trunk face, results in a more finished and even luxurious appearance.

The front section on the other hand displays a new lower open-mouth bumper that has that horizontal chrome accent. Then there is the honeycomb mesh grille that comes in black and is more athletic. Anchoring this grille are the integrated fog light, though this is only offered for the trims EX-L and up.

On each side of the grille are the clear-lens corner lights which give the 2013 Civic Sedan a more premium appearance. Further, by making the front end more sculpted, the hood is more deeply faceted and even taller. By utilizing a material made of 55% high-strength steel, this means that the weight of the body is not only minimized but the strength is also maximized to allow for greater rigidity.

The changes done were not limited to the front floor but include the extension on the front bumper, the upper wheel housing, A-pillar, and even side sill. Honda revealed that while the 2013 Civic Coupe’s expressive style on the exterior is still the same, the wheels fitted for all models have a new style in order to sharpen this model’s look.

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