Join Date: May 2005
location: Merrimack, NH
Thanked 26 Times in 22 Posts
Having spent the last 6 years with a pair of Fords with their CVT transmission (manufactured jointly with ZF Friedrichshafen AG out of Germany), I can say that when they work, they work well for the long-haul. The biggest enemy of the CVT is fluid breakdown and contamination. You MUST change the fluid with the proper ZF CVT fluid every 60k miles or risk warranty issues. The debate is ongoing whether the internal filter also needs to be changed - but the fluid is the key thing. I can say that I put close to 65k miles on the Freestyle's CVT and, while it's certainly not the quietest transmission on the plant, it shifted smoothly and consistently from new till trade-in. Now, if you poke on the Ford forums you'll find some folks that had CVT issues - and those were mostly due to faulty bearings on an input shaft, and were few and far between. But because they're a pretty complex transmission, they're costly to repair (nearing $8K total for new).
So will the Honda CVT on a car the size of the Accord hold up? As others have said, time will tell. But when they work, they're very reliable, and offer a very different driving experience than a normal 6-speed transmission. And, in my view, is perhaps the single reason why I wouldn't buy a CVT in an Accord. The driving is much more sedate in a CVT, with the real performance benefits once you've gotten up to speed (like in passing actions or booting it for fun). Performance from a stop (or lack thereof) is perhaps one of the negatives about a CVT, likely targeted at helping MPG's (which is why they're in hybrids so often).