Toyota’s New CVT Has A Launch Gear

Toyota’s New CVT Has A Launch Gear

Hello everyone and welcome! So you’re thinking to yourself, I want a sports car and so you head to the Toyota dealership. Well, they don’t sell a lot of sports cars so that doesn’t make all that much sense, but now you’re saying I want a sports car with a CVT. I don’t really get you but Toyota has something for you a CVT with a launch gear was it for the performance oriented folks that also like CVTs. Not exactly so in this video I’m going to be talking about Toyota’s direct-shift CVT which is a CVT and it does have a specific gear just for accelerating from a stop, but it’s not for performance reasons like it may sound Toyota CVT with a launch gear instead it is for efficiency. So how does this all work? Well if you look at a CVT and you look at its gear ratio versus its efficiency curve so when it’s on the extreme ends of that gear ratio when it forces one of the ends of that pulley to be at a super narrow radius for that belt to go around then it’s not super efficient in that range ideally it’s somewhere in the middle where both pulleys have a nice even large radius for that belt to go around and it’s going to be in a happy efficient range and as you get to the extremes meaning if you’re at a very low speed and you’re requesting a very high gear ratio or if you’re at a very high speed and you’re requesting a very low gear ratio then what’s going to happen is you’re going to be in an inefficient range of that CVT. While inefficient is bad of course and especially of course when you are Toyota and so they made an adjustment for this so instead of previously where they had to have a CVT range that accommodated high gear ratios with low vehicle speeds and high vehicle speeds with low gear ratios they instead shift the CVT to operate and arrange for higher vehicle speeds and lower gear ratios and allow a direct gear to take care of those high gear ratio scenarios where you’re accelerating from a stop and a direct gear is of course a very efficient way of transmitting power because you know there’s not losses that are associated like going through a belt so a very efficient method for low speed range and then switching over when you’re driving you know normal driving conditions at those higher vehicle speeds you’re now operating in a more efficient range whereas before you know you had to sacrifice kind of somewhere in the middle in order to be efficient in either end so you’ve got a launch gear for low speed efficiency and you’ve got a CVT for high speed transmission efficiency and there actually is a performance benefit to this so when you’re accelerating from a stop by having that more aggressive direct gear ratio you actually get a better response and better launch acceleration so just kind of showing a simple curve here acceleration versus time a little bit greater acceleration and that response comes a bit sooner by using a direct gear rather than a CVT some people don’t like the kind of spongy response that CVTs have which is kind of eliminated through the use of this direct gear from starts next we get into the belt angle used by the pulleys and this is actually narrower so it’s gone down from 11 degrees to 9 degrees so why were they able to reduce that belt angle well essentially this is because either removing the responsibility of launching the car from a dead stop and by removing that responsibility where the acceleration load is very high and the torque transmitted through that CVT is very high from that initial acceleration you’re able to use a smaller CVT and a narrower belt because it’s no longer responsible for that really high torque application where you’re initially accelerating the vehicle so it’s smaller it’s narrower and as a result of having that narrower angle you’re able to improve the shift speed so 20% faster shift speed and that’s simply because the pulleys don’t have to move in and out quite as much in order for it to change the gear ratio as much so it’s the same amount of movement will change how much the gear ratio has changed more and finally I want to talk about gear ratios because there’s two kind of interesting facts about CVTs first of all is most people don’t like driving CVT’s they say they don’t like the way it feels the second thing is most people don’t really know what they’re driving you know there’s a lot of car enthusiasts out there but we’re not the majority of humans so most humans they get in a car. They don’t really care what’s going on underneath, they don’t know what’s going on underneath the hood they just know what they like and what they don’t like and what humans tend to like is the monotonous dull excitement that comes from an automatic transmission where it shifts gears they’d like to have those gear shifts, so CVT engineers have decided you know what we can make you feel like you’re driving a regular old boring automatic when in fact you’re driving a rather exciting CVT and so what happens is let’s say you floor it in this Toyota using this CVT well it’ll start in that launch gear and it’ll start your acceleration going up to your max rpm then it will drop down a gear ratio, and it will switch over to the CVT belt and then it will be in it’s you know it’s its most aggressive gear ratio that that CVT belt allows so on the low end of that CVT when you finally reach peak rpm you of course have to switch to a lower gear ratio and instead of just a continuous smooth you know remain at peak horsepower which would be ideal for acceleration instead it creates steps within the CVT so you have set gear ratios that it maintains so it’ll drop down to a lower gear ratio keep accelerating up until peak rpm drop down into a lower gear ratio keep accelerating up and so on as you continue if you’ve got your floor you know if you’ve got your foot to the floor and you’re asking for max acceleration if you don’t get it too much throttle it’s just gonna put it in an efficient rpm, and you know you’re not going to really have those gearshift sensations but you’re not going to notice it either because you’re barely giving it any throttle and in regular automatics you know if you’re giving it extremely light throttle you really aren’t going to notice significant. You know feel from that gear shift so from a CVT it can just put it in an efficient rpm let it just sit there let the engine sit there and adjust the belt as necessary as your vehicle speed increases and so this is a silly thing that’s done because humans don’t like CVTs they like the sensation of gear shift when in reality the faster thing to do would just put it at peak horsepower when you floor it and leave the gear ratio constantly adjusting so that it maintains peak horsepower as you go across whatever RPM is peak horsepower just keep the the gearing to just constantly to allow for that constant rpm of peak horsepower but that’s not what humans like so engineers put in silly things like this to make you guys happy not you guys, but you know the folks that drive CVTs, so ultimately CVTs are cool. I think they’re better transmissions than most of the automatic transmissions that are out there people don’t like it when I say that but I’ve driven a lot of vehicles, and I think truthfully automatics a lot of them out there feel terrible there happens to be an 8-speed ZF transmission that’s amazing and it’s getting put in everything now, and it’s a great transmission but there are also very good CVTs out there from a you know feel perspective I think they’ve gotten a lot better than what they used to be and I think it’s cool that Toyota has introduced this launch gear into one of their transmissions, it’ll be interesting to try out so thank you all for watching and if you have any questions or comments of course feel free to leave those below.

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. I wish my Subaru Forester XT had a first gear for launch. I want a Stage 2 tune and launch control, but the CVT I have can't handle it. It's a shame :/

  2. Toyota ruined it with their "phantom shifting." They should train the customers to appreciate things when they're done right.

  3. By the way the money you save on gasoline with this transmissions is just under 5 % of the cost of replacing these transmision because they are going to fail multiple times in a vehicle lifespan

  4. Great comment on how most people don’t know nor do they care what is under the hood! 🤣
    True words brother. 🇨🇦👍🏼

  5. I just want to try driving pure 100% CVT, is it really that bad?

    I can imagine that you are driving faster but the RPM is the same… but is it as bad as I imagine?

  6. God forbid auto makers give their customers what they actually want. Instead, lets lie to our customers so they actually think they are getting what they want but in reality we are giving them what we want them to have. How in the hell did we get to this point?

  7. Excellent video, subscribed on the spot! Thank you for the awesome explanation of how a CVT works. I assume the excellent 8-speed automatic transmission you mentioned near the end is the one that goes into recent Camrys, Avalons and Lexus ES?

  8. Consumers have ruined something once again. CVTs should keep the engine at peak power, so you get better performance and better efficiency. Making it act like an automatic defeats the purpose of having a CVT in the first place. All the design and research time that went into the development of these CVTs is wasted, because they can't be used as they were intended. Come on people, having your engine stay at its peak power RPM is good, ideal, in fact.

  9. Lucid! Another video worth seeing (sorry, no link) is a detailed description of those CVT drive "belts". Was that you? Astounding tech. Another thought, as an autocrosser, I'm curious about how long the engine can be held in first? That would be the X axis on your graph 😀.

  10. I love the Multitronic CVT in my Audi and I think it has a couple of advantages and a disadvantage over Toyota's in terms of feel.

    Firstly, the launch gear on Toyota's is a great idea. It should really eliminate that lag when pulling out of a junction quickly. My car does have quite a perceivable delay whilst the transmission engages and I imagine the direct first gear will be good for reliability as there is less stress on the belt.

    However, I don't like the idea of a CVT faking gears under normal modes. I like how my Audi does this. In normal 'drive' mode it's in constant CVT economy mode and if I floor it into it's kickdown mode, it quickly goes into optimal RPM for the best constant acceleration. So I always have the choice of best MPG or best acceleration.

    If I drop into sport mode or tiptronic mode then it emulates a 7 speed automatic with a sharper throttle response. Sure it's not as quick as what I can get out of 'drive' but sport is more for maximum enjoyment than performance.

  11. I was never an automatic fan nor cvt but after 2yrs with a Honda Fit cvt I'm sold. It has pad shift mode 7 speeds but I only use it for down shifting light engine braking purposes as manual up shifting has no advantage just mushyness

  12. This would also save wear on the cvt belt in that 1/3 of the speed range would be gear on gear during the highest stress period…

  13. Efficiency? Why can't they just make the cvt bigger instead? I was expecting the first gear is because the cvt can't handle the torque well and wears out and can fail. I think this is why CVT fail, it is because of hard starts at the high gear ratios.
    BTW, I will be building a racecar with a CVT, they are awesome, full power at all times, no shifting, concentrate on steering.

  14. “What humans like.” Yea Teslas dont shift gears, cost $100,000 and are selling just fine. I think the real problem is someone along the marketing process who always feels the need to make the target audience EVERYBODY

  15. Seems like an awful lot of complications for something that any standard automatic can easily achieve. It's basically an Automatic transmission + CVT = why not just develop a Dual Clutch with longer high gears??? I mean, if the point is for efficiency then develop a relatively low torque input DCT that's meant for smooth shifts (as McLaren has proven capable) but with highway gears instead of performance oriented gearing.

  16. I love performance AND I love the CVT tech! I don’t understand why that is strange to you Engineering Explained. The CVT WRX is a great example of how performance & efficiency can be blended, not to mention it has Subaru’s best AWD system- VTD, super fun for snow drifting! The tranny in S# is crispy and engaging! +it has launch control.

  17. lost an arm few years ago in accident, went new car shopping,$50kAU range, narrowed down to a golf R dsg or a Brz/86 auto (to then be supercharged,same $) then begrudgingly tried the WRX cvt.Wowed me so much I now own 1.A few upgrades later i couldnt be happier.

  18. Power Glides sorta remind me of an early idea that is similar to how CVT's feel. It only has two gears so the Torque Converter is really the most important part of the transmission. You usually don't notice the shift from 1st to 2nd when you're at lighter throttle loads and really the only thing you notice is how much the rpm's go up or down while the torque converter decided what rpm is most efficient for maximizing the torque output. I know it isn't a CVT but it in my experience feels the most like a CVT. Fun fact I have 82 Corolla I'm nearly finished building that has a direct coupled Power Glide hooked up to 2 electric motors that will be running off of around 700 volts off of tons and tons of 85615's i have been collecting for the last year from thrown out laptops. Of course I don't intend on using bad cells, so I test them all. But I am doing calculations and I think a transfer case to run a truck based 4wd system that is permanently coupled but uses lsd front and rear diffs would be the best bet since the car even with all the batteries and motor will be roughly 3000 lbs (a lot more than stock 1797 lbs!). Although that weight would be plenty to keep a 300 hp car from spinning the tires too easily if they're quality performance tires but I have calculated that my motor and battery setup will be outputting more than 1200 ft lbs of torque and that will easily overwhelm a simple rear wheel drive setup considering I wont be able to fit more than a 9 inch wide tire without some very intrusive modifications to the body. I love the loook so much, I just can't fathom destroying the look of my childhood car. Too many wonderful memories. Horsepower will be close to 500 and top speed, 180 mph should be possible. Will I try? Probably not. That just sounds very very very unsafe in a car that was structurally only meant to handle crashing with 1800 lbs of weight, and it was engineered in the late 70's and they hadn't come too far with crumple zones and hardened steel blends in key areas. Which is why they had such thin A-Pillars, they hold up most of the car from crushing in a roll over as well. I will have a full cage in but still…going more than 150 in a box shaped car just seems very reckless. I do plan on doing the cage for race regulations as well, since I plan on tracking it from time to time. I can just imagine people surprise when it goes flying down the track nearly silently other than tire squeals and some mechanical noise from bearing, gears and friction in the motors. So far the whole thing has cost me about $7,500.00 USD, and should cost about another $3,000.00 to $4,000.00 USD more to complete, at least. I'm betting it's going to be faster than my 1992 Lexus ES 250 (1992 Toyota Camry V6 is it's twin just no leather and some differences in exterior styling like lights and bumpers) which is mechanicallly a twin of the same year Camry V6 and strangely shares a platform with the Celica of the same year. So I swapped in a complete Celica GT-Four Drive Train and had to weld in the rear floor from one as well to make the rear drive components fit nd work from the AWD system in the GT-Four. It's using a Gen 4 3S-GTE and it put out 260 hp from factory, this one engine dyno'd at 263 hp on the factory ECU untouched with 30,000 km on it. I had it blueprinted (very expensive and hard to find anyone to do it, but very worth it) and built with forged internals, all balanced before being installed as well as the factory crank that was micro polished and balanced for high rpms. HKS 264 cams, JE Forged Pistons 11.5/1 comp ratio, Brian Crower H Beam Forged Rods, ACL Complete Bearing set (main, rod, thrust, etc.), All new gaskets and seals throughout, Cometic Head Gasket (Multi Layered Steel of course), ARP Studs where ever I could use them but specifically started looking for them only for Head Gasket and got carried away and got them for the rods, crank caps, and on and on, had my head completely built by a reputable shop that specializes in heads and they installed my new valves in there and did the valve job, re-decked it, checked for cam compatibility and valve opening measurements, I can't find the sheet that showed the flow ratings but they were insane, had a custom aluminum oil pan made with an extra 3 quarts of capacity along with fact I have an extra oil pump to make sure the oil is flowing good to the external oil cooler that has 33 sq feet of surface area and an electronic slim fan, Haltech Elite 2500 T, a Gen III Small Block Chevy Throttle body for the drive by wire and larger diameter, intake manifold was port matched to it, and the trans has all straight cut gears with custom ratios for a very nice feeling close ratio feel but with longer final drive than factory to help match the much higher torque and hp output. Precision Turbo 6262 on a full race manifold, KW Variant 3 Coilovers meant for a Celica and 9 inch wide rubber all the way around on SSR SP1's in 16×9 can't remember the offset at the moment, I'd have to dig through my build file and I don't feel like it, as it is huge and hasn't been organized by my assistant (Wife lol) yet. anyways the final output on the dyno has been measured at (Drum Roll Please) 658 hp @8850 rpm (9500 rpm is Redline) and 584 ft lbs of torque @ 3700 rpm – 5900 rpm, so it has a very broead torque band for a 4 cylinder engine. So far I've managed to log 24,890 miles on her since the build was finished with no metal shavings to speak of in any of the 17 oil changes I've done so far. The reason I have so many oil changes is because I always change the oil at 2500 miles, but I also change it before and after a track day, which I've had quite a few of. Sad thing is, it took me nearly 3 years to build it and I'm only on 7 months building the Electric Corolla right now. I will probably manage to finish it in 6 more months or less as well. That's not the saddest thing, the sad thing is It will almost guaranteed demolish the 1992 Lexus GT-Four (My Designated Name for her lol) and if I can get the handling as dialed in as on the Lexus around the track, then the Corolla will probably own it there as well. They will surprisingly be nearly identical in weight too. Anyway, that's my story. I know some people will cry fake story, but they probably also believe the earth is flat. Have GOOD day everyone!

  19. I would think that ideally, gears 1 and 2 should be physical gears and the rest can be handled by the CVT. Gear 1 for launching, Gear 2 for dropping into when passing on the interstate, and the rest for fuel efficiency.

  20. This whole design is brilliant, except for the part where they set steps for the cvt. Thats just moronic and defeats the whole point of having a cvt.

  21. Great explanation. And thank you for the correct pronunciation of the last letter of the alphabet (I had to back and replay that segment just to be sure I heard it)!

  22. His face when he says that the CVTs are stepped 😂😂 dude I can understand how unhappy that makes you, the correct practice will previal. Hopefully in motorsport lol

  23. Does a standard CVT go to Max HP or Max Torque?
    Until the very High Engine RPM when Torque May drop off although HP increases?
    I believe it’s at 5252 RPM.

  24. The new 9 gear transmissions achieve 99.9% same efficiency as CVT but without the flaws (belt stretching or pulley splines wearing-out)


  25. I love my car's CVT (2018 RAV4 Hybrid) I love the fact that its super effecent and will just run at its peak Horsepower whenever I try to get up to speed on a highway. I believe it has a mode where I can select a fixed gear ratio and drive it like a manual if I wanted too. I'm sure it also has a "automatic transmission" mode somewhere as well lol

  26. even paddle shifters in a CVT is a silly idea.
    If cvts are used without using preset gears, acceleration can be significantly better and also these cvts happen to be cheaper and better automatics which can be used in the budget cars for pretty good performance and no jerks!
    also because many people don't like how cvts dont have the gearshift feel, engineers are not really concentrating on improving, polishing this transmission
    but still cvts are cvts and even I don't like to drive them😂

  27. Some CVT's have very bad reputations. Nissan's used to be horrible, and by some accounts, still are. It's hard to live down a bad reputation …..

  28. I'm still waiting for anyone to make a CVT capable of withstanding more than 100k miles without a major breakdown. When they become reliable I will buy it.

  29. My concern is, in time wouldn't the manual shift points leave wear marks, indents, on pulleys? And then how would that effect the smooth operation of the CVT?

  30. As one of "the ignorant masses", I believe what I perceive, and I perceive that BLTs are better than CVTs, especially when the chewed lump throat velocity is made to efficiently "feel" better, in a very ignorant unconscious kind of way, by repeated direct beer launch injections.

  31. Transmission need strong gears for take off and speed gears for faster speed. Each situations needs different specific component. That makes traditional tranny last longer. Now CVT every works jobs put on one belt. So much and so many stress put on one components. CVT is benefits for manufacturing cost cause less component but bad for car's owner. Though Toyota has this kind of trick may help ease the pressure on a belt. Its trany may last longer Nissan and subaru a little bit.

  32. Have you tried one of the new GM 9 speed autos? I've owned several Nissan CVTs and had quads with CVTs, even had a loaner 14 Altima which was dman quick with the simulated 7 CVTs gears.

    However that GM 9 speed is damn good! Shifts are crazy quick a smooth. Also it's start stop system is amazing.

  33. At how many miles should I service a CVT transmission? My 2015 Honda Accord has 53k miles. What is your recommendation?

  34. Good job
    I have a question please
    Which better Subaru CVT or Toyota CVT?
    Just your opinion, and your answer is important to me.
    Thank you.

  35. I'm a human and I love CVTs. I have a 2015 Honda Fit with a CVT. When I merge onto a limited access highway people move to the left lane to let me in, or slow down to let me in – unncessarily.

  36. Not new GM had the 2ML70 back in 2008 consumer version it has 4 speeds (actually 5 speeds if you include the CVT forward gear as well)
    (the first commercial version a came out in 1995 used in city buses )

  37. 3,400 recalled 2019 hatchback/sedans with this design dangerous component failure at near highway speeds never buy first generation technology

  38. I have a friend who lives at the top of a hill with about 1/8 mile steep drive. They bought a new car having a CVT (not Toyota with the launch gear). The new car's CVT did not last one year. Replaced on warranty. I think the basic CVT is junk.

  39. 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback recalled to replace the CVT (dec 2018)
    Direct Shift-CVT issue due to manufacturing error

  40. I think CVT Is the best. The high-pressure oil pumping and the friction makes it less efficient than the others type of gearboxes, and it's quite noisy at high RPM, but it is cheap to build and comfortable to drive. Furthermore, the aforementioned loss of efficiency is recovered via a very intelligent electronics, and by the fact that is like having infinite gears.

  41. The Launch Gear is taking the stress off the cvt's belt when trying to move a 3000+ pound car from a dead stop..Once the car is moving the belt takes over… A Great Idea!

  42. my concern about the cvt is it's durability and longevity. Do you believe the cvt is going to last as long as conventional automatic transmission? The whole point of putting a cvt in a car, as far as i can tell, is car manufactures saving money in building the car compared to a conventional automatic.

  43. I have been driving CVT's consistently since 2010.. mainly Japanese versions, Honda, Toyota, and Nissan. Also some time in a Hyundai and a Kia. Most had tiny annoyances and have all gotten better over the last few years. My opinion, the Hondas felt best (least amount of drama). They are definitely more efficient than hydraulic automatics. Recently I am driving a Honda Insight and it gets consistently in the low 60 mpg range driving easy and taking full advantage of regen deceleration. The Prius I drove for 7 months, just before the Honda, was not nearly as nice a car in any regard, but specifically only returned low 50 mpg's driven in the same pattern and conditions. Not sure why all the hype around the Prius.

    That said, I believe plug in hybrids will be the way to go in the near future. No range anxiety and the savings difference, over a pure electric, would take many years to make up the cost. Things are changing fast.. we'll see!

  44. I think every CVT needs a Fast and the Furious mode where the ratio constantly changes upon acceleration to give the illusion of shifting 20 times.

  45. Now if only we could get a CVT that wasn't terrible. They can talk about improved gas mileage all they like, but reliability is more important both for consumers AND the environment. $5,000+ to replace a bad CVT buys over 2,000 gallons of gas at current average prices. That's 60,000 miles worth of fuel. More importantly, it takes a ton of energy to melt, mold, and mill a transmission. Even if the car isn't burning the fuel directly, the pollution still pours into the atmosphere from every replacement transmission manufactured.

  46. Tractors have powershift (automated manual), dual clutch and power split CVT. They don't have belt CVT, for obvious reasons (torque!). For some reason they don't have torque converter automatics either. And cars don't have power split. But… could cars have power split? Would it have any benefit? Could tractors have torque converter automatics? Like the Allison TC10?

  47. Kind of late to the party but how much power can cvts potentially handle and for someone with your knowledge how reliable are they, put under extreme conditions?

  48. shouldn't toyota put another gear for the other extreme side of the belt curve? (launch gear and a top gear and use CVT in the middle)

  49. Also it could have been made to go two gear steps before it shifts to CVT mode. I saw that launch gear accelerate the car up to speed 25 miles / hrs which is not efficient in itself: should have divided into two.

  50. Hey Jason!
    Im following your channel pretty much since day one and havent had a question so far, since everything is always explained perfectly. Now Here's my first question:
    What do you think of the all new toyota corolla 2l hybrid? Is that CVT shown in this vid, build into it? Also, how do they get an 2L engine that efficient?
    Thanks for uploading as good videos as you do! Havent seen a youtuber bringing such good content with such a continuity as you do!

  51. Hey could you do a video on hood vents and if they can actually work, both for cooling the engine bay and for cold air intakes. Thanks!

  52. I’ve driven my 2010 Prius since she was a baby. The CVT is a pleasure to drive and aside from routine maintenance I’ve averaged less than $100/year for 10 years on the Prius. There is a beauty to efficiency and solid engineering that can’t be denied. As a car guy I’ve raced, owned a ridiculous number of cars, and did my own wrenching for many years. I can say that the Prius is the best car I’ve ever owned. Easily.

  53. love the cvt in my 19 rav4 hybrid. cant tell its a cvt and fuel economy of cvts is awesome. this is the future trans for cars

  54. I know you are an expert and all …. but surely when you are accelerating through the cvt you are dropping down to (engaging/using) a higher ratio each time? No? 🙁

  55. I like CVT for me they are smooth i am just concerned how durability of the belt is i don't need a car with three hundred or four hundred horse power unless i am racing some one

  56. So if I step on the pedal, will the car actually accelerate fast enough that I am not taking my life into my hand with other cvt's?

  57. How does it shift into gear at standstill, with no clutch to disconect the gear? The input shaft is spining, the output isn't and the syncronizer has to overcome the input torque of the torque converter. Is it strong enough to do that ?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *